Steiner Family Collection
Scope and Contents
The Steiner Family Collection portrays the lives of Hans and Brigitte Steiner, their emigration to the United States, establishment of Hans Steiner's medical practice in Lindenhurst, New York, and the careers of their children, the physician Nicholas Steiner and actress Ursula Karelsen. To a smaller extent it documents the artistic work of Brigitte Steiner. Information about Brigitte's family, the Marquards, and about members of the Levi and Steiner families, is also present.
This finding aid includes some changes of family members' names. In November 1935 Hans Levi legally changed the family surname from Levi to Steiner; he is called Hans Steiner in this finding aid. In her professional artwork and writing, Brigitte Steiner used the English version of her first name, Bridget. However, in her official documents including her American passport, she always kept the use of her name as Brigitte so this spelling has been used in this finding aid.
Most notable in this collection are the family's many memoirs in the second subseries of Series IV. The memoirs are lengthy, and contain numerous details and recollections about family members' lives and experiences, along with reflections on the significant events of their lives. Some memoirs include details about lives of related families, such as the Baldauf family, as well as the Marquards. Family trees in the first subseries of Series IV show some of the various branches of the family, especially the Steiner branch.
Family correspondence will be found in Series II as well as in the bound volumes of memoirs of Series IV. The correspondence in Series II consists primarily of letters between family members, including many letters from Brigitte Steiner to her children. It includes one folder of restitution correspondence and documentation. Among the correspondence of the bound volumes are those between Hans Steiner and his childhood friend, Käthe Bader, and between Nicholas, Ursula, and Brigitte Steiner and individuals in Germany.
Family papers, including educational papers, and a small amount of official documents of family members will be found in Series I. Many of Nicholas Steiner's educational and professional papers are oversized.
Photographs comprise Series III, and mainly consist of family photographs. Most of these photos are unlabeled or unidentified. Included in this series is also a scrapbook.
- Majority of material found within 1935-1968
- Majority of material found within 1998-2018
- Steiner, Nicholas Victor (Person)
Language of Materials
The collection is primarily in English and German, with a few documents in Latin.
Open to researchers.
There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection.
Brigitte Camilla Emilie Marquard was born on August 10, 1910 in Stuttgart, the daughter of the author Anton Alfred Marquard and his wife Christine Ernestine née Sohm. Brigitte, who had an affinity for art, wanted to attend art school after completing her education. However, her parents insisted she spend a year learning a practical skill, so instead Brigitte spent a year as a student at the municipal children's home (Staedtisches Kinderheim) to learn the care of toddlers and infants. Near the end of her time at the children's home she encountered a new assistant physician, Hans Levi. Soon after her studies she left Stuttgart for a trip with her mother to Baden-Baden, where by chance she met Hans Levi's parents. She then had a three-month stay in Besançon, France, to improve her French, where she maintained frequent correspondence with Hans. It was in a letter during this time when Hans first mentioned marriage. After her return to Stuttgart they began courting; on May 10, 1931 Hans Levi and Brigitte Marquard announced their engagement.
Hans Levi was born on November 26, 1900. He was the son of the physician Julius Levi and his wife Särle Steiner of Münsingen. From 1907 to 1910 he attended the local Volksschule, from 1910 to 1912 Realschule and then from 1912 to 1918 the Gymnasium (high school) in Ulm. From July 1-December 31, 1918 he was part of a field artillery regiment of Ulm during World War I and thereafter returned to his studies at the Gymnasium, which he completed in July 1919. The following semester he began his medical studies at the University in Tübingen, with further studies at the universities in Munich and in Heidelberg; he passed his state exams in medicine in December 1924. His dissertation concerned the care of disabled persons injured in the war and was titled Krüppelfürsorge und Krüppelbehandlung.
On March 27, 1932 Hans Levi married Brigitte Marquard. Afterward, the couple moved to the Vinzenz von Paul Hospital in Rottenmünster, outside of Rottweil, where Hans was to train in psychiatry. In December 1932 Hans passed his final medical exams and became eligible to accept the post of Oberamtsarzt (regional physician). On March 3, 1933, the couple's daughter Ursula was born. Two days later Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany. Due to the political changes Hans was unable to become a regional physician and instead stayed on at Rottenmünster.
Hans and Brigitte intended to emigrate to the United States through the assistance of Hans's uncle, Sam Steiner, in the United States. Due to Brigitte's pregnancy with her second child, Nicholas, they had to wait to leave. Nicholas Victor was born on October 11, 1934. The family left Germany with their two children for the United States on January 15, 1935 on the S.S. Europa. Brigitte's mother, Ernestine Marquard, traveled with them. During their first years in the United States Ernestine visited every year until 1940. In November 1935, the family changed their surname legally from Levi to Steiner.
At first the Steiners went to live with a cousin of Hans in Washington, D.C., where Hans worked in his cousin's medical practice. After a short while Hans learned from a connection in New York that he could take a language exam in order to qualify to practice medicine there, and the family moved to the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, New York. After some time the family decided to move to Lindenhurst, New York, on Long Island, where Hans established a medical practice that operated out of his home in December 1936. In the spring of 1937 they learned of the death of Hans's father, Julius Levi. In Stuttgart the Marquards looked after Hans Steiner's widowed mother, Särle Levi, with whom they had become close friends. They often took her into their home and visited her in Münsingen. Hans and Brigritte sent a Cuban visa for Särle, but it did not arrive until Germany closed its borders in 1941 and the family's news from Germany stopped.
In September 1937 the family moved to a new home on Wellwood Avenue, also in Lindenhurst, where the front of the house became the medical practice. During the following years the medical practice grew more successful.
When the children were 9 and 10 years old they began attending the private New Lincoln School in Manhattan, where Brigitte and the children stayed during the school week, coming home to Lindenhurst on the weekends. While in New York City in 1944, Brigitte began producing work in silk screen painting of Christmas cards, and shortly thereafter hired several staff to help with the work. She later became a designer of cards for stores on Fifth Avenue, as well as creating ads in Playbill and the New York subway system, and did work for a national greeting firm, Fravessi Lamont.
In early 1944 the family once again received news from Germany. Brigitte learned that her father had died two years earlier, that Särle Levi had died, and Ernestine Marquard's home in Stuttgart had been destroyed during the war. In January 1947 Ernestine came to live with the Steiners in the United States. Then the Steiners learned from her that Särle Levi had been deported to Theresienstadt in spring 1942, where she had died in 1943. Ernestine Marquard stayed with her daughter's family in New York until she became disabled after a fall at the age of 82; she returned to Germany to live at the hospital in Rottenmünster.
Brigitte Steiner continued her work as an artist and also produced a book of photographs inspired by her later travels in Europe. Her work was produced under the English version of her name, Bridget Steiner. Brigitte also wrote multiple memoirs that describe her life with Hans Steiner and the family's experiences in the United States.
In 1954 Ursula Steiner received her Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and then attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England, graduating in 1958. She worked as an actress in New York City from 1958-1960, appearing in the lead in the off-Broadway play "'Tis Pity She's a Whore" in 1958-1959, and as an understudy in the Broadway play "A Second String" in 1960. She appeared in two television shows, "From these Roots" in 1959 and "The House on High Street" in 1960. She then became a drama teacher at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, and was head of the drama department of their Midtown Manhattan location from 1973-1993. After retirement from this position she focused on writing and creative work.
In 1952 Nicholas Steiner graduated from the New Lincoln School. He then attended Yale University, with studies abroad at universities in Pisa and Heidelberg. He graduated from Yale in 1956. He studied medicine at Wayne State University (Detroit), with additional medical studies at the University of Basel; he received his medical degree from Wayne State University in 1962. The next year he passed his medical board exams and received his license to practice medicine in New York. His early residencies and training in internal medicine and cardiology were spent at Roosevelt Hospital and St. Luke's Hospital in New York City, and in 1971 he became qualified as a specialist for internal medicine. In 1985 he received his license to practice medicine in New Jersey. Nicholas Steiner was also an avid photographer.
3 Linear Feet
1 Boxes (1 oversized box)
The Steiner Family Collection tells the story of the physician Hans Steiner (né Levi), his wife Brigitte (née Marquard), their children Nicholas and Ursula, and related family members. Most prominent in this collection are the family members' memoirs. The collection also holds family documents, including educational and official documents, family correspondence, family photographs, and some family trees.
The collection is arranged in four series:
- Series I: Family Papers, 1911-2017
- Series II: Correspondence, 1956-1968, 1985-2005
- Series III: Photographs, 1884-2005
- Series IV: Memoirs, Writing and Research, 1931, 1986, 1998-2018
Various materials were removed from the archival collection during processing.
A copy of Nicholas Steiner's memoir, “Departures and Returns” in the LBI Memoir Collection, ME 1640, as well as its published version in the LBI Library, call number st 11921, have been removed from this physical collection.
Two objects were removed to the LBI Arts and Objects Collection. These consisted of a personalized pen of Hans Steiner (with the initials H.L. for Hans Levi) and an ornament of a moon with a Star of David.
Three audiocassettes and a music record were removed to the LBI Audiovisual Collection. The audiocassettes contain recordings of Steiner family members speaking.
Six books were removed from the archival collection; four of these are published books by family members, including one memoir of Nicholas Steiner. One book contains artwork by the artist Josef Scharl, who was a friend of Hans and Brigitte Steiner.
- Beijing Days. Photographs by Nicholas V. Steiner, undated
- Bridget Steiner Photographs of the 1950s, 2008
- Heimat revisited: Begegnungen mit dem Laupheimer Museum zur Geschichte von Christen und Juden nach 20 Jahren, 2018
- Josef Scharl, 1945
- Juliet's Room: Recent Work by Juliet Karelsen, 2017
- Münsinger Jahrbuch: Departures and Returns by Nicholas Victor Steiner, 2016/2017 (The LBI Library holds a copy of this, call number st 11291; the LBI Memoir Collection also has a copy, call number ME 1640)
During processing of the archival collection the family papers were placed into series and subseries largely by format. Some folders were given more specific titles. A few folders were further subdivided. Books, objects, audiocassettes and a record were separated from the archival collection. A photo album and scrapbook in Series III was disassembled for conservation concerns, with photocopies retained in the collection of the layout of photographs in the album and any notes on the pages.
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Emigration and immigration
- Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
- Interfaith marriage
- Jewish physicians
- Jewish refugees -- United States -- Biography
- Karelsen, Ursula, 1933-2007
- Legal documents
- Lindenhurst (N.Y.)
- Manuscripts (documents)
- Marquard, Ernestine
- Münsingen (Germany)
- New York (N.Y.)
- Official documents
- Photograph albums
- Rottenmünster (Rottweil, Germany)
- Steiner family
- Steiner, Brigitte
- Steiner, Hans Levi
- Stuttgart (Germany)
- Women artists
- Guide to the Papers of the Steiner Family
- Processed by Dianne Ritchey
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States