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Selma Stern-Taeubler Collection

Identifier: AR 7160 / MF 479

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the work of historian Selma Stern-Taebler, and includes extensive research notes, articles, correspondence, a few photos, diaries, and other personal writing.

The most prominent topic represented in this collection is Selma Stern-Taeubler's published works, which is the concern of the majority of papers in the collection. Most of the collection is comprised either of background materials for professional writings, of copies of manuscripts of published works, or of correspondence or reviews focusing on the publications.

The most substantial series is Series II: Research. Here a researcher may find numerous excerpts and notes taken from original sources describing the life of Jews in Prussia during the 1700s, which were used for Stern-Taeubler's multi-volume work, Der Preußische Staat und die Juden. Most of the sources appear to be government records. The majority of these notes are handwritten, although a few are typed. As may be expected, a large amount of notes are from records in Berlin. There are no summaries or interpretations by Selma Stern-Taeubler of the excerpts in this series. Series III: Manuscripts is comprised of two subseries, the first containing two works written by Selma Stern-Taeubler. The majority of subseries 1 is the scholastic work Der Hofjude im Zeitalter des Absolitismus. Among the items in Series IV: Addenda, which is made up of material added to the collection at some point, are three scholarly articles written by Selma Stern-Taeubler.

A second topic of this collection is personal information about Selma Stern-Taeubler. Her personal writings, including diary entries and poetry, are located in subseries 2 of Series III. This subseries deviates from the rest of the collection in that it focuses on her personal writings and relationships with others instead of scholarly work. Some personal information on Selma Stern-Taeubler is also included in Series IV: Addenda. Much of this information is biographical, in the form of obituaries and memorials on her ninetieth birthday and photographs.


  • 1713-1995


Language of Materials

The collection is in German, English, French and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

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

Collection is microfilmed (MF 497).

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

Born on July 24, 1890 in Kippenheim, Baden, Selma Stern was the daughter of the physician Dr. Julius Stern and his wife Emilie, née Durlacher. In 1901 the family resettled in Baden-Baden, where Dr. Stern would soon possess a very large international clientele.

Growing up, Selma Stern was labeled a "Wunderkind" and because of her talents was the first girl to receive special permission to attend the secondary school in the humanities at only 14 years old. There she quickly became the first in her class and at 18 passed the Abitur exam with honors.

In 1908 her father died at 49 years old, which was a hard blow for Selma Stern. Her mother made it possible for her to continue her education despite great difficulties, and she began to study history in Heidelberg. After three semesters she changed her studies to Munich and received her doctorate summa cum laude shortly before the outbreak of the first World War.

Selma Stern spent the war years with her mother and youngest sister in Frankfurt am Main, where she engaged in scholarly work and taught. After the end of the war, she was called to the newly-founded Akademie fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums (Academy for the Scientific Study of Judaism) in Berlin by her future spouse, Professor Eugen Taeubler. There she began her work Der Preußische Staat und die Juden. In 1927 Selma Stern married Eugen Taeubler, then a Professor of ancient history in Heidelberg. She continued working on her scholarly writing, and visited archives to collect materials for her work, even during the Hitler period, when she did so with difficulty. In 1936 the Taeublers moved to England but returned to Germany a year later, moving to Berlin, where Professor Taeubler taught young rabbis and teachers at the Lehranstalt fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums (Institute for the Scientific Study of Judaism). In 1938 Selma Stern-Taeubler was forbidden to continue working in archives and libraries, but was assisted by friends such as Leo Baeck and others, who helped her retrieve excerpts of documents inaccessible to her.

In 1941 the Taeublers took the last ship to America before the United States entered the war and ocean travel became dangerous. Professor Taeubler became a lecturer in Jewish history at Hebrew Union College in Cincinatti, and his wife became the first archivist at the American Jewish Archives, at the same time working further on her scholarly writing.

Professor Taeubler died in 1953, and in 1956 Selma Stern-Taeubler received the Dr. phil. Honoris causa from Hebrew Union College. In 1960, after having retired from the American Jewish Archives, she moved to Basel, where her youngest sister lived. There she wrote and completed her documentary work Der Preußische Staat und die Juden, the original manscript having been mostly destroyed by the Nazis in the 1930s, and also edited works written by her husband.

As she became older, her health worsened, and she was forced to give up her apartment in Basel. Shortly afterward she entered the "La Charmilla" old home because of the condition of her health, where she hoped to be able to continue working.

Selma Stern-Taeubler died on August 17, 1981.

She published five books in her lifetime: Der Hofjude im Zeitalter des Absolutismus in 1950; Ihr seid meine Zeugen - Ein Novellenkranz aus der Zeit des Schwarzen Todes in den Jahren 1348-1349 in 1972; Josel von Rosheim - Befehlshaber der Judenschaft in Heiligen Römischen Reich Deutscher Nation in 1959; Jud Süß - Ein Beitrag zur Deutschen und zur Jüdischen Geschichte in 1929, reprinted in 1973; and Der Preußische Staat und die Juden - Dokumtarwerk in 7 Bänden in 1962-1971.


2.4 Linear Feet


The Jewish historian and scholar Selma Stern-Taeubler was born in 1890 in Kippenheim, Baden, and was the first archivist of the American Jewish Archives. This collection is comprised of extensive research notes used by her in the preparation of her book Der Preußische Staat und die Juden (The Prussian State and the Jews). It also contains other material pertaining to her scholarly writing such as a few manuscripts, reviews of her works, and correspondence concerning publications of her writing. Some personal information is also available in the form of diaries and poetry, biographical clippings and obituaries, and a few photographs.


Collection is available on 7 reels of microfilm (MF 497).

Related Material

Some publications authored by Selma Stern-Taeubler are available in the LBI library.

Guide to the Papers of Selma Stern-Taeubler (1890-1981) 1713-1995   AR 7160 / MF 479
Processed by LBI Staff
© April 2003.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from SelmaStern-Taeubler.xml

Revision Statements

  • March 2005.: Access points added.
  • January 2006.: Entities removed from EAD finding aid.
  • December 07, 2012 : 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