Guide to the Gerald J. Oppenheimer Collection
1719-1997

AR 6588

Processed by Leanora Lange

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305

Email: lbaeck@lbi.cjh.org

URL: http://www.lbi.org

© 2014  Leo Baeck Institute
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Leanora Lange in February 2014. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Oppenheimer, Gerald J., 1922-
Title: Gerald J. Oppenheimer Collection
Dates:1719-1997
Abstract: This collection contains materials on the Jewish community of Frankfurt am Main, Germany from the early 18th century through the early 20th century as well as personal papers of Gerald J. Oppenheimer’s (1922-) family. Oppenheimer’s family papers include extensive genealogical materials, emigration records, and personal correspondence. The records of the Jewish community of Frankfurt include tax and building regulations, lists of taxable individuals, correspondence with government officials, and correspondence among members of the Jewish community.
Languages: The collection is in German and English with a few items in Hebrew.
Quantity: 0.5 linear feet + 1 oversize folder
Identification: AR 6588, OS 159
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Gerald J. Oppenheimer was born Julius Oppenheimer on August 5, 1922 to Jacob Oppenheimer (1892-1976) and Bella née Spier (1894-1973). Jacob, Bella, and Julius Oppenheimer immigrated to the United States in August of 1940, sailing from Yokohama, Japan to Washington state, where the family settled. Julius took on the name Gerald by the time he declared intention to become a U.S. citizen in 1941. He served in the U.S. Army starting in 1943. In 1946, Gerald Oppenheimer married Mildred née Karnofsky (born 1925), and the couple had two children. After earning a degree in library science, Gerald Oppenheimer worked at the Seattle Public Library, the Boeing Scientific Research Laboratories, and the libraries at the University of Washington, eventually serving as the Director of the Health Sciences Library and the Assistant Director of Libraries there. He was also the founding president of the Association of Academic Health Sciences Library Directors.

Gerald Oppenheimer traced his ancestors back through the Oppenheimer, Spier, Wallach, and Kahn families that lived mainly in the state of Hesse, Germany, particularly in Frankfurt am Main, at least as far back as the 18th century.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection is a combination of personal family papers and materials related to the Jewish community of Frankfurt am Main, Germany in general. Series I contains records of the Jewish community of Frankfurt from the mid-18th century to the early 20th century. Materials include official decrees, tax and building regulations, and official papers related to individuals and firms. Series II contains personal papers of members of Gerald J. Oppenheimer’s family, many of whom lived in Frankfurt, including genealogical materials, correspondence, and emigration papers. While some of the materials in Series I mention relatives of the Oppenheimers, papers relating exclusively to the relatives of Gerald Oppenheimer can be found in Series II.

The inventory in folder 1 includes accurate descriptions of each item in the collection across both series. The names of some of the folders have been altered slightly (see Processing Information for details).

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged thematically or by document type according to the original order given to the materials by Gerald J. Oppenheimer, shown in the inventory in folder 1. The collection is divided into two series:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers with some restrictions on use. Contact the LBI Archives with inquiries at lbaeck@lbi.cjh.org.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

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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 Archives also holds a memoir by Gerald J. Oppenheimer: Reminiscences Personal and a bit Historical of the First Third of My Life. The LBI Library holds the following book donated by Gerald J. Oppenheimer on the Frankfurt Jewish community: Rechtliches Gutachten der hochloeblichen Juristen-Facultaet auf der Grossherzoglich Hessischen Universitaet zu Giessen, die buergerrechtlichen Verhaeltnisse der israelitischen Gemeinde, in der freien Stadt Frankfurt betreffend .

The Medical Library Association holds an oral history of Gerald J. Oppenheimer from 1999.

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Separated Material

Photocopies of pages from books on the Jews of Merzhausen, Hesse (most prominently Gottfried Ruetz’s “Von den Juden in Merzhausen” and Alfred Höck’s “Die Steuerpflichtigen des Jahres 1840 in den Synagogengemeinden des Kreises Ziegenhain”) were removed to the LBI Archives Clippings Collection AR 6588 C.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Gerald J. Oppenheimer Collection; AR 6588; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

During processing in February 2014, the arrangement of the collection followed the original order indicated in the inventory in folder 1. The materials were separated into two series, Series I reflecting “Appendix A” of the inventory and Series II reflecting “Appendix B.” Some folder titles were shortened, translated into English, or otherwise altered to make the tone appropriate for a public finding aid. The materials designated as “Miscellaneous” in Oppenheimer’s Appendix B were separated by document type into folders 10-11 and given titles reflecting the contents. Duplicates were removed. The family tree was removed from a binder. Oversized materials were placed in oversized folders. Brittle materials were placed in Mylar sleeves.

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Container List

 

Series I: Jewish community of Frankfurt am Main,  1719-1906, 1993, 1997

In German and English with a few items in Hebrew.
Box 1, OS 159. 7 folders + 1 OS folder.
Arrangement:

Arranged thematically based on the original order given to the materials by Gerald J. Oppenheimer, shown in the inventory in box 1, folder 1.

Scope and Content:

This series reflects life in the Jewish community of Frankfurt am Main in general. While items throughout this series may relate to the entire community or to particular individuals, the series taken as a whole offers a picture of the community from the early 18th century to the early 20th century. The thematic arrangement of materials throughout this collection means that materials from a particular time period or family may be found in any of the folders. Generally speaking, official records such as ordinances and decrees related to taxes, construction, and fire regulations can be found in folders 2 while decrees relating to the status of Jews within Frankfurt during the “Neue Stättigkeit” in the early 19th century can be found in folder 3. Alongside these general records, folders 4-6 contain papers pertaining to individuals, families, and firms, such as requests for permission to marry and settle in certain locations, documents related to requests for citizenship, vital records, and tax records. The researcher should refer to the inventory list in folder 1 for more detailed descriptions of the contents of each folder. The oversized materials include family trees, lists of taxable individuals, vital records, and a broadside. Most of the items in this series are ordered chronologically within their folders as they are in the inventory in folder 1. While some of the materials in Series I mention relatives of the Oppenheimers, papers relating exclusively to the relatives of Gerald Oppenheimer can be found in Series II.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 1 Inventory 1993, 1997
1 2 Relations between the Jewish community and governmental authorities 1719-1866
1 3 New municipal conditions for Jews (Neue Stättigkeit) 1808-1811
1 4 Other matters of the Jewish community undated, 1809-1883
1 5 Rothschild and Goldschmidt-Rothschild families 1828-1933
1 6 Private individuals and firms circa 1809-1890
1 7 Miscellaneous circa 1808-1906
BoxFolderTitleDate
OS 159 Oversized materials circa 1810-1890
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Series II: Oppenheimer family papers, 1868-circa 1990s

In German and English.
Box 1. 3 folders.
Arrangement:

Arranged by document type based on the original order given to the materials by Gerald J. Oppenheimer, shown in the inventory in box 1, folder 1.

Scope and Content:

This series contains the personal papers of Gerald J. Oppenheimer’s family. All of the materials in folders 9-11 are photocopies. The family tree in folder 8 was compiled by Gerald Oppenheimer and covers the Oppenheimer, Spier, Wallach, and Kahn families in particular. Included with it are supplemental materials cross-referencing Oppenheimer’s genealogical materials with published reference works on Frankfurt Jewish families, including Alexander Dietz’s Stammbuch der Frankfurter Juden and Paul Arnsberg’s Die Geschichte der Frankfurter Juden seit der franzoesischen Revolution. The family names that appear most prominently in these materials are: Goldschmidt, Kahn, Oppenheimer, Reinhard, Spier, Steinhardt, Wallach, and Wolf. Further names can be found in the family tree and its supplemental information, including a list of families connected through marriage to the Spier family. Most commonly cited in this collection are families that resided in Frankfurt am Main and Merzhausen (Hesse). The materials in folder 9 include vital records and official correspondence related to Gerald J. Oppenheimer’s grandfather Julius Oppenheimer and great-grandfather Akiba Oppenheimer. The emigration papers in folder 10 consist of official correspondence and documents reflecting the emigration of Jacob, Bella, and Julius (later Gerald) Oppenheimer from Frankfurt via Japan to the western coast of the United States, where they eventually settled in Seattle. The correspondents in folder 11 include Konrad Haas, Marga Oppenheimer, Willi and Jenni Oppenheimer, Eva Reinhard, the Rössig family, Salomon Spier, Max and Ernst Steinhardt, and Valerie Wallach. Letters with messages from several former colleagues of the Frankfurt Jewish community are also included.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 8 Family tree and supplemental information circa 1990s
1 9 Oppenheimer, Akiba and Julius 1868-1872
1 10 Oppenheimer, Jacob, Bella and Julius (Gerald) - Emigration 1940-1943
1 11 Oppenheimer, Jacob, Bella and Julius (Gerald) - Correspondence 1940-1952
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