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Percy Matenko Collection

Identifier: AR 7047

Scope and Content Note

The bulk of the materials relate to research that Matenko conducted for a publication of correspondence between Rahel and Karl August Varnhagen von Ense and the family of Rahel's brother, Ludwig Robert and consist primarily of notes, photocopies, and drafts of this edition. Although Matenko completed a larger draft of an edition of this correspondence, all that seems to have actually reached publication is a small sampling in an article entitled "New light on Rahel Varnhagen's biography: some hitherto unpublished letters"; which appeared in the volume Studies in German literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; festschrift for Frederic E. Coenen. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1970. p. 35-46. An offprint of this article appears in box 3, folder ten. Other notes and research materials from this collection seem to have been used to write the article "Ludwig Tieck and Rahel Varnhagen: a re-examination." Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook, January 1975; 20: 225 - 246. In consideration of the fact that many of the letters which he transcribed and translated may still remain unpublished, some of the drafts of the edition of Varnhagen-Robert correspondence may be of great value. The seventh series, correspondence, documents the process of Matenko working with LBI on this project, as well as his attempts to borrow books and track down Varnhagen's correspondence. Of particular interest is his correspondence with the descendents of the Feilchenfeldt family and various European rare book and manuscript dealers.

Other than the correspondence, none of the research notes, drafts, or photocopies are dated. Based on the correspondence, however, it seems as though most of the research notes, photocopies, and drafts date from roughly the same time period. Accordingly, they have all been assigned the generic date: circa 1964-1974. The arrangement follows that of an earlier inventory. Correspondence originally found among the research notes has been added to the correspondence files.


  • Creation: 1964-1974


Language of Materials

The collection is in German and English, with some French and Yiddish.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

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

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.

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

Percy Matenko was born in Ekaterinoslav (now Dnepropetrovsk), Russia, in 1901. He was the son of Isaac (founder and principal of first Yiddish school in Canada) and Helen (Moskowitch) Matenko. The family immigrated to Canada via Ellis Island in 1906. Percy immigrated to the US in 1925, where he taught German at Columbia University, Brooklyn College and Hunter College. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1933. In 1939, he married Natalie Ruben. In 1937, he became a professor at Brooklyn College, where he introduced Yiddish. He published extensively on Ludwig Tieck and also contributed to to the Encyclopedia of Literature, the Encyclopedia Americana, the Great Dictionary of the Yiddish Language, and to yearbooks. He retired in 1974 and died in Brooklyn in 1987.


2.5 Linear Feet


This collection contains materials related to research that Matenko conducted for a publication of correspondence between Rahel and Karl August Varnhagen von Ense and the family of Rahel's brother, Ludwig Robert.


The collection is on eight reels of microfilm (MF 1087):

  1. Reel 1: 1/1 - 1/11
  2. Reel 2: 1/12 - 1/19
  3. Reel 3: 1/20 - 1/30
  4. Reel 4: 2/1 - 2/11
  5. Reel 5: 2/12 - 2/18 A
  6. Reel 6: 2/18 B - 2/27
  7. Reel 7: 2/28 - 3/12
  8. Reel 8: 3/13 - 3/15

Related Material

MS 471, Letters of Rahel Varnhagen and Ludwig Robert, for the most part hitherto unpublished, 1806-1832; See also Percy Matenko: New light on Rahel Varnhagen's biography: some hitherto unpublished letters. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1970.

Guide to the Papers of Percy Matenko AR 7047 / MF 1087
Processed by Timothy Ryan Mendenhall
© 2010
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Revision Statements

  • January 2011:: Microfilm inventory added.
  • September 2011:: 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