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Elizabeth Strauss Plaut Collection

Identifier: AR 25309

Scope and Content Note

The Elizabeth Strauss Plaut collection holds the genealogical research that culminated in the production of three books, Gumprichs of Münster/ Westphalia: a Tale of Four Continents, Guggenheim/ Wormser Family: a Genealogical 300-Year Memoir, and Plaut Family: Tracing the Legacy.

Nearly all of the series in this collection consist of extensive genealogical correspondence, family trees, and research notes, with most folders holding family trees or notes on family trees. Series I holds research on the Plaut family, with much of it divided by the location in Germany from which the family derived. In addition, this series also includes material on the Gumprich and Rosenthal families, related to the genealogy of Selma Gumprich Plaut. Genealogy on the Strauss family will be found in Series II, and consists of research into many branches of the family tree; the most prominent branches of the family loosely form the basis for subseries within Series II, including the Abraham, Strauss, Guggenheim/ Wormser, Wertheimer, Wisebart, Kline, Rauh, Mack, and Dreyfoos families. General genealogical research, or research whose branch was not clearly identified by Elizabeth Strauss comprises Series III: General and Unsorted Genealogical Files. Oversized family trees of both Plaut and Strauss ancestors are included in Series IV. Papers pertaining to the writing or publishing of Elizabeth Strauss' books make up Series V, and include drafts of her books on the Gumprich and Guggenheim/ Wormser families as well as some correspondence with publishers.

Photographs and copies of photographs of family members are often included with the correspondence or collected material on family branches. However, some of these types of material were not included among the genealogical files, and these primarily form Series VI. In addition to photographs, this series holds a few other papers of visual material.

Files unrelated to genealogical research form Series VII. Included here is one folder of personal correspondence, drafts of Elizabeth Strauss Plaut's creative writing and texts for lectures and other public addresses.


  • 1738-2006
  • Majority of material found within 1973-1999


Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in English with some German and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

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.

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

Elizabeth Strauss was born on October 12, 1910 in New York City, the second child of Harry Strauss and Therese Abraham Strauss. A few years after the birth of his daughter Harry Strauss died of typhoid fever, and Therese Strauss relocated with her children to her family home in Cincinnati, where the family resided with her parents, Victor and Emma Abraham.

Elizabeth Strauss attended the University of Cincinnati, where she majored in zoology. While continuing to study for her teacher's certificate, she met W. Gunther Plaut, a recent immigrant from Germany who was studying at the Hebrew Union College. They were married on November 10, 1938.

The following September the couple moved when Gunther Plaut became assistant rabbi of the Washington Boulevard Temple in Chicago. There Elizabeth Plaut started a Judaica shop in addition to her duties as rebbetzin. In 1942 the couple had a son. The family moved several times due to Gunther Plaut's various assignments as a chaplain in the U.S. Army during World War II. After a return to Chicago, where the family expanded to include a daughter, they moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, when Gunther Plaut became rabbi at the Mount Zion Hebrew Congregation. The family remained there for thirteen years. During this time Elizabeth Plaut was also very active as the rabbi's wife. In addition, in 1952 she created "Holiplay," a children's game about the Jewish holidays. Finally, the family made its last relocation when Gunther Plaut became rabbi for the Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, Ontario, a much larger congregation than that in St. Paul.

It was during the early 1970s that Elizabeth Plaut became involved in documenting the genealogy of the Strauss, Plaut, and related families. Over the following three decades she accumulated numerous family trees and voluminous research on the family history, collecting information from family members as well as print sources and archival records. This work culminated in the publication of articles in genealogical periodicals such as Search and Toledot, as well as in three books.

Elizabeth Strauss Plaut died on September 13, 2003 (16 Ellul 5763).

Published Books:

Guggenheim/ Wormser Family: a Genealogical 300-Year Memoir
Gumprichs of Münster/ Westphalia: a Tale of Four Continents
Plaut Family: Tracing the Legacy (with Jonathan V. Plaut as editor and an introduction and additional research by Karen S. Franklin)


14 Linear Feet


This collection contains the genealogical research of Elizabeth Strauss Plaut. Papers to be found here include extensive correspondence, family trees, and research notes on the genealogy of the Plaut and Strauss families.


The collection is on thirty-four reels of microfilm (MF 932):

  1. Reel 1: 1/1 - 1/14
  2. Reel 2: 1/15 - 1/39
  3. Reel 3: 1/40 - 1/60
  4. Reel 4: 2/1 - 2/33
  5. Reel 5: 2/34 - 2/59
  6. Reel 6: 2/60 - 3/9
  7. Reel 7: 3/10 - 3/22
  8. Reel 8: 3/23 - 3/46
  9. Reel 9: 3/47 - 4/7
  10. Reel 10: 4/8 - 4/36
  11. Reel 11: 4/37 - 4/56
  12. Reel 12: 4/57 - 5/24
  13. Reel 13: 5/25 - 5/45
  14. Reel 14: 5/46 - 6/14
  15. Reel 15: 6/15 - 6/53
  16. Reel 16: 6/54 - 7/9
  17. Reel 17: 7/10 - 7/43
  18. Reel 18: 7/44 - 7/83
  19. Reel 19: 7/84 - 8/13
  20. Reel 20: 8/14 - 8/43
  21. Reel 21: 8/44 - 9/17
  22. Reel 22: 9/18 - 9/52
  23. Reel 23: 9/53 - 10/5
  24. Reel 24: 10/6 - 10/29
  25. Reel 25: 10/30 - 10/65
  26. Reel 26: 10/66 - 11/20
  27. Reel 27: 11/21 - 11/58
  28. Reel 28: 11/59 - 12/6
  29. Reel 29: 12/7 - 12/32
  30. Reel 30: 12/33 - 12/59
  31. Reel 31: 13/1 - 13/17
  32. Reel 32: 13/18 - 13/25
  33. Reel 33: 13/26 - 14/1
  34. Reel 34: 14/2 - 14/15 and Oversized Material

Related Material

The LBI Archives also hold a related collection, the Elizabeth Plaut Collection (AR 10087).

The LBI Library has two of Elizabeth Strauss Plaut's books:

  1. The Gumprichs of Muenster/Westphalia: a Tale of Four Continents (st 427)
  2. The Guggenheim/Wormser family: a Genealogical 300-Year Memoir (CS 629 G84 P53 1996)

Separated Material

Some photographs have been removed to the LBI Photograph Collection.

Processing Information

Much of the arrangement of this collection was based on the original order of the papers. See individual series descriptions for more detailed comments on the organization of series and subseries and naming of folders.

Guide to the Papers of Elizabeth Strauss Plaut (1910-2003) 1738-2006 AR 25309 / MF 932
Processed by Dianne Ritchey Oummia
© 2008
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from ElizabethStraussPlaut.xml

Revision Statements

  • 12/2008: Microfilm inventory added.
  • 3/23/2010 : encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl
  • 12/8/2011 : Added links to digital objects for oversized materials in Container List.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States