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Erna Maier Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25186

Scope and Content Note

The collection documents the life and the relationship between Erna Maier and her parents Laura and Heinrich Maier. Their relationship was very close. The collection primarily consists of letters written to Erna Maier by her parents and to Erna Maier and her mother Laura by other family members as well. Only a few postcards were written by Erna Maier to her parents while staying in London. Series I contains all correspondence between Erna and her parents. It also contains Laura and Heinrich's correspondence with other family members in Australia, Argentina and Israel, professional correspondence with the Department of State in Washington D.C., Columbia University and the New York Times. Series II contains daily planners with notes on Erna's everyday life. Series III includes the writings of Laura Maier about the breakdown of Europe's culture and civilization. It includes a poem for Heinrich Maier written by Laura and Erna Maier, which is mentioned in several letters in Series I as well. The official documents in Series IV contain telephone bills, a certification of naturalization for Henry and Laura Maier and a "Steuerliche Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung". Schoolbooks about literature, geography and France can be found in Series V, as well as a school testimonial from 1925/26. In Series VI collected materials like sketches, road maps, photos and maps of Styria and Germany can be found.


  • 1901-1999
  • Majority of material found within 1910-1995


Language of Materials

The collection is in English, French, German, Hebrew and Hungarian.

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

Erna Maier was born on June 26, 1912 in Vienna (Austria). She was the only child of Laura (née Pollak) and Heinrich Maier. Laura Maier was born in Vienna on October 7, 1888 and died 1969. Heinrich (Henry) Maier was born in Burgenland (Austria) and died 1950. They lived in Vienna in a middle-class neighborhood with predominately Christian residents. There were only five other Jews among Erna Maier's classmates, and her best friends were non-Jewish, until she encountered anti-Semitism in 1938. Heinrich Maier had a jewelry store and he and Laura were members of a Conservative Synagogue. Erna Maier went to Hebrew school, and at home the family spoke German. Laura Maier enjoyed speaking French. Laura and Heinrich Maier sometimes also used Hungarian as their secret language. Erna Maier graduated from the Castelligasse High School and in 1932 she graduated from the Weiser School of Languages. In 1923/24 she had to spend about one and a half year at the children's sanatorium, "Sonnenkinderheim" in Aflenz (Austria). Erna was a member of the Youth Group of the WIZO, the Women's International Zionist Organization. In 1934 she spent one year in England and worked as a household help. She returned to Austria in December 1935. In October 1938 she immigrated to New York via Paris and London. Her mother's sister, Tessi, and her husband Robert provided the affidavit for her as well as for her parents, who arrived one year later in New York. Erna lived in the Bronx, New York and worked as a cook and a governess. She was also employed by the United Nations as an interpreter and for the Office of Censorship as a translator. After the war she was employed as a secretary and a teacher. In 1943 she became a U.S. citizen. Erna Maier was married to Charles Simmons and had a daughter named Helen, who was born August 9, 1953 and became a librarian.


1.5 Linear Feet


The Erna Maier Family Collection documents the life and the education of Erna Maier. The collection primarily consists of letters written to Erna Maier by her parents. The correspondence between Erna, Laura and Heinrich Maier shows their close relationship. Postcards, daily calendars, poetry and a recipe collection can be found in the collection as well. Other documents includes official documents of Erna Maier and her family, as well as school materials, photos and notes.


The collection is on three reels of microfilm (MF 1078):

  1. Reel 1: 1/1 - 1/15
  2. Reel 2: 1/16 - 2/8
  3. Reel 3: 2/9 - 2/17

Separated Material

The LBI Library contains the memorial book Zur Erinnerung an das 50jährige Bestehen des Ersten Wiener Consum-Vereins with notations from Laura Maier. The book were removed from the archival collection to the library.

Processing Information

A previous finding aid existed for this collection. The previous order has been slightly changed during processing in August 2010. The correspondence scrapbooks are now in Series I combined with the other correspondences of Erna Maier and her family. The postcard scrapbook is also concentrated with the postcards. The manuscripts, scrabbles, recipe and poetry collection written by Erna Maier are now all together in Series III. The series are arranged topically and the materials in the series are ordered alphabetically. In the alphabetically order the folders are arranged chronologically.

Guide to the Papers of Erna Maier 1901-1999 AR 25186 / MF 1078
Processed by Nicole Kneisz
© 2010
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from ErnaMaier.xml

Revision Statements

  • November 2010.: Microfilm inventory added.
  • February 20, 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