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Adler Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25684

Scope and Content Note

The Adler Family Collection tells the story of the lives of Thekla (née Grünebaum) and Leopold Adler and their children Bennie, Rose, Irma, and Berthold. It especially focuses on the death of Leopold Adler in 1906 and the changes it wrought on the family that led to the eventual emigration to New York of Bennie, Rose, Berthold, and Thekla Adler. The collection includes a large amount of their correspondence, especially of Berthold Adler, in addition to various sorts of family papers, including official documents, school records, immigration documentation, documentation relating to the careers of family members, and genealogical and historical research. In addition, the collection contains family photographs and one photo album.

One prominent subject of the collection is the death of Leopold Adler and the lives of his widow and children following his death; documentation of this will be found throughout Series I and Series II. Series I includes material relating to Leopold's early death in 1906, such as legal documents on the inheritance of Thekla and their children along with many documents that pertain to Leopold's property and debts, and that relate to their transfer to Thekla. Notable is the autobiography of Berthold Adler in this series, which provides many details on the family's difficult financial situation. Documents that pertain to the early work experiences of Bennie, Rose, Irma, and Berthold Adler will also be found in Series I. Correspondence related to their employment may also be found in Series II. Irma Adler's death in 1919 is documented in Series I.

Another frequent subject of the collection is the emigration of family members to New York, including the earlier emigrations of Bennie and Rose, and Berthold and Thekla Adler's move to join Bennie and Rose Adler in New York in 1925; documentation of these topics will be found in each series of the collection. The papers of Berthold and Thekla Adler in Series I in particular contain documents assembled for their emigration, and the papers of both Rose Adler and Berthold Adler include lists of passengers for the ships they took to America. Discussion of Berthold and Thekla Adler's emigration is a frequent topic among the correspondence of Series II, including much advice from Rose, and to a lesser extent Bennie Adler. Letters from Rose also mention her opinions on Americans or life in America. Series III, which holds photographs, includes an unidentified photo of the arrival of one of the siblings in America among a crowd of immigrants.

Some of the correspondence of Berthold Adler in Series II provides a few details of the situation of the Israelitische Waisenanstalt (Jewish Orphan Asylum) in Frankfurt am Main in the 1930s. Some of his other correspondence with friends gives details of others' attempts to leave Germany in the 1930s.

Series I additionally contains several folders relating to the family's genealogy and research into their situation and lifestyle in the village of Hintersteinau, Germany, including photocopies of photographs that depict the family's home. In addition there is a small amount of papers relating to more distant family members in both the documentation of Series I and the correspondence of Series II.

Only a small amount of documentation is present on the family members' later lives in the United States. Such documentation includes material in Series I on Berthold Adler's marriage to Ruth Jackel and the deaths of Thekla, Bennie, Rose, and Berthold, as well as a few letters regarding trips taken by family members in Series II. Many of the photographs of Series III date from their lives in New York.


  • 1884-2013
  • Majority of material found in 1920-1938


Language of Materials

The collection is in German, English, and a small amount of Hebrew.

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

Leopold Adler was born January 25, 1865, the son of Benzion and Rebekka (née Flörsheim) Adler. The Adler family resided in the village of Hintersteinau in Hesse, Germany. Leopold was a businessman and married Thekla Grünebaum, born March 17, 1865 in Staden, Germany, the daughter of Anschel and Jettchen (née Stern) Grünebaum. In July 1893 Thekla and Leopold were engaged and in November of that year they married.

Leopold and Thekla Adler had four children: Benni (born 1894, later called Bennie), Irma (born 1896), Rosa (born 1898, also called Rosÿ or Rosy on her German identification papers, and Rose after her American immigration), and Berthold (born 1903). The family kept Jewish Orthodox traditions. After a year's illness Leopold Adler died in 1906 at the age of 41. His Adler family members in Hintersteinau had previously emigrated to America in the 1880s and 1890s with only infrequent letters, leaving his widow and young children alone in a difficult financial position.

Thekla Adler was unable to earn enough to raise the children at home, so they were sent away. In 1908 Bennie went to the United States, and around that time Irma was sent to the Israelitische Waisenanstalt (Jewish Orphan Asylum) in Frankfurt am Main. Rosa was at first sent to live with an aunt but then later was also sent to the Israelitische Waisenanstalt. Berthold lived with Thekla at home until April 1, 1913, when he also entered the Israelitische Waisenanstalt, leaving Thekla living alone from 1913 until 1925 except for his visits home during holidays. She attempted to earn money in any way she could, including sewing and selling butter. She also gradually sold off the family's land and eventually, the house. Irma left the Israelitische Waisenanstalt in 1912 and found work as a cook. She died suddenly on February 21, 1919.

The inflation in Germany during the early 1920s placed Thekla Adler in an even worse financial situation. Rose Adler had completed her studies at the Israelitische Volkschule in 1913 and in December 1922, with the help of Adlers in America, left to join her brother Bennie, who had found a position as a butcher in Brooklyn, New York. Meanwhile Berthold had completed his studies at the Realschule der Israelitischen Gemeinde Frankfurt am Main and from 1920-1922 had an apprenticeship at the firm of M. Schwabacher & Co. He later worked at the firm A. Mainz & Co. as a bookkeeper and salesman from January 1923 to April 1925. In 1925 Thekla and Berthold Adler left Hintersteinau to follow their family members, arriving in New York City on May 8, 1925. Thekla and her children shared a home in New York for a number of years.

In New York City, Berthold Adler worked at the Saks department store on Herald Square in Manhattan and later at the wholesale distributor J.H. Semel & Co. He also helped to found the Orthodox congregation Machane Chodosh in Brooklyn, New York, and was a member of its board of directors for many years as well as being active in his trade union.

On September 24, 1950 Berthold married Ruth Jackel. After an operation in 1951, Thekla Adler became increasingly frail and died on December 15, 1952 after a fall. Bennie Adler passed away in 1979, and Rose Adler in 1985, followed by Ruth in 1994 and Berthold five years later. Bennie, Rose, and Berthold and Ruth Adler did not have any children of their own.


1 Linear Feet


The Adler Family Collection holds materials regarding the lives of Thekla (née Grünebaum) and Leopold Adler and their children Bennie, Rose, Irma, and Berthold. The papers document their lives in Hintersteinau, Germany, the deaths of Leopold and Irma Adler, and the emigration of the remaining family members to New York. Included in the collection is a large amount of their correspondence, in addition to various family papers, including official documents, school records, immigration documentation, documentation relating to the careers of family members, and genealogical and historical research. The collection also contains family photographs and a photo album.

Separated Material

Four books that belonged to Adler family members were removed from the archival collection to the LBI Library during processing, including prayer books, a German-English dictionary, and Geschichte der Juden by H. Kottek. Photocopies of title pages and any handwritten commentary in the books is included in folder 1/10.

Duplicate photocopies of documents were also removed from the collection.

Processing Information

Since the collection displayed little initial order it was rearranged during the processing of the archival collection to gather together similar materials and form series. Duplicate photocopies of documents were removed from the collection during processing.

There is no Folder 25.

Guide to the Papers of the Adler Family 1884-2013 AR 25684
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
© 2018
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from AdlerFamily.xml

Revision Statements

  • April 20, 2018 : 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