Guide to the Papers of Judith Helfer (1915-2002), 1891-2002
 
AR 25079

Processed by Stephen Naron

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305

Email: http://www.lbi.org/ask

URL: http://www.lbi.org

© 2006  Leo Baeck Institute
Finding aid was encoded by Lea Osborne on January 11, 2006. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Helfer, Judith (1915-2002)
Title: Judith Helfer Family Collection
Dates: 1891-2002
Abstract: This collection details the life of artist and writer Judith Helfer (1915-2002) as well as her immediate family members. The records describe the family's life in Germany and their subsequent moves to first London and then New York City. Since Judith was a writer, her articles figure prominently in the records. Correspondence between family members, friends and colleagues are also well represented. The remainder of the records is mainly personal in nature, such as marriage records, passports, birth certificates, and academic records. Throughout the collection is evidence of Judith Helfer's talent as an artist. Each series contains some example of her artwork, whether it be a sketch on a letter, an ornately drawn present, or simply a positive article from an art critic.
Languages: The collection is in German and English.
Quantity: 3 linear feet
Identification: AR 25079
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Judith Helfer (née Rosenthal) was a prolific art critic for the renowned Jewish-German newspaper, Aufbau, as well as a respected artist. She was born on February 15, 1915, to Rabbi Dr. Arthur Rosenthal and his wife, Ilma Rosenthal (née Flanter). Growing up in Berlin, she was exposed to a thriving arts scene, including many artists and musicians in her mother's family. This had an obvious impact on Judith who exhibited both an interest and a talent in sketching. She was sent first to the Georg-Hausdorf-Malschule for private art lessons and later attended the Pestalozzi- Oberlyzeum zu Berlin-Lichtenberg.

Judith came from a prominent family of Rabbis. Her grandfather, Rabbi Dr. Ludwig A. Rosenthal, was born on May 18, 1855 in Putzig. He was the spiritual leader of Jewish communities in Berlin, Coethen (Anhalt) and Rogasen (Posen). In addition to his rabbinical work, Ludwig Rosenthal wrote several books including Bibel trotz Babel!, Die Mischna; Aufbau und Quellenscheidung, Babel und Bibel, oder Babel gegen Bibel? Ein Wort zur Klaerung. He died in Berlin on August 28, 1928.

Arthur Rosenthal was born on October 5, 1885 in Anhalt. He studied in Berlin and Heidelberg, completing the Doctorate of Philosophy in November of 1912 and was ordained in Berlin in August, 1915. After working as a Rabbi for Jewish communities in Rybnik, Berlin-Gesundbrunnen and Beuthen, Rosenthal became the spiritual leader of the Israelitische Gemeinde Lichtenberg from 1925 until Kristallnacht. In 1938, he was abducted from his home by the Sturmabteilung (SA men) and forced to watch as they incinerated the inside of his synagogue. Since the building was located in a dense area, it could not be burned down; however, the furniture, important papers, and perhaps most salient, the Torah Scrolls were completely destroyed.

Devastated by the loss and fearful of the impending war, the Rosenthal family fled to London, England where Judith continued her artistic studies at the Couraudt-Institute. In 1936, she married writer Simon Helfer. Both the Rosenthals and the Helfers immigrated to New York City in 1951. Judith's father Arthur Rosenthal passed away shortly after the transatlantic move. Tragedy struck again in 1967 when her husband, Simon, died unexpectedly.

It was during the late 1960s that Judith took a temporary position at Aufbau. The quality of her writing was such that she was offered permanent employment several weeks later. Her articles covered both Jewish and non-Jewish cultural and artistic life. Judith enjoyed a long career at Aufbau and wrote for them up until several months before she died on April 15, 2002.

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Scope and Contents

The Judith Helfer Family Collection covers the years 1891-2001 and consists of correspondence, personal records, printed materials, and photographs that document the life and journalistic activities of Judith Helfer and her immediate family.

Series I consists of Judith Helfer's personal and professional correspondence and includes postcards and letters between Judith Helfer and friends, colleagues, artists and publishers. The postcard albums (1915-1930) were removed from their housing, yet maintained in original order.

In general, the collection contains only a few of Judith Helfer's personal items. These include her birth certificate, educational records, medical records, and files pertaining to her marriage to Simon Helfer.

Of particular note is Series III, Creative Works, which best reflects the breadth of her artistic and literary interests. The series consists of over thirty typewritten manuscripts (1966 and 1985-1987) that are generally short narratives as well as several drafts of articles about Jewish artists and intellectuals, among them Israel Bernbaum, Zvi Lothane, Immanuäl Olsvanger, and Rachel Wischnitzler. Subseries B, Art on Paper, provides a few examples of Judith Helfer's artistic abilities. Of note are several Ex Libris plates that Judith designed for her father's library.

Published articles are located in Series IV (1971-2001). Newspaper and journal articles in Aufbau, Kunstblatt, The New York Jewish Review, New Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herald, and the West Side Institutional Review, among others, document Judith Helfer's life as a prolific cultural journalist. Her literary impact is further substantiated by the articles about her life and work in other prominent German and American papers, for instance Aufbau, Berliner Morgenpost, and The New York Times.

Series V (1891-1975) contains various records from Judith's immediate family: her father, Arthur Rosenthal; her mother, Ilma Rosenthal; her uncle, Max Rosenthal; and her husband, Simon Helfer. In addition to these individuals, there are also files from Judith's grandfather, Ludwig A. Rosenthal. These records, which consist primarily of correspondence and personal documents, illuminate the life of her family. Her father's letters, papers and a diary/scrapbook (1915) that he made for Judith are particularly interesting, as is a small collection of articles on Jewish topics by Simon Helfer that appeared in Das Jüdische Volk. The photographs in Subseries 5 provide additional visual documentation of the lives and history of the Rosenthal and Helfer families.

The collection is primarily in German and English, although there are a few letters in French, some Hebrew, and a Yiddish manuscript by Immanuäl Olsvanger related to his translation of Dante's Divine Comedy into Hebrew.

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Arrangement

The collection is organized into five series.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

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
email: lbaeck@lbi.cjh.org

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Related Material

Many of Ludwig A. Rosenthal's books and several of his sermons are held in the library of the Leo Baeck Institute. Please consult the library catalogue for specific titles and availability.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Judith Helfer Family Collection; AR 25079; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

Records integrated into the collection and the finding aid encoded for EAD in January 2006 by Lea Osborne.

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Container List

 

Series I: Correspondence, 1915-2001

This series is in German with some English.
1.25 linear feet
Arrangement:

Alphabetical

Scope and Content:

Series I consists of Judith Helfer's personal and professional correspondence, which contains postcards and letters between Judith Helfer and friends, colleagues, various artists and publishers. Included are several postcard albums compiled by Judith Helfer, dating from 1915 to 1930. The postcards were removed from their housing, yet maintained in original order. The remainder of the correspondence is arranged in alphabetical order.

A) Received

Box Folder Title Date
1 1 Postcard Album 1919-1921
1 2 Postcard Album 1919-1921
1 3 Postcard Album 1919-1921
1 4 Postcard Album 1919-1921
1 5 Postcard Album 1919-1921
1 6 Postcard Album 1919-1921
1 7 Postcard Album 1919-1921
1 8 Abegg-Bako 1967-1992
1 9 Bergl-Büchardt 1972-1995
1 10 Castelnuevo-Czyborra 1972-1988
1 11 Dahms-Freydank 1959-1999
1 12 Fricke, Weddig 1987
1 13 Fritsch-Jung 1970-1991
1 14 Kahlen-Kurz 1970-1998
1 15 Lacy-Livingstone 1969-1991
1 16 Lothane (1 of 2 folders) 1993-1995
1 17 Lothane (2 of 2 folders) 1993-1995
1 18 Lynton-Nathan 1968-1996
1 19 Nathorf, Hertha 1980-1993
1 20 Nemitz-Nicholson 1980-2001
1 21 Niederland, William 1976-1989
1 22 Nielson-Ohff 1970-1985
1 23 Olsvanger, L. 1953-1960
1 24 Osterhof-Powell 1969-1998
1 25 Rauch-Rydy 1945, 1964-1998
1 26 Sabarsky-Semal 1971-1997
1 27 Spencer-Sussman 1963-1996
Box Folder Title Date
2 1 Tawil-Winter 1976-1993
2 2 Wischnitzer 1980-1988
2 3 Wolf-Zoels 1966-1995
2 4 Unidentified 1937, 1969-1995

B) Sent

Box Folder Title Date
2 5 Amrein-Mayr 1971-1994
2 6 Nicholson-Wischnitzer 1964-1991
2 7 Unidentified 1970-1990
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Series II: Personal Documents, 1915-1992

This series is in German.
Five folders
Arrangement:

Topical

Scope and Content:

Included in this series are Judith Helfer's personal items, such as her birth certificate, a passport, calling cards, and wedding records.

Box Folder Title Date
2 8 Birth Certificate and Passport 1915, 1992
2 9 Educational Records 1925-1938
2 10 Medical Records 1915-1927
2 11 Wedding Records 1935-1936
2 12 Calling Cards undated
2 13 List of Addresses undated
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Series III: Creative Works, 1966-1987

This series is in German.
Six folders
Arrangement:

Topical

Scope and Content:

Contained here are over thirty manuscripts that are generally short narratives as well as several drafts of articles concerning Jewish artists and intellectuals. Some notable examples are Israel Bernbaum, Zvi Lothane, Immanuäl Olsvanger, and Rachel Wischnitzler. There are also a few examples of Judith Helfer's artistic abilities, among them an Ex Libris she designed for her father's library.

A) Manuscripts

Box Folder Title Date
2 14 Manuscripts undated, 1966
2 15 Manuscripts undated
2 16 Manuscripts undated, 1985-1987

B) Art on Paper

Box Folder Title Date
2 17 Ex Libris undated
2 18 Ink Drawing undated
2 19 Calligraphy undated
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Series IV: Printed Materials, 1971-2001

This series is primarily in German with some English.
0.5 linear feet
Arrangement:

By publication title

Scope and Content:

This series consists of published articles by and about Judith Helfer. Although these records represent just some of the writing that Helfer did, they illustrate the variety of periodicals and newspapers that she worked for. Some papers included here are Aufbau, Kunstblatt, The New York Jewish Review, New Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herald, and the West Side Institutional Review. Helfer's literary impact is further substantiated by the articles referring to her life and her work found in such distinguished German and American papers, such as Aufbau, Berliner Morgenpost, and The New York Times.

A) Articles by Judith Helfer

Box Folder Title Date
2 20 Aufbau 1983-2001
2 21 Aachner Nachtrichen 1973
2 22 Kunstblatt 1987
2 23 The New York Jewish Review 1989-1991
2 24 New York Staats-Zeitung und Herald 1971
2 25 Museumverein Aachen 1971
2 26 A. Parnass 1986
2 27 West Side Institutional Review 1988-1991

B) Articles about Judith Helfer

Box Folder Title Date
2 28 Aufbau 1980, 2001
2 29 Badener Tagblatt 1988
2 30 Berliner Morgenpost 1985
2 31 Braunschweiger Zeitung 1973
2 32 The New York Times 1978
2 33 Wiesbadener Kurier 1978

C) Clippings

Box Folder Title Date
2 34 Clippings undated, 1947-1950, 1985
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Series V: Family Records, 1891-1987

The series is in German with some English and Hebrew.
1.5 linear feet
Arrangement:

Topical

Scope and Content:

Series V is comprised of five subseries: Subseries 1: Arthur and Ludwig Rosenthal; Subseries 2: Ilma Rosenthal; Subseries 3: Max Rosenthal; Subseries 4: Simon Helfer; and Subseries 5: Photographs. These records, consisting primarily of letters and personal documents, illuminate the life of her family. Her father's letters, papers, and a diary/scrapbook that he made for Judith following her birth are particularly interesting, as is a small collection of articles on Jewish topics in Das Jüdische Volk by Simon Helfer, Judith's husband.

Subseries 1: Arthur and Ludwig Rosenthal, 1904-1987

The subseries is in German with some English.
Scope and Content:

Subseries 1 has been arranged topically and includes records from both Arthur Rosenthal, Judith's father, and Ludwig Rosenthal, her grandfather. This subseries is composed of paper documents of a personal nature, such as academic records, correspondence, and marriage records. There are also several monographs from the library of Arthur Rosenthal.

Box Folder Title Date
2 35 Correspondence (1 of 2 folders) 1904-1962, 1987
2 36 Correspondence (2 of 2 folders) 1904-1962, 1987
2 37 Diploma 1912
2 38 Marriage Records 1914-1915
2 39 Diary/Scrapbook 1915
2 40 Immigration Records 1951
2 41 Das Buch Hiob (by Magaret Susman) 1951
2 42 Religious Records undated, 1935-1942
2 43 Monographs from Arthur Rosenthal's Library undated, 1926
2 44 Miscellaneous undated, 1929
2 45 Newspaper Clippings undated
2 46 Death Certificate and Obituaries 1951
Box Folder Title Date
OSL 14 47 Oversized Miscellaneous undated, 1912
Box Folder Title Date
2 48 Oversized Miscellaneous (photocopies) undated, 1912

Subseries 2: Ilma Rosenthal, 1891-1975

This subseries is in German.
Scope and Content:

There are very few records in Subseries 2, which has been arranged topically. The files are composed of mainly correspondence between Judith's mother, Ilma Rosenthal, and her family and friends. Of note is a folder of correspondence concerning the passing of her husband, Arthur Rosenthal. In addition, there are also some personal records, for example two passports, a birth certificate, and funeral records from Ilma's death in 1975.

Box Folder Title Date
3 1 Correspondence (1 of 2 folders) 1941-1965
3 2 Correspondence (2 of 2 folders) 1941-1965
3 3 Correspondence (death of Arthur Rosenthal) 1951
3 4 Birth Certificate 1891
3 5 Passports 1968-1973
3 6 Funeral Records 1975

Subseries 3: Max Rosenthal, 1910-1914

This subseries is in German.
Scope and Content:

Subseries 3 consists of a booklet that most likely housed stationary, some correspondence, and a scrapbook containing photograph clippings of famous actors, writers, composers, and philosophers from Germany as well as surrounding countries.

Box Folder Title Date
3 7 Stationary Book undated
3 8 Correspondence 1910-1914
3 9 Scrapbook 1912

Subseries 4: Simon Helfer, 1924-1968

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

Subseries 4 is the largest subseries of Family Records and has been arranged by topic. Included in this subseries are academic records, financial records, membership cards, correspondence, and personal records, such as a birth certificate and a Bar Mitzvah book. There is also a small collection of articles written by Helfer. Due to their fragile nature, the articles have been photocopied, however, since several of the newspapers are rare, the originals have also been preserved.

Box Folder Title Date
3 10 Birth Certificate 1912
3 11 Correspondence 1938-1967
3 12 Bar Mitzvah Book 1924
3 13 Academic Records 1924-1933
3 14 Professional Records undated, 1938
3 15 Membership Cards 1935-1937
3 16 Certificate of Naturalization 1954
3 17 Articles by Simon Helfer (photocopies) 1937-1938
3 18 Articles by Simon Helfer (originals) 1937-1938
3 19 Kartell Jüdischer Verbindungen (KJV) 1955-1968
3 20 Certificates from the Freedom Forest undated
3 21 Newspaper Clippings undated, 1929-1968
3 22 Flyers undated
3 23 Address Lists undated
3 24 Financial Records undated, 1959
3 25 Funeral Records 1967

Subseries 5: Photographs, 1914-1968

Scope and Content:

Subseries 5 consists of photographs that were not removed from the collection and placed in the photo archives. Included in this subseries is a photo album showing the Rosenthal and Helfer families in various countries and at various stages in the family's existence.

Box Folder Title Date
3 26 Photographs undated, 1925-1968
3 27 Photographs (originals) undated, 1914, 1939-1948
3 28 Photograph Album undated

Subseries 6: Miscellaneous, 1924-1966

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

These records appear to be indirectly related to the Helfer-Rosenthal family and are concerned with other members of the New York Jewish community.

Box Folder Title Date
3 29 General Miscellaneous undated, 1924-1966
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