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Stephen J. Fraenkel Collection

Identifier: AR 25240

Scope and Content Note

The Stephen J. Fraenkel Collection documents the education, profession, and immigration of Stephen J. Fraenkel and some of his family members. Much of this collection provides further documentation of the events described in Stephen J. Fraenkel's memoir (ME 1343/ MM III 1).

Papers pertaining to Stephen J. Fraenkel's secondary and university education will be found in two areas of the collection. Series I holds the majority of such materials. Among the papers of this series are certificates, a photo album of a student exchange program in which Stephen Fraenkel participated, and correspondence with former students of the school. This series also contains notebooks primarily holding scientific and mathematical computations. Fraenkel's time at the University of Nebraska is documented in Series II; it includes his baccalaureate thesis, doctoral dissertation and an article comparing his education in Germany to the one in America.

Professional documentation is predominantly available in Series II and Series IV. Among the papers of Series II are those focusing on his employment in the 1940s and 1950s as well as some copies of Fraenkel's published articles. Noteworthy among Stephen Fraenkel's employment papers are those relating to his work on the creation of buildings able to withstand an atomic blast; such papers include those documenting his participation in Operation Greenhouse in 1951. Series IV contains basic biographical information on Stephen Fraenkel, including a résumé as well as copies of patents filed by him.

Papers on the immigration of Stephen Fraenkel and the failed immigration of his father, Sali "Max" Fraenkel, are similarly located in two areas of this collection. Correspondence and copies of official documentation pertaining to Stephen Fraenkel's own immigration will be found among the papers of Series III: Family Papers and consists primarily of correspondence.

Some material in this collection holds information on the Fraenkel family. This includes the scanned pages of a photo album primarily holding photographs of the Fraenkel family in Series III. In addition, the extensive restitution correspondence of Series V provides some details on the lifestyle led by family members prior to World War II.


  • 1910-2007


Language of Materials

The collection is 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.

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

Stephen Joseph Fraenkel was born in Berlin in 1917 as the son of Max Fraenkel, a banker, and Martha (Plessner) Fraenkel, a musician and piano teacher. Martha Fraenkel died in 1932 of cancer. After graduating from the Kaiser-Friedrich-Schule in 1936 Fraenkel decided to pursue the study of engineering. After applying to all eleven of the engineering schools in Germany, he was admitted to and enrolled at the Technical University of Hannover in spite of being Jewish.

In 1937 Stephen Fraenkel was contacted by a representative of the International Student Service, an organization that arranged scholarships in the United States offered by Jewish fraternities. He was granted such a scholarship by the Sigma Alpha Mu chapter at the University of Nebraska and immigrated to the United States in 1938. In 1941 he married Josephine Rubnitz; the couple had three children. Stephen Fraenkel studied engineering in Nebraska and Illinois and worked in the research and development departments of several engineering companies in Illinois. Most of his family, including his father, perished in the Holocaust. Stephen Fraenkel died in 2002.

Further biographic details, especially on Stephen Fraenkel's life in Nazi Germany, are available in his memoir "My Life - a Series of Notes and Observations on a Sequence of Improbabilities" (ME 1243/ MM III 1).


1 Linear Feet


This collection holds the papers of Stephen J. Fraenkel, a civil engineer. Much of the collection focuses on his experiences in Germany in the 1930s and his first years in the United States, as well as on his attempts to receive restitution from the German government. Papers in this collection include correspondence, photographs and postcards, certificates and diplomas, and articles written by Stephen J. Fraenkel or pertaining to his profession.


The collection is on three reels of microfilm (MF 943):

  1. Reel 1: 1/1 - 1/18
  2. Reel 2: 1/19 - 1/30
  3. Reel 3: 1/31 - 1/33

Related Material

The LBI Archives also hold a memoir written by Stephen J. Fraenkel: "My Life: a series of notes and observations on a sequence of improbabilities 1917-2000." (ME 1243/ MM III 1)

Processing Information

The collection was arranged following the order given by its donor, with the contents of overfilled folders separated by subject or date. Some journals were removed, with photocopies of specific articles retained in the collection.

Stephen Fraenkel’s letter to Dr. Rubnitz (Series III) was originally accessioned as ‘Stephen J. Fraenkel Addenda Collection, AR 11846’ and microfilmed on MF 1386.

Guide to the Papers of Stephen J. Fraenkel (1917-2002) 1910-2007 AR 25240 / MF 943
Processed by Dianne Ritchey Oummia
© 2008
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from StephenFraenkel.xml

Revision Statements

  • January 2009.: Microfilm inventory added.
  • June 06, 2012 : 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