Guide to the Papers of Hanns Reissner (1902-1977)

AR 4147 / MF 1082

Processed by Dianne Ritchey and LBI Staff

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2010 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey in June 2010. Description is in English.
November 2010: Microfilm inventory added. September 2011: Links to digital objects added in Container List. December 2014: Information on Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy letter in 1/18 added to series description.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Reissner, Hanns Günther, 1902-1977
Title: Hanns Reissner Collection
Dates:bulk 1955-1975
Abstract: This collection contains the extensive research of the historian Hanns Reissner. The most prominent subjects of the collection are the philosopher and jurist Eduard Gans and the Verein für Kultur und Wissenschaft der Juden, although Reissner's research also addresses many other subjects within the field of both German and American Jewish history. Included in the collection are extensive research notes and correspondence concerning his work, his unpublished manuscripts, clippings and offprints.
Languages: The collection is primarily in German and English.
Quantity: 3 linear feet.
Identification: AR 4147
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
Return to the Top of Page

Biographical Note

Born in Berlin on November 29, 1902, the historian Hanns Reissner emigrated to India in 1939, the United States in 1948, and died in Philadelphia on June 8, 1977.

Return to the Top of Page

Scope and Content Note

The Hanns Reissner Collection contains the academic research of Hanns Reissner, with an emphasis on the work and lives of Eduard Gans, Heinrich Heine, and other members of the Verein für Kultur und Wissenschaft der Juden. The collection includes extensive notes, correspondence, many clippings, a few offprints and drafts of Reissner's unpublished writing.

This collection evidences Hanns Reissner's research into many different areas of general German-Jewish history in his profession as a historian and professor. Series I: Individuals holds numerous drafts of short articles by him on specific persons, together with accompanying research, for the Encyclopedia Judaica. While many of these individuals were of German-Jewish descent, others were American. Further documentation of his research on others' behalf is his correspondence with the LBI, found in the letters of Series III. Here Reissner, who was a Leo Baeck Institute fellow, discusses his research with representatives of the institute and provides them with his professional opinion on research proposals by other scholars. Series II shows his accumulation of research on topics unrelated to his primary interests in Eduard Gans and the Verein für Kultur und Wissenschaft der Juden.

The bulk of Hanns Reissner's research and writing in this collection focuses on the life of Eduard Gans, the German-Jewish jurist, philosopher and historian. Reissner seemed especially interested in the connection between Gans and the writer Heinrich Heine. Both of them were members of the previously mentioned Verein, and Reissner's research also included other members of the organization. Most of his research notes on these interrelated subjects will be found in Series I. An associated topic of which there are several folders of notes is the proposed establishment of a Jewish settlement on Grand Island in upstate New York by Mordecai Noah, another member of the Verein. Reissner's correspondence with other historians in Series III mentions his research into these subjects as well as the publication of his writings on them. Unpublished typescripts with handwritten corrections and notes are primarily located in Series IV, although his work on Heinrich Heine (Captive Messiah) a work pertaining to Alexander von Humboldt and the Mendelssohn family and a few smaller essays are located with their related research in Series I.

Researchers should note that aside from a few passing remarks in Reissner's correspondence there is no biographical material on the historian in this collection. The collection focuses on his research conducted in the United States and does not refer to his professional work in Germany or India.

Return to the Top of Page


Arranged in four series in the following manner:

Return to the Top of Page

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.

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 Reserve button.

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

Return to the Top of Page

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 holds several books by Hanns Reissner, among them several published versions of manuscripts found in this archival collection.

Of related interest may be materials on Eduard Gans. The LBI Library includes a number of books both by and about Eduard Gans, and the LBI Archives holds the Eduard Gans Family Collection [AR 24].

Return to the Top of Page


The collection is on nine reels of microfilm (MF 1082):

Return to the Top of Page

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Hanns Reissner Collection; AR 4147; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

Return to the Top of Page

Processing Information

This collection was reprocessed in May/ June 2010 in preparation of the EAD finding aid. During reprocessing the previous arrangement of series was retained. Several overfilled "miscellaneous" folders were given more precise titles and some were subdivided into individual folders on specific topics.

Return to the Top of Page

Container List

Follow the links in the title column to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Individuals, 1821-1977

This series is primarily in German and English.
2 linear feet.

Divided as follows:

Scope and Content:

Series I contains Hanns Reissner's research for articles or essays on individuals and correspondence concerning the same. Most of the material here consists of correspondence, extensive notes and clippings.

The first portion of Series I pertains to research on articles by Reissner for the Encyclopedia Judaica. Included are some drafts of the articles, but it primarily holds notes and correspondence with the publishers of the Encyclopedia Judaica.

Other research in this series concerns research on individuals for articles not intended for the Encyclopedia Judaica. Prominent among these are the research on members of the Verein für Kultur und Wissenschaft der Juden, which Reissner also frequently referred to as the "Culturverein" or the "Kulturverein"; included among the members were Eduard Gans, who was its president, Heinrich Heine, Immanuel Wohlwill, and Leopold Zunz. Much of the material on Eduard Gans focuses on his correspondence with Heine and the work of the Verein. Reissner's article on this subject, Heinrich Heine to Eduard Gans: Quand Même, is included in this series. This article links members of the Verein, discussing the relationship between Eduard Gans, Heinrich Heine, Mordecai Noah and Leopold Zunz. A related topic may also be the "Philalethen," a nondenominational group founded by Immanuel Wohlwill; notes on the various members of the Verein für Kultur und Wissenschaft der Juden also include frequent mentions of this group. An associated topic of which there are several folders of notes is the proposed, and ultimately unsuccessful, establishment of a Jewish settlement on Grand Island in upstate New York by Mordecai Noah. Although named Ararat by Noah, Heine termed it "Ganstown" after Eduard Gans in a letter to fellow Verein member Moses Moser. Folders pertaining to Ganstown and to Mordecai Noah hold notes on the settlement. Other topics include the relationship between Alexander von Humboldt and the Mendelssohn family. One letter, in box 1, folder 18, is a photocopy of a letter from Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (in Berlin) to Julie Sophie Schunck (in Leipzig), prior to November 29, 1844.

The final portion of this series consists of a number of folders originally located in three overfilled "miscellaneous" folders at the end of the first series. During the reprocessing of the collection these folders were divided by subject. Some of these topics include those found in the previous section, including further research material on Heinrich Heine, Eduard Gans, and the Verein für Kultur und Wissenschaft der Juden. Another folder has a large amount of research material on the emigration of German Jews to the United States in the nineteenth century. In his correspondence with Frederick Bargebuhr, Reissner briefly mentions the years he lived in India.

A) Encyclopedia Judaica Articles

11Encyclopedia Judaica Articles – A-K1956-1972
12Encyclopedia Judaica Articles – L-W1954-1971
13Encyclopedia Judaica – Goldman-Sachs Family1968-1971
14Encyclopedia Judaica – Lazard Frères1968-1975
15Encyclopedia Judaica – Lehman Brothers1969-1971
16Encyclopedia Judaica – Straus family1968-1975

B) Individuals

17Adersbach, Gerhard1956-1962
18Fischel, Walter1966-1975
19Gans, Eduard1956-1963
110Gans, Eduard1956-1959
111Gans, Eduard1961-1963
112Gans, Eduard – Article – Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Eduard Gans1958-1960, 1977
113Gans, Eduard – Article – Heinrich Heine to Eduard Gans: Quand Mêmeundated
114Gans, Eduard – Gans Family History – Research Correspondence1958-1963
115Gans, Eduard – Gans Family History – Research Correspondence1971-1973
116Gans, Eduard – Gans Family History – Skizze einer Geschichte der Familie Gans1967?
117Gans, Eduard – Ganstown1961-1962
118Gans, Eduard – Geschichte der französischen Revolution (Photocopy)undated
119Gans, Eduard – Various Research Notesundated
120Heine, Heinrich1955-1970
121Heine, Heinrich – Centennial1950-1970
122Heine, Heinrich – Centennial – Clippings1955-1975
123Heine, Heinrich – Manuscripts – Captive Messiahundated
124Heine, Heinrich – Manuscripts – Captive Messiahundated
125Heine, Heinrich – Manuscripts – The Tale of the Messiahundated
126Heine, Heinrich – New Orleans Research – Armand and Michel Heine1956-1958
127Heine, Heinrich – New Orleans Research – Samuel Hermann Articleundated
128Heine, Heinrich – Notebook
129Heine, Heinrich – Treatment of African-Americans1956-1958
130Humboldt, Alexander1956-1962
131Humboldt, Alexander1891, 1957-1974
132Humboldt, Alexander – Manuscript – Alexander Humboldt im Verkehr mit der Familie Mendelssohn
133Humboldt, Alexander – Manuscripts – Alexander Humboldt im Verkehr mit der Familie Mendelssohn1974
21Kirschbaum, Eliezer Sinai1956-1966
22Kulturverein für Kultur und Wissenschaft der Juden – Statistics1821-1823, 1956-1957
23Leo-Wolf Family1954-1957
24Lessmann, Daniel1927, 1957-1969
25Lessmann, Daniel – Manuscript – The Correspondentundated
26Mendelssohn Family1956-1967
27Mendelssohn Family – Notebookundated
28Mendelssohn, Henriettaundated, 1973-1976
29Mendelssohn Family – Correspondence1970-1973
210Noah, Mordecai Manuel1955-1975
211Olshausen, Theodor1830, 1955-1971
212Photographs and Negatives1913, 1956-1965
213Pope Pius XII – Clippings1968-1976
214Veit Family1962-1972
215Veit Family – Manuscript – Gebrüder Veit, Berlin (1780-1931)1970s?
216Wohlwill, Immanuel1822, 1952-1970
217Zunz, Leopold1957-1966

C) Various

218Various – Bargebuhr, Frederick – Correspondence1955-1957
219Various – Brogi, Joseph Leyser1959-1960
220Various – Gans, Eduard1959-1967
221Various – Gesellschaft der Freunde1842
222Various – Heine, Heinrich1955-1956
223Various – Jews in the United States1954-1965
224Various – Unidentified Subjects1959-1965
225Various – Verein für Kultur und Wissenschaft der Juden1954-1976
226Various – Verein für Kultur und Wissenschaft der Juden – Clippings and Offprints1955-1968
227Various – Wise, Isaac and Jonah1965-1973
Return to the Top of Page

Series II: Subjects, 1951-1975

This series is in English and German.
0.2 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Series II contains research material concerning various subjects. This material primarily includes a large amount of clippings as well as offprints, some notes and correspondence on his research.

Material on B'nai B'rith largely relates to its founders. Notes on boycotts refer to the 1933 boycott sponsored by the American Jewish Congress against German products. Clippings on various Jewish communities in the Caribbean will also be found here, as well as a draft of Hanns Reissner's article on the subject.

An overfilled folder holding material on various New York City department stores was separated into smaller folders during reprocessing. The bulk of this material consists of clippings, although there are also a few notes, unpublished drafts of articles, and publications. Items found in the folder of material on department stores that could not be further categorized have been placed in the "Other Topics" folder.

31B'nai B'rith1961-1967
33British Government Publications Listsundated, 1965
34Caribbean Jewish Community1955-1972
35Department Stores – Abraham and Straus (A & S)1965-1970
36Department Stores – Bloomingdale's1968-1972
37Department Stores – Federated Department Stores1968-1974
38Department Stores – Gimbel Brothers1966-1975
39Department Stores – Levi Strauss1958-1972
310Department Stores – Other Topics1951-1975
311Jewish Newspapers1952, 1955
312Offprints and Reprints by Others1957-1965
Return to the Top of Page

Series III: Correspondence, 1954-1976

This series is primarily in German and English, with a very small amount in Danish.
0.4 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Series III is comprised of the correspondence of Hanns Reissner, which primarily focuses on his research. Included with the correspondence are research notes and, occasionally, clippings. Most of the correspondence in this series focuses on research on Heinrich Heine or Eduard Gans.

Most prominent in this series is the correspondence with the LBI; Reissner was an LBI fellow. Much of the general correspondence with the LBI discusses administrative details of his fellowship. Other topics include LBI exhibitions and events, his recommendations for the LBI's acquisitions, and collection areas in which he felt the LBI should focus. Some of his correspondence with the LBI consists of extensive notes on various projects; particularly prominent are his handwritten notes and charts related to accumulating research on German records in the United States. His reviews provide his opinion on the success of various research projects other scholars intended to perform for the LBI as well as on a few books.

313Anti-Nazi Boycotts1960-1972
314Arnsberg, Paul1966
315Brilling, Bernhard1964-1975
316Brockmann, Gerda1963-1970
317Eisemann, Heinrich1956-1958
318Eisner, F.H.1955-1971
319Glatzer, Nahum1956-1973
320Heilbronn Family Members1964-1965
321Hellendall, Fritz1968-1970
322Jacobson, Jacob1957-1974
323Kobner, H.L.1964-1970
325LBI – Research for Untitled Publication1966-1967
326LBI – Reviews1964-1965
327LBI – Writing and Research1966-1968
328LBI – Writing and Research – Essay – Beiträge des Leo Baeck Institutes zu Firmengeschichte und Unternehmerbiographie1968
331Philip, Lotte1956-1957
332Schoeps, Hans-Joachim1962-1972
333Strauss, Lewis1965
334Wadepuhl, Walter1955-1958
Return to the Top of Page

Series IV: Manuscripts and Notes, 1957-1977

This series is in German and English.
0.2 linear foot.

Alphabetical and by format.

Scope and Content:

Series IV holds unpublished typescripts of Hanns Reissner's articles, essays, and lecture texts. In addition, there are two folders of accumulated notes previously located in a miscellaneous folder.

The majority of writings here compile Reissner's work on Eduard Gans or Alexander Humboldt. Most of the manuscripts include extensive handwritten corrections or annotations. Ein Leben im Vormärz is a detailed study of the character and works of Eduard Gans, with mention of his early life and student years, while Rebellious Dilemma is a shorter piece that discusses how anti-Semitic tendencies in Germany influenced the development of Eduard Gans and some of his contemporaries.

Other subjects found here include a history of the first decade of the LBI and Eastward and Southward, a lecture given at the Conference on Recent Jewish Economic History at the Herzl Institute. This lecture mentions Jewish migrations to Asia and Africa, and discusses the demographics of Jewish societies outside of Europe and the United States.

335Essay – Ten Years Leo Baeck Institute (1955-1965)1965?
336Manuscripts – Alexander von Humboldt im Verkehr mit der Familie Joseph Mendelssohn1977
337Manuscripts – Eastward and Southward1970
338Manuscripts – Ein Leben im Vormärz (Eduard Gans)1971
339Manuscripts – Ein Leben im Vormärz (Eduard Gans) – Galley Proofsundated
340Manuscripts – Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy und Eduard Gansundated
341Manuscripts – Rebellious Dilemmaundated, 1957
342Notes – Heinrich Heineundated, 1959-1973
343Notes – Jewish Immigration to the United Statesundated, 1972
Return to the Top of Page

Series V: Addenda, 1938-1977

This series is in German and English.
1 folder.
Scope and Content:

This series contains a small amount of material that appears to have been added to the collection at a later date. Included are copies of Hans Reissner's obituaries, some draft pages from a work on American Jewish history, and a few collected clippings and notes by him. Some correspondence with E.E. Hirshler concerning changes to a published manuscript will also be found here, as well as Reissner's article "Familie auf Wanderschaft."

Return to the Top of Page