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Ilse and Fritz Michel Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25502

Scope and Content Note

The Ilse and Fritz Michel family collection comprises both personal and official papers documenting, on the one hand, the developing lives of Fred and Ilse Michel as immigrants to the United States between 1937 and 1942, as well as indicating the political climate of that time impending on those remaining in Germany, on the other. The bulk of this family collection contains correspondence documents, including mostly personal letters and some emigration papers. A number of various official documents, such as birth and death certificates, photographs and passports, complements the collection.

The bulk of the correspondence, a corpus of letters by Helena Hess to Ilse Michel, pertains to the dialogue mother and daughter sustained after Ilse had immigrated to the U.S. These letters provide insight into the relationships held between family members across the Atlantic as their situation in Germany deteriorated. In addition, a smaller collection of letters by Fred Michel to Ilse illustrates the couple's pre-marital relationship in the United States, before they settled in Scranton.


  • 1901-2003
  • Majority of material found within 1938-1942


Language of Materials

The collection is in German and some 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<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Portrait of Ilse Michel" href="" linktype="simple" show="embed" title="Portrait of Ilse Michel"/>

Fritz (Fred) Michel (1902-1992) was born in Bingen am Rhein, Germany, the son of Adolf Michel and Franziska Michel, née Seligmann. Fred Michel's wife, Ilse Hess (1911-2003), was born in Leipzig, daughter of Hermann Hess and Helene Hess, née Hirschfeld (1866-1943). Hermann Hess died in 1922 in Frankfurt am Main. After having been denied immigration to the U.S., Ilse's mother Helene was deported to Theresienstadt in 1942, where she died in 1943.

Fritz (Fred) Michel emigrated from Frankfurt am Main to the U.S. via Antwerp, Belgium, in 1937. In the U.S. he changed his name to Fred. Ilse emigrated a year after that, via Hamburg, in 1938. Upon immigration Fred and Ilse remained separated for about two years, working in various areas in the state of New York, before they eventually settled in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1939, where they were married in 1940. There, Ilse started up a millinery business, while Fred maintained a position as bartender. They became naturalized citizens in 1943. The same year Fritz joined the U.S. army and served until 1945. They remained in Scranton for the rest of their lives.


0.5 Linear Feet


This collection contains personal and official documents pertaining to the family’s immigration to the United States and their situation in Germany as the political climate deteriorated. Included are a large amount of personal letters, supplemented by various other documents from government and military offices, some genealogical and tracing certificates, as well as other various material.


The collection is divided into 2 series.

Processing Information

The prior arrangement has not been changed. Some minor preservation work was applied, including flattening letters and placing photographs in envelopes.

Guide to the Papers of the Ilse and Fritz Michel Family 1901-2003 AR 25502
Processed by Florian Siedlarek and Marianne Salinger
© 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from Ilse_and_FritzMichelFamily.xml

Revision Statements

  • October 24, 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