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Felix Pinkus Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25456

Scope and Content Note

The Felix Pinkus Family Collection is composed of the papers of the dermatologist Felix Pinkus and his family members, especially his son Hermann, also a dermatologist. Major motifs of the collection are their dermatological work and professional interests and their shared artistic aptitudes. The collection comprises correspondence, photographs, published and unpublished writing, photograph albums and scrapbooks, notes and research, newspaper clippings and journal articles, educational and professional certificates and documentation, announcements and invitations, official documents and various other memorabilia.

Material on Felix and Hermann Pinkus's work in dermatology will be found in both Series I and II. Subseries 5 of Series I holds Felix Pinkus's professional papers while Subseries 4 of Series II holds Hermann's. Such documentation consists of research notes and sketches, photographs of dermatological conditions and professional writings, including Hermann Pinkus's dissertation on tissue culture, and conference materials. Some professional correspondence of Felix Pinkus will be found in Subseries 2 of Series I and includes letters related to his dismissal from the University of Berlin and loss of position at the Frauenkrankenhaus Reinickendorf in 1933. Both of these series also hold material of the Akademischer Verein für Naturwissenschaft und Medizin an der Universität Berlin (ANMV), a scientific and medical association to which they both belonged. Series III, which holds papers of family members other than Felix and Hermann Pinkus, contains some material on the professional work of Hermann's wife Hilde Hensel Pinkus, who like most members of the family was a physician.

Both Felix and Hermann Pinkus produced a number of sketches and other artwork; much of the artwork in the collection displays their knowledge of anatomy. Felix Pinkus's art, found in Subseries 4 of Series I, holds a number of drawings, paintings and especially sketches of humans and animals, including both depictions of individuals or animals he observed as well as drawings of ancient art from museums that featured such subjects. Hermann Pinkus's drawings, in Subseries 3 of Series II, features a number of drawings of insects. Felix Pinkus in addition produced a number of scrapbooks to document journeys he took, several of which utilize collage-like pages assembled with a mixture of drawings, handwritten descriptions, photographs, newspaper clippings and small publications or memorabilia. These scrapbooks, together with simpler photo albums and collections of memorabilia, form Subseries 3 of Series I.

Prominent events in the lives of family members, and especially in the lives of Hermann and Hilde Pinkus, will be found in the correspondence of this series. Much of the collection's correspondence consists of letters between family members. Felix Pinkus's correspondence is located in Subseries 2 of Series I; his most prolific correspondent is his son, writing after his immigration to Michigan and giving details of his new life in America. Felix Pinkus's other correspondents include other family members such as his daughter Luise and his brothers, many professional letters on a number of topics, including the events of the 1930s in Germany, as well as a number of letters from close friends. Most of Hermann Pinkus's correspondence dates after the war, with many friends but also including letters from his sister and a small amount of professional and official correspondence. A few letters of Hilde Pinkus are located in Series III, with her other papers; these encompass a number of letters from patients during the 1930s. Further material on the Pinkus family includes their many family photographs, located in Series IV. Some details on the family can be found in some of Felix and Hermann Pinkus's non-fiction creative writing, in Subseries 4 of Series I and Subseries 3 of Series II respectively.


  • Creation: 1861-1982, 2011
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1900-1960


Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in German and 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="Photograph of Felix, Luise and Hermann Pinkus" href="" linktype="simple" show="embed" title="Photograph of Felix, Luise and Hermann Pinkus"/>

Felix Pinkus was born April 4, 1868 in Berlin, the son of the businessman Benjamin ("Benno") and Rosalie (née Franckel) Pinkus. He had three brothers: Paul, Georg and Eugen. In Berlin he attended the Friedrich Werder Gymnasium, from which he graduated in 1885. Thereafter he studied medicine at the Universities of Berlin and Freiburg im Breisgau, with special interests in comparative anatomy and dermatology. At Freiburg he wrote his doctoral dissertation Über einen noch nicht beschriebenen Hirnnerven des Protopterus annectens (On an as yet undescribed cranial nerve of the Protopterus annectens) in 1894 – important because it identified and described the nervus terminalis (now called the nervus pre-olfactorius or olfactory nerve). In Freiburg he also met his future wife Elise Etzdorf, to whom he became engaged in 1890. After a ten-year engagement they married and went on to have two children Luise (born in 1902) and Hermann (born in 1905); both of their children became physicians.

After receiving his degree, Felix Pinkus worked at the Freiburg Anatomical Institute and in the laboratory of Paul Ehrlich at the Koch Institute. He would later write a chapter on lymphatic leukemia in Ehrlich's book on leukemia in 1901. From 1895-1898 Felix Pinkus worked under Albert Neisser at the Dermatological University Clinic in Breslau. Afterward, he opened his own clinic for dermatology in Berlin. In 1902 he discovered Haarscheiben (tylotrich pads). In 1908 he became a lecturer at the University of Berlin in dermatology and venereal diseases, in 1916 an associate professor. In 1910 his textbook on skin and venereal disease was published. With Rudolf Isaac Felix Pinkus led the Policlinic for Skin Diseases in Berlin and was also director at the Women's Hospital of Reinickendorf (Frauenkrankenhaus Reinickendorf). During World War I he was a staff physician in the military hospital of Berlin. He wrote articles not only on skin diseases, but also frequently on venereal diseases, including on its treatment and societal statistics. In 1917 he became secretary of the German Society for Venereal Disease Control. He was also secretary of the Berlin Dermatological Society.

In addition to his medical work, Felix Pinkus collected insects, often for the purpose of sketching them, which was a hobby. He also illustrated his own anatomical writings as well as sketching artwork, people – including his patients – and animals.

In 1933 Felix Pinkus lost his position as director of the Women's Hospital. The following year his wife Elise died, and his son Hermann left Germany for the United States. Hermann Pinkus eventually settled in Michigan and was later that year joined by his fiancée, Hilde Hensel, also a physician. Luise Pinkus married the pharmacist Werner Grab. In 1939 Felix Pinkus went to Oslo, Norway, where he remained for about a year until his son was able to procure an American entry visa for him. Then he went to the United States via Russia, taking the Trans-Siberian railroad from Moscow to Vladivostock, then traveling by boat to Tokyo, took an ocean liner at Yokohama, and crossed the Pacific to San Francisco, arriving in January 1941. He joined Hermann and Hilde in Michigan, where he resided with them and assisted in Hermann Pinkus's dermatopathology practice. He also became an honorary member of both the Detroit Dermatological Society and the Society for Investigative Dermatology. Felix Pinkus died on November 29, 1947.

Felix Pinkus was a prolific writer and produced more than 165 articles in dermatology.


6 Linear Feet


The Felix Pinkus Family Collection documents the professional and personal lives of the dermatologist Felix Pinkus and his son Hermann Pinkus, and of other members of their family to a smaller extent. Prominent subjects include their work in dermatology, their artistic interests, Felix Pinkus's travels, and the family in general. This collection comprises a diverse array of formats. Text-based items include correspondence, unpublished writings, notes and research, newspaper clippings and journal articles, educational and professional certificates and documentation, official documents and various kinds of memorabilia. Visual media include photographs, photograph albums, small sketches, drawings and paintings and various types of scrapbooks.

Related Material

The LBI Archives include the Pinkus Family Collection (AR 7030). The LBI Library holds a few books by Felix and Hermann Pinkus. In addition, the LBI Archives contain the Marianne Landau Collection, which has a folder of correspondence between Marianne Landau and them (AR 11066).

The Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan has the Felix Pinkus Papers (call number 921074 Aa 1; 1 folder). The Bentley Historical Library also holds the Hermann and Hilde Pinkus Papers (call number 2012011 Aa 2; UAm; 4 linear feet).

Separated Material

Many publications have been removed from the collection during processing, with copies of relevant articles and copyright information retained in the collection.

Processing Information

During the processing of the archival collection similar materials were brought together in order to form series and subseries. Some portions of the collection were organized topically, especially Subseries 4 and 6 of Series I and Series IV, which had large amounts of untitled and unsorted material. Folders were arranged alphabetically by title as little original order appeared present. A large number of publications were removed from the collection, especially from Subseries 6 of Series I. Titles and copyright information for removed items were retained in the collection.

In March 2013 circa 0.4 linear feet of Felix Pinkus's sketches and sketchbooks were found and added to the collection. Physically located at the end of box 6, they are intellectually part of Series I, Subseries 4: Creative Work.

Guide to the Papers of the Felix Pinkus Family 1861-1982, 2011 AR 25456
Processed by Dianne Ritchey and LBI Staff
© 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from FelixPinkusFamily.xml

Revision Statements

  • March 2013.: Circa 0.4 linear feet of sketches and sketchbooks were found and added to box 6, following the main collection.
  • March 05, 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