Thursday, January 10, 2013

Oppenheim Papers at Regenstein Library

Announced today by The University of Chicago Library Special Collections Research Center is the new Guide to the Adolf Leo and Elizabeth Oppenheim Papers 1988-1980.

Descriptive Summary

Title:Oppenheim, Adolf Leo and Elizabeth. Papers
Size:.25 linear feet (1 box)
Repository: Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.
Abstract:This collection consists of documents relating to the lives of Leo and Elizabeth Oppenheim. A majority of the documents and correspondence relate to the couple's sustained attempts to leave Europe and immigrate to the United States during World War II. Documents within this collection date from 1888 to 1980, with the bulk of the documents dating between 1938 and 1946
 An interesting autobiographical sketch by Elizabeth Oppenheim can be found here.  From Robert Oswalts Preface:
Elizabeth Oppenheim, or Lilly as her friends called her, was invited sometime in 1978 to speak to a women's group in Berkeley on her escape from Nazi-occupied Austria and later from France. She prepared for this talk by writing out a 4,000-word account entitled, "Emigration history of A. Leo Oppenheim (1904-1974) and Elizabeth Oppenheim (nee Munk)." I had been intrigued by this chronicle and wanted to know more of the details of how she and her husband had managed to survive, and thus, at intervals in the period from about 1989 to 1990, when she was a bed-bound invalid but had not yet lost her ability to speak, we went over each item in her account, I asking questions and she answering as well as she Could -- much had been forgotten, but many new incidents were revealed. The questioning also turned to the happier days in Austria before the Anschluss and to her childhood and family background and, at the other end of her life, to the progress of the careers of herself and her husband. The account illustrates very well that in perilous situations survival often depends upon getting help from friends and other concerned persons, especially those with influence. It also depends on one's own resourcefulness, and depicted here is a remarkably resourceful woman who, as a foreigner, was not allowed to work in France at a steady job, even for minimal subsistence, and yet found a way to turn her artistic skills into a modest livelihood; and who, when living at the poverty level on first arrival in America, turned these same skills to increasing their joint income so that she and her husband could rise to a successful and comfortable life.
The information gained in the interviews was taken down as a 100 or so short notes. Since Lilly's death, I have sorted them and interfiled them chronologically with the paragraphs from her own account. Her original text is reproduced in italics; the additions are in ordinary typeface and are cast in the first person and worded to blend with the original sketch. Lilly's 1978 account is the more gripping story and whoever wants only her text can read the italicized portions of what follows. In editing the additions, however, I have followed the principle that, rather than cut out some parts to make a tighter adventure story, it is preferable to retain all information, as this is the only record of much of Lilly's life.
 And see:
Oppenheim, Adolf Leo at CDLI 
A. Leo Oppenheim in Wikipedia

And of course Erica Reiner's chapter A. Leo Oppenheim in Shils, Edward. 1991. Remembering the University of Chicago: teachers, scientists, and scholars. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.To the best of my knowlege this is not available online

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