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Edgar and Brigitte Bodenheimer Collection

Identifier: AR 25709

Scope and Content Note

The Edgar and Brigitte Bodenheimer Collection holds the papers of Edgar and Brigitte Bodenheimer in addition to a few papers of other family members. Most of the collection focuses on the professional development of Edgar Bodenheimer's career in the United States, although documentation of his early training in Germany and on the professional work of Brigitte Bodenheimer is also present. Personal papers and material on some members of the Bodenheimer and Levy families are among the papers of the collection as well. The collection includes extensive correspondence, diaries and notebooks of both Edgar and Brigitte Bodenheimer, texts of lectures, newspaper clippings, certificates and diplomas, and other documents. The Brigitte Bodenheimer referred to in this finding aid is Edgar Bodenheimer's first wife, the lawyer and legal professor Brigitte Bodenheimer née Levy. There are no papers of his second wife, Brigitte Bodenheimer (née Schoenberg).

Edgar Bodenheimer's career in the legal field as a professor of the law will be found in every series of this collection. Series I includes documentation of his training in Germany and dismissal due to being Jewish. It also contains his diploma, diaries including those he kept while attending international legal conferences or while teaching abroad, and many newspaper clippings about him and his teaching. Series II holds both his extensive personal and professional correspondence; Edgar Bodenheimer was a prolific and voluble correspondent. Personal correspondence, much of which was between Edgar and Brigitte when he was away from home, often discusses his career concerns, opportunities offered to him at conferences, and relations with other faculty. His professional correspondence also includes detailed discussions with colleagues that express his opinions on various questions of legal theory or on current politics, as well as discussions regarding professional or career decisions, in addition to shorter, more routine correspondence. Information on and discussion about his published works may also be found here in addition to correspondence relating to his participation in conferences. Series III holds further material on his work as a professor. The bulk of Series III consists of his lecture notes on many legal and political topics for conferences, symposiums, events, radio, and various groups.

Brigitte Bodenheimer's career is also documented in this collection, albeit to a lesser extent than Edgar's. Series I includes her diaries, which record some details of her professional activities among her notes on her daily life. Series I also includes many newspaper clippings on her work in family law and as a professor of the law. The letters in Series II provide further details of her professional work, both in her letters to Edgar, in communal letters by both of them, or in letters by Edgar to her parents where he mentions her work. Brigitte's potential professional opportunities were also discussed in Edgar's considerations of new positions among the professional correspondence of Series II.

The collection additionally holds information on other members of the Bodenheimer and Levy families, mostly in Series I. Series I includes Brigitte Bodenheimer's diary of the first years of her son Peter, correspondence and poems of Edgar's father Siegmund Bodenheimer, friendship albums and a notebook of Brigitte's mother, Marie Levy, and texts of talks Edgar Bodenheimer gave at family celebrations. Series I also contains two folders of newspaper clippings about other family members, primarily clippings about their children's achievements while in school, but also including clippings relating to their later careers, as well as obituaries for older family members. Series II holds many letters to Brigitte's parents, Ernst and Marie Levy, and a folder of correspondence from Edgar and Brigitte's son Tom while he served in the Peace Corps in the 1960s.

Documentation of Edgar Bodenheimer's work as a lawyer on the American prosecution team at the Nuremberg Trials will primarily be found in Series I and II. Series I includes his diary from his months in Europe, with extensive commentary on the conditions in Europe, especially Germany and Austria. Series II holds his detailed correspondence home to Brigitte from this time. Series III only contains one text of a lecture on the Nuremberg Trials but also includes many lectures on postwar conditions in Germany.


  • Creation: 1897-1992, 2011
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1920-1983


Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in English and German, along with small amounts of Greek, Spanish, Danish and Chinese.

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

Edgar Bodenheimer was born in Berlin on March 14, 1908, the son of the bank director Siegmund Bodenheimer and his wife Rosa (called Rosi, née Maass). After completing his schooling at the Joachim-Friedrich-Gymnasium and the Grünewald-Gymnasium he began to study law and political science, attending the universities of Geneva, Munich, Heidelberg, and Berlin. In 1930 he passed his first state examination (Referendarexam) in Berlin and then participated in the required legal internships. In 1933 he received the degree of Doctor of Laws (Doctor Utriusque Juria, magna cum laude) from the University of Heidelberg. His thesis was titled Das Gleichheitsprinzip im Aktienrecht (The Principle of Equal Treatment of Shareholders in Corporation Law) and was published in 1933.

In 1933 Edgar Bodenheimer lost his internship due to being Jewish. The following October he immigrated to the United States, where he found a position in a New York City law office. This law office handled the liquidation of a well-known fraudulent case at this time, Ivar Kreuger's International Match Corporation.

Brigitte M. Levy was the daughter of Ernst Levy, a professor and scholar of Roman Law at the University of Heidelberg, and Marie Levy (née Wolff). Brigitte had studied at the universities of Heidelberg, Munich, Berlin, and Frankfurt am Main, and in 1934 received her doctoral degree in jurisprudence from the University of Heidelberg while having immigrated to New York City in 1933. In New York, she studied at Columbia University. In 1935 Edgar Bodenheimer and Brigitte M. Levy married.

The same year the new couple moved to Seattle, Washington, where they both studied law at the University of Washington. In 1937 they received their Bachelor of Law (L.L.B.) degrees. Edgar Bodenheimer joined the Washington Bar Association in 1939 once he had become a citizen. The following year Edgar Bodenheimer received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Law Librarianship and Brigitte Bodenheimer passed the state bar exams, also being admitted to practice law in Washington State.

Edgar Bodenheimer's book Jurisprudence was published in 1940. In 1942 it was published into Spanish and in the late 1980s, into Chinese. In addition he wrote a number of other books, such as: Treatise on Justice (published in 1967); Power, Law, and Society: a Study of the Will to Power and the Will to Law (1972); and Philosophy on Responsibility (1980); textbooks included An Introduction to the Anglo-American Legal System: Readings and Cases (1980); Readings on the Philosophy of Responsibility and Punishment (1977); and Readings in Jurisprudence (1962).

In 1940 Edgar Bodenheimer accepted a position as attorney in the Solicitor's Office of the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. In 1942 he was transferred to the office of Alien Property Custodian, with the position of Principal Attorney in the Division of Patent Administration. In Washington, D.C. Brigitte Bodenheimer worked for the Federal Public Housing Authority. Edgar Bodenheimer was transferred in 1945 to Robert H. Jackson's Office of Chief Counsel for the prosecution of Axis Criminality (the Nuremberg Trials), where Edgar worked primarily on the legal brief on Germany's economic preparations for aggressive war.

In 1946 Edgar Bodenheimer took a position as associate professor of law at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Until 1950 he also worked as a law librarian. In 1951 he was made full professor, and held the position until his departure in 1966. He taught courses on various topics, including: the history of civil law, the history of common law, elements of law, jurisprudence, constitutional law, equity, modern social legislation, unfair trade practices, and international law. In 1962 his book Jurisprudence was re-published with new materials under the title Jurisprudence: The Philosophy and Method of the Law; he had begun working on the updated version in 1955.

Once the Bodenheimer family moved to Utah, Brigitte Bodenheimer pursued legislative work there, primarily in the fields of divorce, marriage, and juvenile court legislation. She also worked as an assistant to the state's attorney general. In 1962 she began teaching part-time at the University of Utah, becoming a full-time professor in 1964, where she taught courses in family law and justice court law.

In 1966 Edgar Bodenheimer became professor of law at the University of California at Davis. His teaching there included courses, among others, on introduction to law, conflict of laws, jurisprudence, international law, and philosophy of responsibility and punishment. In 1975 he became Professor Emeritus.

In Davis, Brigitte Bodenheimer worked as a research associate at the University of California's law school. In 1965 she was appointed a Commissioner of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, which dealt with the problems of child kidnapping in custody disputes. She also authored the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, which was accepted in 1968. In 1966 she had joined the faculty of the university's law school, becoming full professor in 1972. Much of her research was in the areas of child custody, adoption, divorce, and community property. In 1970 she became a consultant to the California Law Revision Commission, preparing a study on changes in child custody and guardianship law, and later a study on revising the California adoption law. In 1979 she became Professor Emeritus. She had been appointed the U.S. delegate to the Hague Convention on Private International Law, authoring the Hague Draft Convention on International Child Abduction in 1980, an international treaty on the problems of child abductions between countries. She died in 1981 at the age of 68.

Edgar Bodenheimer held visiting professorships at several universities: Heidelberg, Freiburg im Breisgau, Texas, Southern California, Princeton, and Yale. He was also a lecturer at many universities, including the National University of Mexico and in Europe the universities of Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt am Main, Salzburg, Münster, and Erlangen-Nürnberg. He received three Fulbright teaching grants, research grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment from the Humanities. In addition to other professional associations, he was Director of the American Association for the Comparative Study of Law and member of the editorial board of the American Journal of Jurisprudence. In 1975 he was named an Outstanding Educator of America.

Edgar and Brigitte Bodenheimer had three children: Peter, Thomas, and Rosemarie. Peter became a professor of astrophysics at the University of California, Thomas became a doctor, and Rosemarie an author and professor of English literature at Boston College.

In 1982 Edgar Bodenheimer married Brigitte Schoenberg. He died in 1991 in Davis, California.


2.5 Linear Feet


The Edgar and Brigitte Bodenheimer Collection documents the professional and personal life of law professor Edgar Bodenheimer as well as that of his wife, Brigitte Bodenheimer (née Levy). The collection contains documentation on their early legal work during the 1940s, Edgar's participation in the Nuremberg Trials, and postwar work as professors, as well as material on their daily lives and other family members. The collection includes a copious amount of correspondence, lecture texts, certificates and diplomas, diaries and notebooks, newspaper clippings, teaching material, poetry, a friendship album, and other papers.

Related Material

Related is a memoir in the LBI Memoir Collection by Siegmund Bodenheimer: Mein Leben (ME 1165).

A book about Edgar and Brigitte Bodenheimer by their daughter Rosemarie Bodenheimer is available in the LBI Library: Edgar and Brigitte: a German Jewish passage to America. This book was written using the documents in this collection.

Separated Material

Three books were removed from the archival collection to the LBI Library. Two of these were books by Edgar Bodenheimer, with his extensive handwritten notes. Photocopies of these notes were retained in the collection and will be found in Series III.

Processing Information

During processing of the archival collection, the collection was organized into series arranged around the dominant subjects observed in the collection. The original order of the personal and professional correspondence of Series II was retained. Three books were removed from the archival collection to the LBI Library.

Guide to the Papers of Edgar and Brigitte Bodenheimer 1897-1992, 2011 AR 25709
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
© 2017
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from Edgar_and_Brigitte_Bodenheimer.xml

Revision Statements

  • January 31, 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