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Edith Neumann Estate Collection

Identifier: AR 25450

Scope and Content Note

The Edith Neumann Estate Collection holds the papers of Edith Neumann. Unlike the Edith Neumann Collection (AR 25262) a related collection also located in the LBI Archives, this collection largely centers on the personal life of Edith Neumann only. The largest area of the collection consists of letters from friends and family members sent to Edith Neumann and her husband Fritz. Other portions of the collection include documentation on the art collection of Alfred Spitzer, Edith Neumann's father as well as a few personal papers that provide biographical information on Edith Neumann and one folder of photographs.

The letters of Series I primarily date from the years prior to the Neumanns' immigration to the United States, especially from their years in England and Palestine/ Israel. Almost all of these are personal in nature and addressed to both Fritz and Edith. Correspondents include both friends and acquaintances as well as Neumann family members. Noteworthy is also the folder of correspondence between Fritz Neumann and his professor Martin Heidegger, which includes three letters by Heidegger to Neumann with professorial advice on his work.

A small amount of personal papers of Edith Neumann comprise Series II. Most of the material in this series details the end of Edith Neumann's life. This includes documentation of her death in 2002, aged one hundred. In addition to obituaries and other papers pertaining to her death the initial folder contains a copy of her will. Photographs of Edith Neumann near the end of her life are also a part of this series as well. A few citizenship papers and negatives of her mother complete the series.

The third series in this collection relates to the large art collection of Edith Neumann's father Alfred Spitzer. Most of this series consists of Edith Neumann's correspondence with various galleries concerning the exhibition and eventual distribution of paintings originally part of Spitzer's collection. The bulk of the correspondence concerns practical matters such as the transport or selection of paintings used in exhibits or discussion with galleries as to the donation of paintings. Related documentation or copies of articles accompany the correspondence.


  • 1879-2002
  • Majority of material found within 1938-1988


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

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.


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The Edith Neumann Estate Collection documents aspects of the microbiologist Edith Neumann's private life. Included is a large amount of personal correspondence to herself and her husband as well as documentation on the art collection of her father Alfred Spitzer. Other papers include correspondence of her husband Fritz Neumann with colleagues and his professor Martin Heidegger and some personal papers of Edith Neumann, primarily documenting her death.

Related Material

Related to this collection is the Edith Neumann Collection [AR 25262] in the LBI Archives.

The LBI Library additionally includes a book by her: Kuenstlerinnen in Wuerttemberg: zur Geschichte des Wuerttembergischen Malerinnen-Vereins und des Bundes Bildender Kuenstlerinnen Wuerttembergs [HQ 1172 N48 1999 v.1].

Processing Information

The collection was processed in May 2011 in preparation of the EAD finding aid. Similar documentation types and subjects were grouped together to form series and description was added.

Guide to the Papers of the Edith Neumann (1902-2002) Estate 1879-2002 AR 25450
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
© 2011
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from EdithNeumannEstate.xml

Revision Statements

  • October 14, 2014 : 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