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Edith Neumann Collection

Identifier: AR 25262

Scope and Content Note

The Edith Neumann Collection is comprised of the papers of the microbiologist Edith Neumann née Spitzer along with those of her family members, including her husband, Congregationalist pastor Frederick Neumann. For the purposes of this finding aid, Frederick Neumann, born Friedrich, is referred to by his Anglicized name.

The eventual immigration of Edith and Frederick Neumann to the United States from Austria via Yugoslavia, London, and Palestine can be gleaned from material in several places of the collection. Chief among these are the identification and professional papers of Edith and Frederick Neumann, issued by agencies and organizations in several countries. Edith Neumann's identification and citizenship papers will be found in the first subseries of the collection. Her professional papers hold letters of reference and employment verification from employers in Austria, Israel (then Palestine), and the United States. Both Frederick Neumann's identification and professional papers are located in Series II, Subseries 1. In addition, some of the photographs of Series IV, many of which are unidentified, may portray scenes or individuals from the Neumanns' time spent in Palestine. Some correspondence of Edith Neumann with non-family members, in Subseries 2 of Series I, references the nine years the couple spent in Palestine.

Information on Edith Neumann will be found throughout this collection. The majority of documents date from the time following the death of her husband. Series I holds many papers originating from her, including personal and official papers, correspondence, papers relating to her professional life, and financial papers. Items that document Edith Neumann's daily activities, such as calendars and cash books with monthly financial information, comprise Series III. Photographs of Edith Neumann, including of significant events and with others, will be found in Series IV. Documentation of Edith Neumann's philanthropic work, including her donations, will be found in several areas of the collection, including Subseries 1 of Series I as well as in Subseries 2 of Series III.

Papers of other family members are placed in several areas of the collection, but will primarily be found in Series II: Family Papers. Subseries of this series include the papers of Edith Neumann's husband Frederick, her sister Hanna Spitzer, her parents-in-law Jakob and Antonie Neumann, and the papers of other Spitzer and Neumann family members. Other papers of Frederick Neumann include correspondence with his wife, which is located in Subseries 2 of Series I. Correspondence with Frederick Neumann while he was performing missionary work in Yugoslavia in the mid-1930s is located in Subseries 2 of Series I (letters sent to his wife) and in Subseries 3 of Series II (letters sent from his parents in Vienna). Additional locations of documentation pertaining to Hanna Spitzer include her recipes, found among the index cards of Subseries 1 of Series III, and her collected View-Master reels, with the visual material in Series IV. A short biography of Alfred Spitzer will be found in the memoirs and notes of Series I, Subseries 1. Other material on Alfred Spitzer and his art collection is placed in Subseries 4 of Series III.

A small amount of material on restitution will also be found in various locations in the collection. Three folders of correspondence with Edith Neumann related to restitution are in Subseries 4 of Series I. Restitution correspondence and documentation pertaining to Friedrich Neumann will be found in Subseries 1 of Series II, and similar material for Hanna Spitzer is located in Subseries 2 of that same series.


  • Creation: 1889-2002
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1926-2002


Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in German and English.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

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

Edith Neumann was born Editha Spitzer in Vienna on May 26, 1902, the youngest child of the lawyer and art collector Alfred Spitzer and his wife Hermine. She had an elder sister named Hanna (Hansi). Her father invested in the work of artists such as Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka.

Edith Spitzer studied chemistry and physics at the University of Vienna and received her doctorate in 1927; at that time she was the only woman studying such subjects there. Alfred Spitzer died in the spring of 1923. In 1924 she converted to Christianity, and in May 1925 became engaged to Friedrich (often referred to by Austrian friends and family as Fritz) Neumann, who was also a Christian convert. They met at a meeting of the Swedish Society for the Conversion of Jews to Christianity. Two years later, upon completing her doctorate, the couple was married on October 3, 1927.

Frederick Neumann was a student of the philosopher Martin Heidegger. Edith supported him while Friedrich Neumann continued his studies, eventually gaining a reputation as a biblical scholar. In 1934 Friedrich went to Zagreb, Yugoslavia, where he worked as a missionary, and was later joined by Edith. Two years later they returned to Vienna. In 1938 the couple, fearing the arrest of Friedrich Neumann, fled Vienna via the Danube, travelling for a month through Zagreb, northern Italy, and Paris before finally arriving in London with the help of the British Society. There they studied English until the Society offered Friedrich Neumann missionary work in Haifa, Palestine.

In 1948 the Neumanns immigrated to the United States, where they settled in New York. Edith Neumann had lost thirty-four family members due to Nazi persecution. She was able to bring a portion of her father's art collection to the U.S. Friedrich, now Frederick (often referred to by American friends as Fred) Neumann became the pastor of the Bushwick Congregational Church in Brooklyn, a position he held until his death. Edith Neumann worked as a bacteriologist at the Jewish Hospital in Brooklyn, before accepting a position as microbiologist at Maimonides Hospital, where she remained for the next 20 years.

After the death of Frederick Neumann in 1967, Edith Neumann moved to Manhattan and took a job as medical director of the Jetti Katz Clinical Laboratory. In 1982 she retired at the age of eighty, working on publishing her husband's sermons and having them translated into English. In 1983 she established the Frederick Neumann Memorial Lecture at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Edith Neumann donated several paintings from her father's collection to the Osterreichische Galerie and two more paintings by Kokoschka and Schiele to the Graphische Sammlung Albertina. In honor of her donations and work as a scientist, she was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art First Class in 1998. The rest of the artwork that Edith Neumann inherited from her father was donated to Bard College. Edith Neumann died on June 29, 2002 one hundred years old.


4 Linear Feet


The Edith Neumann Collection describes the personal and professional life of the microbiologist Edith Neumann née Spitzer and several of her family members. Foremost her husband Frederick Neumann. The emigration from Austria and eventual immigration to the United States of Edith and Frederick Neumann is also documented here, as are significant events in her life. Documents in this collection include personal correspondence, official papers, notes, calendars, index cards, address books, photographs and other visual material, and clippings.


The collection is on nine reels of microfilm (MF 816):

  1. Reel 1: 1/2 - 1/27
  2. Reel 2: 1/28 - 1/67
  3. Reel 3: 1/68 - 1/85
  4. Reel 4: 1/86 - 2/33
  5. Reel 5: 2/34 - 2/39
  6. Reel 6: 3/1 - 3/5
  7. Reel 7: 3/6 - 3/9
  8. Reel 8: 3/10 - 3/25
  9. Reel 9: 4/1 - 4/35

Related Material

Edith Neumann's questionnaire is included in the Austrian Heritage Collection.

Separated Material

The Austrian Cross for Edith Neumann and a stamp with the letter S [for Spitzer?] were removed to the LBI Art and Objects Collection.

Processing Information

The arrangement of series and subseries was largely based on the organization found in the provisional item-level inventory for the collection, with efforts made to preserve the original organizational groups of the inventory.

Guide to the Papers of Edith Neumann (1902-2002) 1889-2002 AR 25262
Processed by Dianne Ritchey Oummia
© 2007
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from EdithNeumann.xml

Revision Statements

  • 2010-03-23 : encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl
  • May 2008.: Microfilm inventory added.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States