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Gundersheimer Siegel Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25546

Scope and Content Note

The Gundersheimer Siegel Family Collection contains the papers of the art historian and professor Hermann Gundersheimer, as well as papers of other Gundersheimers and of his wife's family, the Siegels. The collection includes professional and some personal correspondence, official documents and immigration paperwork, certificates, drafts and notes of lectures, many newspaper clippings including articles by Hermann Gundersheimer, and genealogical research including family trees.

The major focus of this collection is the life of Hermann Gundersheimer and it is his material that comprises Series I. Especially prominent is the documentation of his professional life in Germany, with an abundance of newspaper clippings of his articles related to art, reviews of exhibitions and books and announcements of his lectures. Texts of some of his lectures are also part of Series I along with some notes and other published articles. Correspondence from this time period includes letters regarding his dismissal from his position at Frankfurt museums in 1933 as well as from the Jewish Community of Frankfurt regarding his role as director of the Museum jüdischer Altertümer and as editor of the Frankfurter israelitisches Gemeindeblatt. Series I also contains material relating to his and his family's immigration to the United States and especially to their interim stay in England.

Some material is also present on other Gundersheimer and Siegel family members. In the correspondence of Series I (Subseries 1: Correspondence) are letters from Hermann Gundersheimer's mother Sophie in Jerusalem to her son and to his sister Dorothea (Dorle) Spiegel; although these letters largely center on family news and greetings some evidence of their experiences of these years is present. This series also includes letters from Frieda Siegel's parents to their daughter and son-in-law, primarily with news of themselves and others in Germany. Series II holds further material on family members, including official documents and records for Frieda Siegel Gundersheimer, Samuel Gundersheimer, and papers on Siegfried Siegel, including mention of his and his wife's death. Other information on family members is located in the final series, Series III: Genealogy. This series includes research correspondence as well as family trees for members of the Gundersheimer, Siegel and Bamberger families and contains some photocopies of family documents.


  • Creation: 1834-2004
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1925-1942


Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in German and English with a 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

Hermann Samuel Gundersheimer was born in Würzburg in 1903, the son of the wine merchant Samuel Gundersheimer and his wife Sophie (also spelled Sofie) née Salzer. After completing Oberrealschule Hermann Gundersheimer studied art history, archaeology and philosophy at the universities of Würzburg, Berlin, Munich and Leipzig, and received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Leipzig with a dissertation on the fresco painter Matthäus Günther in 1930. He worked at the Museum of Ulm and later at the Städtisches Historisches Museum Frankfurt (The Municipal Historical Museum of Frankfurt) and the Kunstgewerbe Museum (Applied Arts Museum) in Frankfurt am Main until he lost his position in 1933.

In May 1933 Hermann Gundersheimer became curator at the Museum jüdischer Altertümer (Museum of Jewish Antiquities, also known as the Rothschild Museum) in Frankfurt, and in October of that year became director of the museum. At the museum he was responsible not only for the cataloging of items and creation of exhibits, but also gave lectures and tours and wrote numerous articles related to Jewish art. He also created an organization for the care of Jewish cemeteries and synagogues in Wiesbaden. In November of 1933 he became an editor for the Frankfurter israelitisches Gemeindeblatt (later the Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt für Frankfurt am Main) and after two months became chief editor. In May 1936 he became chief editor of the Jüdisches Gemeindeblatt für Hessen. In addition to these activities he also gave lectures at the Jüdisches Lehrhaus and was a member of their board, as well as a member of several other Jewish organizations.

Hermann Gundersheimer married Frieda (also known as Friedl) Siegel in May 1935. Frieda was the daughter of Siegfried and Anna (née Bamberger) Siegel of Landau. In 1937 Hermann and Frieda had a son, Werner.

During Kristallnacht the artworks in the Museum jüdischer Altertümer were heavily damaged. The Gundersheimers left Germany in 1939, going first to England before arriving in the United States on May 11, 1940. The family eventually settled near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Hermann (spelled Herman after immigration) Gundersheimer began teaching art history at Temple University's Tylor School of Art on July 29, 1941, where he became chairman of the department of art history. He continued there until his retirement.

Samuel Gundersheimer died on September 30, 1938; his wife Sophie spent World War II in Jerusalem with other family. Both of Frieda Gundersheimer's parents were deported to Theresienstadt, where Anna Siegel died; Siegfried Siegel died in Auschwitz.

Hermann Gundersheimer died in May 2004, his wife Frieda in June 2004.


1.75 Linear Feet


The Gundersheimer Siegel Family Collection holds papers of the art historian and professor Hermann S. Gundersheimer as well as papers of members of the Gundersheimer and Siegel families. With a focus on the professional work of Hermann Gundersheimer and the family's emigration, the collection contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, lecture texts and notes, official documents, articles, certificates, genealogical research and family trees.

Related Material

The LBI Library includes editions of the Frankfurter israelitisches Gemeindeblatt, edited by Hermann Gundersheimer. It also has one book by him: Frankfurter Chanukkahleuchter aus Silber und Zinn by Hermann Gundersheimer and Guido Schoenberger [N 8197 G68].

Separated Material

Entire journals and other publications that held an article by Hermann Gundersheimer were removed from the collection, with copies made of the pertinent articles, which were retained in the collection. Superfluous identical articles without any notations or markings were removed from the collection. Family prayer books were removed to the LBI Library, with copies of the book's title pages and their dedications to family members included in Series II.

Processing Information

The collection had no clear indication of series, therefore similar materials were brought together to form series and subseries. Since most folders were previously titled, these titles were used whenever possible; some larger folders were further subdivided into multiple folders. Entire journals and other publications that held an article by Hermann Gundersheimer were removed from the collection, with copies made of the pertinent articles, which were retained in the collection.

Guide to the Papers of the Gundersheimer Siegel Family 1834-2004 AR 25546
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
© 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from GundersheimerSiegelFamily.xml

Revision Statements

  • March 2014:: 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