Guide to the Papers of Gertrud Kurth (1904-1999)

AR 10905 / MF 961

Processed by Anna Rathkopf, Michael Simonsen, and Dianne Ritchey Oummia

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2008 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey Oummia in September 2008. Description is in English.
March 2009: Microfilm inventory added. July 2009: Separated Material and Series VIII: Visual Material edited. April 01, 2014:  Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Kurth, Gertrude M. (Gertrude Maria), 1904-1994
Title: Gertrud Kurth Collection
Dates:bulk 1920-1965
Abstract: The Gertrud Kurth Collection consists of material related to Gertrud Kurth and her family members. This collection has over 5 linear feet, and includes personal documents, correspondence and manuscripts. The last 3 linear feet of the collection contain photographs, photograph negatives and slides.
Languages: The collection is in German and English, with some Polish and Czech.
Quantity: 5.25 linear feet
Identification: AR 10905
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Gertrud Maria Kurth was born in 1904 in Vienna, Austria to Paul and Betty Kurth. She was an only child.

Gertrud's father, Paul Kurth was born as Paul Kohn. He changed his name to Kurth after converting to Christianity. He was a prominent lawyer in Vienna and also obtained a Ph.D. in archeology, history of arts and philosophy. He died in 1924.

Gertrud Kurth's mother Betty or Bettina Kurth née Kris was a well-known fiction writer before her marriage. In 1902 her novel Vera, One for Many was published with amazing success. She was a French teacher and later on was one of the first women to get her Ph.D. degree at the University of Vienna, majoring in art history, archeology and philosophy. She specialized in medieval tapestries. She immigrated to England in 1939, dying there in 1948.

Gertrud Kurth was married to Alois Kieslinger from 1924 to 1927. Upon divorcing she returned to her maiden name Kurth.

Gertrud Kurth graduated in 1931 with a Ph.D. degree at the University of Vienna, majoring in anthropology. Between 1929 and 1932 she worked as a freelance collaborator of a women's magazine. She also wrote various articles focused on women's interests. Between 1928-1937 many of Gertrud Kurth's short stories were successfully published, and some of them were even dramatized on the radio. From 1934-1938 Gertrud ran her own advertising agency.

Though Gertrud Kurth was born to Lutheran parents and was baptized as a Lutheran, she had to flee Austria in 1939. In 1939 she immigrated to the United States and in 1945 she obtained U.S. citizenship. In 1947 Gertrud Kurth graduated from the New School of Social Research with a Master's degree in sociology and political science. In 1957 she got her Ph.D. from Columbia University in clinical psychology. She published several papers on psychoanalytical topics.

Gertrud Kurth did not have children. She died in 1999.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains personal documents of Gertrud Kurth, her correspondence, manuscripts and published articles from Vienna and United States. This collection also holds personal documents and correspondence with Gertrud Kurth's parents and some relatives.

Personal papers of Gertrud Kurth and her family members will be found in several areas of this collection. Series I holds the papers of Gertrud Kurth herself, consisting of her babybook, official papers such as passports and birth and marriage certificates. A recounting of her citizenship interview is also in Series I. Gertrud Kurth's personal correspondence is located in Series II: Correspondence, and includes letters from friends and family both prior to and following her immigration to the United States. Much of the correspondence is between Gertrud and her mother Bettina (Betty).

The bulk of Gertrud Kurth's professional papers consist of her writing, including that produced for educational purposes. Examples of her writing are located in Series III: Writings, and include writing created both before and after her immigration. Her earlier writings, in Subseries 1 of Series III, largely focus on sociological and anthropological elements, while her later works in Subseries 2 concern psychoanalytical topics. Series III includes her dissertations from the University of Vienna and Columbia University. The majority of the writing in this series is manuscripts, although there are also some clippings and offprints of her published articles as well in Subseries 2. Two folders of her business correspondence are located in Series II.

Papers and correspondence of Gertrud Kurth's family members, especially her parents Bettina (Betty) and Paul are in Series V, with the first subseries relegated to papers of Gertrud Kurth's immediate family and the second subseries holding papers of more extended family. Included among the first subseries is a brief review of the book One for Many (Eine fuer viele) written by Betty Kurth under the pseudonym Vera.

The collection also includes a few objects, which will be found in Series VII. Series VIII holds an extensive amount of photographic materials, in the form of photographs, slides, and negatives. Much of the photographic materials appears to depict family members or friends as well as trips taken by Gertrud Kurth.

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The collection is arranged in seven 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.

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


The collection is on eight reels of microfilm (MF 961):

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Gertrud Kurth Collection; AR 10905; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

Boxes 1-2 have been processed to folder-level, while boxes 3-5 have only been processed to box-level.

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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, 1904-1979

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

Series I contains Gertrud Kurth's personal documents such as passports, birth and marriage certificates, and school reports. The photocopies of the babybook of Gertrud Kurth records food she ate and her weight as she grew. Among the folder of later personal documents is Kurth's last will and a description of her citizenship interview in 1944. This document specifically concerns the type and amount of questioning she received during the interview. The final folder of this series holds primarily address books as well as daily calendars noting appointments.

11Personal Documents1904-1939
12Gertrud Kurth's Babybooks1904
13Personal Documents1939-1975
14School Reports, Diplomas and Educational Certificates from Austria1912-1938
OS 127Diplomas and Certificates from the United States - Columbia University1957
15Diplomas and Certificates from the United States1947-1979
16Résumés and Curricula Vitae United States1956-1979
17Daily Calendars, Address Books, and Notesundated, 1930s-1940s
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Series II: Correspondence, 1909-1996

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

Series II holds Gertud Kurth's personal and business correspondence. The correspondence discusses family and family friends, personal concerns, and work. There is some discussion about the war and its effects on the family. Correspondence before the war often concerns the recounting of family vacations in Switzerland, France, and Italy.

Much of the early business correspondence is comprised of letters of recommendation, while other letters are from editors concerning her work. The later business correspondence also often mentions Gertrud Kurth's written work, while other letters mention various projects Gertrud Kurth worked on. Some letters from the folder of later correspondence concern her mother, who resided in London.

18Personal - Betty Kurth to her daughter Gertrud1917-1937

(few letters by Paul Kurth)

19Personal - Betty Kurth to her daughter Gertrud1941-1948
110Personal - Gertrud Kurth to her mother Betty1939-1945
111Personal - Gertrud Kurth to her mother Betty1946-1948
112Personal - Hans Kurth (Gertrud Kurth's cousin) to Gertrud1922-1931
113Personal - To Gertrud Kurth from family and friendsbefore 1939
114Personal - Gertrud Kurth to Kris family members (her maternal relatives)1909-1980
115Personal - from family members and friends1943-1996
116Business correspondence - German1932-1941
117Business correspondence from U.S.A.1942-1995
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Series III: Writings,  1929-1965

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

Divided into two subseries:

Scope and Content:

Gertrud Kurth's manuscripts and published articles are in German and English. The manuscripts are divided by subseries chronologically into before and after her immigration to the United States. The material includes articles, short stories, and academic lectures and papers.

Subseries 1: Pre-Immigration Works, 1929-1939

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

Subseries 1 consists of Gertrud Kurth's manuscripts, articles and short stories written mostly in German and published in Austria before her emigration to the United States in 1939. Some of her articles are published under her married surname Kieslinger. Folder 1/21 contains her doctoral thesis.

The initial three folders of articles and short stories of this subseries consist of a few fictional pieces as well as extensive non-fiction works. Many of the non-fiction writing appear to be articles for periodicals and newspapers, including reviews, descriptions of Viennese landmarks (such as St. Stephan's Cathedral and the Clock Museum), and several articles on daily life and traditions of people from the Austrian countryside. Kurth's growing interest in anthropological themes and especially popular beliefs in the supernatural is seen through numerous articles, including such topics as the use of fire in Easter traditions, werewolves in popular belief, the history and customs of Walpurgisnacht (Witches' Night on April 30th), the history of All Souls Day around the world, and brownies and other household spirits in German popular belief. Investigations into such topics is also evidenced in Kurth's doctoral thesis Der irdische Aufenthalt und die Erscheinungsform der Toten im europaeischen Volksglauben [The Earthly Residence and the Appearance of the Dead in European Popular Belief].

118aArticles and Short Stories (Vienna, German)before 1939
118bArticles and Short Stories (Vienna, German)before 1939
119Articles (Vienna, English)before 1939
120Poems (Vienna, German)before 1939
121Der irdische Aufenthalt und die Erscheinungsform der Toten im europaeischen Volksglaubenundated
1B22Clippings of Newspaper Articles (Vienna, German)before 1939
1B23Articles in various Austrian magazines (German)1929-1935

Subseries 2: Post-Immigration Works, 1939-1962

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

Subseries 2 consists of Gertrud Kurth's manuscripts and articles which were written and published after her immigration to the United States. This subseries contains manuscripts about psychoanalysis, school term papers (from Gertrud Kurth's studies at the New School and Columbia University), and Gertrud Kurth's published articles and lectures.

The folder of manuscripts holds primarily non-fiction manuscripts and term papers on psychology and psychoanalysis. The Image of the Fuehrer discusses personality cults and the portrayal of greatness in general as well as describing how Adolf Hitler was depicted in the medium of his birthday celebrations in the Völkischer Beobachter. The Anticipation of the Decline of Life as a Function of Psychological Variables was Gertrud Kurth's dissertation at Columbia University. It was sponsored by the Veterans' Administration and delineates the role played by age, culture, socio-economic status, and self-esteem in determining the age at which decline of life is expected to set in. Notes on Psychoanalysis and Race Theory discusses mass movements and group psychology. The folder of published articles includes reviews written by Gertrud Kurth, her letters to editors, and articles about her. The folder on the Brooklyn Outpatient Clinic is a publication of which Gertrud Kurth was an editor. The final folder of this subseries holds an advertisement bulletin in which the photographs were taken by Gertrud Kurth.

21aThe Image of the Fuehrer; a contribution to the role of imagery in Hero-Worship1947
21bThe Image of the Fuehrer; a contribution to the role of imagery in Hero-Worship1947
22aThe Anticipation of the Decline of life as a Function of Psychological Variables - Bound Copy1957
22bThe Anticipation of the Decline of life as a Function of Psychological Variables - Copies1957
23Manuscripts - School Papers and Term Papers1945-1951
24Lectures and Writings - Psychoanalysis and Race Theoryundated, 1948-1955
25Unconscious Factors in Racial Discrimination - Copies (4)
26Published Articles in German and Englishafter 1939
27Brooklyn Outpatient Clinic Veterans Administration1961-1962
28Als die erste Bibel gedruckt wurdeundated
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Series IV: Published Materials, 1920-1965

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

Divided into two subseries:

Scope and Content:

Series IV contains material collected by Gertrud Kurth and published in newspapers and journals. Subseries 2 is particular to school and college bulletins The publications are in both German and English.

Subseries 1: Clippings and Offprints, 1921-1995

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

Subseries 1 holds several folders of clippings and offprints. The first folder contains offprints of a German school newsletter, usually humorous in tone. Other folders hold articles collected on various topics, such as Adolf Hitler or Sigmund Freud. The folder on psychoanalysis contains humorous cartoons and caricatures of psychologists or psychiatrists.

29Offprints, Germanundated, 1923
210Austrian Magazines1921-1952
211Sigmund Freud1933-1981
212Adolf Hitlerundated, 1952
213Psychoanalysisundated, 1948-1953
214Various, English1941-1995

Subseries 2: School and College Bulletins, 1957-1963

This subseries is in German and English.
2 folders.
Scope and Content:

This small subseries holds publications of American universities and a Viennese school attended by Gertrud Kurth. The first folder holds a bulletin listing former headmasters/ mistresses of the school as well as teachers and students. The second folder includes a commencement bulletin of Columbia University as well as the college catalog of the City College of New York's Evening Division.

21550 Jahre I Maedchen-Realgymansium, Wien VIII1963
216Columbia University and City College1957-1961

(Not microfilmed)

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Series V: Family Papers,  1877-1971

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

Divided into two subseries:

Scope and Content:

Series V contains personal and professional documents of Gertrud Kurth's family members, their personal correspondence, and articles published by them or about them. It also holds obituaries of family members and friends.

Subseries 1: Immediate Family, 1877-1948

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

Subseries 1 contains the personal papers of Gertrud Kurth's parents, Bettina (Betty) and Paul Kurth, a history of the Kris family (her mother's family), and some clippings. Among the papers of this subseries are various personal and official documents as well as correspondence.

Included in folder 2/19 are letters Paul Kurth wrote as a child to his mother. Among these are a few examples of his childhood drawings and a poem in French. One for Many (Eine für Viele) was a book written by Betty Kurth under the pseudonym "Vera"; a review of it is available in this subseries.

217Paul Kurth - Documents1879-1917
218Paul Kurth - Articles1901-1924
219Paul Kurth - Personal Correspondence1885-1921
220Paul Kurth - Obituaries1924
221Bettina (Betty) Kurth née Kris - Documents1884-1941
222Bettina (Betty) Kurth - Personal Correspondence1903-1948
223Bettina (Betty) Kurth - Diary and Correspondence with Paul Kurth1905-1927
224Bettina (Betty) Kurth - PoetryUndated
225Description of Vera, One for Many: The diary of a Girl, by Amy Hackettundated
226Short history of the Kris Family by Nachim Kris1977
227Newspaper Clippings1895-1902

Subseries 2: Extended Family, 1902-1971

This subseries is in German, English, Polish, and Czech.
0.125 linear foot.
Scope and Content:

Subseries 2 contains personal documents of other family members, along with newspaper clippings concerning family members and obituaries of Gertrud Kurth's friend Paul Zucker. These last items are kept here in keeping with the original order of the material.

The financial documents folder concerns stocks and bonds held by Nelly Kurth before 1938 in the Polish mining industry. Frida Guthova née Kohn was the younger sister of Paul Kurth. Dr. Ernst Kurth was his younger brother. Marianne and Ernst Kris were cousins of Gertrud Kurth; Ernst Kris was brought up by Paul and Betty Kurth along with Gertrud. Paul Zucker was Gertrud Kurth's friend.

228Albert and Nelly Kurth - Personal Documents1902-1943
229Nelly Kurth - Financial Documents1947-1961
230Frida Guthova nee Kohn - Death and Inheritance1947-1948
231Ernst Kurth - Obituaries1946
232Marianne and Ernst Kris - Clippings and Articles1957, 1980
233Paul Zucker - Obituaries1971
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Series VI: Other Papers, undated, 1801?, 1899-1900

2 folders.
Scope and Content:

Series VI consists of material that did not fit into other series. Drawings and paintings in folder 34 may have been the artwork of Paul Kurth. Folder 35 consists mostly of handwritten scribbles that appear to be creative ideas for writing projects, in addition to receipts and personal notes.

234Children's Drawings and Paintings1801?, 1899-1900
235Unsorted Notes and Other Papers
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Series VII: Objects, undated

0.5 linear foot.
Scope and Content:

Series VII consists of a few objects. These include a decorative tin, spectacles, and a few unidentified objects.

Box TitleDate
3 Objectsundated
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Series VIII: Visual Material,  1930s?-1990s?

2.5 linear feet.

By format.

Scope and Content:

The visual material of Series VIII consists of numerous photographs, slides, and negatives. Many of the photographs feature individual family members or friends, while most slides depict various locations, with Israel and Italy among those most often encountered. A few photographs of Sigmund Freud are present, including some with Freud and Gertrud Kurth's cousin, Marianne Kris.

Box TitleDate
3 Negatives1930s?-1990s?
Box TitleDate
4 Photographs1930s?-1990s?
Box TitleDate
5 Slides1930s?-1990s?
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