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Admiral Lewis Lichtenstein Strauss Papers

 Collection
Identifier: P-632

Scope and Content Note

The Papers of Admiral Lewis L. Strauss reflect the various Jewish organizational and institutional activities in which Lewis L. Strauss participated as well as his personal life. Though the collection does not preserve the total volume of papers produced by Lewis L. Strauss, its importance goes beyond the name under which these papers are preserved.

The collection is valuable to researchers studying the activities of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Temple Emanu-El (New York, NY), the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the anti-Semitic activities of Henry Ford and Father Charles E. Coughlin, the Jewish Agricultural Society, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and a wide range of important individuals and American Jewish organizations. It also documents the activity of Lewis L. Strauss in American Jewish affairs from 1919 until his death in 1974.

The collection contains correspondence, minutes, reports, financial and fundraising documents, legal documents, affidavits, telegrams and cables, newspaper clippings, photographs, pamphlets, and publications. The documents are primarily in English, followed by German, French, Yiddish and Hebrew.

Dates

  • 1908-1973

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, German, French, Hebrew, 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 mmeyers@ajhs.org.

For reference questions, please email: inquiries@cjh.org

Biographical Note

Admiral Lewish Lichtenstein Strauss, Jr.

1896-1974


Lewis Lichtenstein Strauss, Jr. was born on January 31, 1896 in Charleston, West Virginia, to Lewis and Rosa (Lichtenstein) Strauss. He grew up in Richmond, and became a traveling salesman for his family's wholesale shoe business. In 1917, he presented himself to Herbert C. Hoover. At the time, Hoover was organizing volunteers in the cause of Belgian relief. Later, when Hoover became head of the Food Administration, Lewis L. Strauss became his personal secretary and accompanied him on several European missions. He worked for Hoover's election to the presidency in 1928, and maintained a life-long friendship with President Hoover until the latter's death in 1964.

In 1919, Lewis L. Strauss was hired by the investment firm Kuhn, Loeb & Company, and in 1923 he married Alice Hanauer, a daughter of a partner in the firm. In 1929, he himself became a partner in the firm. One of Kuhn, Loeb & Company's founders was Jacob Schiff, the important American Jewish leader and philanthropist. As a result of Lewis L. Strauss' association with Kuhn, Loeb &. Company, he became friendly with many wealthy and influential American Jewish figures, especially the core members of the American Jewish Committee. Between 1950 and 1953, he served as financial adviser to the Rockefeller family.

Lewis L. Strauss maintained a keen interest in scientific and technological advancements, and was an early investor in Kodachrome. After the death of his parents from cancer, his interest in the atom led him to fund the construction of a surge generator to produce isotopes for cancer treatment. Beginning in 1926, Lewis L. Strauss was in the Navy Reserve, and he entered active duty in 1941, becoming adviser to Navy Undersecretary James Forrestal. He directed the development of the radar proximity fuse, conceived of the Big "E" war production incentive program, and in 1945 was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral by President Truman. In 1946, Truman appointed Lewis L. Strauss to serve on the Atomic Energy Commission, on which he served through 1950. In 1953, President Eisenhower reappointed Lewis L. Strauss to the commission, this time as its chairman.

As the breadth of the Papers of Admiral Lewis L. Strauss illustrates, Lewis L. Strauss was deeply committed to American Jewish life and Jewish welfare generally. He served as a member of the board of directors of several important Jewish philanthropic, academic and communal organizations, and he also maintained a special interest in inter-religious affairs.

In his lifetime, Lewis L. Strauss was thrust into public controversy on several occasions. In the 1920s and 1930s, he played a central role in combating the anti-Semitic propaganda of Henry Ford and Father Charles E. Coughlin. Also beginning in this period, he became a leading member of the American Jewish Committee and embroiled in disputes over Zionism and American Jewish politics, notably the American Jewish Conference. Later, during his tenure as chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, he attracted public attention when the White House suspended the security clearance of Commissioner J. Robert Oppenheimer. Lewis L. Strauss eventually voted against Oppenheimer's reinstatement to the Atomic Energy Commission, but he did seek to have him retained in the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study and other nuclear research enterprises. In 1954, another controversy flared when the Atomic Energy Commission engaged the Dixon-Yates combine to erect a power plant in West Memphis, Arkansas. Lewis L. Strauss, a deeply conservative Republican, was eager to admit private industry into the nuclear field. But liberals saw in the Dixon-Yates contract a threat to the Tennessee Valley Authority and public power. They attacked the contract so vigorously that President Eisenhower canceled it in 1955.

In 1958, President Eisenhower appointed Lewis L. Strauss to be Acting Secretary of Commerce, and in 1959 he nominated him for the position. After a protracted public debate concerning ethical considerations, and one in which the specter of anti-Semitism was also raised, the Senate refused to confirm Lewis L. Strauss' nomination. Following this episode, Lewis L. Strauss returned to private life. On January 21,1974, Lewis L. Strauss died at the age of 78 at his home in Brandy Station, West Virginia.

CHRONOLOGY

January 31, 1896
Born in Charleston, West Virginia
1917-1919
Personal Secretary to Herbert C. Hoover, Head of the Belgian Relief Committee
1919
U.S. Delegate to Final Armistice Convention
1919
Joins Kuhn, Loeb & Company (New York, NY)
1926
Enters Navy Reserve
1929-1947
Partner of Kuhn, Loeb & Company (New York, NY)
1938-1948
President of Temple Emanu-El (New York, NY)
1941
Enters active naval duty; Adviser to Navy Undersecretary James Forrestal
1945
Promoted to rank of Rear Admiral; President, Princeton Institute for Advanced Study
1946-1950
Member of the Atomic Energy Commission
1950-1953
Financial Adviser to Rockefeller Family
1953-1958
Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission
1958-1959
Acting Secretary of Commerce under President Dwight D. Eisenhower
1959
Returns to private life
1962
Publishes Men and Decisions
January 21, 1974
Dies in Brandy Station, Virginia
RANK: Rear Admiral

HONORS: Distinguished Service Medal, Medal for Freedom, Legion of Merit, French Legion of Honor, Belgian Order of Leopold

Bibliography

Biographical note compiled on the basis of archival documents in the Papers of Admiral Lewis L. Strauss as well as data presented in Geoffrey Wigoder, ed.

References

  1. Dictionary of Jewish Biography (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991). pp. 506-507
  2. American Jewish Year Book vol. 76 (1976), p. 518;
  3. Encyclopaedia Judaica (15), pp. 435-436.

Extent

75 Manuscript Boxes (37.75 feet and one oversized folder)

Abstract

This collection is comprised of papers pertaining to Admiral Louis Lichtenstein Strauss, his career, and his community and organizational activities. He belonged to such groups as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Temple Emanu-El in New York, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the Jewish Agricultural Society, and the Union of Hebrew Congregations.

His papers include extensive correspondence, organizational and institutional records, photographs, and publications which document his personal and public life as well as American Jewish issues that he was involved with such as relief efforts for Jewish refugees from Central Europe, interest and involvement in the Reform movement, and endeavors to combat anti-Semitism, especially as propagated by Father Charles E. Coughlin and Henry Ford.

Acquisition

Beginning in 1971, the Papers of Admiral Lewis L. Strauss were donated to the American Jewish Historical Society over a period of several years by Lewis H. Strauss, son of Admiral Lewis L. Strauss, acting on behalf of the Estate of Admiral Lewis L. Strauss.

Related Material

<emph render="bold">Individual and Family Records at the American Jewish Historical Society</emph>

  1. Papers of Cyrus Adler
  2. Papers of Louis Broido
  3. Papers of Felix Frankfurter
  4. Papers of Herbert Henry Lehman
  5. Louis Marshall Correspondence and Pamphlets
  6. Morgenthau Family Papers
  7. Papers of Arthur Hays Sulzberger
  8. Papers of Samuel Untermyer
  9. Papers of Stephen S. Wise

<emph render="bold">Organizational Records at the American Jewish Historical Society</emph>

  1. American Jewish Committee
  2. American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
  3. American Society for Jewish Farm Settlements in Russia
  4. American Jewish Relief Committeee
  5. Jewish Agricultural Society [Found in the Records of the Baron de Hirsch Fund]

<emph render="bold">Other Related Archives</emph>

  1. American Jewish Archives (Cincinnati, OH)
  2. American Jewish Committee (New York, NY)
  3. American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (New York, NY)
  4. Herbert C. Hoover Presidential Library (West Branch, IA)
  5. Jewish Theological Seminary of America (New York, NY)
  6. Temple Emanu-El (New York, NY)
  7. YIVO Institute of Jewish Research (New York, NY)

Separated Material

One photograph from Series XI and three photographs from Series XV are stored in a shared folder in Shared OS 1.
Title
Guide to the Papers of Admiral Lewis Lichtenstein Strauss (1896-1974), 1908-1973 P-632
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Mark A. Raider
Date
© October 2001
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from LLStrauss02.xml

Revision Statements

  • April 2005.: Converted to EAD 2002. Revised as LLStrauss02.xml by Tanya Elder. Removed deprecated elements and attributes, updated repository codes, added language codes, changed doctype declaration, etc.
  • January 2006.: Entities removed from EAD finding aid.
  • October 2020: EHyman: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
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New York NY 10011 United States