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Erna Weill Collection

Identifier: AR 1417

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains documents from Erna Weill's personal and professional life. The bulk of the material deals with her professional life, starting with her arrival in the United States in 1937 and ending in the early 1970s. It is reflected in the correspondence with various buyers of her sculptures (Series II, Subseries 1); documents from her art school and teaching career (Series II, Subseries 2); information about her various exhibitions (Series II, Subseries 3); and newspaper clippings that she collected (Series III).

Little information is given about her personal life during this time period. Most of the personal documents cover her time in Germany (Series I). Personal information can be found in the form of correspondence (Series I, Subseries 1) and other personal papers, such as a household account book. (Series I, Subseries 2). Additional personal information is reflected in several travel documents that Erna Weill collected (Series IV). Most of these travel documents are from the time before her immigration. Prominent in this section are two travel diaries from a cruise she took to Spain in 1930.


  • Creation: 1914-1971


Language of Materials

The collection is in English and German.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Collection is digitized.

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.

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 Weill née Helft was born in 1904 in Frankfurt am Main. She studied sculpture with Helene von Beckerath, a student of August Rodin, at the University of Frankfurt. She married the chemist Ernst Weill, and the couple had two children: Peter Weill, born in 1926, followed two years later by Ruth Weill. The family fled Germany in 1936 for Switzerland, and immigrated to the United States in 1937. Erna Weill stayed in the New York City area, where she worked as a sculptor and art teacher. Next to busts of various famous people, her sculptures were connected to the American Civil Rights Movement and the world of Judaism. In addition to working as an art teacher in public schools, she also had her own art school where she applied progressive teaching methods. Erna Weill died in 1996.


3.5 Linear Feet


The bulk of the collection covers Erna Weill’s professional career as sculptor and art teacher. In addition there is some personal information about the time before her immigration to the USA in 1937.


The collection is on eleven reels of microfilm (MF 776):

  1. Reel 1: 1/1 - 1/4
  2. Reel 2: 1/5 - 1/24
  3. Reel 3: 25 - 1/55
  4. Reel 4: 1/55 - 2/7
  5. Reel 5: 2/8 - 2/23
  6. Reel 6: 2/23 - 2/27
  7. Reel 7: 2/28 - 2/39
  8. Reel 8: 2/39 - 3/2
  9. Reel 9: 3/3 - 3/16
  10. Reel 10: 3/16 - 3/31
  11. Reel 11: 3/32 - 4/11

Related Material

A small collection of materials related to Erna Weill is available at the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Separated Material

Photographs removed to the LBI Photograph Collection

Guide to the Papers of Erna Weill (1904-1996) 1914-1971 AR 1417 / MF 776
Processed by Michael Aldinger and LBI Staff
© 2007
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from ErnaWeill.xml

Revision Statements

  • February 2008: Series V description revised.
  • September 2010: Links to digital objects added in Container List.
  • 2010-09-28 : encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl
  • October 10, 2012: Links to digital objects for Series V, Folders 2 and 5 added in Container List.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States