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John Stern Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25173 / MF 768

Scope and Content Note

The John Stern Family Collection documents the life, immigration experience, and work of members of the Stern Family, particularly James Stern and his wife Charlotte ("Lotte") and their son John, but also including James Stern's father Siegmund, mother Guithella, and other members of the family. The collection consists of correspondence, business papers, travel and citizenship papers, writings, and personal papers.

The most prominent documents in this collection are personal correspondence, including not only letters but also postcards, greeting cards, and telegrams. Frequently correspondence is between family members, but some correspondence, particularly of James Stern, is also from friends or business associates. James Stern's correspondence is located in Series I, Subseries 2, although greeting cards and wedding telegrams are with other personal papers in Subseries 1 of the same series. The largest amount of James Stern's correspondence is between himself and Lotte Stern, his wife; topics include the planning of their wedding, raising of their son, other family members, and James Stern's work. Letters exchanged with Lotte Stern are primarily located within both Series I and Series II, but there are a few letters to individuals other than her husband or son in Series I, Subseries 4. John Stern's correspondence, which is almost entirely comprised of letters written to and from his mother, is in Subseries 2 of Series II. His correspondence dates from his time in the United States military when he was stationed in Germany. These letters detail life as an American soldier in occupied Germany as well as providing his mother with suggestions for the family business in Tangier. Other topics in John Stern's correspondence include the location of missing family members, family history and genealogy, restitution, and finding new German associates to work with his export and import company. A small amount of correspondence between Siegmund and Guithella Stern and other family members is in Series III, Subseries 1.

Business papers, including correspondence, are similarly located in various places in the collection dependant on their origination. Papers of James Stern, including contracts and a small amount of correspondence will be found in Subseries 3 of Series I. These papers include two account books featuring clients in Hamburg and several cities in Morocco. Correspondence in Series I, Subseries 2 additionally features James Stern's letters exchanged with Richard Hans, an associate in Romania. John Stern's business enterprise is primarily evidenced in the abovementioned correspondence exchanged with his mother. The business records of Siegmund Stern, to be found in Series III, Subseries 1, include a few letters, a copy of a ledger with listings of accounts, contracts, and an album and document announcing the anniversaries of the S. Stern business.

A few writings of family members are in this collection as well. James Stern's written pieces include numerous poems, usually for family members, and an essay. Diaries for John Stern and Siegmund Stern will be found in Series I, Subseries 1 and Series III, Subseries 1 respectively. A wedding choral (Tafellied) written by Siegmund and Guithella Stern for their niece Bertha Samuel is also located in Series III, Subseries 1.

Other types of personal papers in this collection predominantly feature official papers used for citizenship or travel memorabilia, documenting the family's forced emigration from Germany to Morocco. Primarily these include passports and documents from consulates as well as tickets, timetables, and menus for boats or trains. These will be found in several places in the collection, including Subseries 1 and 2 of Series I for James Stern, Subseries 4 of the same series for Charlotte Stern, Subseries 1 of Series II for John Stern and Subseries 4 of the same series for his wife Alia Stern. In addition, Subseries 1 of Series II holds John Stern's military memorabilia.


  • 1836-2000
  • Majority of material found within 1910-1955


Language of Materials

The collection is in German, Englsih, French, and Spanish.

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.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

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

James Stern was born in Netra (Hesse) on September 21, 1892, the son of businessman Siegmund Stern (1852?-1923) and Guithella Samuel (1856-1923). In World War I he served in the German Army. Later he worked as a merchant in Hamburg, where his father owned a textile store. In 1924 he married Charlotte ("Lotte") Abel, who was born in Geseke, Germany on Febuary 10, 1902. Charlotte's parents were Rudolf Abel (1886-1938) and Cora Graefenberg (1875-1904). The couple had one son, Hans Ulrich (later John), born in Hamburg on April 28, 1926. In 1933, the family immigrated to Morocco, where they settled in Tangier.

John (Hans Ulrich) Stern worked with his father in Tangier from 1945 to 1949, when he immigrated to the United States. He married Alia Azancot in 1957. The couple had one child, James. John Stern became the executive vice president of a toy import-export company. He also served as the president of the American Friends of the Jewish Communities of Northern Morocco and Tangier in Rego Park, New York and as trustee of the Rego Park Jewish Center.


2.25 Linear Feet


This collection holds papers of members of the extended Stern family, with the bulk of the collection centering on the businessmen James and John (Hans Ulrich) Stern. It is largely comprised of personal papers and correspondence, but also contains business and legal documents, postcards, poetry, and photographs of members of the Stern and related families.


Collection is available on five reels of microfilm:

  1. Reel 1: 1/1-1/14
  2. Reel 2: 1/15-/1/38
  3. Reel 3: 2/1-2/8
  4. Reel 4: 2/9-2/24
  5. Reel 5: 2/25-3/2

Separated Material

Some photographs were removed to the LBI Photograph Collection.

Processing Information

In June 2007 the collection was reprocessed after having been partially processed in 2004 by Phillippe Renoirte. Subseries consisting of only one folder in Series III were combined to form Subseries 2 of the series, with folders organized alphabetically by family member. Folders were also renumbered to accurately reflect their location. Large, overfilled folders had their contents further separated by form or date for preservation purposes, and description was added to the finding aid.

Guide to the Papers of the John Stern (1926-1987) Family 1836-2000 AR 25173 / MF 768
Processed by Philippe Renoirte and Dianne Ritchey Oummia
© 2007
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from JohnSternFamily.xml

Revision Statements

  • 2010-04-01 : encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl
  • June 2007.: Finding aid was re-encoded by Dianne Oummia.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States