Scope and arrangement
The papers of Eleonora Mendelssohn (1880-1949) are mostly personal, and reflect her life and involvement in the theatre and film industries. The bulk of the collection is personal correspondence from approximately 1930-1949 and is a valuable source of primary data on the German immigrant community, their exodus from Germany after Hitler's rise to power, and their establishment in Hollywood during the 30's and 40's. Another important aspect of the correspondence are the letters from Noel Coward and his mother. This correspondence may be of particular interest to those seeking insight into the Coward family. On a personal and highly sensitive note is the correspondence concerning her brother Francesco's emotional illness and letters from her husband, Martin Kosleck, who periodically dealt with bouts of intense depression. Included in the personal correspondence are letters dating from the 1880's which belong to her father, Robert von Mendelssohn. These letters from various friends and acquaintences make up ttthe oldest section of the papers and are all in German. Much of the content has not been determined.
Ms. Mendelssohn was active in a number of refugee relief groups and her correspondence show her activities in the aid of German Jews seeking political asylum in the United States. Subject files reveal her activities in cases on an individual basis. Much of the business correspondence deals with the problems of extricating her family's assets from German and Swiss banks during and immediately following World War II. Letters from United States creditors seeking payment of debts also make up this group of papers.
Most of the correspondence, both personal and business, is in German, Italian and French. It is mostly handwritten and difficult to decipher. The English correspondence gives insight to the livesof the Hollywood emigres, the network of the German-Jewish community in the United States and her own personal life. These papers should be of interest to scholars of social history, political and immigration history of the World War II era and historians of film and theatre as well.
The ephemera consists of sketches, photographs and personal mementos. The most noteworthy are 31 sketches, mostly of Toscanini, for whom Mendelssohn held a great affection. There are also passports, literacy certificates and naturalization papers in this series of personal articles.
The Eleonora von Mendelssohn papers are arranged in two series:
The personal papers of Eleonora von Mendelssohn consist of personal correspondence, handwritten notes and excerpts of printed works and reviews. Also included are subject files on various people and events of interest to Ms. Mendelssohn. The personal papers also contain personal memorabilia, newsclippings, sketches and photographs. Some correspondence of other family members and close friends are also included.
Series included in this subgroup are:
- 1. Personal Correspondence
- 2. Handwritten Notes
- 3. Printed Works
- 4. Subject Files
- 5. Ephemera
The business papers of Eleonora Mendelssohn consist of business correspondence, contractual papers, banks statements and cancelled checks. Both the bank statements and cancelled checks were reviewed and were then sampled at a rate of 10% and a 10% sample was retained.
Series in this subgroup are:
- 6. Business papers
- 7. Business correspondence
- 8. Bank Statements/Cancelled Checks