Leopold Mayer family collection  1864-1970 (bulk 1885-1909)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is made up of 17 letters, 1 journal, 1 speech, 5 documents, genealogical research, and other items pertaining to Leopold Mayer of Chicago, Illinois, and his descendants. The materials concern family news, courtship, and the history of Chicago's Jewish community.

The Correspondence series concerns Leopold Mayer and his descendants, particularly his daughter Amelia and her husband, Jacob Henry Mahler. In a letter dated November 10, 1864, Mayer expressed condolences to Mrs. M. M. Spiegel on the death of her husband, a Civil War colonel. The series includes 2 manuscript letters, 1 postcard, and 2 typescripts of letters that Mayer wrote to his daughters, son-in-law, and grandchildren between 1886 and 1902. These contain Mayer's moral advice on topics such as marriage (addressed to Jacob Henry Mahler, July 10, 1885), and reflections on his life and his late wife. The remaining correspondence pertains to Amelia Mayer and Jacob Mahler. These include 2 letters from Jacob Mahler to Amelia Mayer (July 14, 1885, and August 26, 1896); 2 German-language letters from members of Mahler's family (January 13, 1892, and August 29, 1896); 1 letter to Amelia from "Jennie," a friend in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (March 15, 1885); and 1 from her sister Ida, during Ida's travels in Europe (August 27, 1906). Jacob Mahler received a letter about hotel rates in Wisconsin (May 24, 1896) and a birthday greeting from his son Felix (1898). Jacob sent 2 friendly notes to Felix (September 22, 1903, and undated). Arthur M. Oppenheimer wrote the final letter to Leopold Mayer's descendants in 1962, with an excerpt about Mayer from Deborah Pessin's History of the Jews in America.

Leopold Mayer's Journal concerns his visit to Germany and Switzerland in the summer of 1895. The first portion is a typed transcript (35 pages, June 1-August 3, 1895) and the remainder is handwritten (30 pages, August 1-August 24, 1895). Mayer and his daughter Flora traveled to various cities and towns and saw the Alps.

The Speech transcript (5 pages) records Leopold Mayer's address to the Council of Jewish Women in February 1899, marking the 25th anniversary of the Sunday service in Chicago's Sinai Congregation. Mayer recounted some of his personal history, and remarked on the development of Chicago's Jewish community and institutions.

Financial and legal documents relate to Leopold Mayer's estate and to his son-in-law, Jacob Henry Mahler. Mahler received a bill for parts and repair of his stove, dated July 23, 1901, and completed a partially printed income tax form on February 19, 1917. Three printed legal documents (December 28, 1903; June 1, 1909; and [1927]) pertain to the settlement of Leopold Mayer's estate and legal disputes among his heirs, including copies of 2 versions of Mayer's will.

The Poetry, printed items, and genealogy series concerns multiple generations of the Mayer family. The programs document confirmation services held by the North Chicago Hebrew Congregation on May 25, 1925, and a production of the 3-act play The Mayer Saga, presented in Glencoe, Illinois, on December 31, 1925. The extended Mayer family published a newsletter, Unter Uns, on December 25, 1902, with poetry, news articles, and advice columns by Leopold Mayer's children and their spouses. A small group of typed poems dedicated to Amelia Mahler accompanies a printed invitation to her 90th birthday celebration, hosted by her grandchildren on April 18, 1953. The final 2 items are genealogies and a memorial dedicated to Leopold Mayer and his descendants. The memorial was printed in 1927, with revisions made in 1941. The memorial contains handwritten genealogical notes dated as late as 1970.

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