Guide to the Papers of the Gundersheimer Siegel Family

AR 25546

Processed by Dianne Ritchey

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2013 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey in July 2013. Description is in English.
March 2014: Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Gundersheimer, Werner L., 1937-
Title: Gundersheimer Siegel Family Collection
Dates:bulk 1925-1942
Abstract: The Gundersheimer Siegel Family Collection holds papers of the art historian and professor Hermann S. Gundersheimer as well as papers of members of the Gundersheimer and Siegel families. With a focus on the professional work of Hermann Gundersheimer and the family's emigration, the collection contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, lecture texts and notes, official documents, articles, certificates, genealogical research and family trees.
Languages: The collection is primarily in German and English with a small amount of French.
Quantity: 1.75 linear feet.
Identification: AR 25546
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Hermann Samuel Gundersheimer was born in Würzburg in 1903, the son of the wine merchant Samuel Gundersheimer and his wife Sophie (also spelled Sofie) née Salzer. After completing Oberrealschule Hermann Gundersheimer studied art history, archaeology and philosophy at the universities of Würzburg, Berlin, Munich and Leipzig, and received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Leipzig with a dissertation on the fresco painter Matthäus Günther in 1930. He worked at the Museum of Ulm and later at the Städtisches Historisches Museum Frankfurt (The Municipal Historical Museum of Frankfurt) and the Kunstgewerbe Museum (Applied Arts Museum) in Frankfurt am Main until he lost his position in 1933.

In May 1933 Hermann Gundersheimer became curator at the Museum jüdischer Altertümer (Museum of Jewish Antiquities, also known as the Rothschild Museum) in Frankfurt, and in October of that year became director of the museum. At the museum he was responsible not only for the cataloging of items and creation of exhibits, but also gave lectures and tours and wrote numerous articles related to Jewish art. He also created an organization for the care of Jewish cemeteries and synagogues in Wiesbaden. In November of 1933 he became an editor for the Frankfurter israelitisches Gemeindeblatt (later the Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt für Frankfurt am Main) and after two months became chief editor. In May 1936 he became chief editor of the Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt für Hessen. In addition to these activities he also gave lectures at the Jüdisches Lehrhaus and was a member of their board, as well as a member of several other Jewish organizations.

Hermann Gundersheimer married Frieda (also known as Friedl) Siegel in May 1935. Frieda was the daughter of Siegfried and Anna (née Bamberger) Siegel of Landau. In 1937 Hermann and Frieda had a son, Werner.

During Kristallnacht the artworks in the Museum jüdischer Altertümer were heavily damaged. The Gundersheimers left Germany in 1939, going first to England before arriving in the United States on May 11, 1940. The family eventually settled near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Hermann (spelled Herman after immigration) Gundersheimer began teaching art history at Temple University's Tylor School of Art on July 29, 1941, where he became chairman of the department of art history. He continued there until his retirement.

Samuel Gundersheimer died on September 30, 1938; his wife Sophie spent World War II in Jerusalem with other family. Both of Frieda Gundersheimer's parents were deported to Theresienstadt, where Anna Siegel died; Siegfried Siegel died in Auschwitz.

Hermann Gundersheimer died in May 2004, his wife Frieda in June 2004.

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Scope and Content Note

The Gundersheimer Siegel Family Collection contains the papers of the art historian and professor Hermann Gundersheimer, as well as papers of other Gundersheimers and of his wife's family, the Siegels. The collection includes professional and some personal correspondence, official documents and immigration paperwork, certificates, drafts and notes of lectures, many newspaper clippings including articles by Hermann Gundersheimer, and genealogical research including family trees.

The major focus of this collection is the life of Hermann Gundersheimer and it is his material that comprises Series I. Especially prominent is the documentation of his professional life in Germany, with an abundance of newspaper clippings of his articles related to art, reviews of exhibitions and books and announcements of his lectures. Texts of some of his lectures are also part of Series I along with some notes and other published articles. Correspondence from this time period includes letters regarding his dismissal from his position at Frankfurt museums in 1933 as well as from the Jewish Community of Frankfurt regarding his role as director of the Museum jüdischer Altertümer and as editor of the Frankfurter israelitisches Gemeindeblatt. Series I also contains material relating to his and his family's immigration to the United States and especially to their interim stay in England.

Some material is also present on other Gundersheimer and Siegel family members. In the correspondence of Series I (Subseries 1: Correspondence) are letters from Hermann Gundersheimer's mother Sophie in Jerusalem to her son and to his sister Dorothea (Dorle) Spiegel; although these letters largely center on family news and greetings some evidence of their experiences of these years is present. This series also includes letters from Frieda Siegel's parents to their daughter and son-in-law, primarily with news of themselves and others in Germany. Series II holds further material on family members, including official documents and records for Frieda Siegel Gundersheimer, Samuel Gundersheimer, and papers on Siegfried Siegel, including mention of his and his wife's death. Other information on family members is located in the final series, Series III: Genealogy. This series includes research correspondence as well as family trees for members of the Gundersheimer, Siegel and Bamberger families and contains some photocopies of family documents.

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The collection is arranged in three series in the following manner:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

The LBI Library includes editions of the Frankfurter israelitisches Gemeindeblatt, edited by Hermann Gundersheimer. It also has one book by him: Frankfurter Chanukkahleuchter aus Silber und Zinn by Hermann Gundersheimer and Guido Schoenberger [N 8197 G68].

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Separated Material

Entire journals and other publications that held an article by Hermann Gundersheimer were removed from the collection, with copies made of the pertinent articles, which were retained in the collection. Superfluous identical articles without any notations or markings were removed from the collection. Family prayer books were removed to the LBI Library, with copies of the book's title pages and their dedications to family members included in Series II.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Gundersheimer Siegel Family Collection; AR 25546; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

The collection had no clear indication of series, therefore similar materials were brought together to form series and subseries. Since most folders were previously titled, these titles were used whenever possible; some larger folders were further subdivided into multiple folders. Entire journals and other publications that held an article by Hermann Gundersheimer were removed from the collection, with copies made of the pertinent articles, which were retained in the collection.

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Container List

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Hermann Gundersheimer, 1869-1991

This series is primarily in German and English, with a small amount of French.
1.3 linear feet.

This series is arranged in four subseries:

Scope and Content:

This series holds the papers of Hermann Gundersheimer, largely letters sent to him, official documents used in the immigration process, and especially professional documentation including his writing. Prominent are papers relating to his emigration from Germany and employment and professional activities in 1930s Germany.

Documentation of the emigration experiences of Hermann Gundersheimer and his family will primarily be found in Subseries 2, which holds a variety of official forms and records used in immigration as well as some correspondence from English acquaintances and friends. Some information on the shipping of possessions, including several lists of items, is also present. Subseries 1 holds many handwritten letters from Sophie Gundersheimer and other relatives to Dorle (Dorothea) Spiegel in England and to her brother Hermann Gundersheimer, which primarily hold news but also occasional mentions of the situation in Jerusalem.

Papers relating to Hermann Gundersheimer's work in Germany is primarily located in Subseries 3, and includes correspondence with employers such as the Jewish Community of Frankfurt and Temple University in Philadelphia as well as correspondence regarding his dismissal from his position at the Städtisches Historisches Museum Frankfurt and the Kunstgewerbe Museum in 1933. Most prolific in Subseries 3 are the examples of his writing, especially in the form of drafts of lectures and a profuse collection of newspaper articles organized by subject, most of which were written by him. The clippings cover a range of topics, from reviews of exhibitions and books to articles on art and artists to the preservation of historic sites in Würzburg, among many other subjects. A smaller amount of his writings from journals and other publications are also part of this subseries.

Series I additionally includes some documentation of restitution efforts in Subseries 1 and material on the rebuilt Jewish Museum in Frankfurt in Subseries 4.

Subseries 1: Correspondence, 1924-1988

This subseries is in German and English.
0.35 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 1 holds most correspondence sent to Hermann Gundersheimer and primarily consists of family letters, restitution correspondence, and some professional correspondence, among other topics.

Letters from family members will be found in several folders of this subseries. A few letters from Sophie Gundersheimer are among the mainly alphabetically-ordered letters of the first folder; other family members are included in the folders of family letters, which originally were located in one large folder but were subdivided during processing of the collection. The folder "Letters from Jerusalem" hold similar letters. The above-mentioned folders contain letters from Sophie Gundersheimer, her sister Lina and other family in Jerusalem to Dorle (Dorothea) Spiegel and her brother Hermann Gundersheimer as well as to their spouses and children. The letters primarily update the Spiegels and Gundersheimers on news of family members, their health and activities, or offer advice. Some letters by Dorothea Spiegel's son to his grandmother are also included. A typed 1945 letter from an unidentified individual in the folder "Letters from Jerusalem" lists the death dates of Frieda Gundersheimer's parents Siegfried and Anna Siegel and of several Bamberger relations. Another folder (1/15) contains letters by Siegfried and Anna Siegel to Hermann and Frieda Gundersheimer and other family members in the United States. These letters largely focus on news of family and friends in Germany and their own health but some mention changes in Germany or in their own circumstances.

Three folders hold correspondence related to restitution for the Gundersheimers' losses as well as accompanying documentation for their claim. Included with the correspondence are lists of possessions such as furniture, clothing, artwork and books. In addition some immigration paperwork will be found in these folders with vaccination and good conduct certificates, copies of affidavits of support, and copies of correspondence with a shipping company.

Subseries 1 additionally holds a small amount of professional correspondence; other professional letters will be found in Subseries 3. The letters located in folder 1 pertain to the publishing of Hermann Gundersheimer's dissertation or to his employment. Among the correspondence of the folder "Letters from Frankfurt Period" is the text of his article "Arzt und Kind in der bildenden Kunst" with comments on revisions and additions, letters from Bertha Pappenheim regarding items she wished him to inspect, and postwar correspondence with the mayor of Würzburg and the Mainfränkisches Museum about the restoration of Matthäus Günther's frescoes. Correspondence from the Jewish Museum in New York City relates to the possibility of a position for him there as curator of sacred objects, which he ultimately declined.

12Family Letters – from Dorle and Gunter Spiegel (England)1940-1942
13Family Letters – from Mathilde Mandel (Frankfurt)1941
14Family Letters – from Other Family1924-1942
15Family Letters – From Siegfried and Anna Siegel1940-1941
16Family Letters – from Sophie Gundersheimer and Jerusalem Relatives1940-1942
17Grave Maintenance – Frankfurt, London, Landau1939, 1950-1992
18Henrich, Wilhelm1946
19Letters from Frankfurt Period1933-1939, 1978
110Letters from Jerusalem1939-1940, 1945-1955
111New York Jewish Museum1944-1946
112Other Correspondence1941, 1954
113Restitution1939-1940, 1957-1967
114Restitution – Auswanderungskosten1938-1946, 1965-1974
115Restitution and Immigration Documentation1939-1944, 1952-1958
116Unanswered Letters1949-1958
117Würzburg Jewish Historyundated, 1987-1988

Subseries 2: Emigration, 1869-1914, 1930-1951

This subseries is in German and English.
0.1 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 2 contains papers related to Hermann Gundersheimer and his family's emigration from Germany to England, where they stayed until they could depart for the United States.

The two initial folders of documentation include affidavits and various certificates for Hermann Gundersheimer as well as letters of recommendation for him, including several that discuss the importance of his work on Matthäus Günther. Some of these papers also relate to his activities in England, such as joining the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning. Official and legal documents include German documents, including copies of his driver's license, birth certificate, Siegfried Siegel and Anna Bamberger's marriage certificate and a citizenship document for Samuel Gundersheimer. Another folder pertains to the shipping and storage of the Gundersheimers' possessions and especially Hermann Gundersheimer's library. The final two folders document where and how the Gundersheimers were able to stay in England, with invitations from friends, letters of reference and good conduct for Hermann Gundersheimer, correspondence from J.A. de Rothschild regarding financial support, and letters from Cecil Roth, President of the Jewish Historical Society of England who allowed Hermann Gundersheimer to research at the society. Finally, these papers include several telegrams regarding immigration paperwork. The final folder contains various official documents including some documentation of Frieda Siegel's time living in Paris.

118Immigration Documentation1938-1940, 1950-1951
119Immigration Documentation – Germany and England1930-1939
120Official and Legal Documents1869, 1938-1939
121Other Wartime Papers and Correspondence1941-1945
122Shipment of Household and Library to United States – H & C Fremont1939-1941, 1947-1948
123Stay in England and Stuttgartundated, 1938-1940
124Stay in England and Stuttgart – Official Documents1904-1914, 1934-1939

Subseries 3: Professional, 1922-1991

This subseries is in German and English.
0.8 linear feet.

Scope and Content:

Subseries 3 holds Hermann Gundersheimer's professional papers, including articles and drafts of articles and lectures, professional correspondence, notebooks and an assortment of newspaper clippings on various subjects, with many of them written by or concerning Hermann Gundersheimer.

The first section of this subseries consists of documents and correspondence related to Hermann Gundersheimer's professional life. Among these folders are official notices that relate to his dismissal in 1933 from his positions, including at the Städtisches Historisches Museum Frankfurt (Municipal Historical Museum of Frankfurt) and the Kunstgewerbe Museum (Applied Arts Museum). The folder of correspondence with the Jewish Community of Frankfurt outlines the next steps in his career, when he worked for the Museum jüdischer Altertümer (Museum of Jewish Antiquities, also known as the Rothschild Museum) and was editor at the Frankfurter Israelitisches Gemeindeblatt. This folder contains letters of reference that outline his work at the museum organizing exhibitions, inventorying the museum's objects and arranging exhibitions, among other responsibilities. The letters also discuss wages and include a contract for his position as editor of the Gemeindeblatt. Folders of material on American University and Temple University document his career in the United States as do a few letters from colleague Herbert Miller. Hermann Gundersheimer began teaching at Temple University's Tyler School of Fine Art in July 1941; letters from this institution primarily relate to his reappointments and progression in position over the years at the University. Letters from Michael Urlaub discuss the Urlaub family genealogy; in 1928 Hermann Gundersheimer's article "Die fränkische Malerfamilie Urlaub" was published.

The second section of this subseries "Writings, Reviews, Notes and Research" includes many examples of Hermann Gundersheimer's own prolific writing, both published and unpublished. Nearly all of these pertain to art or museum exhibitions and discuss artwork in various mediums, with a frequent focus on art of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Articles from his time as curator at the Museum jüdischer Altertümer often relate to Jewish art, Jewish artifacts or the depictions of Jewish themes in art. Included in the "General" files are published articles both by him or which mention him as well as some on the painter Matthäus Günther. Three folders hold texts and drafts of lectures along with some notes. These mention varying subjects, for example the depiction of the Jewish countenance in art, Jugendstil (Art Nouveau), the work of Tilman Riemenschneider, the portrayal of doctors and children in the visual arts, and the work of Arnold Böcklin, among many other diverse subjects. Lectures include those given at the Jüdischer Kulturbund and the Kunstgewerbe Museum although the locations of most lectures are unidentified.

About half of Hermann Gundersheimer's written and research work consists of collections of numerous newspaper articles organized by subject, often of Hermann Gundersheimer's writing published in newspapers such as the Central-Verein Zeitung. The clippings include not only his own articles on various topics (predominantly art-related), but also his reviews of books, museum exhibitions, and performances along with short notices of his lectures. Included are a number of reviews of his book on Matthäus Günther.

A) Documents and Correspondence

125American University – Correspondence1941
126Course Catalogs from Educational Institutions (Volksbildungs-Verein Ulm, Jüdisches Lehrhaus, Frankfurter Bund für Volksbildung)1927-1928
127Dismissal from Positions after 1933 Election - Correspondence1932-1933, 1937
OS 158Doctoral Degree (University of Leipzig)1930
128Educational and Professional Certificates and Statements1925-1933
129Jewish Community of Frankfurt - Correspondence1932-1939
130Miller, Herbert A.1940-1943
131Temple University – Correspondence1941-1984, 1991
132Urlaub, Michael1927-1928

B) Writings, Reviews, Notes and Research

a) General

133Articles about Hermann Gundersheimer1940-1942
134Articles by Hermann Gundersheimerundated, 1927-1938
135Articles by Others – Art-Related and Würzburgundated, 1932
136Articles on Matthäus Günther and his Work1925-1927
137Lectures – Lecture Texts and Notesundated, 1927-1938
138Lectures – Photographs – Amorbach and Ebrach (Klosterkirche)1929
139Lectures and Articles – Lecture Texts, Manuscripts and Notesundated, 1930-1935
140Notebooksundated, 1928

b) Subject Collections of Newspaper Articles

141Articles about Artists, Essays and Brief Research Topics1927-1938
142Birthday and Memorial Essays (Non-Artists), Auction Reports, Hanukkah Lights, Wine Makingundated, 1924-1937
143Book Reviews and Short Notices1925-1936
144Jewish Art and the Frankfurt Jewish Museum (Rothschild Museum)1932-1938
145Lectures – Announcements and Press1928-1938
146Newspaper Notices – Museum Work and Personal Notes1925-1938
21Politics and Culture, Conferences on Preservation of Monuments and Historic Sites, Würzburg1922-1930
23Reviews of "Matthäus Günther" (book by Hermann Gundersheimer)undated, 1929-1932
24Reviews of Exhibitions and Art-World Events1925-1936
25Theater, Concert, Dance and Lecture Reviews1926-1936

Subseries 4: Other Papers, 1924-1988

This subseries is in German, English and French.
0.05 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 4 contains an invitation and some newspaper clippings on the opening of the new Jewish Museum in Frankfurt on the fiftieth anniversary of Kristallnacht; Hermann Gundersheimer, who attended the opening is mentioned in some of the clippings. Some tax returns for the years following his arrival in the United States are also in this subseries as are a few financial documents of Leo Stahl, all in French.

26New Jewish Museum, Frankfurt am Main1988
27Stahl, Leo – Financial Papers1924
28Tax Returns1941-1945
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Series II: Other Family Members, 1844-2010

This series is in German and English with a very small amount of French.
0.2 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Series II consists of the papers of family members other than Hermann Gundersheimer, including his wife Frieda (Friedl), his father Samuel and his father-in-law Siegfried Siegel, but also including more distant relations.

Papers of Frieda Siegel Gundersheimer primarily pertain to her education and employment, although there are also a few other items such as residence registration in Frankfurt and vaccination certificates. Included are her completion certificate (Schlußzeugnis) from the Girls High School (Mädchen-Lyzeum) of Landau and a certificate from Temple University authorizing her to teach French, English and German language courses as well as recognition of her German academic credentials. In folder 2/12 are documents related to her training in Germany, including a first place award in a stenography competition and letters of reference from employers. The following folder includes two articles by her for the Frankfurter israelitisches Gemeindeblatt on professional opportunities for women. Frieda Siegel Gundersheimer is often referred to as Friedl on her official documentation.

Three folders hold papers of Samuel Gundersheimer, including documentation of his death in 1938. His official papers consist of such items as death and marriage certificates as well as certificates from the Red Cross and for his receiving of the König Ludwig-Kreuz für Heimatverdienste (King Ludwig Cross for Homeland Service) during World War I. In addition there are several papers that pertain to his wine business.

Most of Werner Gundersheimer's papers relate to his parents, including condolences on the death of his father in May 2004, a certificate for a staff development fund at the Folger Shakespeare Library in honor of Hermann and Frieda Gundersheimer, and confirmation from Yad Vashem on their entries for Siegfried and Anna Siegel.

The final folder of this subseries documents attempts made by family members, including by Frieda Gundersheimer, to get Siegfried Siegel transferred from Theresienstadt to Jerusalem. This material includes several letters from family members to organizations that could help in this endeavor, as well as notification by the Zionist Organization of America in April 1945 that his name was placed on a list. A statement from 1954 by Frieda Gundersheimer indicates that the family lost contact with him in 1943. Restitution correspondence included in this folder indicates that Siegfried Siegel was transported from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz, where he died.

29Bach, Ignatz and Carolineundated, 1844-1853
210Gundersheimer, Dorisundated, 1901-1903
211Gundersheimer, Frieda Siegel – Certificates, Diplomas and other Official Documents1911-1963
212Gundersheimer, Frieda Siegel – Education and Employment1927-1942
213Gundersheimer, Frieda Siegel – Professional Papers and Articles1929-1934
214Gundersheimer, Samuel – Death1936-1939, 1952
215Gundersheimer, Samuel – Familien-Stammbuch1898, 1939
216Gundersheimer, Samuel – Official, Legal and Business1844-1939
217Gundersheimer, Sophie/ Sofie (née Salzer)1875-1887, 1941
218Gundersheimer, Werner – Certificate – Establishment of the Herman and Friedl Gundersheimer Staff Development Fund, Folger Shakespeare Library1995
219Gundersheimer, Werner – Correspondence – Condolences2004
220Gundersheimer, Werner – Correspondence and Honorary Dinner Menus1992-2002
221Gundersheimer, Werner – Correspondence – Yad Vashem2010
222Salzer, Maxundated
223Siegel, Siegfried – Attempted Immigration to Palestine1940-1949, 1958-1965
224Various Family Members - Prayer Book Dedications1885-1922
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Series III: Genealogy, 1834-2003

This series is in German and English.
0.25 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Series III encompasses material on the family genealogy, including correspondence, articles, notes, photocopies of early documents and family trees for members of the Bamberger, Gundersheimer, Siegel and related families.

Bamberger genealogical material consists of articles, photocopies of documents and family trees. Among the articles are some descriptions of various family members' experiences in Nazi Germany and an article on Simon Bamberger, governor of Utah. Correspondence of Fritz Bamberger from 1936 on the family genealogy is also present as is a typed excerpt for Bamberger family members from the civil register of Jews from Eberstadt.

The Gundersheimer genealogy consists of a family tree that shows the various branches of the family. Related is a folder of correspondence from the 1930s from cousins of Hermann Gundersheimer regarding planned genealogical research and a letter by Hermann Gundersheimer to Rabbi Köhler of Schweinfurt about a Torah scroll owned by an ancestor from that town.

Two folders relate to the genealogy of the Siegel Family. Much of this material consists of correspondence from Frieda Siegel Gundersheimer to the Stadtverwaltung Albersweiler (City administration of Albersweiler) to acquire documents of her parents and to the Verbandsgemeindeverwaltung Annweiler am Trifels (Administration of the Municipalities of Annweiler am Trifels) requesting copies of documents of family members. The folder of papers from Albersweiler and Landau includes sketches of family trees, some copies of newspaper clippings on the town of Landau and marriage, birth and death certificates for various Siegels.

31Bach-Salzer-Bamberger Genealogyundated
OS 158Bach-Salzer-Bamberger Genealogy – Oversizedundated
32Bamberger Family Iundated, 1938, 1970-1976
33Bamberger Family II1936, 1964
34Family Correspondence about Genealogyundated, 1933-1938
35Gundersheimer Family Treesundated, 2003
OS 158Gundersheimer Family Trees – Oversizedundated
36Siegel Family – Albersweiler and Landau1834, 1937, 1998
37Siegel Family – Correspondence and Photocopied Documents1845-1879, 1998
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