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Siegmund Salfeld Collection

Identifier: AR 7017

Scope and Content Note

The documents in this collection describe the personal and professional life of Siegmund Salfeld. They consist of official papers and certificates, correspondence, clippings, manuscripts of sermons and articles, and copies of his published works.

Biographical material on Siegmund Salfeld will be found in two series: Series I: Personal and Series IV: Clippings about Siegmund Salfeld and his Writings. Series I holds official papers such as Salfeld's birth certificate and naturalization documents as well as educational documents including copies of his doctoral degree. In addition, this series also features certificates for honors and awards won by Siegmund Salfeld, including those proclaiming the awarding of a Knights' Cross first class in 1905 and 1918, citing his support of wartime efforts, and the Archduke's conferral of the title 'Professor' upon Salfeld in 1912 at the inauguration of the new synagogue. In Series IV users will find clippings about Salfeld. These describe significant events in Salfeld's life as well as reviews of his writing and obituaries.

Correspondence is located mainly in Series II, although there are also letters of congratulation among the documents on honors granted to Salfeld in Series I. The correspondence in Series II contains letters from prominent Jewish individuals, including Leo Baeck and Martin Buber, among others. The letters in this series primarily mention the professional activities of Siegmund Salfeld, such as his writing, teaching, and duties as a representative of the Mainz Jewish community. Some letters concerning his retirement will also be found in Series II. Users should note that most of the correspondence is handwritten.

Examples of Siegmund Salfeld's writing will be found almost entirely in Series III. These works include both published and unpublished articles and sermons written by him. Many of the articles focus on Jewish history. His sermons consisted of funeral services for individuals, including nobility, and congratulatory speeches given at celebrations of Jewish organizations and for specific individuals. Two poems written by Salfeld will be found in Series I.


  • 1854-1990


Language of Materials

The collection is in German, Hebrew, English, and Latin.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Collection is microfilmed - MF 702.

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.

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


Biographical Note

Salomon Benjamin Salfeld was born on March 24, 1843 in Stadthagen (Niedersachsen), the son of Benjamin and Adele Salfeld. At some point before he began his university studies, his first name was changed to Siegmund. After completing his general education, Salfeld became a teacher. At this time he met Zipporah Herzberg, his future wife, from Oschersleben-Bode (Anhalt). Her father was opposed to their marriage due to the young couple's financial situation, and Siegmund Salfeld went to Berlin, where he taught at the Auerbach Orphan Asylum while continuing his studies at the University of Berlin and the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums. One of his teachers was the Jewish historian Moritz Steinschneider. In January 1870 Salfeld received his doctorate in philosophy and the liberal arts. Once he had completed his studies, Siegmund Salfeld married Zipporah Herzberg.

By August 1870, Siegmund Salfeld was working as a preacher (Prediger) for the Jewish community in Dessau. After further studying the Jewish scriptures, he became a rabbi in 1878. Siegmund and Zipporah Salfeld remained in Dessau for ten years, where they had five sons: Albert, Richard, Berthold, Erich, and Ludwig. To earn extra money they also started a boarding house for Jewish boys. Salfeld maintained close relations with both the Jews and Gentiles in his community, and in 1876 was elected a city councilman.

In 1880 Siegmund Salfeld became a rabbi of the Jewish community in Mainz, in the then Archduchy of Hessen. The Salfeld family lived across the street from the archduke's palace, in the same building as the community's Hebrew school. It was in Mainz that Siegmund Salfeld wrote his most recognized work, Das Martyrologium des Nürnberger Memorbuches, which was published in 1898. This was a scholarly work that focused not only on the book referenced in the title, but also on the Jews of Nuremberg and Germany during the Middle Ages. Salfeld also taught at both the Hebrew school and the city Gymnasium, and was a member of the local school board. He established a library for the community, comprised of scholarly works of biblical, Hebrew, and Jewish literature, and maintained the records of the Jewish community.

In addition to publishing some of his sermons, Salfeld also had many works of religious and local historical interest published; often these articles appeared in periodicals and Festschriften, although some sermons, especially those for nobility, were printed in newspapers. Some examples of his published writings included: Dr. Salomon Herxheimer (1885); Der alte israelitische Friedhof in und die hebräischen Inschriften des Mainzer Museums (1898); Die Judenpolitik Philipps des Großmütigen (1904); Vorboten der Judenemanzipation in Kurmainz (1912); Zur Geschichte des Judenschutzes in Kurmainz (1916); and Zur Kunde des Mainzer jüdischen Vereinsleben im achtzehnten Jahrhundert (1919). Salfeld also wrote articles that were included in theGermania Judaica, the Jewish Encyclopedia, and Mayer's Konversationslexicon.

While living in Mainz Salfeld received many honors. The first of these was a Knights' Cross first class and induction into the order of Philipp des Großmütigen in 1905, after he had been a rabbi in the city for twenty-five years. In 1912, when the new Mainz synagogue was dedicated, the Archduke Ernst Ludwig conferred upon Salfeld the title of professor. During World War I both Siegmund and Zipporah earned certificates of honor (Ehrenzeichen) for their assistance with the war effort, and Siegmund received another Knights' Cross first class.

Siegmund Salfeld died in May 1926 in Mainz, when he was 84 years old.


0.75 Linear Feet


This collection documents the personal and professional life of the rabbi Siegmund Salfeld, who served in Dessau and Mainz. Although the major focus of the collection is on the rabbi himself, there is also some material on the Mainz Jewish community and correspondence exchanged with prominent Jewish individuals. The collection is composed of official documents, correspondence, manuscripts of articles and sermons, published works, and clippings.


Collection is available on 1 reel of microfilm (MF 702).

Related Material

The LBI Library holds copies of sixteen of Siegmund Salfeld's published works.

Separated Material

Photographs have been removed from this collection to the LBI Photo Collection.

Guide to the Papers of Siegmund Salfeld (1843-1926) 1854-1990 AR 7017
Processed by LBI Staff and Dianne Ritchey
© 2006
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from SiegmundSalfeld.xml

Revision Statements

  • 2010-12-17 : encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl
  • 2014-12-30.: Biographical note edited.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States