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Fritz Victor Lenel Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25424

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of a "Lenel family archive" created by Fritz Victor Lenel. It documents his ancestry back to his great-grandparents, and includes extensive correspondence with their contemporary descendants as well as Lenel's extensive research notes. In addition to materials common in genealogical collections, such as genealogical tables and photocopies of archival documents, this collection also includes original material relating to Lenel's ancestors and relatives, such as correspondence, diaries, and vital records. In addition, virtually all of the hundreds of photographs in this collection, ranging in date from 1848 to the 1980s, are identified.

A dedicated genealogist, Lenel organized his materials by family branch. Ancestors documented by this collection include his great-grandparents Friedrich Kapp (1824-1884) and Louise (Engels) Kapp, his great-grandparents Friedrich Ludwig Borckenhagen (1818-1870) and Julie (Seydel) Borckenhagen, his great-grandparents Moritz (1810-1876) and Caroline (Scheuer) Lenel (1814-1867), and his paternal grandmother Helene (Michaelis) Lenel (1844-1917). The descendants of Lenel's great-grandparents live, among other places, in Germany, the United States, England, France, and South Africa. The collection includes Lenel's extensive correspondence during the 1970s and 1980s with many of these people.

Many of the Lenels were prominent members of the Mannheim Jewish community. Industrialist Viktor Lenel (1838-1917) and his son Richard Lenel (1869-1950) served in the local chamber of commerce and were also noted philanthropists. In addition to material on these and other Lenel family members, the collection contains materials about Fritz Victor Lenel's father, historian Walter Lenel, and his immediate family, and the journals of his mother Luise (Borckenhagen) Lenel.

Items that may be of particular interest include documents appointing Jonas Michaelis as a syndic (representative) of the Nieheim Jewish community by the consistory of the Kingdom of Westphalia (1809); Walter Lenel's personal documents, such as his 1905 certificate of baptism by Albert Schweitzer and documents about being hired by the university in Heidelberg in 1932 and fired in 1933; and the many well-labeled photographs in a variety of formats.


  • 1773-2010
  • Majority of material found within 1890s-1980s


Language of Materials

This collection is in German and English, with some French, Hebrew, and Latin. The 19th-century material is primarily in German. Most of the mid-20th-century correspondence is in English. The journals of Luise Lenel (series VI) are written in old German script.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers. There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Biographical Note

Fritz Victor Lenel (1907-2003) was born to Walter and Luise Lenel in Kiel, Germany. He studied chemistry at the universities of Breslau and Munich. In 1931, Lenel emigrated to the United States and embarked on a successful career in powder metallurgy. He was a professor at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from 1947 until his retirement in 1973. He spent much of the rest of his life creating this collection, the "Lenel Family Archive."


9.5 Linear Feet (OS 139)


This collection consists of a "Lenel family archive" created by Fritz Victor Lenel. In addition to materials common in genealogical collections, such as genealogical tables and photocopies of archival documents, this collection includes original material relating to Lenel's ancestors, many of whom were prominent members of the Mannheim Jewish community, and very thorough research notes and correspondence with distant relatives.


The first five series are arranged corresponding to Fritz Victor Lenel's organization. He placed his materials into five portfolios, based on genealogical divisions, and within each portfolio placed items in alphabetical or numerical "pockets." Within each of Lenel's original "pockets," materials were rearranged logically and descriptive folder titles assigned. Correspondence was arranged chronologically within each folder. All material that was identified as coming from a particular portfolio pocket has its origin noted in parentheses after the title. Series VI was not arranged by Lenel and is arranged chronologically and by format. Indexes corresponding Lenel's arrangement are found in the first folder of each series. The indexes describe the materials fairly accurate, but do not match precisely; there are some additional materials and some missing materials. Photographs were physically separated, but are found in their proper intellectual place in this finding aid.


The collection is on twenty reels of microfilm (MF 1125):

  1. Reel 1: 1/1 - 1/29
  2. Reel 2: 1/30 - 1/52
  3. Reel 3: 1/53 - 2/16
  4. Reel 4: OS 139 - 2/48
  5. Reel 5: 2/49 - 2/82
  6. Reel 6: 3/1 - 3/18
  7. Reel 7: 3/19 - 3/26
  8. Reel 8: 3/27 - 3/31
  9. Reel 9: 3/32 - 4/3
  10. Reel 10: 4/4 - 4/11
  11. Reel 11: 4/12 - 4/20
  12. Reel 12: 4/21 - 6/13
  13. Reel 13: 6/1 - 6/7
  14. Reel 14: 6/8 - 6/14
  15. Reel 15: 6/15 - 7/5
  16. Reel 16: 7/6 - 7/11
  17. Reel 17: 7/12 - 8/2
  18. Reel 18: 8/3 - 8/9
  19. Reel 19: 8/10 - 9/3
  20. Reel 20: 9/4 - 5/37

Related Material

LBI holds the following related materials:

  1. Briefwechsel zwischen Dr. Friedrich Kapp und Dr. Eduard Cohen, 1856-1884 MS 568
    This collection of letters was prepared by Edith Lenel, Fritz Victor Lenel's sister. Friedrich Kapp was their great-grandfather.
  2. Erinnerungen ME 1387
    This memoir was written by Bertha Lenel, Fritz Victor Lenel's first cousin once removed via his great-uncle Otto Lenel.
  3. Lenel Family Collection AR 3164
    This collection contains genealogical tables for Richard Lenel, Fritz Victor Lenel's uncle.
  4. Mannheim; Jewish Community Collection AR 270
    This collection contains information on the extended Lenel family.
  5. Moritz and Caroline Lenel and their descendants - The assimilation of the family and their fate during the Nazi era AR 5713
    This Lenel family history was written by Fritz Victor Lenel in 1986.
  6. Victor Lenel (1838-1917). A Biography MS 567
    Fritz Victor Lenel wrote this biography of his paternal grandfather in 1985.

Separated Material

The autobiography of Leo Janko was removed from portfolio 3, pocket M, and added to the memoir collection as ME 1612.

The following books were removed to the LBI library:

  1. Blogg, Salomom Ephraim. Israelitisches Gebetbuch: in hebraeischer and deutscher Sprache. (Hannover, 1836) (Removed from portfolio 4, pocket B)
  2. Haas, Rudolf and Wolfgang Muenkel. Wegweiser zu den Grabstaetten bekannter Mannheimer Persoenlichkeiten. (Stadt Mannheim, 1981) (Removed from portfolio 3, pocket D)
  3. Lenel, Walter. Venezianisch-Istrische Studien, Walter Lenel. (Strassburg, 1911) (Removed from portfolio 5)
  4. Von Sass, Hans-Martin. Ludwig Feuerbach (Rohwolt, 1978) (Removed from portfolio 1, pocket M)
  5. Wehler, Hans-Ulrich. Friedrich Kapp, Vom radikalen Fruehsozialisten des Vormaerz zum liberalen Parteipolitiker des Bismarckreichs. Briefe 1843-1884. (Sammlung Insel, 1969) (Removed from portfolio 1, pocket B)

Processing Information

The materials were unfolded and rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes. Published material was sent to the LBI library. Photographs were physically separated, individually housed (with the exception of a few modern gelatin silver prints), and placed in separate boxes.

In December 2011, additional materials were added to Series VI. These are found in boxes 6 through 9.

In July 2013, it was found that a "box 6" appeared twice. The box 6 in Series VI was changed to box 10.

Guide to the Fritz Victor Lenel Family Collection Undated, 1773-2010 (bulk 1890s-1980s) AR 25424 / MF 1125
Processed by Kevin Schlottmann
© 2011
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Revision Statements

  • November 2011.: Microfilm inventory added.
  • December 2011.: Boxes 6 to 9 added to Series VI.
  • July 2013.: Box 6 of Series VI changed to Box 10 as a "box 6" was inadvertently duplicated when processing the Louise Lenel journals.
  • February 23, 2015 : 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