Scope and arrangement
The Papers, 1897-1955, reflects Amy Schwartz Oppenheim (1878-1955) personal life and activism in New York City. The correspondence (General Correspondence, and Subject Correspondence) dominates the collection with letters from friends, acquaintances, contacts and organizations. The General Correspondence gives the broadest possible overview of the activities and social life of Oppenheim. These activities include charitable causes, political (staunch supporter of the Republican Party), supporter of the Allied troops during World War I and World War II, and a life long advocate of the Arts, particularly the School Art League of New York. With regard to this organization, Oppenheim was widely respected for her support of giving children the opportunity to develop their creative talents in Fine Arts. Another organization, The Women's Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association was also important to Amy Oppenheim because this organization sought to preserve the memory of President Theodore Roosevelt.
To gain insight into the personal life of Amy Oppenheim, the Family Correspondence contains excellent examples of her close relationship to her family, especially for the childhood and teenage years of her eldest son Laurent Jr. while he was away at boarding school. Another aspect of the letters focuses on the many sympathy letters from family and friends on the death of her husband Laurent and the sudden death of her youngest son Jean Paul. Copies of replies from Oppenheim, if any, on this double tragedy were not received with the collection. The plethora of daybooks, notebooks, scrapbooks and art notebooks outline Oppenheim's schedule as well as her interests in European and American Art. Complementing the notebooks were Oppenheim's notes on a wide variety of subjects particularly Fine Arts. The numerous interests of Amy Oppenheim resulted with her becoming the recipient of a multitude of invitations, programs, schedules, art catalogs and related materials as reflected in the collection. An unusual assortment of photographs includes pictures of the Oppenheim family, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. The Roosevelt's pictures were publicity shots meant for mass commercial use. It should also be noted that there was very little material about Laurent Sr., his business, family and friends. This fact also applies to Laurent Jr. and Jean Paul adult life. The remaining material in the collection consists of printed and miscellaneous material and artifacts.
The Amy Schwartz Oppenheim papers are arranged in eleven series:
This series reflects Amy Oppenheim's interests in civic affairs, politics and arts. The subject correspondents include the American Women Voluntary Services, the Citizens Union of New York, The New York Public Library, The New York World's Fair 1939-1940, the Republican Party and, several World War I and World War II organizations. The Music Library of the New York Public Library focuses on the Library during World War II (formerly located at 121 E. 58th Street). The Music Library provided outreach services to military men and women. The armed forces were invited to play records, listen to music and use the other services offered by the Music Library. This series includes a World War II color poster (duplicated) that welcomes service men and women to the Music Library. The New York World's Fair 1939-1940 contains material on the Advisory Committee on Women's Participation. Chaired by Mrs. Vincent Astor, the focus of the Advisory Committee was to welcome visitors from the United States and abroad to the Fair. The Correspondence, 1936-1940, indicates Oppenheim's interest in this Committee. Related material includes invitations, tickets and brochures. The Republican Party material represents Oppenheim's political interests as an activist. Republican groups represented in the papers include the Women's National Republican Club, Inc., the Republican State Committee, the Republican Mayoralty Committee, the Republican County Committee and the Republican National Finance Committee. Political correspondents include Katherine B. Barnes (Republican Ways and Means Committee), Will H. Hays (Republican Chairman), Ogden L. Mills (U. S. Representative), Alice Mary Robertson (Representative from Oklahoma) and Pauline H. Sabin (Women's National Republican Club, Inc.). Republican politicians Bruce Barton and Ruth Pratt are significantly represented in the Republican Party material. Peripheral material includes invitations, luncheons and broadsides.
The Minutes, 1930-1954, concerns reports from the Board members as well as from the Committees. By-law revision, Scholarship Committee, 1915-1947, membership report and annual reports, 1910-1950's complete the administrative material. The Correspondence, 1908-1955, is mainly incoming to Oppenheim in her capacity as a member of the Board. Some correspondents include former students thanking Oppenheim for the scholarship that enabled them to attend an art school for a year. Many of the League's former students thanked the League for being instrumental starting their art career. The Correspondents include donors responding to Oppenheim's financial solicitations and other interested individuals from schools and institutions.
The series focuses on the Women's Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association before absorption by the Theodore Roosevelt Association in 1955. The records are arranged as follows: Board Minutes; Education Committee Minutes; Correspondence; Miscellany, articles and near published material. The Board Minutes, 1921-1954, are incomplete. Minutes for the 1920's are scant, and focuses on the objective to restore the birthplace of Theodore Roosevelt in NYC. Minutes for the 1930's are represented by the years 1937-1938. In the 1930's, one of the main concerns focused on the possible merger of the Women's Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association with the Roosevelt Memorial Association (Minutes April 30, 1937). This issue would occasionally reappear throughout the minutes of the 1930's. The most complete set of minutes covers the years from 1940's through the first half of the 1950's. One of the issues decided during the first joint meeting of the WTRMA and the RMA on January 27, 1942 was the renaming of the Roosevelt House to the Theodore Roosevelt House. Other issues in this series are finances, World War II, resignations of members, deaths of members and attendance at the Theodore Roosevelt House. The Correspondence, 1919-1954, addressed to Mrs. Oppenheim in her capacity as a member of the Board of Trustees and honorary member. Subjects include campaign for funds, notices for Board meetings, invitations, activities in public schools, honorary celebrations for Theodore Roosevelt and related subjects. The remaining materials are miscellany, articles and copies of the Roosevelt House Bulletin, and The Roosevelt Quarterly.
The General Family Correspondence, 1897-1953 (bulk dates 1897-1900) contains a scattering of letters to Amy and Laurent Sr. from their respective families. Amy and Laurent Oppenheim Jr. Correspondence, 1897-1900; 1926, focuses mainly on their courtship letters; Postcards sent to Laurent Jr. from Europe, 1905-1910 are colorful postcards sent by family members and friends. Laurent Oppenheim Jr., General Family Correspondence, 1909-1930, represents the bulk of the family papers. Many of the letters are between Laurent and his mother while he was boarded at The Taft School in Watertown, CT. (The Taft School was founded in 1890 by Horace Dutton Taft, brother of the United States President William Howard Taft û located in western Connecticut, the school continues to operate.) Subjects discussed between mother and son are Laurent's well being, his grades, friends and extra curricular activities. The later years of the correspondence covers Laurent schooling at Yale University Sheffield Scientific School. During World War I, Laurent entered the Army. During his brief three months tenure, Laurent recounts his training, military duties and related matters. For example, Laurent wrote to his mother on October 2, 1918 that he was assigned to Battery B, Field Artillery, Yale Station, CT. Understandably, Mrs. Oppenheim felt anxious as to Laurent's welfare as her draft letters indicate. Many of Laurent's letters are hand-written but he occasionally enjoyed sending a typed letter. While there is rarely correspondence other family members, Laurent did inquire about his relatives. General Correspondence and miscellaneous academic records complete this series.
This series reflects Oppenheim's lifelong contributions of cash and gifts to churches, libraries, museums, settlement houses and universities. The major beneficiaries are the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA), Smith College, and Yale University. The New York Public Library, Prints Division, to a lesser extent received art works. Smith College, Friends of Smith College Library, enjoyed a close relationship with Mrs. Oppenheim. Margaret S. Grierson, Executive Secretary of the Friends of Smith College Library, wrote in a letter dated August 10, 1944, that Smith College wants to "collect all manner of material which records & reflects the interests and activities of women..." Smith College solicited Oppenheim for her collection of suffrage material. Smith College succeeded. The other major recipient of Oppenheim's donations is Yale University. Yale University noted for establishing the Jean Paul Oppenheim Collection of Contemporary American Prints in 1934.
This series arranged as follows: Admission tickets; Invitations, Programs and Seating Plans (alphabetically arranged); Fine Arts Individuals (alphabetically arranged); Fine Arts Group Shows (alphabetically arranged). Oppenheim's social life dominates as expressed in the Invitations, Programs and Seating Plans. Invitations and related materials were received from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; Central Park Association; English Speaking Union; Emma Mills, Book & Play Luncheons and others. One outstanding souvenir program located in the ephemera is the Amelia Earhart testimonial banquet held in her honor at the Hotel Astor, New York on June 22, 1932 (includes insert paper copy of painting of Earhart). The Fine Arts section also contains programs for Carroll Beckwith (H. Wunderlich & Co., 1898), George Bellows (Frederick Keppel & Co., 1925), Degas (Museum of French Art, 1931), Rockwell Kent drawings for Moby Dick, n.d.), Claude Monet (The Lotus Club, 1899), the Lenox Library, 1895; and Paintings from the Berlin Museums exhibited at the request of the Dept. of the Army, 1948 (Smithsonian Institutions, Washington, D. C.)
This series spans Amy Oppenheim's adult life. The Art Notebooks (1896-1898, 8 volumes) give the earliest indication of her interests in fine arts. This interest probably developed during her school year visits to museums, readings and lectures. The notebooks are full of biographical writings on various European and American artists. They are also written in pencil and pen and vary in size. The Art Scrapbooks (1897-1898, 2 volumes) complement the Art Notebooks with an assortment of magazine and newspaper clippings illustrating artists or artists work. She annotated some of these scrapbooks. A Loose-leaf binder (1916-1918, 1 volume) reflects her broader interests. This binder contains a sampling of Oppenheim's interests in municipal government, United States defense during World War I and women issues. The Daybooks (1923-1954, 25 volumes) represents most of the writings. Thirty-one years of Mrs. Oppenheim's social life and interests are represented in volumes of careful annotations of day-to-day activities. In addition, invitations and newspaper clippings are scattered throughout the daybooks. (Special care should be taken with the loose material that the original order is not lost.)
There is another group of notebooks besides the Art Notebooks. The title is self-explanatory. The notebooks are "Notebooks that have lists of books ready by Amy Oppenheim" (1895-1950, 7 volumes). An assortment of Poetry Notebooks (1933-35, 2 volumes), Miscellaneous scrapbook (1917-1946, 1 volume), Guest Book (loose pages) and Miscellaneous Notebooks (5 volumes) complete this section.
The Memorabilia represents an assortment of loosely organized material in scrapbook style. Some of this material is autobiographical such as Oppenheim's wedding announcement, articles on relatives and tintypes (see: Series X. Photographs). The remainder of this material focuses on some the organization that Mrs. Oppenheim was interested or participated in such as the Society of Women Geographers, Board of Education for the City of New York, and the Soldiers & Sailors Club. The remaining material in this section is an assortment of papers by Mrs. Oppenheim and others. The Notes organized by subject reflect the same themes found through out the collection on such topics as the following: Art, The New York World's Fair 1939-1940, School Art League, Theodore Roosevelt Association and Home, and World War II.
The Printed and Assorted Materials are a mixture of various published and near published material. The League for Political Education (1905-1920), The Town Hall Bulletin (1923-1929) and the Women and the City's Work (1923-1928) represent the most complete run of serials. The remaining material in this series consists of assorted pamphlets, newspaper clippings and general miscellany.
The photographs contain images of Amy Oppenheim alone and with others at various events such as a visit to the American Merchant Marine Library Association (1928), and during a visit to the Dyckman Mansion in the Bronx (n.d.). There is an excellent full-length picture of her during a visit to the latter. The earliest images of Amy Oppenheim are two tintypes. One image is Amy Oppenheim with her mother, the other tintype is with Amy Oppenheim and her husband Laurent (c1900). The photographs are images of her children Laurent Jr. and Jean Paul as children and also as young adults. There is also a group of snapshots taken of taken at a commercial photograph booth commonly found in arcades and amusement parks (c1918). A photograph of Jean Paul may be with his father. (no identifying information). There are no photographs of the entire Oppeheim family together. Photographs of non-family members include commercially reproduced images of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as Governor of New York State and President of the United States. The pictures depict Roosevelt with his family, attending political events, meeting with reporters and posing in various locals. Eleanor Roosevelt (Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt) was photographed in the studio, attending political events and social gatherings. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (son of President Theodore Roosevelt Jr.) a politician himself was photographed with his family, political events and in Washington, D. C.
This series contains a scroll of Laurent Oppenheim Jr. political badges, and a sample of hair.