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John (Hans) and Trude Schiff Collection

Identifier: AR 25082

Scope and Content Note

The John and Trude Schiff Collection contains the papers of the photographer John Schiff and his wife, the physician Trude Schiff. The bulk of the collection focuses on the photography of John Schiff. Other subjects included are the Schiffs' emigration experience, the education of Trude Schiff, and the couple's restitution from Germany. The collection is comprised of numerous photographs and negatives, as well as photo albums. Other materials include correspondence, address books and client lists, published material featuring John Schiff's photography, immigration and some personal papers, and legal and financial correspondence pertaining to restitution.

Series I is comprised of the papers of John Schiff. The vast bulk of these are his photographs, which form Subseries 3. The photographs are further divided into two primary areas: subjects and individuals. Subjects appear to be earlier photographs, and show various locations and scenes in Germany and Europe prior to World War II. People are included among the subjects, and include views of performers of the Jüdische Kulturbund and children at the Israelitisches Kinderheim in Cologne. Photographs of individuals seem to primarily derive from Schiff's work as a professional photographer in the United States. These photos include many shots of artists along with their work, as well as some other individuals. Photographs of friends or family members will also be found in Subseries 3, although most are unidentified. Other personal photographs from a trip will be found in the photo albums of this subseries, and there is also a small amount of prints for furniture advertisements taken by John Schiff.

In addition to photographs, other material in the collection also relates to friends and family members of the Schiffs. Many folders in Subseries 1 of Series I include correspondence from friends or relatives of the Schiffs. Much of this material describes postwar Germany. Among the papers of Trude Schiff in Series II is also a small amount of correspondence relating to family members and a genealogical document that depicts the members of the various branches of the Löwenstein family.

Papers pertaining to the emigration of John and Trude Schiff from Germany will likewise be found in several areas of this collection. The initial subseries of Series I includes two folders pertaining to the Schiffs' immigration to the United States as well as to their short stay in England while awaiting visas. Series II includes correspondence that portrays the difficulty of arranging visas for the immigration of Trude Schiff's relatives as well as a large amount of letters of recommendation and translations of professional certificates used by her in order to enter the medical profession after immigrating. The bulk of documentation on the Schiff's emigration, however, is located in Series III. In the folder of emigration papers are lists of the various possessions of the Schiffs'; another folder includes papers compiled during their stay in London. Papers used in the Schiffs' indemnification claim include many official papers that document their lives prior to leaving Germany.


  • 1913-2001
  • Majority of material found within 1920s-1960s


Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in English and German.

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 Reserve 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

Hans Schiff was born on November 7, 1907 in Cologne. After finishing high school and an apprenticeship he started working for his father's company, Schiff und Comp., which produced printed advertisements. In September 1938 he married Trude Löwenstein, a physician. He worked for his father as a traveling salesman until November 1938, when he was no longer allowed to work in this profession due to Germany's racial laws. In 1933 he started learning about photography with occupational retraining in mind and took photos for several Jewish organizations. In July 1939 he and his wife left Germany for England, where they had to wait for their immigration visas to the United States. They came to the U.S. in March 1940. After working in a photofinishing plant for a few months he started working as a freelance commercial photographer and worked on location for art dealers and artists. He specialized in the reproduction of art work. He died in September 1976 in New York.

Trude Joan Schiff née Löwenstein, was born on May 28, 1907. She was the daughter of Adolf and Johanna Löwenstein. Trude studied medicine from 1926-1931 in Bonn, Innsbruck, Vienna and Cologne, where she obtained her medical degree in 1931. From July 1, 1931 until February 1, 1932 she was a Medicinal Praktikant (intern) at the Medical University Clinic Cologne-Lindenburg. Immediately afterwards she entered the Medical University Policlinic in Frankfurt am Main where she worked as a resident and later became assistant doctor. In April 1933, she had to leave the position due to being Jewish. In June 1933 she began working in the surgical department of the Jewish Hospital in Cologne ("Israelitisches Asyl") until she and her husband immigrated to England in the beginning of July 1939. In April 1940 Trude Schiff passed the English examination given by the State University of New York at Albany, and in December of the same year she passed the licensing examination from the same institution so she could continue practicing her profession. She worked at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, among other institutions.


9 Linear Feet


This collection documents the professional and personal lives of John (Hans) and Trude Schiff, with emphasis on John Schiff's career as a professional photographer. Although the greater part of the collection focuses on his photography, the collection additionally holds papers pertaining to the Schiffs' immigration, legal and financial papers pertaining to restitution from Germany, documentation of Trude Schiff's early medical career, and personal correspondence and photographs. Aside from the preponderance of photographs, the collection holds letters, address books, exhibit catalogs, and official documents, and a few clippings.


The collection is on eight reels of microfilm (MF 1083):

  1. Reel 1: 1/1 - 1/27
  2. Reel 2: 1/28 - 1/30
  3. Reel 3: Schiff Client List - 3/19
  4. Reel 4: 3/20 - 4/21
  5. Reel 5: 4/22 - 5/76
  6. Reel 6: 6/1 - 10/13
  7. Reel 7: 10/14 - 10/37
  8. Reel 8: 10/38 - 11/5

Related Material

The LBI Library holds a book on John (Hans) Schiff's photography: Hans Schiff Photographs, 1925-1965; a Catalogue of an Exhibition [TR 140 S3 F3].

Separated Material

Books with dedications to John Schiff but no notations were removed from the archival collection, with copies of the dedications and copyright information of the books retained in the collection. In addition, a few books containing photographs of John Schiff but lacking notations have also been removed, with copyright information on the books retained in the collection. These will be found in Subseries 4: Published Material of Series I, in the folders "Books with Dedications" and "Books," respectively.

Processing Information

The collection was initially processed by Louisa Graham in September-October 2009. Further processing was done by Dianne Ritchey in June-July 2010 following the earlier arrangement with some minor adjustments. The previous subseries "Personal" was renamed "Subjects," and the prior subseries "Professional" was renamed "Individuals." At this time, some unidentified photographs were placed in the subseries where their content indicated they belonged. Most series and subseries descriptions were written by Louisa Graham, with additions and editing by Dianne Ritchey.

Guide to the Papers of John (Hans) and Trude Schiff 1913-2001 AR 25082 / MF 1083
Processed by Louisa Graham and Dianne Ritchey
© 2010
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from JohnTrudeSchiff.xml

Revision Statements

  • March 2011.: Microfilm inventory added.
  • April 24, 2012: 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