Guide to the Papers of Selma Stern-Taeubler (1890-1981)
AR 7160 / MF 479

Processed by 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



© April 2003. Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Dianne Ritchey Oummia as MSWord file, March 2003. Electronic finding aid converted to EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey Oummia, April 2003. Description is in English.
March 2005. Access points added. January 2006. Entities removed from EAD finding aid. December 07, 2012  Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Stern, Selma, 1890-
Title: Selma Stern-Taeubler Collection
Abstract: The Jewish historian and scholar Selma Stern-Taeubler was born in 1890 in Kippenheim, Baden, and was the first archivist of the American Jewish Archives. This collection is comprised of extensive research notes used by her in the preparation of her book (The Prussian State and the Jews). It also contains other material pertaining to her scholarly writing such as a few manuscripts, reviews of her works, and correspondence concerning publications of her writing. Some personal information is also available in the form of diaries and poetry, biographical clippings and obituaries, and a few photographs.
Languages: The collection is in German, English, French and Hebrew.
Quantity: 2.4 linear feet
Accession number: AR 7160 / MF 479
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Born on July 24, 1890 in Kippenheim, Baden, Selma Stern was the daughter of the physician Dr. Julius Stern and his wife Emilie, née Durlacher. In 1901 the family resettled in Baden-Baden, where Dr. Stern would soon possess a very large international clientele.

Growing up, Selma Stern was labeled a "Wunderkind" and because of her talents was the first girl to receive special permission to attend the secondary school in the humanities at only 14 years old. There she quickly became the first in her class and at 18 passed the Abitur exam with honors.

In 1908 her father died at 49 years old, which was a hard blow for Selma Stern. Her mother made it possible for her to continue her education despite great difficulties, and she began to study history in Heidelberg. After three semesters she changed her studies to Munich and received her doctorate summa cum laude shortly before the outbreak of the first World War.

Selma Stern spent the war years with her mother and youngest sister in Frankfurt am Main, where she engaged in scholarly work and taught. After the end of the war, she was called to the newly-founded Akademie fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums (Academy for the Scientific Study of Judaism) in Berlin by her future spouse, Professor Eugen Taeubler. There she began her work Der Preußische Staat und die Juden. In 1927 Selma Stern married Eugen Taeubler, then a Professor of ancient history in Heidelberg. She continued working on her scholarly writing, and visited archives to collect materials for her work, even during the Hitler period, when she did so with difficulty. In 1936 the Taeublers moved to England but returned to Germany a year later, moving to Berlin, where Professor Taeubler taught young rabbis and teachers at the Lehranstalt fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums (Institute for the Scientific Study of Judaism). In 1938 Selma Stern-Taeubler was forbidden to continue working in archives and libraries, but was assisted by friends such as Leo Baeck and others, who helped her retrieve excerpts of documents inaccessible to her.

In 1941 the Taeublers took the last ship to America before the United States entered the war and ocean travel became dangerous. Professor Taeubler became a lecturer in Jewish history at Hebrew Union College in Cincinatti, and his wife became the first archivist at the American Jewish Archives, at the same time working further on her scholarly writing.

Professor Taeubler died in 1953, and in 1956 Selma Stern-Taeubler received the Dr. phil. Honoris causa from Hebrew Union College. In 1960, after having retired from the American Jewish Archives, she moved to Basel, where her youngest sister lived. There she wrote and completed her documentary work Der Preußische Staat und die Juden, the original manscript having been mostly destroyed by the Nazis in the 1930s, and also edited works written by her husband.

As she became older, her health worsened, and she was forced to give up her apartment in Basel. Shortly afterward she entered the "La Charmilla" old home because of the condition of her health, where she hoped to be able to continue working.

Selma Stern-Taeubler died on August 17, 1981.

She published five books in her lifetime: Der Hofjude im Zeitalter des Absolutismus in 1950; Ihr seid meine Zeugen - Ein Novellenkranz aus der Zeit des Schwarzen Todes in den Jahren 1348-1349 in 1972; Josel von Rosheim - Befehlshaber der Judenschaft in Heiligen Römischen Reich Deutscher Nation in 1959; Jud Süß - Ein Beitrag zur Deutschen und zur Jüdischen Geschichte in 1929, reprinted in 1973; and Der Preußische Staat und die Juden - Dokumtarwerk in 7 Bänden in 1962-1971.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the work of historian Selma Stern-Taebler, and includes extensive research notes, articles, correspondence, a few photos, diaries, and other personal writing.

The most prominent topic represented in this collection is Selma Stern-Taeubler's published works, which is the concern of the majority of papers in the collection. Most of the collection is comprised either of background materials for professional writings, of copies of manuscripts of published works, or of correspondence or reviews focusing on the publications.

The most substantial series is Series II: Research. Here a researcher may find numerous excerpts and notes taken from original sources describing the life of Jews in Prussia during the 1700s, which were used for Stern-Taeubler's multi-volume work, Der Preußische Staat und die Juden. Most of the sources appear to be government records. The majority of these notes are handwritten, although a few are typed. As may be expected, a large amount of notes are from records in Berlin. There are no summaries or interpretations by Selma Stern-Taeubler of the excerpts in this series. Series III: Manuscripts is comprised of two subseries, the first containing two works written by Selma Stern-Taeubler. The majority of subseries 1 is the scholastic work Der Hofjude im Zeitalter des Absolitismus. Among the items in Series IV: Addenda, which is made up of material added to the collection at some point, are three scholarly articles written by Selma Stern-Taeubler.

A second topic of this collection is personal information about Selma Stern-Taeubler. Her personal writings, including diary entries and poetry, are located in subseries 2 of Series III. This subseries deviates from the rest of the collection in that it focuses on her personal writings and relationships with others instead of scholarly work. Some personal information on Selma Stern-Taeubler is also included in Series IV: Addenda. Much of this information is biographical, in the form of obituaries and memorials on her ninetieth birthday and photographs.

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The collection is organized into four series.

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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.

Collection is microfilmed (MF 497).

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

Related Material

Some publications authored by Selma Stern-Taeubler are available in the LBI library.

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Collection is available on 7 reels of microfilm (MF 497).

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Selma Stern-Taeubler Collection; AR 7160; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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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: Inventory, undated, 1991

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

Series I contains an inventory of the collection. Included with the inventory are brief typed descriptions in English of the content of some of Selma Stern-Taeubler's handwritten diaries found in Series III, written by Dr. Maria Leschnitzer in 1991.

11Inventoryundated, 1991
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Series II: Research,  1713-1799

This series is in German and French.
1.5 linear feet
Scope and Content:

This series, the largest in the collection, mainly holds research notes copied from original sources, either typed or handwritten. The notes are excerpts of Prussian government records from the eighteenth century. Selma Stern-Taeubler used this information in her work Der Preußische Staat und die Juden.

The extensive notes are excerpts of Prussian laws enacted which concerned Jews. Topics covered include quotas of Jews or Jewish families, bank ownership, interest, taxes and fees, and trade. Many of the laws concern Schutzjuden (protected Jews) and their position in the community, such as the purchasing and pricing of Schutzpatente (protection rights), and revocations of protection. The majority of notes come from Berlin, although the first folder in the series contains notes from cities located in the present state of Nordrhein-Westphalen. Other cities represented here include Kleve, Potsdam, and Breslau. It should be noted that the city of Kleve is often spelled in the research notes as Cleve.

Although the majority of folders in this series are organized by geographical location, two are topical. One folder, "Notes - Christian Otto Mylius – Corpus Constitutionem Marchicarum (Erledyl)" contains excerpts from edicts produced by Mylius, a high-ranking government official under Friedrich II. Another folder focuses on laws dealing with Jewish politics.

In addition to the notes, this series contains statistical tables of Jews living in various Prussian cities. These may be found in several folders, especially "Notes - Wissenschaft vom Judentum," where all of the tables in this folder are handwritten. In addition to statistical tables, this folder holds more of the same excerpts found elsewhere in this series, from numerous cities. Other folders which contain these tables are: "Notes - Kurmark," "Notes and Tables - Kurmark, Potsdam," and "Notes - Berlin, Potsdam." Some tables in these folders are handwritten, but most are typed.

A little over one-half of the correspondence from the Woelfenbuettler Landesarchiv is in French.

12Notes - Kleve, Mark, Moers, Tecklenburg, Ravensberg, Minden1713-1745
13Notes - Halberstadt, Magdeburg, Halle1713-1739
14Notes - Pommerania1713-1738
15Notes - Wissenschaft vom Judentum1718-1738
16Notes - Christian Otto Mylius: Corpus Constitutionem Marrchicarum (Erledyl)1714-1737
17Notes - Kurmark, Brandenburg1713-1723
18Notes and Tables - Kurmark, Potsdam1724-1734
19Notes - Kurmark1734-1745
110Notes - Jewish Politics - Berlin, Potsdam1757-1780
111Notes - Berlin, Kleve1742-1775
112Notes - Berlin, Kleve1742-1799
113Notes - Berlin, Potsdam1751-1785
114Notes - Berlin, Potsdam1751-1785
21Handwritten Correspondence - Wolfenbuetteler Landesarchiv(1762?) 1780-1785, 1794-1799
22Handwritten Correspondence - Wolfenbuetteler Landesarchiv(1762-?)1744-1746, 1784-1795
23Notes - Berlin, Potsdam1768-1784
24Notes - Berlin1761-1776
25Notes - Berlin1742-1770
26Notes - Berlin1758-1769
27Notes - Berlin, Breslau, Potsdam 1777-1785
28Notes, Statistics, and Tables - Breslau 1742-1777
29Notes and Statistics - Breslau 1741-1778
210Notes and Statistics - Breslau 1754-1776
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Series III: Writings,  undated, 1904-1926, 1941-1946, 1950-1956

This series is in German and Hebrew.
0.6 linear foot
Scope and Content:

Series III is comprised of Selma Stern-Taeubler's writings, both professional and personal.

Subseries 1: Manuscripts, 1950?, 1956?

This subseries is in German.
0.25 linear foot
Scope and Content:

This subseries is comprised of copies of manuscripts written by Selma Stern-Taeubler. Four folders in this subseries contain pages of Der Hofjude im Zeitalter des Absolutismus, which discusses the socioeconomic and political position of Jews in Europe during the time of absolutism between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. The fifth folder, entitled "Eugen Taeubler und der Wissenschaft des Judentums " holds a typed manscript concerning Eugen Taeubler's life and his reasons for promoting the study of Jewish history.

211Der Hofjude im Zeitalter des Absolutismus - pp. 1-841950?
212Der Hofjude im Zeitalter des Absolutismus - pp. 85-2121950?
213Der Hofjude im Zeitalter des Absolutismus - pp. 213-2951950?
214Der Hofjude im Zeitalter des Absolutismus, pp. 296-4271950?
215Eugen Taeubler und der Wissenschaft des Judentums1956?

Subseries 2: Personal Writings, 1904-1926, 1941-1946, 1954

This subseries is in German and Hebrew.
0.35 linear foot
Scope and Content:

Subseries 2: Personal Writings holds mainly diaries, as well as some notes on an autobiography. Diary entries discuss Selma Stern-Taeubler's family, especially the death of her father and her feelings afterward. Many entries also concern World War I and the end of the war, as well as other subjects, such as Selma Stern-Taeubler's growing interest in Judaism and the situation of the Jews, and her personal friendships, especially from 1913-1921. Stern-Taeubler was also fond of writing poetry, and many poems are in the diaries. There are no diary entries between 1921 and 1944 except for some poetry.

The diaries in the first folder of box 3 are three small, black notebooks. The notepad in the following folder is small and orange, and contains drafts of correspondence. Of the seven light blue exam books in box 3, folder 3 containing diary entries, three of them (C-G) focus on the time from November 1945 through mid-April 1946, the other entries in books A and B are written less frequently and span from 1944 through 1945. The folder "Ad Usum Propium" is comprised of a small black book with gray corners with this title and some loose papers. The book and papers in this folder contain poetry and a few notes. "Autobiography and Notes" holds three small volumes, mostly containing poetry, but also notes about an autobiography.

216Diary #11904-1907
217Diaries #2-31904-1909
218Diaries #4-51909-1917
33Diaries - A-G 1944-1946
34Ad Usum Propium1913, 1925-1926, 1933, ca. 1941
35Diary in Hebrewundated
36Autobiography and Notesca. 1920-1954
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Series IV: Addenda, 1946-1981, 1993-1995

This series is in English.
0.3 linear foot
Scope and Content:

Series IV: Addenda is comprised of various items added at a later point to the collection. Although the majority of papers here is correspondence, there are also clippings and a few photographs and articles.

Many of the materials in this series concern Selma Stern-Taeubler's published works, especially her book, Ihr seid meine Zeugen. Box 3, folder 9 and the following folder mainly contains correspondence to and from Selma Stern-Taeubler's publisher of the book, Gotthold Müller, although there are also letters to Stern-Taeubler herself about the book, arranged alphabetically. The folder "Correspondence, Reviews" mainly contains clippings and reviews of Stern-Taeubler's books, especially Ihr seid meine Zeugen and Jüd Süß, as well as a small amount of correspondence, usually concerning Ihr seid meine Zeugen.

Other folders in this series contain biographical information as well as several articles written by her. The folders "Notes, Clippings" and "Publications, Correspondence, Clippings" hold clippings and photocopies of Selma Stern-Taeubler's obituaries and memorials to her, as well as reviews of her works. Box 3, folder 14 is comprised of similar materials, and contains obituaries and reflections on Selma Stern-Taeubler's life on the occasion of her 90th birthday and photographs of her. In addition to biographical information, this folder also contains three published articles by her: "Hitler's Ancestors," "Der literarische Kampf um die Emanzipation in den Jahren 1816-1819," and "Prinzipien der deutschen Judenpolitik zu Beginn der Neuzeit."

37Irmgard Foerg - Correspondence1995
38Biography, Clippings, Correspondence1993
39Ihr seid meine Zeugen 1946-1975
311Correspondence, Reviews 1972-1973
312Notes, Clippingsca. 1930-1981
313Publications, Correspondence, Clippings1958-1981
314Clippings, Photographs, Articles1945, 1949, 1960, 1980-1981
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