Skip to main content

Richard and Anna Nathan Collection

Identifier: AR 25808

Scope and Contents

Materials in this collection document both the private lives and business activities of the Nathan family, owners of shoe manufacturing companies in Frankfurt am Main and Chicago. The collection focuses on Richard Nathan, his wife Anna Nathan née David, and their sons Franz Hermann, Erich, and Walter.

Correspondence centers around landmark occasions in the Nathans’ lives, including Richard and Anna’s engagement in 1907, Walter’s bar mitzvah in 1936, and Richard’s 70th and 80th birthdays. Nathan family songs, poems, and skits also celebrate such occasions. Records available for both Richard and Anna Nathan include autograph albums, birth certificates, certificates of naturalization, passports, and U.S. Department of Labor immigrant ID cards. Also included are Richard Nathan’s military service records and Anna Nathan’s school records, as well as a memorial book. Richard and Anna’s 1907 wedding is documented through family correspondence, announcements and invitations, marriage certificates, wedding menu and songs, and a travel diary from their honeymoon.

Items pertaining to Richard and Anna Nathan’s sons include birth and vaccination certificates, handwritten records of their weights as babies, school and apprenticeship records, German passports, and U.S. Department of Labor immigrant ID cards. Walter Nathan’s involvement with the Boy Scouts is shown through merit certificates and membership cards. Of particular interest is a folder of materials regarding Walter’s efforts to erect a memorial at the Jewish cemetery in Gau-Algesheim.

Business records document both the Nathan family’s shoe manufacturing business in Germany, as well as the company they later founded in the United States. Newspaper articles record R. & W. Nathan’s relocation of its entire operation, both manufacturing facilities and offices, to Frankfurt-Höchst (1928) and the Aryanization of the firm (1937). Also included are printouts of the by-laws and annual reports (1937-1944) of the Aryanized company known as the Ada-Ada-Schuh Aktiengesellschaft. Original Ada-Ada materials include a Festschrift celebrating the firm’s new operations in Höchst in 1928 and two songbooks for Fasching celebrations in 1929 and 1930. Restitution files included in this series also provide insight into the Nathan’s firm and its operations. The Nathan family’s business operations in the United States are represented by a partnership agreement and release, financial and accounting statements, and income tax returns.

The earliest photograph album in the collection portrays the David family—Anna Nathan née David, her parents, and her sisters—at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. Three Nathan family photographs show Franz Hermann, Erich, and Walter as young boys in Germany, as well as the family’s travels in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Loose photographs include a collage of family photographs created for the 90th birthday of Anna Nathan’s sister Grete in 1985, portraits of Erich and Walter Nathan as young boys, and a series of photographs from a trip Richard Nathan made to New York in 1935.


  • undated, 1876-2012


Language of Materials

The collection is German and English, with a small amount of French.

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 "Request" button.

Biographical / Historical

Richard Nathan was born May 12, 1873, in Gau-Algesheim, Germany, to Hermann Nathan (1837-1903) and Henriette Nathan née Guthmann (1842-1880). Hermann and Henriette Nathan had six children: Eduard (1866-1937), Hugo (1868-1935), Alfred (1869-1947), Flora (1871-1929), Richard (1873-1958), and Wilhelm (Willi) (1875-1961). Hermann and his brother Joseph were partners in the wine business of their father Elias Nathan (1804-1886).

Henriette died when Richard was six years old; after her death, Hermann moved the family to Frankfurt am Main. In 1882, Hermann Nathan married Sophie Koch. They had one daughter, Rosa (Ray) (1883-1976). Richard received his primary education at the Philantropin school in Frankfurt am Main. In 1894, at the age of 21, he served his term as a one-year volunteer in the Prussian Army.

In 1900, Richard and his brother Willi founded the children’s shoe manufacturing company R. & W. Nathan in Frankfurt. Their brother Alfred Nathan became a partner in the firm in 1906. In 1921, a branch of the company was established in Höchst am Main. In addition to children’s shoes, the factory began production of women’s shoes. This branch, together with a large addition built in 1927, became known as the Ada-Ada factory in 1928, the year the firm relocated its entire manufacturing business, including its offices, to Frankfurt-Höchst.

On April 4, 1907, Richard became engaged to Anna David, whom he married on November 22, 1907, in Bonn. They celebrated their marriage on November 24, 1907, in Bonn and honeymooned in Italy. Anna David was born August 15, 1887, in Frankfurt am Main to Louis David (1859-1926) and Ida David née Marxsohn (1861-1922).

Richard and Anna Nathan had three sons. Franz Hermann was born September 7, 1909, in Frankfurt am Main. At the time, the family lived at Feuerbachstrasse 38, where they remained until 1921, when they moved to Kettenhofweg 116. The Nathans’ second son Erich was born May 27, 1917, in Frankfurt am Main, and their third son Walter was born August 13, 1923, in Frankfurt am Main.

In 1931, Franz, after an apprenticeship in a leather factory, was sent to the United States to study American manufacturing methods. As situation worsened in Germany, it became clear that he would have to stay. At 17, Erich, who had completed Gymnasium, joined Franz in the United States. In 1935, Walter was sent to Belgium for his education and safety. In 1937, an agreement was reached for the forced sale of the company between the owners of Ada-Ada and their successors.

By April 1938, the family was reunited in the United States, where they settled in Chicago. They originally lived at 425 Roscoe Street before moving to 740 Bittersweet Place. In the fall of 1938, Richard and Willi Nathan opened a new factory in Chicago, which was known as the Sun Shoe Manufacturing Company. Walter Nathan attended Lake View High School, during which time he became active as a Boy Scout. He then studied mechanical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, graduating in 1944. He served in the United States Navy during World War II. Walter Nathan died November 24, 2018, in Glencoe, Illinois. Anna Nathan died January 31, 1958, in Chicago. Richard Nathan died September 1, 1958, in Chicago.


2 Linear Feet

1 Folders (1 OS folder)


Materials in this collection document both the private lives and business activities of the Nathan family, owners of shoe manufacturing companies in Frankfurt am Main and Chicago, through correspondence, documents, business records, and photographs. The collection focuses on Richard Nathan, his wife Anna Nathan née David, and their sons Franz Hermann, Erich, and Walter.


The collection is arranged by document type in four series:

Series I: Nathan Family, undated, 1876-2010
Series II: Business Records, undated, 1915-2012
Series III: Photographs, undated, 1905-1985 Series IV: Publications, 1936-2008

Related Materials

For more information regarding the Gau-Algesheim Jewish community and the Nathan family, please see the Gau-Algesheim Jewish Community Collection (AR 12050), [Memorial Service - Gedächtnisdienst] (AR 11757), Judaica : die Geschichte der Gau-Algesheimer Juden (st 12343), and [To the ... descendants of Baruch Marxsohn (1803-1897) (MS 1039).

See also the Anna Margarete Lessel Collection (AR 25226) and Anna Margarete Lessel Collection Addenda (AR 25226A) pertaining to Walter Nathan's German nanny.

Separated Materials

Books have been removed to the LBI Library. A World War I medal belonging to Richard Nathan and souvenir from the 1907 wedding of Richard and Anna Nathan have been remove to the LBI Art & Objects Collection. Entire copies of Chicago area newspapers and two editions of Life magazine related to the assassination and life of President John F. Kennedy were removed from the collection, as was one copy of the final edition of the Chicago Daily News.

Processing Information

During processing, documents found in binders were removed from the binders and the binders discarded. Materials were also removed from decorative and metal boxes in which they were stored. All items in the collection were rehoused in archival folders and boxes.

Guide to the Richard and Anna Nathan Collection
Sarah Glover
© 2021
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States