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Alfred and Elisabeth Mayer Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25527

Scope and Content Note

The Alfred and Elisabeth Mayer Family largely centers on the emigration from Germany of the extended members of this family as well as documentation of Alfred and Elisabeth Mayer and information and narratives on the family's genealogy and individual experiences. The collection is organized by format, with Series I holding the documents of family members and family correspondence forming Series II.

The family papers in this collection are largely those of Alfred and Elisabeth Mayer, but also include those of other family members, including of their son Albert and of members of the Mendel family. Notable in the first series are the short narratives about other members of the family in addition to a longer essay about Alfred and Elisabeth Mayer by their granddaughter and a Mayer family tree. Official documents, including their identification papers and documentation related to Alfred Mayer's service in World War I, are also included in this series.

The letters of family members comprise Series II. Most of these are letters written to Alfred and Elisabeth Mayer in New York by distant and varied family members, among them all of Alfred Mayer's siblings. While the letters give news of family members still in Germany, they also often mention the immigration attempts of family members. Most of these letters date from the 1930s and 1940s, although a small amount are from later years.


  • Creation: 1896-2012
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1937-1946

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

Alfred Mayer was born July 12, 1884 in Ober-Olm, Germany, the son of Abraham and Emma (née Kramer) Mayer. He was the eldest of six siblings: Antonie (Toni), Betty, Leopold, Otto, Emilie (Emmi), and Friedrich (Fritz). He served in World War I, where he belonged to a unit that destroyed tanks.

Elisabeth (also spelled Elisabetha, called Elsa) Mendel was born on August 8, 1895 in Nieder-Wiesen, Germany. Like Alfred, she came from a larger family, with eight siblings. Her family members were cattle merchants. In 1910 Elisabeth, who had learned English in school, went to the United States as a governess for distant wealthy cousins in Yonkers, New York. After World War I ended, her father recalled her to Germany, where he had arranged for her to marry Alfred Mayer. They married in 1922.

Alfred Mayer owned a linen and dry goods business and the family owned one of the two telephones in the small country town of Ober-Olm. Together he and Elisabeth had three children: Margot, Eleanor, and Albert.

At some point in the 1930s, the family made the decision to leave Germany for the United States, where some of Elisabeth Mayer's siblings were already living. They traveled on the T.S.S. Veendam, and arrived in New Jersey in 1937. After a short stay in northern Manhattan, the family moved to the Unionport area of the Bronx, where the Mayers opened a resale bakery on Pugsley Avenue.

The Mayers struggled to get their family members out of Germany. Otto Mayer and his family immigrated to Brooklyn, New York, and Friedrich Mayer and his family came to Bridgeport, Connecticut. But in spite of their efforts several of Alfred Mayer's siblings did not escape Nazi Germany: Antonie and Leopold Oppenheimer died in Birkenau and Theresienstadt; Betty and Joseph Stern in Auschwitz; Leopold, Nelly, and Paul Mayer in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz; and Emilie and Bruno Michel in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz. The children of Leopold and Antonie (née Mayer) Oppenheimer emigrated to New York and Buenos Aires, while the children of Emilie (née Mayer) and Bruno Stern escaped to England via Kindertransport. Joseph and Betty (née Mayer) Stern's son emigrated to Israel.

The Mayers ran their bakery for a number of years, flourishing when the nearby Cross-Bronx Expressway began construction in 1948. They ran the bakery until 1960, when they moved to Queens. Alfred Mayer died shortly afterwards; Elisabeth Mayer passed away in 1981.


1.0 Linear Feet


The Alfred and Elisabeth Mayer Family largely centers on the emigration from Germany of the extended members of this family as well as documentation of Alfred and Elisabeth Mayer and information on the family's genealogy and individual experiences. The collection includes a large quantity of family correspondence; family trees; articles; official, military, and educational documents; some financial and legal documentation and correspondence; and photographs.


The collection is arranged in two series:

Related Material

Related is the book Zur Geschichte der Unterrichtsanstalt der Israelitischen Religionsgesellschaft zu Mainz. : Festschrift anlässlich ihres 75jährigen Bestehens, 1859-1934, previously owned by Alfred and Elisabeth Mayer and located in the LBI Library (LC 746 G4 M28 I_8 st 6316).

Separated Material

A CD-ROM with copies of the essay in folder 1/4 and of the family tree in 1/7 was removed to the LBI Audiovisual Collection.

A wooden box of daily use objects was removed to the Arts and Objects Collection.

Processing Information

During the processing of the archival collection, folders were organized into series. Correspondence, already organized into folders by location, was further subdivided by the most frequent correspondents.

Guide to the Papers of the Alfred and Elisabeth Mayer Family 1896-2012 AR 25527
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
© 2015
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from Alfred_and_Elisabeth_Mayer_Family.xml

Revision Statements

  • October 2015:: dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States