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Herbert Bloch Collection

 Collection
Identifier: AR 25628

Scope and Content Note

The Herbert Bloch Collection contains the personal papers of the classicist and medievalist Herbert Bloch, a Harvard University professor. Prominent is correspondence between himself and his family, which mentions not only family news and the deaths, deportations, and experiences of family members but also references his own research, writing, and teaching. In addition to family correspondence is correspondence with colleagues and friends, former neighbors, and legal and financial correspondence. Other papers in the collection include poetry, educational certificates and diplomas, material relating to Herbert Bloch's academic career, family trees, obituaries, and photographs.

This collection has been arranged following the original filing order of folders established by the collection's donor. The original filing order is listed in the "introductory files" of Series II, which not only provide some further details on individual folders and the reasons for their inclusion in this collection, but also contain biographical information on the family members represented here. In addition, this series provides a few family trees and many obituaries for Herbert Bloch.

Much of this collection documents the lives and experiences of Herbert Bloch and members of the Bloch family during the 1930s and 1940s. Such documentation is especially prevalent in the first subseries of Series I, which contains family correspondence, including the letters of Ludwig, Alice, and Egon Bloch and also of Anny and Mirzl Holesch. The correspondence begins during Herbert Bloch's time studying in Italy and continues until the death of Anny Holesch, with a gap from 1941-1945 when their communication was via Red Cross message. Letters from his parents and brother largely center on the news, activities, and health of family members, and on Egon's emigration plans, while postwar letters from Anny and Mirzl Holesch mention the deaths of Ludwig Bloch and deportation of Egon Bloch along with the Holesch sisters' own experiences during the war. Further details on the family's wartime years will be found in the correspondence of the family's former neighbors in this subseries. Anny and Mirzl's correspondence also provides some details of Herbert Bloch's life after the war and of the sending of packages. Other correspondence in Subseries 1 relates to the estates of family members, the care of family graves, and the postwar search for details of the fate of Egon Bloch. Subseries 1 also contains poetry of Ludwig Bloch, with Subseries 2 including many photographs of the Bloch family.

Herbert Bloch's study, research, professional achievements, and connections with colleagues in documented throughout the collection. Most of his letters to his family in Subseries 1 of Series I discuss his studies and research interests, along with some mention of his teaching, publication intents, and colleagues, and the occasional description of the areas he lived in or visited. Further correspondence regarding his research is located in Series III, which includes more detailed discussions of it with advisors and colleagues, especially of his examination of the history of Monte Cassino and of Peter the Deacon. Subseries 2 of Series I includes photographs from his time assisting in the excavations at Ostia in 1938. Files in Series II contain professional material such as his curriculum vitae, recommendations by advisors and professors as a young academic, and material on his work Monte Cassino in the Middle Ages. The latter includes both reviews of the work as well as material pertaining to the honors he received for it. Series IV consists largely of the certificates, diplomas, and awards of Herbert Bloch for his academic work and professional memberships, although it contains a documents of other family members as well.

Dates

  • 1882-2008
  • Majority of material found within 1933-1955

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in German, English, Italian, Latin and Czech.

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

email: lbaeck@lbi.cjh.org

Biographical Note<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Portrait of Herbert Bloch (1911-2006)" href="http://digital.cjh.org/webclient/DeliveryManager?pid=2950069" show="embed" title="Portrait of Herbert Bloch (1911-2006)"/>

Herbert Bloch was born August 18, 1911 in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin. He was the eldest son of Ludwig Bloch, a director of the Dresdner Bank in Berlin, and his wife Alice Bloch née Gutmann. Herbert had a younger brother, Egon. Alice Bloch suffered from diabetes and therefore had a companion, the Czech Anna Holesch (Tante Anny), who lived with the family and whom Herbert Bloch sometimes referred to as his foster-mother. From 1933-1935 he attended the University of Berlin, with studies in classical philology, ancient history, and archaeology.

After Hitler came to power in 1933 Herbert Bloch went to study at the University of Rome, where in 1935 he received the Laurea di Dottore in Lettere in Roman history with a dissertation on the religious policy in the time of the Roman emperor Commodus, and in 1937 received the Diploma di Perfezionamento. He remained in Italy until 1938, assisting in the excavations of the ancient seaport of Ostia. It was during 1936-1938 that he indexed some 10,000 Roman brick stamps, originally published in three articles (as I bolli laterizi e la storia edilizia Romana) republished in 1948 as a single volume (Supplement to volume XV, 1, of the Corpus inscriptionum latinarum, including complete indices to the Roman brick-stamps).

By the end of 1938 Herbert Bloch had decided to emigrate to the United States due to the advancing anti-Semitism in Italy. With the aid of a fellow former student from Berlin now at Harvard University, George Hanfmann, and his own scholarly achievements, he came to the United States in 1939 on a student visa. Although originally meant to be a fellow at Harvard's new Dumbarton Oaks branch in Washington, D.C., he first spent a year teaching Greek at Harvard's main campus due to the illness of a classics professor. In 1941 he was named an instructor at Harvard, the beginning of his long career there. In 1943 Herbert Bloch married Clarissa Holland; they later had twin daughters: Mary Alice and Anne, and the family eventually settled in Belmont, Massachusetts. During the Second World War he taught mathematics to American soldiers.

In Berlin, the Bloch family fared less well. Around 1936 Ludwig Bloch became blind. Alice Bloch, who had always had poor constitution due to her diabetes, died in 1940. In February 1943 Egon Bloch was arrested at work by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz. He never returned. In June 1943 Ludwig Bloch was evicted from his apartment and sent to the Jewish Hospital, where he died six days later. Throughout these years, Anny Holesch had remained with the family, along with her sister Maria (Mirzl), who had moved in with the family in 1938. They supported Ludwig and Egon Bloch, even remaining with Ludwig when Berlin was bombed and he was not permitted to go to an air raid shelter. For this, the Holesches suffered intimidation by the German authorities, including having their rations cut and their bank funds made inaccessible. Once the United States entered World War II, contact with the Holesch sisters dwindled, only possible via Red Cross messages with months-long delays. In September 1945 Herbert Bloch reconnected with them and began regularly sending them packages, as well as helping Anny to unfreeze her bank account, recover her belongings, and reinstate her Czech citizenship.

After the war Herbert Bloch's career at Harvard University continued to advance: in 1947 he was tenured as an assistant professor, becoming a full professor of Greek and Latin in 1953. He remained at Harvard for the rest of his life, becoming Pope Professor of the Latin Language and Literature in 1973, a position he held until his retirement in 1982. Herbert Bloch received Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships and was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, from 1953-1954, but declined a permanent position at that institution. He headed the School of Classical Studies at the American Academy in Rome from 1957-1959. Other responsibilities included being syndic of Harvard University Press from 1961-1965, senior fellow of Harvard's Society of Fellows (1964-1973), and a trustee of Harvard's Loeb Classical Library from 1964-1973. From 1968-1969 he was president of the American Philological Association, and from 1990-1993 was President of Fellows of the Medieval Academy of America, as well as having been a member of several other academic associations. In 1989 he received an honorary degree (laurea "honoris causa") from the Universita di Cassino, and in 1999 was named the Premio "Cultori di Roma." His professional memberships included the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Pontificia Academia Romana di Archeologia, the German Archaeological Institute, and several others.

Herbert Bloch's research, teaching, and writing focused on both classical and ancient Roman history and medieval history. His classical work dealt with areas such as Greek and Roman historiography, Roman inscriptions and archaeology, medieval Latin literature, and medieval history. Among his medieval studies he spent significant time on the history of the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino near Rome, Italy, with articles related to its history beginning in the 1940s and culminating in the three-volume work Monte Cassino in the Middle Ages, published in 1986, for which he received the Praemium Urbis Award in 1987, and the Haskins Medal of the Medieval Academy in 1988. In 1973 his work The Bombardment of Monte Cassino (February 14-16, 1944): A New Appraisal was published, a criticism of the Allied forces' destruction of the abbey. His work The Atina Dossier of Peter the Deacon of Monte Cassino, a Hagiographical Romance of the Twelfth Century, concerned the forgeries of the monastery's twelfth-century librarian and was published in 1998 as part of the series Studi e Testi.

In 1958, Clarissa (sometimes called Crissie) Bloch died while she was visiting Germany with Herbert. In 1960 Herbert Bloch married Ellen (Eddie) Cohen; she died in 1987. Herbert Bloch died on September 6, 2006.

Extent

2.25 Linear Feet

Overview

The Herbert Bloch Collection contains the personal papers of the classicist and medievalist Herbert Bloch, a Harvard professor. Prominent is correspondence between himself and his family, which mentions not only family news and the deaths, deportations, and experiences of family members but also references his own research, writing, and teaching. In addition to family correspondence is correspondence with colleagues and friends, former neighbors, and legal and financial correspondence. Other papers in the collection include poetry, educational certificates and diplomas, material relating to Herbert Bloch's academic career, family trees, obituaries, and photographs.

Other Finding Aid

Detailed inventories, including biographical information on individuals and descriptions of folder contents, were prepared by the donors of the collection. These inventories have been retained in the collection and are located in Series II (folder 2/17).

Related Material

Related to this collection are the Herbert Bloch Papers at Harvard University, along with its addenda.

Separated Material

Two CDs were removed to the LBI Audiovisual Collection. One holds a copy of files whose hard copies are present in Series II. The other holds a copy of Herbert Bloch's memorial service.
Title
Guide to the Papers of Herbert Bloch 1882-2008 AR 25628
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
Date
© 2015
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from HerbertBloch.xml

Revision Statements

  • October 2016:: dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States