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Walter Harold Family Collection

Identifier: AR 4156

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the history of the Harold (formerly Isaac) family. The collection focuses mainly on the family members connecting the brothers Walter and John Harold (born Walter Isaac and Hans Harald Isaac, respectively) to their earliest known ancestor, Herz Isaac of Hesse, Germany.

The bulk of the collection consists of the personal papers of the family or individuals listed on the folder title. These materials largely consist of vital documents. The correspondence in the collection is included in the folder of the recipient, even if another family member sent the letter or postcard. Some folders contain immigration, naturalization, inheritance, or military records as well. John Harold’s folder also holds legal documents related to his name change and records of burial plot purchases. Photographs of Walter Harold, John Harold, and their immediate family members are also included in their respective folders, as well as a few photographs of Hermine Harold née Reis’ family.

Folder 5 contains a historical narrative of the Isaac/Harold family that was written in 1964 and updated in 1996. This narrative offers short biographical descriptions of each family member. The family names mentioned prominently in this history and throughout the rest of the collection include: Becker, Harold, Isaac, Kahn, Karbe, Levi, Reis, Rothschild, and Zernik.

Folder 11 contains a finding aid created in 1975 when the first part of the present collection was donated. Changes in locations of photographs and the family album and later addenda are not reflected in this finding aid; however, it lists and describes 70 individual items within this collection. Also in this folder are itemized lists of some of the material in the addenda donated in 1996.

The oversized materials include the doctoral diploma for Walter Isaac from 1923, a page of the New York Law Journal from August 13, 1943 that describes the legal name change for John and Gertrude Harold (previously Hans and Trude Isaac), and a page of the Frankfurt am Main newspaper the General Anzeiger from October 12, 1914 with a death notice for Rosa Isaac née Becker.


  • Creation: 1843-1996


Language of Materials

The collection is in German and English with a few documents in Yiddish and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

Biographical Note

Before this branch of the family immigrated to the United States in the 1940s and changed their family name, the Harold family was the Isaac family. The Isaac family of Hesse (Germany) traces its roots back to 1787, the birth year of Herz Isaac, a Rabbi, geese salesman, and broker. Herz and Caroline Isaac (née Levi) had a son named Wolf Isaac who worked as a merchant and innkeeper and served in the military for a short period. Wolf married Rosa Isaac née Becker, and the couple had seven children: Julius, Leo, Emil Siegmund, Hugo, Moritz, Sitta, and Kathinka. Leo and Moritz Isaac founded an advertising agency (Annoncen-Bureau) named Moritz Isaac & Co. in Frankfurt am Main in 1899.

Walter Harold (1901-1968) was born Walter Isaac in Frankfurt am Main as the first child of Leo Isaac and Mathilde Isaac née Karbe. Walter earned a doctorate in political science (Doctor rerum politicarum) from the University of Frankfurt am Main in 1923. In 1925, he married Luise Hermine (alternatively Ima or Minna) Reis (1893-1994) of Strasbourg. Walter and Hermine had one son, Wolfgang Leo Max Isaac (later Franklin M. Harold), born in 1929. They emigrated to Palestine in the 1940s, where they lived in Nahariya. The family later immigrated to the United States and changed their last names to Harold.

Walter Isaac’s younger brother Hans Harald Isaac (later John Harold) was born in 1905. He married Hermine Abraham in 1929, and the couple divorced in 1933. Hans married Trude Katzauer in 1935, and they had a son, Fritz Kurt Leonhard Isaac (later Fred Harold). The family immigrated to the United States and settled in New York City, where Hans and Trude changed their names to John and Gertrude Harold. After Gertrude Harold died in 1955, John Harold married Edith née Hartoch widowed Friedberg. John Harold worked as the head of advertising for the publication Aufbau.


0.5 Linear Feet


This collection documents the history of the Harold (formerly Isaac) family. The collection focuses mainly on the brothers Walter and John Harold (born Walter Isaac and Hans Harald Isaac, respectively) and their family history going back to their earliest known ancestor, Herz Isaac of Hesse, Germany. Materials include vital documents, a family history narrative, photographs, passports, correspondence, notebooks, immigration papers, inheritance papers, and a few clippings.


The collection is arranged alphabetically by name.

Digitization Note

The collection was digitized in its entirety. Access to a small amount of images in box 1 folder 1 and box 1 folder 6 has been restricted due to privacy concerns. Researchers with questions regarding suppressed materials may contact the LBI Archivist at

Separated Material

A scrapbook (called the "Familienalbum" in the 1975 finding aid) was separated to the LBI Photograph Collection with the call number ALB 68. It contains a family tree, correspondence, biographical descriptions of family members, and photographs. The contents of this album have been digitized and can be viewed online: Isaac family of Windecken and Frankfurt am Main portrait album and family history. Photographs of the Isaac family have been separated to the LBI Photograph collection and can also be viewed online: Isaac family photographs.

Processing Information

This collection was partially processed in 1975, at which point the finding aid in folder 11 was created. Further processing occurred in 2013 to incorporate addenda and changes to the location of the photographs and family album. During processing in 2013, items were rehoused into acid-free archival folders, materials were removed from envelopes and flattened where necessary, and oversized materials were unfolded and placed in oversized folders.

Guide to the Walter Harold Family Collection 1843-1996 AR 4156
Processed by Leanora Lange
© 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Processing made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany. Digitization made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.

Revision Statements

  • March 2015: dao links and digitization information added by Leanora Lange.
  • July 2015: dao links to oversized material added and digitization note updated by Leanora Lange.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States