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Lee Kaufer Frankel collection

Identifier: P-146

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains correspondence, documents, and newspaper clippings relating to the life and activities of Dr. Frankel in the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, as well as social welfare and Jewish organizations. It also includes biographic and bibliographic data; manuscripts and printed copies of his writings and speeches on the subjects of health, insurance, and Jewish affairs; and miscellaneous personal correspondence, paticularly with Milton Rosenau.

It includes extensive correspondence and other material pertaining to Frankel's activities at the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company; including his reports on European social welfare developments; his activities on employee welfare, correspondence with public and private organizations; his efforts to develop and spread group, health, and home building insurance (of special interest is his correspondence with Kesher Shel Barzel regarding group insurance); his educational and welfare activities for company policy-holders and the general public (of special interest are the company's educational pamphlets, exhibits and public campaigns); his studies and surveys of unemployment, sickness and burial (of special interest are the experimental health experiment at Meriden, Connecticut, 1917-1918); the Memphis Sanitary Study (1917-1919); the influenza study (1918-1922); the Boy Scouts survey (1924-1925) and the Bellevue-Yorkville health demonstration (1925-1930); his interest in company sponsored research and social welfare projects; and his lobbying on behalf of company supported legislation.

In addition, the Frankel papers contain material concerning his activities on behalf of the American Public Health Association (1909-1920, President 1919); Boy Scouts of America (1913-1928); Council of Jewish Communal Institutions (1905-1909); Council of National Defense (1917-1919); International Congress on Social Insurance (1908-1917); National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis (1909-1917); National Civic Foundation (1909-1919); National Conference of Charities and Corrections (1909-1917); National Conference of Jewish Charities (1912); National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives at Denver (1912); State Board of Charities (commissioner, 1918-1931); Training School of Jewish Social Work; and the United Hebrew Charities of New York (manager, 1899-19?8), among others. Also includes extensive correspondence and documents on Frankel's relief work in the Joint Distribution Committee (1918-1931), the American Jewish Relief Committee Special Commission to investigate conditions in East European countries (1922) and the United American Jewish Campaign (1925-1926) as well as his Zionist work in the Palestine Economic Corporation (1924-1929), the Non-Partisan Survey of Palestine (1927-1928) and the Jewish Agency (1929-1931).

This collection is valuable to researchers studying the following aspects of Jewish history: social welfare, health insurance, social insurance, employment, Zionism, and Jewish philanthropy.

The collection is in English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Yiddish.


  • Creation: undated, 1889-1933, 1936-1938, 1942-1944


Language of Materials

The collection is in English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Yiddish.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at

For reference questions, please email:

Biographical Note

Lee Kaufer Frankel (1867-1931)

Dr. Lee Kaufer Frankel was born in Philadelphia on August 13, 1867 to Louis and Aurelia Lobenburg Franken. He attended public schools, the Rugby Academy of Pennsylvania, and the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1887 with a B.S., and again in 1891, when he received a Ph.D in chemistry.

He taught chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania between 1888 and 1893. From 1893-1899, he practiced as a consulting chemist in Philadelphia, and served as vice president and then president of the chemical section of the Franklin Institute between 1895 and 1898. He moved to New York in 1899 to act as manager of the United Hebrew Charities.

In 1898, he married Alice Reizenstein of Philadelphia. THey had two children: Lee K. Frankel Jr. and Eleanor Frankel (Mrs. Richard Rafalsky). In 1908 he went to the Russell Sage Foundation as a special investigator. Frankel's friendship with Rabbi Henry Berkowitz helped arouse his interest in Jewish community affairs and social work.

Beginning in 1909, Dr. Frankel began work with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. There, he pioneered the development of social and health programs under private insurance auspices, which included the distribution of many pamphlets on communicable diseases and personal hygiene, the organization of public health nursing services, and community health demonstrations. He won recognition for this bark, and President Roosevelt appointed him a member of the Ellis Island Commission in 1903. He also served as commissioner of the State Board of Charities; and in 1921 and 1922, he severed as welfare director of the Post Office Department.

Dr. Frankel helped to introduce professional social work standards into the world of Jewish philanthropy. He stressed the importance of adequate relief geared to rehabilitation, the development of a pension program for such dependents as widowed mothers, and a program of assisted migration to reduce the concentration of the Jewish population in New York City. He became interested in the potential contribution of social insurance to the prevention and relief of poverty.

Dr. Frankel was a director and, in 1914, vice president of the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis. He also served as treasurer of the American Public Health Association, acting as its president in 1919. He served as president of the National Conference of Jewish Charities in 1912; he was a member of the national council of the Survey Associates; and a member of the hygiene reference board of the Life Extension Institute.

Additional services includes: Dr. Frankel was president of the New York State Conference of Charities and Corrections in 1917; chairman of the Special European Relief Commission of the American Jewish Relief Commission in 1922; chairman of the National Health Council from 1923 to 1925; vice president of the National Conference on Social Work from 1923 to 1924; chairman of the commission of experts that made a survey of Palestine under the auspices of the Jewish Agency in 1927; an honorary Doctor of Hebrew Laws conferred upon him by the Hebrew Union College at Cincinnati in 1928; and named a member of the planning committee for the White House conference on child health and protection by President Hoover.

He served on the Palestine Joint Survey Commission with Felix M. Warburg and the late Lord Melchett. At a meeting of so-called non-Zionists held in New York in October, 1928, Dr. Frankel pleaded for agreement between Zionists and non-Zionists and for the support of all Jews in the development of the higher economic, spiritual, and cultural life of the ancient home of that people. His appeal was so successful that, at a meeting of the Jewish Agency Council at Zurich, Switzerland the following August, Zionists and non-Zionists united to carry on the work of establishing a Jewish National Home in Palestine. Mr. Warburg was made chairman of an administrative committee of forty, composed of twenty Zionists and twenty non-Zionists. In November 1929, Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis of the United States Supreme Court joined with Dr. Frankel, Mr. Warburg, Bernard Flexner, and other prominent Jews at a conference in Washington, in a decision to form an American business corporation for the investment of funds with a view to furthering the economic development of Palestine.

Dr. Frankel was chairman of the executive committee of the Jewish Communal Survey of Greater New York, which, after a three-year study of three years, made a report in the fall of 1929 urging the establishment of greater hospital and clinical facilities, a central council for the development of a unified recreational program for the Jewish community, the concentration of communal expenditures for research, and the standardization and development of sound educational practices. As a result, the city-wide Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies took its contemporary form.

Dr. Frankel prepared a review of the medical and sanitary work of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which conducted a campaign to raise $2,500,000 from America Jews to carry on its work of ameliorating Jewish suffering in Central and Eastern Europe. Dr. Frankel, chairman of the medical and sanitary committee of the organization, said its work had been largely responsible for the improved health of millions, and saved many sufferers of tuberculosis, typhus, and other diseases.

At a meeting of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia in April 1930, his vision of the future, 50 years from his present. "The picture of the future is clear," he said. "Orphan asylums will, we hope, become things of the past. There will be less need for welfare organizations for the indigent. Year by year we shall have fewer hospitals. Industry, in view of our constantly increasing development of technological processes, will be able to maintain efficient production with a marked reduction in the length of the working week. Because of the stabilized population resulting from the lower birth rate and the advancing age of the future population, the laborer at 40 will not be looked at askance when he seeks work; nor will he be discharged at 50 to be replaced by a younger man with less skill and less experience. The maintenance of a larger number of men in industry as a result of this may change our industrial system. The world will have more leisure."

Dr. Frankel published many articles on health and welfare issues, and was the co-author of several books, including The Human Factor in Industry (1920), A Popular Encyclopedia of Health (1926), and Health of the Worker, How to Safeguard It (1924).

Dr. Frankel died of a heart attack on July 25, 1931 at the age of 63.


Encyclopedia Judaica, Second Edition

New York Times, "Dr. Lee K. Frankel Dies On A Tour", July 26, 1931

Dr. Lee K. Frankel by Solomon Lowenstein (


August 13, 1867
LKF born
Univ. of Pennsylvania
Receives Ph.D. from Univ. of Pennsylvania
Marries Alice Reizenstein
Instructor of Chemistry at Univ. of Pennsylvania
Consulting chemist
Vice president and president of Chemical Section of the Franklin Institute
Manager of United Hebrew Charities, N.Y.
Special investigator at Russell Sage Foundation
Manager of Industrial Department at the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
President of the National Conference of Jewish Charities
December 24, 1912
Became sixth vice president of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
January 23, 1917
Became third vice president of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
January 22, 1924
Became second vice president of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
Chairman of the National Health Council
President of the New York State Conference of Charities and Corrections
Vice president of National Tuberculosis Association
Commissioner of State Board of Charities
President of American Public Health Association
Member of Executive Committee of the New York Campaign for Jewish War Sufferers, American Jewish Relief
Chairman of special commission to study conditions in Europe
Director of the New York Tuberculosis Association
Member of executive Committee of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations
Member of governing council of the American Public Health Association
Member of board of directors of the American Social Hygiene Association
Member of general committee of the American Jewish Committee
First vice president of the National Conference on Social Work
Member of advisory committee of the City Housing Corp.
Member of advisory council of the Palestine Economic Corp.
Member of the Committee on Jewish Agency
Member of board of governors of the National Conference of Jewish Social Service
Member of finance committee
Treasurer of the Sedgwick Memorial Fund
Member of the advisory committee of the Canadian Social Hygiene Council
Member of the committee on immigration and naturalization of the Merchants' Association of New York
Member of the advisory council of the New York Federation of Women's Clubs
Vice president and member of the board of trustees of the Training School for Jewish Social Work
Member of administrative committee of the Emergency Com. On Jewish refugees
Member of organizational committee of non-Zionist body of the Jewish Agency
Member of National Committee of United Jewish Campaign
Chairman for the insurance industry, United Jewish Campaign of New York
Chairman on the executive committee of the Jewish Communal Survey of Greater New York
July 25, 1931
Died in Paris, France


10.5 Linear Feet (21 manuscript boxes)


This collection contains correspondence, documents, and newspaper clippings relating to the life and activities of Frankel in the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, as well as in other social welfare Jewish organizations. Includes biographic and bibliographic data; manuscript and printed copies of his writings; speeches on the subjects of health, insurance and Jewish affairs; and miscellaneous personal correspondence, particularly especially with Milton Rosenau.

Acquisition Note

Donated by Brandeis University (Goldfarb Library), 1973.

Guide to the Lee Kaufer Frankel collection, undated, 1889-1933, 1936-1938, 1942-1944 *P-146
Processed by Marvin Rusinek
© 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • April, July 2020: EHyman: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States