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Gerald J. Oppenheimer Collection

Identifier: AR 6588

Scope and Content Note

This collection is a combination of personal family papers and materials related to the Jewish community of Frankfurt am Main, Germany in general. Series I contains records of the Jewish community of Frankfurt from the mid-18th century to the early 20th century. Materials include official decrees, tax and building regulations, and official papers related to individuals and firms. Series II contains personal papers of members of Gerald J. Oppenheimer’s family, many of whom lived in Frankfurt, including genealogical materials, correspondence, and emigration papers. While some of the materials in Series I mention relatives of the Oppenheimers, papers relating exclusively to the relatives of Gerald Oppenheimer can be found in Series II.

The inventory in folder 1 includes accurate descriptions of each item in the collection across both series. The names of some of the folders have been altered slightly (see Processing Information for details).


  • 1719-1997

Language of Materials

The collection is in German and English with a few items in Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers with some restrictions on use. Contact the LBI Archives with inquiries at

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.

Biographical Note

Gerald J. Oppenheimer was born Julius Oppenheimer on August 5, 1922 to Jacob Oppenheimer (1892-1976) and Bella née Spier (1894-1973). Jacob, Bella, and Julius Oppenheimer immigrated to the United States in August of 1940, sailing from Yokohama, Japan to Washington state, where the family settled. Julius took on the name Gerald by the time he declared intention to become a U.S. citizen in 1941. He served in the U.S. Army starting in 1943. In 1946, Gerald Oppenheimer married Mildred née Karnofsky (born 1925), and the couple had two children. After earning a degree in library science, Gerald Oppenheimer worked at the Seattle Public Library, the Boeing Scientific Research Laboratories, and the libraries at the University of Washington, eventually serving as the Director of the Health Sciences Library and the Assistant Director of Libraries there. He was also the founding president of the Association of Academic Health Sciences Library Directors.

Gerald Oppenheimer traced his ancestors back through the Oppenheimer, Spier, Wallach, and Kahn families that lived mainly in the state of Hesse, Germany, particularly in Frankfurt am Main, at least as far back as the 18th century.


0.5 Linear Feet


This collection contains materials on the Jewish community of Frankfurt am Main, Germany from the early 18th century through the early 20th century as well as personal papers of Gerald J. Oppenheimer’s (1922-) family. Oppenheimer’s family papers include extensive genealogical materials, emigration records, and personal correspondence. The records of the Jewish community of Frankfurt include tax and building regulations, lists of taxable individuals, correspondence with government officials, and correspondence among members of the Jewish community.


The collection is arranged thematically or by document type according to the original order given to the materials by Gerald J. Oppenheimer, shown in the inventory in folder 1. The collection is divided into two series:

Digitization Note

The collection has been digitized and made accessible online in its entirety.

Related Material

The LBI Archives also holds a memoir by Gerald J. Oppenheimer: Reminiscences Personal and a bit Historical of the First Third of My Life. The LBI Library holds the following book donated by Gerald J. Oppenheimer on the Frankfurt Jewish community: Rechtliches Gutachten der hochloeblichen Juristen-Facultaet auf der Grossherzoglich Hessischen Universitaet zu Giessen, die buergerrechtlichen Verhaeltnisse der israelitischen Gemeinde, in der freien Stadt Frankfurt betreffend .

The Medical Library Association holds an oral history of Gerald J. Oppenheimer from 1999.

Separated Material

Photocopies of pages from books on the Jews of Merzhausen, Hesse (most prominently Gottfried Ruetz’s “Von den Juden in Merzhausen” and Alfred Höck’s “Die Steuerpflichtigen des Jahres 1840 in den Synagogengemeinden des Kreises Ziegenhain”) were removed to the LBI Archives Clippings Collection AR 6588 C.

Processing Information

During processing in February 2014, the arrangement of the collection followed the original order indicated in the inventory in folder 1. The materials were separated into two series, Series I reflecting “Appendix A” of the inventory and Series II reflecting “Appendix B.” Some folder titles were shortened, translated into English, or otherwise altered to make the tone appropriate for a public finding aid. The materials designated as “Miscellaneous” in Oppenheimer’s Appendix B were separated by document type into folders 10-11 and given titles reflecting the contents. Duplicates were removed. The family tree was removed from a binder. Oversized materials were placed in oversized folders. Brittle materials were placed in Mylar sleeves.

Guide to the Gerald J. Oppenheimer Collection 1719-1997 AR 6588
Processed by Leanora Lange
© 2014
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Processing made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.

Revision Statements

  • 2014-June-25: T.R. Mendenhall: added links to folder-level digitized manifestations of collection materials.
  • April 26, 2018:: Scope and content note for Series II edited.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States