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Max Rieser Collection

Identifier: AR 7207

Scope and Content Note

The Max Rieser Collection documents Rieser's personal and professional life. The bulk of the material concerns Rieser's philosophical writing. Among the papers in the collection are personal and official papers, correspondence, manuscripts, and a small amount of clippings and published material.

Documents providing biographical information on him will be found mainly in Series I, which holds Rieser's personal papers, such as educational, emigration, immigration, identification and other official or government-issued documents. Other biographical data can be extracted from his personal correspondence with family members and friends. Amongst others Emil Luethy (1/5), the Swiss expressionistic artist, and the writer and the poet Jacob Picard were close friends of Rieser. Their correspondence with Rieser can be found in Series II.

The professional correspondence consists of papers that focus on the professional life of Max Rieser. It mostly contains correspondence with the various magazines and newspapers Rieser wrote for and determines the topics and subjects for his articles. Focusing on aesthetics Rieser found a mentor in the editor-in-chief of the magazine Aesthetics and Communication, Thomas Munro, and the correspondence in Series II and the essays (5/14) Rieser wrote on Munro express his worship and admiration.

Series III holds a collection of manuscripts, divided into two topics: Rieser's literary creations of which parts are unpublished (Subseries 1) and his philosophical manuscripts (Subseries 2). The dominant topic is Rieser's nostalgic feelings towards Europe, mostly expressed in iterative overblown descriptions of different locations, especially Vienna and Geneva. The manuscripts related to philosophical questions documents Rieser "scholarly" focus, which was mainly aesthetics, though the knowledge of the European scene as well as the knowledge of Polish opened the philosophy of Poland and the Soviet Bloc to the American public.


  • 1893-1987


Language of Materials

The collection is in German, English, French, Polish and Italian.

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

Samuel Maximilian (Max) Rieser was born in Krakow in 1893. Following his elementary and secondary education there, he began the study of law in Vienna. His studies were interrupted by the First World War, which he spent in Switzerland, associating with pacifistic groups and writing for newspapers. After the war he returned to Vienna, completed his law studies and obtained a position at the Phoenix Insurance Company. Besides his legal work, Rieser wrote literary supplements that appeared in Austrian and Swiss newspapers.

After the bankruptcy of the Phoenix Concern in 1938, Rieser opened a private law practice; one of his clients was the childhood friend of Adolf Hitler, Reinhold Hanisch. Foreseeing the oncoming Anschluss he immigrated to the United States in early 1939. He earned his living through various forms of freelance journalism, writing under different pseudonyms for the New York Staatszeitung.

After the Second World War Rieser worked for different European newsletters and between 1946 and 1957 for the Common Council for American Unity, an immigrant service organization, as a translator.

The money earned through journalism helped to finance Rieser's activities as a philosopher. Specializing in aesthetics, Rieser produced numerous essays, reviews and monographs appearing in different American philosophical journals.

Although never having studied philosophy, Rieser was very active in the philosophical world, attending numerous regional, national and international philosophical congresses. He continued these activities almost until the end of his life.


5 Linear Feet


The Max Rieser Collection predominantly documents the life and work of the lawyer, philosopher and writer Max Rieser. The main subjects of the collection are his life, his writing and his publishing work. The collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, clippings, official documents and photographs.


The microfilm is on thirteen reels of microfilm (MF 1089):

  1. Reel 1: 1/1 - 1/10
  2. Reel 2: 1/11 - 1/16
  3. Reel 3: 1/17 - 2/4
  4. Reel 4: 2/5 - 2/14
  5. Reel 5: 2/15 - 2/23
  6. Reel 6: 2/24 - 3/8B
  7. Reel 7: 3/9 - 3/24
  8. Reel 8: 3/25 - 4/5
  9. Reel 9: 4/6 - 4/15
  10. Reel 10: 4/16A - 4/30
  11. Reel 11: 4/31 - 5/9
  12. Reel 12: 5/10 - 5/17
  13. Reel 13: 5/18 - 5/38

Related Material

Jacob Picard Collection, AR 6016

Separated Material

Photographs of Fred Max Rieser, his family and friends were removed to the LBI's Photograph Collection (F AR 7207).

The books found in previous addenda were removed to the library.

Processing Information

The collection was arranged by format and topic. Photos and published books were removed and a finding aid was written.

Guide to the Papers of Max Rieser (1893-1981) 1893-1987 AR 7207 / MF 1089
Processed by Claudia Keller
© 2008
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from MaxRieser.xml

Revision Statements

  • December 2008:: Addendum 2 was added by Dianne Ritchey.
  • March 2009:: Addendum 1 revised by Dianne Ritchey.
  • February 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