Guide to the Papers of Herbert Brutus Ehrmann (1891-1970), undated, 1913-1970 (bulk: 1922-1949, 1959-1961)

Reprocessed by Susan Earle (March 2004)

Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS

99-101 Newbury St.

Boston, MA 02116



© 2019  Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS, Boston, MA. All Rights Reserved.
Finding aid was encoded by Marvin Rusinek on November 09, 2006. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Ehrmann, Herbert B. (1891-1970)
Title: Papers of Herbert Brutus Ehrmann papers
Dates:undated, 1913-1970 (bulk 1922-1949, 1959-1961)
Abstract: Contains correspondence, addresses and speeches, newspaper clippings, and published material relating primarily to Ehrmann's activity in the national and Boston chapter of the American Jewish Committee (1935-1970). Of special interest is material on the relation of the Committee to the American Jewish Conference (1943-1948), the relationship of American Jewry to the State of Israel, and the attitude of the Committee to the establishment of Israel. Also contains genealogical material, in German and in English, between Ehrmann and his relatives in Poland immediately prior World War II, and in Italy immediately after the war. Also contains letters and reports sent by Mrs. Sara Rosenfeld Ehrmann (b. 1895) by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the United Jewish Appeal, dealing primarily with fund-raising matters.
Also included are Speakers bulletins used by the Women's Division of the Greater Boston United Jewish Campaign, of which Mrs. Ehrmann was chairman. Of special interest are reports sent to Mr. Ehrmann by the JDC regarding the ship "St. Louis." The collection includes photographs.
Languages: The collection is in English and German.
Quantity: 2 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box (1.25 linear feet)
Identification: P-94
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located at AJHS, Boston, MA.
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Biographical Note

Herbert B. Ehrmann (HBE) was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1891. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and practiced law in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1917 HBE married Sara Emilie Rosenfeld. They had two sons: Hilmar Bruce and Robert Lincoln. With William G. Thompson, HBE served as associate counsel for Sacco and Vanzetti during the closing years of their trial. He wrote two books, The Untried Case and The Case that Will Not Die, about the trial and also wrote articles, an additional book, and a play, "Under this Roof," which was produced on Broadway in 1942. He also translated poetry from the Hebrew language.

He was active in civic affairs and in Jewish organizational life and in 1957 was a member of a nine-man delegation which conducted a 15,000-mile fact-finding survey in Europe, North Africa, and Israel. This delegation was granted a special audience with Pope Pius XII, and was the only Jewish group to be awarded such an honor. The delegation also met with Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and other Israeli officials, and with government leaders in France, Italy, Tunisia, and Morocco. HBE was elected president of the American Jewish Committee in April 1959 and served in that capacity until 1961. He died in 1970.1

Chronology of the Life of Herbert B. Ehrmann

1891HBE born in Louisville, Kentucky
1912Receives A.B. from Harvard
1914Receives LL.B. from Harvard Law School
1917Marries Sara Emilie Rosenfeld
1918Son Hilmar Bruce is born
1921HBE becomes partner in law firm Goulston and Storrs, Boston, MA; Criminal Courts of Cleveland, Ohio published
1926Counsel, with William G. Thompson, for Sacco and Vanzetti
1933The Untried Case (about Sacco and Vanzetti) published
1942"Under this Roof" produced on Broadway
1954HBE serves as Chair of the Greater Boston Tercentenary Committee
1957HBE participates in American Jewish Committee fact-finding mission in Europe, North Africa, and Israel
1959HBE elected president of American Jewish Committee
1969The Case that Will Not Die published
1970HBE dies
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Scope and Content Note

The bulk of this material pertains to HBE's involvement with the American Jewish Committee. Some correspondence with relatives in Poland before World War II, and in Italy immediately after the war, is also included, as is a small amount of material pertaining to his wife Sara, who was active in the Massachusetts campaign to abolish the death penalty. Some letters in German are included in the Personal Series.

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The collection has been arranged into four series as follows:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Collections and Engagement of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:
American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011

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Related Material

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The collection was donated to AJHS in 1971, with additional material donated by Sara Rosenfeld Ehrmann in 1977.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Papers of Herbert Brutus Ehrmann papers; P-94; box number; folder number; Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.

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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

Container List

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

Click the box in the request column to learn more about viewing materials at the Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.


Series I: American Jewish Committee, undated, 1942-1970, (bulk 1955-1961)

The series is in English.
Boxes 1-2 (Folder 6). (0.8 linear feet)

Alphabetical and chronological. (Some folders are in reverse chronological order.)

Scope and Content:

This series documents HBE's involvement with the American Jewish Committee. Located here is correspondence related to HBE's election as president of the Committee, as well as correspondence from his tenure as president. Also included is material on the Committee's position on Israel. (The "General" folders include documents from the 1940s, concerning the Committees attitude towards Israel at that time, while later related material can be found in the "Israel" folder.) Of particular note are the documents from HBE's 1957 trip, as part of an American Jewish Committee fact-finding delegation, to Europe, Israel, and North Africa. Included here are HBE's notes on the trip, letters to his wife Sara, and material pertaining to the delegates' audience with Pope Pius XII. In addition, this series also includes speeches made by HBE; topics range from "Egg-Heads and Do-Gooders" to "Modern Perspectives on Anti-Semitism."

11Biographical Information1955-1966request_box
11Boston Chapter: Dinner in Honor of HBE1953request_box
12Correspondence: HBE Elected President of AJC (folder 1 of 3)1959request_box
13Correspondence: HBE Elected President of AJC (folder 2 of 3)1959request_box
14Correspondence: HBE Elected President of AJC (folder 3 of 3)1959request_box
17Correspondence: Trip to Paris, Alliance Anniversary, A.L. Sachar1960request_box
17Correspondence: HBE Completion of Term as President1961request_box
17Correspondence: Yitzhak Rabin1969request_box
18General (folder 1)1942-1950request_box
21General (folder 2)1942-1950request_box
22Generalundated, 1948-1951request_box
23Israelundated, 1950-1961request_box
24Israel: Trip1957request_box
24Israel-U.S.: Secretary of State William P. Rogers1969-1970request_box
25Speeches: Summary of RemarksMarch 26, 1951request_box
25Regional Conference of AJC: HBE's RemarksMarch 10, 1956request_box
25"The Conscience of Liberty," Central SynagogueApril 26, 1958request_box
25"Eggheads and Do-Gooders," Washington, DCOctober 1959request_box
25"Dividend of Freedom" Creativity in Voluntary Groups booklet1960request_box
25"Modern Perspectives on Anti-Semitism"1960request_box
25Presidential Address: 53rd Annual MeetingApril 1960request_box
25"Human Relations in World Perspective"October 1960request_box
26"Our Commitment to Humanity:" Presidential Address, 54th Annual Meeting1961request_box
26"Christian Roots of Anti-Semitism," Essex County Annual Dinner Meeting1966request_box
26Remarks on Award of American Liberties Medallion to Stephen and Audrey Bruce CurrierMay 18, 1967request_box
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Series II: Mrs. Herbert B. (Sara) Ehrmann, 1939

The series is in English.
Box 2 (Folder 7). (0.1 linear feet)

Alphabetical and chronological.

Scope and Content:

This series consists of a small amount of material pertaining to EDS's wife Sara. Material consists of correspondence and reports from the United Jewish Appeal for Refugees and Overseas Needs, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, both of which were active on behalf of refugees. Some of this material concerns the S.S. St. Louis emergency. (The S.S. St. Louis set sail from Germany on May 13, 1939, to take Jewish refugees to Cuba, where they would await quota numbers to enter the U.S. The Cuban government did not allow the passengers to disembark, despite the efforts of the Joint Distribution Committee, and the ship returned to Europe. The Committee did persuade the governments of Great Britain, Holland, Belgium, and France to take in the 907 refugees.2) Included is a copy of a telegram from the S.S. St. Louis's Committee of Passengers, expressing thanks to the Joint Distribution Committee.

27Fund-Raising Reports and Letters; Reports on the1939request_box
27S.S. St. Louis1939request_box
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Series III: Personal, undated, 1938-1946, 1954

The series is in English and German.
Box 2 (Folder 8). (0.1 linear feet)

Alphabetical and chronological.

Scope and Content:

This series details HBE's involvement with the Boston Committee for the American Jewish Tercentenary. (He served as chair of the committee.) A volume of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, dated April 1939, is also located here, as is an obituary for HBE's father, Hilmar Ehrmann. In addition, the series contains incomplete correspondence with relatives in Poland before World War II and in Italy immediately after the war. The material provides information on HBE's attempts to assist his relatives in coming to the United States. (The correspondence does not reveal the fate of these relatives.) Some of the letters are in German.

28Boston Tercentenary1954request_box
28Correspondence with Relatives in Europe1938-1946request_box
28Genealogical Materialundated, 1939request_box
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Series IV: Speeches, undated, 1913-1969

The series is in English.
Box 3. (0.25 linear feet)

Chronological and alphabetical.

Scope and Content:

This series consists of speeches given by HBE in capacities other than as a representative of the American Jewish Committee. Included here are speeches on such topics as "The War on Crime," "The Nature of Nazi Anti-Semitism," and "How to be an American though a Jew." Additional speeches located here include a talk given at the 1947 New England convention of the Jewish Welfare Board, a speech made on the occasion of the dedication of a temple in Dallas, and a speech given to the American Jewish Historical Society. Also located here is a poem titled "The Jew's Home," and an article titled "And the Pursuit of Difference," with some related correspondence. The program of a play written by HBE can also be found here.

31Speeches: Community Fund Appealundatedrequest_box
31Speeches: "Culture Contacts and Jewish Literature"undatedrequest_box
31Speeches: "How to be a Jew though an American, How to be an American though a Jew"undatedrequest_box
31Poem: "The Jew's Home (Lincoln, England)"undatedrequest_box
31Speeches: "The Jewish Stage Society"undatedrequest_box
31Speeches: "The Moral Value of Traditional Ideals"undatedrequest_box
31Speech before Menorah First MeetingOctober 6, 1913request_box
31Play: "The Demonstrator:" Program for Comedy in One ActFebruary 29, 1916request_box
31Speeches: Speech of the EveningMarch 28, 1917request_box
32Speeches: "Crime and the Child"January 15, 1934request_box
32Speeches: "The War on Crime"February 25, 1934request_box
32Speehes: Speaker's Bulletin1938-1939request_box
32Speeches: "The Nature of Nazi Anti-Semitism"1939request_box
32Speeches: N.E. JWB ConventionNovember 9, 1947request_box
32Speeches: "And the Pursuit of Difference"1948request_box
32Speeches: Dedication of Dallas TempleMay 23, 1956request_box
32Speeches: Remarks before American Jewish Historical Society1969request_box
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