Guide to the Julius S. Held Family Collection
circa 1800-1999

AR 25002

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



© 2013  Leo Baeck Institute
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Leanora Lange in July 2013. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Held, Julius S.
Title: Julius S. Held Family Collection
Dates:circa 1800-1999
Abstract: This collection documents the family history of art historian Julius S. Held (1905-2002), who was born in Mosbach, Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1934. The bulk of the collection consists of personal family correspondence. Other materials include genealogical tables, a few business and educational records, personal notes, a few anti-Semitic flyers, clippings, a ketubah, and a portrait of Rabbi David Sinzheim.
Languages: The collection is in German, English, and Hebrew.
Quantity: 0.5 linear feet
Identification: AR 25002
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Julius S. Held (1905-2002) was born in Mosbach, Germany. He attended the Universities of Freiburg, Heidelberg, Berlin, and Vienna, and received his doctoral degree from the University of Freiburg in 1930. He immigrated to the United States in 1934, where he became a collector and highly respected scholar of art history. He married the art conservator Ingrid-Marta (alternatively Ingrid-Märta) Nordin-Petterson in 1936, and the couple had two children. Considered an expert on Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Rembrandt, Julius S. Held published several monographs and held a position as a professor of art history at Barnard College, Columbia University, from 1937-1970.

Julius S. Held’s paternal grandparents were Moritz Held (1848-1928) and his wife Julie née Altmann (1847-1904), and his maternal grandparents were Zacharias Seligmann (1845-1926) and his wife Ida née Altmann (1852-1892), a cousin of Julie Held née Altmann.

Moritz Held made his career in business and manufacturing. In 1871, he also worked for the Ministry of War in Karlsruhe. Zacharias Seligmann was a businessman and leader of the Jewish community of Eberbach, Germany around the turn of the twentieth century. Zacharias Seligmann’s eldest daughter, Nanette, married Adolf Held, the son of Moritz and Julie Held.

Adolf Held (1873-1919) and Nanette née Seligmann (1872-1926) had four children, the second of whom was Julius S. Held. The family lived in Mosbach, Germany, where Adolf and Nanette Held ran a dry goods and ladies’ clothing store that had been founded in 1829 by Nanette’s grandfather, Samuel Altmann.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection mainly documents the experiences of Julius S. Held’s extended family from the late 19th century through World War II. The majority of the material consists of correspondence, particularly personal correspondence from the late 19th century among the members of the Moritz Held family and fairly extensive correspondence between Julius S. Held and relatives held at Camp de Gurs from 1940-1942.

The genealogical tables were compiled in the 1980s-1990s, and they reach back as far as the mid-1600s.

Materials held in the folders for the families of Samuel Altmann, Moritz Held, and Zacharias Seligmann include extensive personal correspondence among family members, a few pieces of business correspondence, educational records, receipts related to family businesses, a list of items in a dowry, a journal with poems, personal notes, and a vaccination record. Detailed descriptions of these items can be found in the inventory created by Julius Held in folder 1.

The materials related to Julius S. Held’s extended family consist mainly of correspondence between Julius Held and his relatives held at Camp de Gurs. Also included are letters and receipts showing Julius Held’s attempts to assist these relatives, including his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to sponsor the emigration of Johanna Roth. The correspondence between Julius Held and Victoria Wolff concerns family and the efforts of both to document the persecution of their family members and others they knew. The materials related to the extended Seligmann family line consists mainly of correspondence. Postcards from Zionist Congresses and correspondence from the Zionist leader Max Nordau are also included here.

The miscellaneous materials include anti-Semitic flyers from the Nazi era, a few clippings, information about Rabbi David Sinzheim, and a ketubah for a groom who took the name Bonaparte accompanied by a description. A print portrait of Rabbi David Sinzheim is also included.

Notes from Julius S. Held accompany many of the materials.

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Materials are separated by document type and family name following the arrangement created by Julius Held in his detailed inventory of the collection, which is included in folder 1.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

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

In addition to this collection, Julius S. Held also donated the papers of the Friedemann family to the LBI Archives, a collection that documents the family of his mother’s sister, Betty née Seligmann and her husband Dr. Walter Friedemann of Berlin. This finding aid for this collection can be accessed online: Walter and Betty Friedemann Collection.

The LBI Library holds copies of books and other publications by Julius S. Held, including Rembrandt’s Aristotle and other Rembrandt Studies.

The UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research conducted an oral history interview with Julius S. Held in 1994, which focuses on his work as an art historian but also covers his childhood, family background, and experience living in Germany during the 1920s and early 1930s. The full transcript can be accessed online: Interview of Julius Held.

The Julius S. Held papers are held at the Getty Institute. The finding aid can be accessed online: Julius S. Held Papers, ca. 1918-1999.

Further information on the work and scholarship of Julius S. Held can be found in his record at the Frick Collection’s Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America: Held, Julius S. (Julius Samuel), 1905-2002.

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Separated Material

Photographs of the Altmann, Held, and Seligmann families have been removed to the LBI Photograph Collection.

A copy of Zacharias Seligmann’s personal experiences and memories published in the Eberbacher Geschichtsblatt (issue 88, April 1989) was removed. This item can be accessed via the LBI Library: Erlebnisse und Erinnerungen Aufzeichnungen eines Eberbacher Juden, der von 1868 bis 1908 hier lebte und ein Geschaeft unterhielt, aus dem Jahre 1924.

A published version of the speech “The Holocaust from a Distance” delivered on November 4, 1994 by Julius S. Held as part of the Jewish Studies Program at Penn State University Park was separated to the LBI Library.

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Digitization Note

This collection was digitized and made accessible in its entirety.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Julius S. Held Family Collection; AR 25002; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

Duplicates were removed. Materials were rehoused into acid-free archival folders. Several notes written by Julius S. Held on adhesive paper or paper with tape were photocopied onto acid-free archival paper and the original notes were removed.

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Container List


Julius S. Held Family Collection, circa 1800-1999

1 1 Inventory 1999
1 2 Genealogical tables and related correspondence 1989-1993, circa 1999
1 3 Samuel Altmann family 1865-1888, circa 1999
1 4 Moritz Held family 1848-1899, 1994-1995
1 5 Moritz Held family 1866-1918
1 6 Zacharias Seligmann family 1917-1956, 1997
1 7 Extended family: Correspondence with relatives held at Camp de Gurs and related materials 1939-1942
1 8 Extended family: Correspondence with Victoria Wolff 1939-1942
1 9 Extended family: Seligmann line 1869-1995
1 10 Miscellaneous circa 1800s, 1937-1999
OS 1 Print of Rabbi David Sinzheim (1745-1812) circa 1800s
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