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Morawetz-Glaser Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25781

Scope and Content Note

The Morawetz-Glaser Family Collection centers on the lives of the Czech industrialist and philanthropist Richard Morawetz, his wife Frida Morawetz née Glaser, and their children Herbert, Oskar, John, and Sonja, with some documentation of their extended families and genealogy. Included in this collection is a large amount of correspondence, writings of family members, family photographs and photo albums, official and other documents, and newspaper clippings and articles.

Much of the collection focuses on the lives of Richard and Frida Morawetz. The bulk of the correspondence in Series I consists of letters they sent to their children, along with some letters from their children and grandchildren to them, correspondence exchanged between the siblings, and correspondence with others. Some of the letters in this series include letters from Herbert Morawetz to his father during the late 1930s when he and his siblings were arranging immigration to Canada from England and Ireland. Most of the postwar letters convey news of family members. Furthermore, Series I also contains copies of Richard Morawetz's descriptive letters to his family while he travelled through Asia in 1911. Information on the family estate in Světlá nad Sázavou and the Morawetz jute factory in Úpice is present in documents in Series III and the photographs of Series IV. Series III additionally includes articles related to Richard Morawetz's leading role in the Czech community of Toronto, documentation of his art and manuscript collection, and correspondence that attests to his Czech patriotism. Frida's early life is documented in her own writings, among them a diary with entries from 1911 and 1914, including entries that discuss a family vacation to Rügen, her meeting of her future husband, Richard's proposal of marriage and her reaction, and the first days of World War I from the perspective of a civilian resident of Prague whose brothers had been sent to war.

Some documents in the collection mention the careers of Herbert and Oskar Morawetz. A diary of Herbert's from Series II mentions his participation at a professional conference, and some of Frida Morawetz's correspondence in Series I praise her daughter-in-law Cathleen for her professional and educational achievements. Other letters from Frida mention Oskar's work as a composer. Series III contains a few of Herbert Morawetz's official documents, including passports.

Series IV holds the family's photo albums and photographs, with depictions of most of the family, including Richard and Frida Morawetz, their children, and their residences in Světlá nad Sázavou and Prague. In addition, there are photographs of other members of the Morawetz and Glaser families.


  • 1802-1997
  • Majority of material found within 1939-1967


Language of Materials

The collection is in Czech, German, and English, with a very small amount of French.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

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

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<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Photograph of Richard and Frida (née Glaser) Morawetz and their children" href="" show="embed" title="Photograph of Richard and Frida (née Glaser) Morawetz and their children"/>

Richard Morawetz was born in 1881 in the town of Úpice, Bohemia (then part of Austria and called Eipel, today part of the Czech Republic), and was the son of Ludwig and Berta Morawetz. He had two siblings who lived to adulthood, Moritz and Elsa. The family owned a large cotton factory, and Richard eventually took over management of the plant in the town of Hronov. After the death of his father in 1901, Richard went to England for an apprenticeship there. After his return to Hronov, he met and became a friend of Thomas Masaryk, then a professor of philosophy; Masaryk encouraged him to write articles about the cotton industry. Richard Morawetz became a regular contributor to Masaryk's magazine, Naša Doba. In 1904 Richard joined the board of the Czech Textile Manufacturers' Association. That year he also went on a tour of the United States, including meeting President Theodore Roosevelt. The following year Richard and his elder brother Moritz took over the family's jute factory in Úpice. In 1909 Richard established a day care center for the children of the factory's employees. From October 1910-April 1911 he travelled for business through southern and eastern Asia, including visiting Ceylon (today Sri Lanka), India, Burma (today Myanmar), China, and Japan. He would later give lectures about his trip. In 1911 he was appointed to the Industrial Council of Vienna.

In 1914 Richard Morawetz met Frida Glaser, shortly before World War I began. Frida Glaser was born in Velim, also located in Bohemia, the youngest daughter of the chocolate manufacturer Adolf and Hedwig (née Dub) Glaser. Richard and Frida married in January 1915, with a honeymoon spent in Dresden, Nuremberg, and Berlin. Richard had bought an estate, including a castle, in the town of Světla nad Sázavou in 1914, and the family lived there for a number of years. Their eldest son Herbert was born in October 1915, followed by Oskar in 1917, Honza (later John) in 1919, and Sonia (later Sonja) in 1921.

In 1920 the family moved from Světla nad Sázavou back to Úpice, although they would return to Světla in the summers. After the death of his brother Moritz in 1922, Richard became sole owner of the family's Úpice jute factory. The family moved to Prague in the spring of 1926. In 1932 Richard became President of the International Cotton Congress.

After the Munich Agreement in 1938, Richard Morawetz was at first reluctant to leave Czechoslovakia but eventually left with Frida for France on April 1, 1939 after all their children had left. Their son Oskar was studying in Paris since December 1938. Meanwhile, Honza (John) Morawetz had already arrived in England in September 1938. In January 1939 Herbert and Sonja also left for England, with Sonja going to a boarding school in Bristol. Herbert and John went to Belfast, where the family had business connections and where John worked throughout the war. Herbert returned to Czechoslovakia, but left in the middle of March 1939, travelling to Poland and France, where he joined his parents and brother. In May 1939 his parents left for England; Herbert joined them in London a month later. Oskar Morawetz went to Italy. Richard and Frida Morawetz arrived in Canada in September 1939, and settled in Toronto. There Richard Morawetz bought the Hamilton Carharrt Co., a clothing company. Herbert and Sonja left for Canada in December 1939. In April 1940 Oskar Morawetz left Italy by way of the Canary Islands, arriving in the Dominican Republic; he joined the rest of the family in Toronto in June 1940.

Herbert Morawetz studied chemistry at the University of Toronto and the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, and became a professor of chemistry at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now Tandon School of Engineering at New York University (NYU)). He married Cathleen Synge, daughter of the mathematician and physicist J.L. Synge, who herself became a professor of mathematics at New York University. Herbert and Cathleen would have four children. Oskar Morawetz would go on to study music at the University of Canada and became a successful and well-regarded Canadian composer, working with musicians and other composers such as Yo-Yo Ma, Zubin Mehta, and Vladimir Ashkenazy. He was also awarded the Order of Canada and performed at the Prague Spring music festival. Oskar Morawetz married Ruth Shipmann and they had two children. John Morawetz married Maureen McKae, with whom he had five children. Sonja married Richard Sinclair; they had three children.

Richard Morawetz became a notable figure in Toronto's Czech community. He also was the Czechoslovak delegate at the World Labor Conference in New York in 1941, and in 1944 was elected to the governing body of the International Labor Organization in Philadelphia. He passed away in 1965, Frida in 1997.

(Based largely on information from Herbert Morawetz's memoirs and the website about Oskar Morawetz; see: Related Material)


2.5 Linear Feet


The Morawetz-Glaser Family Collection documents these two Czech families, and in particular the notable events in the lives of the industrialist and philanthropist Richard Morawetz and his wife Frida (née Glaser) and of their children. The collection includes extensive family correspondence; family writings including diaries, memoirs, and poems; photographs and photo albums; family trees and genealogical research correspondence; newspaper clippings and articles; and official documents and other papers.

Related Material

The LBI Archives include a lengthy and detailed memoir by Herbert Morawetz with much information about the lives of his family members: My 90 Years (ME 1614).

The website contains information about the composer Oskar Morawetz, including a biography of his parents' lives and many details about the family.

Separated Material

Duplicate photocopies of documents were removed from the collection during archival processing.

Some documents from this collection were removed from the collection following its digitization and are only available as digitized images. Included are digitized images of three family portraits:

  1. Framed painting of Michael Glaser (1784-1876)
  2. Framed print of Jakob Oberlaender (Maternal grandfather of Richard Morawetz).
  3. Framed print of Anna Lewit Oberlaender (Maternal grandmother of Richard Morawetz)

Processing Information

During processing of the archival collection, documents in envelopes were placed into archival folders. Identifying notes found in the collection have been retained in folders with the materials they accompanied. Folders were assigned titles based on labels assigned by the donor; unlabeled materials were assigned titles based on their contents. Folders were organized into series based on their contents or formats. Some large folders were further subdivided chronologically (correspondence) or by content. Duplicate photocopies of documents were removed from the collection.

Guide to the Papers of the Morawetz-Glaser Family 1802-1997 AR 25781
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
© 2018
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from Morawetz-GlaserFamily.xml

Revision Statements

  • August 2018:: Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States