Guide to the Papers of the Mendheim Family

AR 25010

Processed by Dianne Ritchey and Peter Wolff

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2009 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey in September 2009. Description is in English.
January 2015: Links to digital objects added in Container List. February 06, 2015:  Remaining links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Mendheim, Florence
Title: Mendheim Family Collection
Dates:bulk 1917-1940
Abstract: The Mendheim Family Collection holds papers of the family of Florence Mendheim. Most of the collection consists of correspondence, including letters of family members. Other materials include unpublished typescripts as well as a few personal papers and books.
Languages: The collection is in English, German, and Hebrew.
Quantity: 3.5 linear feet.
Identification: AR 25010
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Florence Mendheim was the daughter of Max and Betty (born Bertha Kroner) Mendheim; she had two brothers, Arthur and Jesse. She worked as a library assistant at the New York Public Library and was also active during the 1930s and 1940s as secretary of the Committee for Arab-Jewish Understanding.

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Scope and Content Note

The Mendheim Family Collection documents the life of Florence Mendheim and her relatives. The collection consists largely of correspondence, but also holds samples of Florence Mendheim's writing, a small amount of family personal papers, and a few books.

The major focus of this collection is the Mendheim family. In addition to the personal papers of Series I, which include war ration books and selective service cards among its contents, there is also some correspondence between family members in Subseries 1 of Series II. Much of this correspondence relates news of family members or mention of significant events or activities. There are also some handwritten letters from the late nineteenth century. Series IV includes a family bible as well as copies of pages from family prayer books with notes.

In addition to correspondence with family members, Series II contains correspondence between Florence Mendheim and others. Prominent among these are the letters of Edward Fox, an individual who resided in China and sent Florence many letters that describe his experiences there. Other notable correspondence includes that of Subseries 2. This subseries holds correspondence deriving from Florence Mendheim's work as secretary of the Committee for Arab-Jewish Understanding, an organization that attempted to bring about a compromise between Arabs and Jews in New York City on the question of Palestine (now Israel).

Evidence of Florence Mendheim's literary aspirations is seen in multiple areas of the collection. Chief among these are the samples of her creative writing, much of it in the form of plays, in Series III. This series additionally holds a brief article, a short story, and some reports on the activities of the New York branch of the Friends of New Germany, a Nazi support group of the 1930s.

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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

Separated Material

Some books without extensive notes have been removed from the archival collection and given to the LBI Library.

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Custodial History

[information about the chain of ownership of the materials being described, before reaching the archive]

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Mendheim Family Collection; AR 25010; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

The collection was re-processed in August-September 2009 in preparation for the EAD finding aid and microfilming. Series identified in previous processing were retained, with subseries introduced in Series II. Some books were removed to the LBI Library.

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Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Personal Papers, 1933-1994

This series is in English.
0.1 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Series I constitutes the personal papers of members of the Mendheim family, including those of Arthur and Florence Mendheim. Among these papers are several war ration books, and selective service cards. The initial folder of the series contains a professional certificate of Florence Mendheim, an address book, and some lace.

11General Personal Papersundated, 1931
12Selective Service Cards – Arthur Mendheim1942-1952
13Unidentified Notesundated, 1960, 1994
14Unidentified Notes – Jewish Topicsundated, 1949
15War Ration Books1942-1943
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Series II: Correspondence, 1865-1888, 1915-1951

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

Divided into three subseries: Personal, the Committee for Arab-Jewish Understanding, General.

Scope and Content:

This series is comprised of the correspondence of the Mendheim family, primarily of Florence Mendheim. It constitutes personal correspondence of Mendheim family members as well as correspondence between Florence Mendheim and friends. Other letters include her correspondence concerning the Committee for Arab-Jewish Understanding and general correspondence with other individuals and institutions.

Family correspondence encompasses members of the Mendheim, Cohn, and Croner/ Kroner families. Most of these letters focus on relating news of other family members and events. Among the personal letters between Florence Mendheim and individuals to whom she was close is the travel correspondence of Edward Fox, who resided in China for several years and whose letters provide insight into life in that country during the beginning of the twentieth century. Letters between Florence Mendheim and others often mention books and, less frequently, her own creative writing. General letters also pertain to similar topics, including a small amount of correspondence that concerns her attempts to publish her writing and notes on reviews of books.

Subseries 1: Personal, 1865-1888, 1915-1951

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


Scope and Content:

Subseries 1 holds the personal correspondence of Mendheim family members, with the vast bulk of the letters being to and from Florence Mendheim. Among the letters of family members are those of other members of the Mendheim and Croner/ Kroner families, while letters from friends pertain entirely to Florence Mendheim.

A significant amount of family correspondence are the letters from Hulda Croner to the family of Max Mendheim, including Florence Mendheim. The letters mention events in Germany, and Hulda Croner's eventual decision to remain there in 1938. Other letters by her briefly discuss American and German politics. Much of her correspondence relates family news or concerns payments sent to her by the Mendheims. Dorothy Fields was a relative who lived in Illinois, along with Esther Katz and Sam Kroner. Correspondence with this branch of the family largely imparts news on family members, although mention is additionally made of family members left in Europe who required affidavits. The correspondence of Jesse Mendheim, Florence Mendheim's brother, is also prominent in this subseries. Some of his letters include those sent home while he served in the U.S. military in 1919. Other correspondence of his includes some letters of recommendation from former employers and accompanying documentation. Two folders among the family correspondence contain letters dating from 1865-1866 which primarily appear to pertain to family news; these handwritten letters are difficult to decipher.

Most prominent among the correspondence of Florence Mendheim's friends are the many letters of Edward Fox. This individual primarily wrote to her while he worked and lived abroad in China. His letters provide a detailed look at daily life in rural inland China, with accounts of his experiences, travels, and individuals he met. Edward Fox's descriptions mention Chinese culture, food, and customs as well as the plight of the poor and the existence of slavery in China, the opinions of the Chinese toward foreigners, the spheres of influence of the Western powers at this time in China, and many other observations by Fox.

Other folders in this subseries contain letters by other friends to Florence Mendheim. The artist Adolphe Barreux often gave his opinion of books recommended by her, while Willard Robertson included a critique of one of her playscripts. Several of her friends wrote poetry addressed to her; Bart Schwarz was an especially prolific poet. Much of the correspondence of the musician Artamon Moskalensky consists of greeting cards.

A) Family

16Croner, Hulda1880, 1931-1941
17Death of Arthur Mendheim1940
18Fields, Dorothy1933-1951
19Katz, Esther1938-1950
110Kroner, Sam1938-1951
111Mendheim, Arthurundated, 1938
112Mendheim, Jesse1915-1951
113Mendheim, Jesse – with Florence Mendheim1937-1940
114Mendheim, John1941-1952
115Other Family Members1927-1949
116Other Family Members – to Flora Cohn1865-1866
117Other Family Members – to "Kroner"1865-1866

B) Friends

118Barreux, Adolphe Leslie1924-1925
119Fox, Edwardundated
21Fox, Edward1919 January-June
22Fox, Edward1919 July-December
23Fox, Edward1920
24Fox, Edward1921
25Fox, Edward1924
26Frisch, Florence1921-1934
27Moskalensky, Artamon1935-1947
28Robertson, Willard1925-1928
29Sargon, David1934-1945
210Schwarz, Barton (Bart)1920
211Susskind, Ernst1937-1939
212Tabenhouse, Benjamin1938-1948
213Zaenglein, Hilda1937-1938

Subseries 2: Committee for Arab-Jewish Understanding, 1936-1940

This subseries is in English.

Scope and Content:

Subseries 2 is comprised of correspondence that relates to the Committee for Arab-Jewish Understanding, of which Florence Mendheim was secretary. This organization strove to bring together New York Arabs and Jews in regards to finding a compromise to the situation in Palestine in the late 1930s and 1940s, and may originally have been known as the Pan-Semitic Union or the New York Council on Palestine. Much of the correspondence of this subseries pertains to the logistics of arranging meetings of the organization. A few letters portray the conflicting opinions of the two sides.

31Drachman, Bernhard1938-1940
32Katibah, H.I.1936-1940
33Near East Foundation1939-1940
34New York Council on Palestine1939
35New York Islamic Center1939-1940
36Research – Books, Periodicals, Clippings1938-1939
37Shatara, F.I.1938-1940

Subseries 3: General, 1915-1951

This subseries is in English.
0.6 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 3 holds the letters of other individuals with Florence Mendheim. Correspondents without a significant amount of letters have been gathered together alphabetically during processing; some of these may include personal letters from friends such as those found in Subseries 1.

Letters in Subseries 3 pertain to various topics. Many are routine correspondence regarding meetings of organizations she attended. Some correspondence, such as those with film companies and concerning the publication of her poetry, denote rejection or criticism of her creative writing. Correspondence with the office of Eleanor Roosevelt concerns poetry Florence Mendheim sent to the First Lady. Other letters include legal and consumer disputes and holiday greetings; a few folders hold notes in addition to letters, such as the brief reviews and synopses of books found with the correspondence of the NYPL.

38A – I1919-1944
39Aberbrand, Albert1938-1943
310Announcements and Organizational Mailings1928-1946
311Announcements and Organizational Mailings – Home for Aged and Infirm Hebrews of New York1950-1951
312Au-Young, Sum Nung1928-1930
41Better Business Bureau Complaint1938
42Congregation Shearith Israel1924-1940
43Drachman, Bernhard - Jubilee1938-1941
44Euelow, H.G.1922-1923
45Film Companies1926-1927
46Haberman, J. Victor1922-1928
47J – P1919-1938, 1946?
48The Jewish Forum1943
49New York Public Library – Book Reviews1943-1944
410Poetry Publication1932-1940
411R – Z1915-1944
412Roosevelt, Eleanor1934-1935
413Stern, John1932
414Tintner, B.A.1932-1935
415Unidentifiedundated, 1915-1941
416Unidentified – Drafts and Notes1932-1947
417United States Government Printing Office1938-1945
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Series III: Writings, 1917-1934

This series is in English.
0.5 linear foot.

Alphabetical by format.

Scope and Content:

This series holds the fiction and non-fiction writings of Florence Mendheim. Among these writings are plays, reports, a short story and a brief article.

Perhaps most notable among Florence Mendheim's written work are her reports of the activities of the Friends of New Germany, an American pro-Nazi group that she managed to infiltrate. The final report from 1934 does not seem to have been written by her, but by an unidentified man. The reports describe meetings and interactions with members of the organization, and include detailed impressions of various individuals encountered.

The other writings of this series are largely typescripts of plays for theater or film. These often involve female protagonists, and cover various themes. The play "Yellow Skin," which concerns a group of Westerners living in China, may have been based on or inspired by events related to Florence Mendheim in the correspondence of Edward Fox, located in Series II.

51Article1917 May
52Play – American Planundated
53Play – The Bride's Pastundated
54Play – The Runaway Girlundated
55Play – Some Classundated
56Play – So's Your Old Auntundated
57Play – Priestess of Sinundated
58Play – Web of Circumstanceundated
59Play – Woman's Game – A Drama in Three Actsundated
510Play – Woman's Game – A Drama in Three Acts and One Sceneundated
511Play – Yellow Skinundated
512Report – Friends of New Germany1933 May 1
513Report – Friends of New Germany1933 June 25
514Report – Friends of New Germany1934 March 8
515Short Story – Fountain of Youthundated
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Series IV: Books, 1839-1947

This series is in Hebrew and German.


Scope and Content:

Series IV contains copies of several books. The majority are prayer books, or relate to Judaism, including a copy of the Talmud and a book on Jewish history. Another work concerns Jewish coins.

Some books from Series IV include handwritten notes. Some of these notes provide genealogical information, while others pertain to religious topics. Books without any or with few notations were removed to the LBI Library, with copies of copyright information retained in the archival collection.

61Books with Dedications1905-1928
62Books with Notes1862-1927
63Books with Notes – Bible1839
64Books without Notes1932-1947
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