Guide to the Papers of the Milontaler Family, undated, 1880-1992 (bulk 1924-1962)

Processed by Stephanie Call

Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS

99-101 Newbury St.

Boston, MA 02116



© 2019  Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS, Boston, MA. All Rights Reserved.
Machine-readable finding aid created by Stephanie Call as MS Word document, June 18, 2008. Finding aid was encoded by Marvin Rusinek on July 9, 2008. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Milontaler family
Title: Milontaler Family Papers
Dates:undated, 1880-1992 (bulk 1924-1962)
Abstract: The Milontaler family were second- and third- generation Jewish immigrants from Roxbury, Massachusetts. Louis Millionthaler immigrated from what was then Suwalki, Poland to the North End of Boston in the late 19th century. His son Maurice Milontaler was a shop owner and amateur writer who wrote a memoir about Jewish life in the North End. The majority of this collection includes Maurice Milontaler’s notes for his memoir, as well as the finished product. Photographs, correspondence and course notebooks from Harold Milontaler’s years at Harvard University are also included.
Languages: The collection is in English.
Quantity: 4.5 linear feet (9 manuscript boxes, 1 oversized folder)
Identification: P-553
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
Location: Located at AJHS, Boston, MA.
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Biographical Note1

The Milontaler Family of Roxbury, Massachusetts consisted of Maurice and Frances Levine Milontaler, and their children, Harold and Louise. Maurice's father was the well-known Louis Millionthaler, author of "Jesus and Rabbi Fleisher." Maurice's older sister was Sarah Millionthaler Gorfinkle, mother of Bernard Gorfinkle, whose papers are located in the AJHS repository in Boston, Massachusetts.

In general, the biographies of each Milontaler family member are spotty, at best. Louis Millionthaler was born in Suwalki, Russia in 1837. His father, Reb Label, was a bardchen who entertained on special occasions and traveled extensively. When Louis was eleven, his father passed way unexpectedly after returning home from one of his trips. Within the year, his mother, Sara Mera, passed away, leaving Louis and his married sixteen-year-old sister. As a Hebrew student, Louis traveled from town to town to get his education, and at eighteen he officially became a Hebrew teacher and entered an arranged marriage with sixteen- year-old Pesha Tupass from Rartzk in 1855. By 1870, Louis had arrived in the North End and worked as a teacher, eventually making enough money to send for Pesha and their three daughters. To earn enough money to support his family, Louis became a peddler, working in Cambridge, Somerville and Charlestown, establishing a route with steady customers. At some point, Louis published "Jesus and Rabbi Fleisher," which is listed as a new acquisition for the Boston Public Library in 1908. Louis passed away on June 8, 1917. Pesha outlived him by eleven years, passing away on February 12, 1928.

Louis and Pesha had at least four children: Sarah, who later married Harris Gorfinkle; Fanny, who married Zelig London; Esther, who married Joseph Gans; and Maurice (Moses, May 8, 1875-February 1965.) It is possible, but not clear, that Louis and Pesha had another son, Louis Thader, who changed his last name. Maurice later married Frances Levine (November 27, 1886-November 1978). They had two children, Harold Eli (December 12, 1910 or 1911?-March 1995) and Louise Hannah (September 15, 1917-February 10, 1998.) Neither Harold nor Louise married.

In 1907, at age 32, Maurice changed his last name from Millionthaler to Milontaler. Blank order forms indicate that Maurice and Frances owned the Beacon Shade and Screen Company in the Grove Hall section of Roxbury, Massachusetts, but little remains of their business records aside from some cash books, account information from other businesses, and photographs of MetLife insurance outings and some storefronts in the early 1900s. Not much else is known about Maurice, except that he decided in his retirement to write a memoir on the North End. This manuscript, "The North End of Boston: Gateway to the Goldener Land," survives in draft and final manuscript form. Maurice wrote many of his notes on scraps of paper, window shades and cardboard, and hired a secretarial student from Boston University to assist him in the preparation of the manuscript. According to Maurice's memoir, he originally thought his son Harold would be a good author for the book, but Harold declined the idea.

Frances (Fanny) Levine Milontaler was the daughter of Abraham and Clara Joseph Levine. Many photographs of the Levine and Joseph family survive, including those of a young Frances, many of her father and mother, and her uncle Israel Joseph, who was a Rabbi in Montgomery, Alabama. Abraham Levine was originally from Bialystok.

Harold Eli Milontaler was born in 1910 or 1911 and attended Roosevelt Grammar School, Boston Public Latin School (1928), and Harvard University (1932, cum laude.) His high school yearbook picture is on page 60 and describes his activities as president of the Junior Debating Society, and participation in the Literary and French clubs, and Track. He also won their Modern Prize for three years in a row and the Class of 1885 Prize. Harold was clearly a good student who took copious notes from his classes and enjoyed writing both fiction and non-fiction. He made some attempts to publish in The Forum but seemingly had little success. Very little is known about Harold. Surviving copies of Maurice's correspondence describes more about Louise than Harold, other than his graduation from Harvard. One letter from Harold to Maurice does survive and is postmarked from Westboro, Massachusetts. Remaining pages from a Westboro State Hospital Newsletter and Harold's own written outbursts in the letter indicate that he was suffering from mental illness and the family wished to remain quiet about it. Harold never married and later lived with his sister Louise in Brookline. Some photographs of Harold do exist: a negative of a photo taken with baby Harold and his grandfather, Louis, and a group photo of a teen- or college-aged Harold with Joseph Gorfinkle and two unidentified men. Harold passed away in 1995.

Louise Milontaler went to the Massachusetts Art School and taught at Boston University for many years. She was, for the most part, a self-employed photographic negative retoucher for 40 years. Louise never married and provided care for her parents, which she never regretted, according to a letter she wrote to Nicki Russler. In later years she lived in Brookline with Harold. Louise passed away in 1998.

1 Historical information obtained from the Milontaler Family Papers and the Boston Public Library.


1837Louis Millionthaler born in Suwalki, Russia
1855Louis Millionthaler marries Pesha Tupass
1870Louis Millionthaler immigrates to the North End of Boston
1875Moses (Maurice) Millionthaler born
1886Frances Levine Milontaler born
1907Maurice changes his last name from Millionthaler to Milontaler
1910/1911Harold Eli Milontaler born
1917Louise Hannah born
1917Louis Millionthaler dies
1928Harold graduates from Boston Public Latin School
1928Pesha Millionthaler dies
1932Harold graduates cum laude from Harvard University
1965Maurice Milontaler dies
1978Frances Levine Milontaler dies
1992Harold Milontaler dies
1998Louise Milontaler dies
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Scope and Content Note

The Milontaler Family Papers provides some information on a family in early 20th century Boston. The collection consists primarily of Maurice's notes for his memoir, but his final manuscript helps to piece together some of the early history of Jews in the North End of Boston as well as the personal history of his father, Louis Millionthaler. As part of his research, Maurice obtained copies of family members' marriage and birth certificates, which, in addition to his name change certificate and Louis's naturalization certificate, place the family on the timeline.

In addition to Maurice's notes, a small but excellent collection of photographs is in Series I. The photographs contain images of Frances Levine Milontaler; her mother's family, the Josephs, as well as her father Abraham Levine; the Milontaler's storefronts, insurance outings and family reunion, where people have been identified by Louise; a class photograph of Harold's grammar school class (dated 1924 but is most likely earlier, or it was mislabeled and is actually Louise's class); Louis Millionthaler, and Joseph Gorfinkle. Most photographs are labeled and dated.

Very little of Frances's or Louise's papers remain, but there is a large collection of Harold's notebooks, papers and ephemera from Harvard, as well as some pieces he tried to publish in The Forum. Unfortunately, most of Frances's and Louise's correspondence became scrap paper for Maurice's notes. In addition, correspondence between Maurice and Bernard Gorfinkle, as well as his niece Gwen (it is unclear whose daughter she was) highlight how important the memoir was to Maurice.

Finally, the collection contains a minor amount of documentation relating to the Milontaler's business, including cash books and account statements.

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The collection has been arranged into two 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

The Papers of Col. Bernard Gorfinkle (P-664)

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date (if known); Milontaler Family Papers; P-553; box number; folder number; Jewish Heritage Center at NEHGS.

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Acquisition Information

Donated to AJHS by Louise Milontaler in 1986.

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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: Family/Personal, undated, 1880-1992

The Series is in English.
4 linear feet. Boxes 1-8.

Alphabetical by subseries and chronological.

Scope and Content:

This series is divided into several sub-series corresponding to general papers as well as those connected to Louis Millionthaler, Frances, Harold, Louise and Maurice Milontaler. Photographs of the Levine, Milontaler, Gorfinkle and Joseph families can be found here, as well as photographs of Maurice's shop and insurance outings sponsored by MetLife (please note that two of these photographs are located in the oversized folder.) Of particular note is Louis Millionthaler's naturalization certificate, which is extremely fragile and must be handled with care, as well as Maurice Milontaler's certificate of name change from 1907. A hand-bound version of Louis Millionthaler's booklet, "Jesus and Rabbi Fleisher" is also included in this series. A letter written from Harold to Maurice, presumably from Westboro State Hospital, highlights the impact of Harold's possible mental health problems on the Milontaler Family. Louise Milontaler's correspondence with Nicki Russler provides extensive information on the genealogy of the Milontaler and Gorfinkle family trees. Exhibition books from her cousin Harrison Horblit (son of Clara Gorfinkle) are also included, and one book is inscribed to Louise. Finally, both the draft and final versions of Maurice Milontaler's manuscript, "The North End of Boston: Gateway to the Goldener Land" is included, and provides a wealth of information on the Jewish experience in the North End, Louis Millionthaler's personal history, and Bernard Berenson's family. Please note that Maurice Milontaler's notes for his memoir were written overall on small scraps of paper that were then filed, according to topic, in envelopes. Attempts were made to maintain his original order within topics, but researchers are advised to utilize photocopies of his notes when necessary.

Subseries A: General, undated, 1899-1924, 1965

Box 1, Folders 1-4.
1 1 Congregation B’nai Moshe Dedication Book 1965 request_box
1 2 Miniature Booklets undated request_box
1 3 Miscellaneous undated request_box
1 4 Photographs undated, 1899-1924 request_box

Subseries B: Millionthaler, Louis, 1880, 1901, 1908, 1950

Box 1, Folders 5-6.
1 5 Jesus and Rabbi Fleisher 1901, 1908, 1950 request_box
1 6 Naturalization Certificate 1880 request_box

Subseries C: Milontaler, Frances, undated, 1947, 1954, 1958, 1962

Box 1, Folder 7.
1 7 General undated, 1947, 1954, 1958, 1962 request_box

Subseries D: Milontaler, Harold, undated, 1928, 1930-1956

Box 1, Folder 9 -- Box 3, Folder 4.
1 8 Boston Public Latin School Yearbook 1928 request_box
1 9 Class Notes undated request_box
2 1-6 Class Notes undated request_box
2 7 College Papers & Tests undated, 1930-1934 request_box
3 1 Course Books undated request_box
3 2 Harvard Ephemera undated, 1932-1956 request_box
3 3 Memory Institute undated request_box
3 4 Writings undated, 1933, 1940 request_box

Subseries E: Milontaler, Louise, 1953-1954, 1956, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1992

Box 3, Folders 5-7.
3 5 Correspondence 1953-1954, 1956, 1986, 1992 request_box
3 6 Family Genealogy 1986 request_box
3 7 Horblit, Harrison-Exhibits 1983, 1989 request_box

Subseries F: Milontaler, Maurice, undated, 1907-1909, 1942, 1944, 1948-1961

Boxes 4-8.
4 1 Certificates undated, 1907-1909, 1944, 1955, 1958 request_box
4 2 Correspondence undated, 1942, 1949-1961 request_box
4 3 Miscellaneous undated, 1944, 1948 request_box
4 4 Miscellaneous Booklets undated request_box
4 5 North End of Boston Draft undated request_box
4 6 North End of Boston Manuscript undated request_box
4 7 Notebooks undated request_box
5 1-27 Notes & Clippings undated request_box
6 1-25 Notes & Clippings undated request_box
7 1-15 Notes & Clippings undated request_box
8 1-21 Notes & Clippings undated request_box
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Series II: Business and Family Finances, undated, 1911-1942

.5 linear feet. Box 9.

Alphabetical by subseries and chronological.

Scope and Content:

This series contains cash books from the Milontaler business, Beacon Shade & Screen Company in Roxbury, as well as numerous invoices and account notices from area stores, such as A.J. Hart, Andrew Dutton Company, and Oppenheim Brothers, Inc. Tax returns, pay stubs and legal documentation are also included. In addition to the business accounts and cash books, Maurice and Frances's bank books are also located in this series.

Subseries A: Business Records, undated, 1911-1942

Box 9, Folders 1-4.
9 1 Accounts undated, 1911-1942 request_box
9 2 Cash Books 1923-1926 request_box
9 3 Cash Books 1931 request_box
9 4 Cash Books 1932-1938 request_box

Subseries B: Family Records, 1923-1928, 1936-1939

Box 9, Folder 5.
9 5 Bank Books 1923-1928, 1936-1939 request_box
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