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Guide to the Papers of Hannah Ruth London (1894-1988), undated, 1919-1990 (bulk: 1923-1980)
 
P-347

Processed by Deena Schwimmer

American Jewish Historical Society

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, NY 10011

Phone: (212) 294-6160

Fax: (212) 294-6161

Email: info@ajhs.org

URL: http://www.ajhs.org

© 2006  American Jewish Historical Society, Newton Centre, MA and New York, NY
Finding aid was encoded by Deena Schwimmer on January 04, 2006. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: London, Hannah Ruth
Title: Papers of Hannah Ruth London
Dates: 1919-1990
Dates: bulk: 1923-1980
Abstract: Contains the research notes and writings relating to London's works on early American Jewish portraits, miniatures, and silhouettes, which includes family histories of the subjects of the artwork, biographical information on the artists, and information about the works themselves. Also includes items relating to London's personal life, such as her genealogy and a notebook of letters written by her son Robert who was killed in action in World War II during his service in the army. Contains notes, manuscripts, published and unpublished articles and poetry, art catalogs, legal documents, lantern slides, photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, genealogical charts, handwritten sheet music, military medals, sound recordings, a theater program, a scrapbook, and a binder that contained correspondence.
Languages: The collection is in English, with one item in Spanish .
Quantity: 4.55 linear feet
Identification: P-347
Repository: American Jewish Historical Society
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Biographical Note

Hannah Ruth London was born to Abraham and Goldie (Mickleshanski) Freedman on January 2, 1894, in Boston, Massachusetts. She was one of five children of Lithuanian parents, and was descended on her mother's side from the well-known Jewish family, the Abravanel-Mickleshanskis. London was educated in public elementary and high schools in Boston, and then attended Radcliffe College, graduating in 1916. After graduation, she worked as a recreational counselor for several settlement houses in Boston and New York City, before being hired as the assistant to Frank Bayley, an antiquarian art dealer and collector who ran the Copley Gallery in Boston. There she began to be interested in early American artists, and embarked upon her lifelong research into "the pictorial representation of early American Jewry."

Finding little published material on the topic, London's research took the form of examination of diaries and family letters, references in little-used works, and correspondence and conversations with numerous people whose lineage stemmed from early American Jews. She presented her first paper on the subject at a 1921 meeting in Philadelphia of the American Jewish Historical Society, whose membership included many descendants of Colonial American Jewry, and who, subsequently, encouraged her work by inviting her to examine their family portraits. London went on to conduct comprehensive research into early American Jewish portraiture, locating and identifying numerous portraits of Colonial American Jews, including some by American master painters such as Gilbert Stuart and Thomas Sully. Her research brought her into contact with many art historians, curators, collectors, and historians of renown, such as Lawrence Park and A.S.W. Rosenbach. London's work was published in 1927 in the limited-edition Portraits of Jews by Gilbert Stuart and other Early American Artists. This work was reprinted in 1969.

London's research led her to also study silhouettes and miniatures of early American Jews, particularly those of silhouettist Augustin Edouard and miniaturist Edward Greene Malbone. Her work in these areas was documented in Shades of my Forefathers, published in 1941, and Miniatures of Early American Jews, a 1953 imprint. These two works were reprinted in 1970 as a single volume entitled Miniatures and Silhouettes of Early American Jews. London also lectured on her research in American Jewish portraiture, and published articles in journals such as Daughters of the American Revolution and National Historical Magazine.

London married lawyer Benjamin Siegel in 1923. After a brief period in Cincinnati, the couple settled in the Boston area. Their only child, Robert Enoch Siegel, nicknamed "Bud", was born on June 5, 1925. He served in the Army in World War II, and was killed in France in 1944. London and her husband petitioned the War Department to award Robert the Bronze Star, but, despite countless appeals, their application was denied. In 1968, when the army broadened its criteria for conferring this citation, Robert was finally awarded the medal.

In 1949, London wrote a short play in memory of Robert, entitled Immortal Son, which was performed at Emerson College in Boston in 1958. She also wrote an autobiographical account of her life, which contains much information about her research into American Jewish portraiture. This work was published in 1980 and is entitled A Girl from Boston.

Hannah Ruth London died in 1988 in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Source: Hannah Ruth London, A Girl from Boston (Cambridge: Schenkman Publishing, 1980).

CHRONOLOGY

Jan. 2, 1894 Born in Boston, MA
1916 Graduated from Radcliffe College
1917-1918 Recreational counselor for settlement houses in Boston and New York City
1920 Begins working at The Copley Gallery, Boston and embarks upon research into American Jewish portraiture
1921 Presents first paper on early American Jewish portraiture at Philadelphia meeting of The American Jewish Historical Society
1923 Marries Benjamin M. Siegel
1925 Son Robert Enoch Siegel born
1927 Portraits of Jews by Gilbert Stuart and other Early American Artists published
1941 Shades of my Forefathers published
1944 Robert Siegel killed in action in France
1953 Miniatures of Early American Jews published
1969 Portraits of Jews by Gilbert Stuart and other Early American Artists republished
1970 Shades of my Forefathers and Miniatures of Early American Jews republished as a single work
1971 Husband Benjamin Siegel dies
1980 Autobiography A Girl from Boston published
1988 Dies in Brookline, MA
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Scope and Contents

The Hannah Ruth London Papers contain the research materials and writings of this scholar of American Jewish portraiture, as well as numerous items relating to her personal life. The research materials include London's notes for her published works on early American Jewish portraits, miniatures and silhouettes. These notes contain information not only about the people who were painted, such as their family histories, but also about the artists and about the works themselves. Various printed art catalogs, and correspondence also comprise part of London's research materials. Of special interest is a set of 81 lantern slides that London owned, which is made up primarily of the works of American Jewish portraiture that she researched. Materials relating to London's writings in this area consist of journal articles she wrote, manuscripts, as well as reviews of her books on American Jewish portraiture.

The personal materials consist of information regarding London's genealogy, various unpublished writings and poems, including the manuscript of her autobiography, A Girl From Boston, family photographs, assorted personal memorabilia, and a scrapbook containing numerous correspondence with people in the art world. There are also several legal documents of London's husband, Benjamin Siegel, and items regarding her son, Robert Siegel. The items regarding Robert Siegel include a notebook of letters written by him to his parents during his service in the Army in World War II. Especially interesting are those letters which pertain to his being Jewish in the United States Army.2 Also interesting is the correspondence between London and her husband with the War Department regarding their efforts to have the Bronze Star awarded to their late son.

The collection is valuable to researchers studying American Jewish portraiture, early American Jewish families and early American art, including miniatures, portraits and silhouettes. It also contains information useful to those researching the Abravanel-Mickleshanski family, and Jewish soldiers in World War II.

The collection contains notes, manuscripts, published and unpublished articles and poetry, art catalogs, legal documents, lantern slides, photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, genealogical charts, handwritten sheet music, military medals, sound recordings, a theater program, a scrapbook, and a binder that contained correspondence.

The collection is entirely in English, except for one item of memorabilia in Spanish.

2See letters dated 7/31/43, 8/16/43, 8/25/43, 11/19/43, 12/27/43, 1/6/44, 2/19/44, 4/8/44, 4/12/44, Papers of Hannah Ruth London, P-347, Box 2, Folder 14, Collection of American Jewish Historical Society, Newton Center, MA, and New York, NY.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged into two series, one containing London's work on American Jewish portraiture, and the other containing her personal/biographical materials. Each series is further divided into subseries arranged by subject, as follows.

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Executive Director 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
email: info@ajhs.org

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Access Points

The collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms:

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Related Material

American Jewish Historical Society:

Massachusetts Historical Society:

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Appendix A: Lantern Slides Inventory

Box 4: Slides 1-21

Box 5: Slides 22-43

Box 6: Slides 44-65

Box 7: Slides 66-81

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Papers of Hannah Ruth London; P-347; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, Newton Centre, MA and New York, NY.

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Acquisition Information

Hannah Ruth London donated her papers to the Society in a series of accessions during her lifetime.

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Container List

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

 

Series I: American Jewish Portraiture, 1925-1990.

This series is in English.
Box 1-Box 2, folder 5, Boxes 4-7, and Box 8, Folder 2.
Arrangement:

This series is arranged into 4 subseries: Subseries 1: Research - Named People, Subseries 2: Research - General, Subseries 3: Writings, and Subseries 4: Lantern Slides.

Scope and Content:

This series contains materials relating to Hannah R. London's lifelong work conducting research in and writing/lecturing on Colonial-era portraits, silhouettes, and miniatures of American Jews.

Subseries 1: Research - Named People,  undated, 1925-1979.

Box 1, Folders 1-10
Arrangement:

The subseries is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Scope and Content:

This subseries contains London's research on specific Colonial American Jews and Jewish families. The materials consist primarily of her handwritten notes, newspaper clippings and correspondence, which provides biographical information on the subjects and history/provenance of the portraits. The materials also include several photographs of portraits, silhouettes, or miniatures.

See also Series I, Subseries 2: Research-General for London's additional research, and Series I, Subseries 4: Slides for images of the subjects of London's research.

Box Folder Title Date
1 1 Subjects: Andrews undated, 1976, 1979
   
  • Andrews, Joseph J.
  • Andrews, Sally Solomon (Mrs. Joseph Andrews)
 
1 2 Subjects: A to C undated, 1972, 1976-1977
   
  • Carvalho, Solomon Nunes
  • Cohen, Benjamin
  • Cohen, Jacob J.
  • Cohen, Mendes
  • Cohen, Octavius
 
1 3 Subjects: D to E undated, 1957, 1968
   
  • da Ponte
  • Dent (great-granddaughter of R. Gratz)
  • Dunlap
  • Durand
  • Etting, Solomon
  • Etting, Shinah Solomon
 
1 4 Subjects: Falk, Franks undated, 1930, 1956-1957, 1974
   
  • Falk Family
  • Franks, Abigail Levy
  • Franks, Jacob
 
1 5 Subjects: Gratz undated
   
  • Gratz, Hyman
  • Gratz, Rachel
  • Gratz, Rebecca
 
1 6 Subjects: G to K undated, 1944, 1954
   
  • Gomez, Benjamin
  • Hart
  • Hays, Moses Michael
  • Isaacs, Ralph
  • Isaacs, Mary Perit
  • Isaacs, Yohaveth
  • Jacobs, Catherine
  • Jennys, William
  • Karigal, Rabbi Isaac
  • Israel, Israel
  • Korn, Rabbi
 
1 7 Subjects: Levy undated, 1970
   
  • Levy, Aaron
  • Levy, Abby
  • Levy, Grace Mears
  • Levy, Jacob Clavius
  • Levy, Moses
  • Levy, Rachel
  • Levy, Uriah Phillips
 
1 8 Subjects: L to M undated, 1941, 1955, 1969
   
  • Leeser, Isaac
  • Levin
  • Lopez, Mrs. Aaron
  • Marx, Dr. Frederick
  • Marks, Hyman
  • Marks, Mrs. Michael
  • Micholl, Morland
  • Morland, Rebecca
  • May, Samuel
  • Minis, Abraham
  • Minis, Dinah Cohen
  • Minis, Isaac
  • Minis, Philip
  • Minis, Sarah Ann
  • Montefiore, Moses
  • Mordecai, Alfred
  • Mordecai, Jacob
  • Mordecai Moses
  • Mordecai, Samuel
  • Moses, E. M.
  • Moses, Israel
  • Moses, Levi Moses
  • Moses, Solomon
  • Moses, Mrs. Solomon
  • Moss, Maria
  • Myers, Mrs. Jacob
  • Myers, Samuel
 
1 9 Subjects: N to Z undated
   
  • Noah, Mordecai Manuel
  • Noah, Rebecca (Mrs. Mordecai Manuel Noah)
  • Nones, Joseph B.
  • Phillips, Arabella
  • Phillips, Beatrice H.
  • Phillips, Naphtali
  • Phillips, Zalegman
  • Pope, Charles Milton
  • Rivera, Jacob Rodriguez
  • Rutledge, Anna Wells
  • Sheftall, Mrs. Moses
  • Sheftall, Sheftall
  • Simson, Sampspn
  • Solis, Jacob
  • Salomon, Deborah
  • Solomon, Levi
  • Solomons, Adolphus
  • Stiles, Ezra
  • Tobias, Thomas Jefferson
  • Zundel, Enoch
 
1 10 Subjects: Touro undated, 1925, 1940, 1954, 1963, 1975
   
  • Touro, Abraham
  • Touro, Isaac
  • Touro, Judah
 

Subseries 2: Research - General,  undated, 1931-1990.

Box 1, Folders 11 - 16
Arrangement:

The subseries is arranged by topic.

Scope and Content:

This subseries is comprised of London's research in American Jewish portraiture that is not organized by named persons, and consists of her notes and correspondence on silhouettes, miniatures, and artists, as well as printed material. The material on silhouettes (Folder 11) contains items from the artist August Edouart, including a photograph of an Edouart silhouette of Aaron Josephs, as well as a copy of the Catalogue of 3,800 Named and Dated American Silhouette Portraits by August Edouart. The material on miniatures (Folders 12/13) includes of a pocket-sized scrapbook, rehoused in acid-free sleeves, of clippings and photographs compiled by London of 20 miniatures of Colonial American Jews. Folder 14 of the subseries contains a typed document, with numerous handwritten notes and corrections, with information on artists who created works on American Jewish portraiture, which appears to be the foundation of a manuscript draft for London's work Portraits of Jews. Various journal articles and correspondence (Folders 15/16) used in London's research complete the subseries.

See also Series II, Subseries 2: Personal Items (scrapbook), and Series II, Subseries 4:Writings-Manuscript of A Girl from Boston for additional materials relating to London's American Jewish portraiture research.

Box Folder Title Date
1 11 Silhouettes undated, 1941,1956
1 12 Miniatures, notes undated
1 13 Miniatures, article Handlist of Miniatures in the Collections of the Maryland Historical Society June 1945
1 14 Notes, by Artist undated
1 15 Journal articles undated, 1931, 1946
1 16 Miscellaneous notes and correspondence undated, 1967, 1973-1974, 1990

Subseries 3: Writings,  undated, 1926-1980.

Box 1, Folder 17, Box 2, Folders 1-4, and Box 8, Folder 2
Arrangement:

The subseries is arranged by topic.

Scope and Content:

This subseries contains London's writings on the topic of American Jewish Portraiture. It consists of a revised manuscript of the Addenda section of the 1969 reprint of her work, Portraits of Jews (Box 1, Folder 17), copies of various articles written by London in the 1920s- 1930s in the journals Daughters of the American Revolution and National Historical Magazine (Box 2, Folder 1), and a script for a television documentary on early American Jewish portraiture (Folder 2). The subseries also contains newspaper clippings and reviews of London's work (Folder 3), as well as two 1968 contracts between London and Charles E. Tuttle Company, to republish some of her earlier works (Folder 4).

See also Series II, Subseries 2: Personal Items (scrapbook) for additional materials relating to London's writings on American Jewish Portraiture.

Box Folder Title Date
1 17 Portraits of Jews addenda undated
Box Folder Title Date
2 1 Articles by London 1926, 1929, 1939
2 2 Script for television documentary undated
2 3 Contracts: Portraits of Jews, Miniatures of Early American Jews, and Shades of My Forefathers 1968
2 4 Clippings, reviews undated, 1927, 1941, 1953, 1969-1970, 1980
   

See also Oversized Box 8, Folder 2

 

Subseries 4: Lantern Slides,  undated.

Box 2, Folder 5, and Boxes 4-7 (in photo collection.)
Arrangement:

This subseries is arranged by subject.

Scope and Content:

This subseries consists of 81 lantern slides of early American Jews and several others, and a partial inventory of these items. The slides have been moved to the photo collection and are restricted from patron use, however Appendix A contains an inventory of them.

Box Folder Title Date
2 5 Lantern slides inventory undated
Box Folder Title Date
4 Lantern slides 1-21 (restricted - in photo collection) undated
Box Folder Title Date
5 Lantern slides 22-43 (restricted - in photo collection) undated
Box Folder Title Date
6 Lantern slides 44-65 (restricted - in photo collection) undated
Box Folder Title Date
7 Lantern slides 66-81 (restricted - in photo collection) undated
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Series II: Personal/Biographical, undated, 1919-1980.

This series is in English, with one item in Spanish.
Box 2, Folders 6-17, Box 3 and Box 8.
Arrangement:

This series is arranged into 6 subseries: Subseries 1: Genealogy; Subseries 2: Personal Items; Subseries 3: Family Photographs; Subseries 4: Writings; Subseries 5: Benjamin Siegel (husband) and Subseries 6: Robert E. Siegel (son).

Scope and Content:

This series consists of personal and biographical material relating to the life of Hannah R. London.

Subseries 1: Genealogy,  undated, 1945-1980.

This subseries is in English
Box 2, Folders 6-7, and Box 8, folder 1
Arrangement:

The series is arranged by subject matter

Scope and Content:

This subseries contains information regarding London's genealogy. Folder 6 includes a chart of London's recent maternal genealogy, which traces back to the Abravanel-Mickleshanski family. Photographs of the Abravanel family coat-of-arms from the archives of the Amsterdam Portuguese Congregation are also included. More detailed genealogical charts are in Box 87, folder 1. The subseries also contains (Folder 7) genealogical notes on artist Bernard Berenson, her father's cousin from Italy, as well as copies of correspondence to her from him.

Box Folder Title Date
2 6 Autobiographical notes, genealogy undated, 1980
   

See also Oversized box 8, Folder 1

 
2 7 Correspondence and notes, B. Berenson undated, 1945, 1949, 1954, 1960

Subseries 2: Personal Items,  undated, 1974-1980.

The subseries is in English, with one item in Spanish.
Box 2, Folder 8, and Box 8 (Scrapbook)
Arrangement:

This subseries is arranged by format

Scope and Content:

This subseries consists of assorted personal items of London's, including an ornate Spanish-language, Guatemalan wedding invitation from a friend, a booklet, "The Remarkable Brick Barns of Martha's Vineyard", written by a descendant of one of London's research subjects and inscribed to her by the author, and a photograph of a work by artist Georges Braque that was owned by London. London's scrapbook (Box 8) contains numerous other personal items, such as several photographs and correspondence.

Box Folder Title Date
2 8 Personal items undated, 1974, 1980
Box Folder Title Date
8 Scrapbook various dates

Subseries 3: Family Photographs,  undated, 1923.

Box 2, Folder 9
Arrangement:

This subseries is arranged by person

Scope and Content:

This subseries contains photographs of London as a 14 year old girl, at her wedding, and as an older woman. Also included are photographs of mother Goldie Freedman Mishelshonsky, a wedding photograph of husband Benjamin Siegel, and a photograph of a wax portrait of son Robert Siegel.
See also Series II, Subseries 2:Personal Items (scrapbook) for additional photographs.

Box Folder Title Date
2 9 Family photographs undated, 1923, 1944
   

See also Oversized Box 8, Folder 3

 

Subseries 4: Writings,  undated, 1952, 1958, 1971.

This subseries is in English
Box 2, Folders 10-11
Arrangement:

This subseries is arranged chronologically

Scope and Content:

This subseries contains several typed and handwritten poems written by London, as well as some writings relating to items of decorative art. It also includes a program from London's play Immortal Son, performed at Emerson College, Boston, in 1958. Folder 12 contains the manuscript of London's autobiography, entitled A Girl from Boston.

Box Folder Title Date
2 10 Writings and poems undated, 1952, 1958, 1971
2 11 A Girl from Boston manuscript undated

Subseries 5: Benjamin M. Siegel,  undated, 1919, 1943.

This subseries is in English
Box 2, Folder 12
Arrangement:

This subseries is arranged chronologically

Scope and Content:

This subseries contains materials relating to London's husband, and consists of of a 1943 certificate of citizenship, a 1919 U.S Army Honorable Discharge, and a 1943 record of his WWI army service, as well as handwritten copies of songs, with musical notes, that he composed.

Box Folder Title Date
2 12 Benjamin M. Siegel documents and songs undated, 1919, 1943

Subseries 6: Robert E. Siegel,  undated, 1940-1949, 1968, 1979.

This subseries is in English
Box 2, Folders 13-16, Box 3, and Box 8, Folder 2
Arrangement:

The subseries is arranged by subject and format.

Scope and Content:

This subseries consists of materials relating to London's son, Robert E. Siegel. Folder 13 contains various personal items, including his Social Security card and birth certificate, and programs from several theater productions in which he was involved. Of particular interest are handwritten cards and poems written to his parents on their 20th wedding anniversary. Folder 14 contains typed versions of Robert's letters (signed "Bud") to his parents during his army service from camps in Texas and Oklahoma, as well as from England and France. Reduced-sized photocopies of the original V-mail letters from overseas are attached to the transcribed copies of them. One original letter to his parents from a former girlfriend of Robert's on receiving the news of his death is also included. These letters were maintained by London in a binder (Folder 15), in which she pasted a photograph of Robert in uniform, a newspaper clipping of his obituary, and a typed list of army citations he received. The subseries also contains London's and her husband's correspondence with the United States War Department regarding their efforts to have Robert awarded a posthumous Bronze Star (Folder 16). This correspondence includes letters from his fellow officers regarding the details of his death, and an oversized map of the military campaign path of Robert's infantry division (Box 8, Folder 2). Several voice recordings of him, in record format, including one during his army service, are included in the subseries, as well as many of his army citation pins (Box 3). Note: The box of army citations indicates Robert's Bronze Star and Purple Heart should be included, however they are not in the box.
See also Series II, Subseries 2: Personal Items for additional materials relating to Robert Siegel located in scrapbook, and Series II, Subseries 3: Family Photographs.

Box Folder Title Date
2 13 Robert E. Siegel documents and writings undated, 1940, 1943, 1945, 1979
2 14 Letters from Robert Siegel 1943-1944
2 15 Letters from Robert Siegel, original folder undated
2 16 Correspondence with War Department undated, 1944-1949, 1968
Box Folder Title Date
8 2 Map of Military Campaign in France 1945
Box Folder Title Date
3 1 Sound recordings 1941, 1944
3 in small box Medals and citations undated
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Oversized Materials, Various dates.

This material is in English
3 oversized folders
Scope and Content:

This box contains oversized materials separated from the collection.