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Marta Fraenkel Collection

Identifier: AR 4348

Scope and Content Note

The Marta Fraenkel Collection holds the papers of the German physician Marta Fraenkel. Particularly prominent in this collection is its family correspondence. Other papers include personal, official, and educational papers, short writings of family members, family trees and postcards.

Correspondence of family members, especially that which was sent to Marta Fraenkel, will be found in the first three series of this collection. Series I contains several folders of letters sent to her, including several from her aunt Else Epstein. A number of these letters are also from friends, acquaintances and former colleagues still in Germany, but they all date from the years just following World War II. These letters, especially those of her aunt, describe conditions in occupied Germany and relate their experiences and losses during the war. A number of such letters are from unidentified individuals. Series II also contains an assortment of letters sent by Marta Fraenkel's brother Ernst, including one folder of letters he sent to her. His letters also date from the late 1940s and were all sent while he worked at the U.S. mission in Seoul, Korea. They include many typed circular letters. Ernst Fraenkel's letters clearly convey the experiences of himself and his wife Hanna while in Korea. Particularly prominent is a detailed sixteen-page letter that describes the first days of the Korean War and the evacuation of American personnel from Korea.

Some biographical information may be gleaned from the personal papers present in the collection, especially that of Marta Fraenkel and Ernst Fraenkel. Series I includes Marta Fraenkel's personal papers; the bulk of these consist of educational certificates from her primary and secondary education, although a few certificates from the universities of Frankfurt and Bonn are also present. Series II holds Ernst Fraenkel's papers, and in this series will be found several biographical articles on him, written in honor of his seventy-fifth birthday along with various official documents related to his work, his curriculum vitae and a copy of his doctoral degree from the university of Frankfurt. A copy of the Bundesverdienstkreuz certificate awarded to Ernst Fraenkel is present here as well. Biographical information on Else Epstein, especially on her wartime experiences, will be found in her correspondence with Marta and Ernst Fraenkel, located in Series I and II respectively, as well as in Series III, which holds some letters of hers to Otto Lowenthal.

Genealogical material and papers relating to the history of the Fraenkel, Epstein and Lowenthal families is located in Series III. Such papers consist not only of a few family trees, but also transcripts of family members' correspondence of the nineteenth century along with essays written by family members. These include a narrative family history written by Ernst Lowenthal.

The final series of this collection includes postcards, possibly depicting vacation areas visited by family members, and information on photographs formerly located in the collection.


  • Creation: 1890-1968
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1945-1950


Language of Materials

The collection is in German and English.

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="Portrait of Marta Fraenkel (1896-1976)" href="" linktype="simple" show="embed" title="Portrait of Marta Fraenkel (1896-1976)"/>

Marta Fraenkel was born in Cologne on September 19, 1896, the daughter of Georg and Therese (née Epstein) Fraenkel. Following the death of their parents, she and her younger brother Ernst went to live with their maternal uncle Josef Epstein in Frankfurt am Main, where they completed their educations. Her brother Ernst would later become a lawyer, author and political scientist.

Marta Fraenkel studied medicine in Bonn and Frankfurt, receiving her medical degree from the University of Frankfurt in 1923. Following her studies she entered public service, holding various positions in research, advisement and consulting capacities. From 1924-1927 she worked as scientific secretary at the GeSoLei (Große Ausstellung für Gesundheitspflege, soziale Fürsorge und Leibesübungen) in Düsseldorf in 1926. From 1928-1933 she was director of the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum in Dresden. While in Dresden she met the editor of the Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten, Theodor Schulze. In 1931 they married; four years later they divorced.

In 1935 Marta Fraenkel left Germany for Brussels, where she worked at the National Belgian Cancer League (Ligue nationale Belge centre le Cancer) until her immigration to New York City in 1938. There she worked in various capacities, including for the Welfare Council from 1938-1944. She lived briefly in Washington, D.C. and was a medical advisor for the Social Security administration there from 1944-1947. Returning to New York, she was research director for the Survey on Cerebral Palsy from 1948-1949. From 1953 on she was a statistical consultant for the Metropolitan Sanatorium Conference in New York. She also contributed various articles for professional journals. She died in New York City on August 8, 1976.

In her honor an exhibition room was named after her at the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum in Dresden.


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The Marta Fraenkel Collection holds papers and correspondence of Marta Fraenkel and her family members. Prominent topics include postwar Germany and Korea and the lives of family members who resided there. Some focus on the family genealogy is also existent. The collection comprises correspondence, personal and official papers, biographical articles, family trees, postcards and some notes.

Other Finding Aid

A previous 8-page item-level inventory exists.

Related Material

The LBI Archives includes an Ernst Fraenkel Collection, AR 1558. The LBI Library contains several books by him as well.

The LBI Library includes two items written by Marta Fraenkel:

  1. Ge-So-Lei; grosse Ausstellung, Duesseldorf, 1926, fuer Gesundheitspflege, soziale Fuersorge und Leibesuebungen [f RA 438 D88]
  2. Cooperative residence living for aged Nazi victims; thirty years of service, 1942 to 1972 [HV 1471 N485 N48]

Separated Material

Numerous photographs have been removed from to the LBI Photograph Collection. A list of these is available in Series IV.

Several items of Marta Fraenkel's were removed to the LBI Arts and Objects Collection:

  1. I.34: Abzeichen am Band "Deutsches Rotes Kreuz" (white medal in cross shape on a band) [accession number 76.1]
  2. I.35: Ehrenzeichen 1923 "Patriae Ac Humanitati", two medals, with a red cross and "Lorbeer"; one medal attached to a band; one medal to be used as a pin in a red case [accession number 76.2]
  3. I.36: Medal: "Ehrenpreis des Reichsministers des Inneren. Internationale Hygiene-Ausstellung Dresden 1930/1931", on back: German coat of arms with eagle; bronze, diameter 10cm; in black case with German eagle [accession number 76.4]
  4. I.37: Medal: "Fuer Deutsche Kraft in Hand und Herz. Preuss. Ministerium fuer Volkswohlfahrt", German eagle in the middle; on back: a tree flanked by two men facing away from tree; bronze, diameter 10cm; in black case [accession number 76.5]

Processing Information

The collection was first processed by Ilse Turnheim in 1976 resulting in the creation of an item-level inventory. The collection was reprocessed in 2011 in preparation of the EAD finding aid. The current arrangement is largely based on the previous inventory, although a few larger folders were further subdivided by format, subject or correspondent.

Guide to the Papers of Marta Fraenkel (1896-1976) 1890-1968 AR 4348
Processed by Ilse Turnheim and Dianne Ritchey
© 2011
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from MartaFraenkel.xml

Revision Statements

  • February 23, 2015 : 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