Scope and arrangement
Of the Nathan Straus materials received in 1976, half consists of letters and documents, and the other half of scrapbooks, all dating from the late nineteenth century until soon before Straus's death and primarily documenting his activities as an advocate of milk pasteurization. The 1992 additions include two boxes of family photographs, as well as genealogical materials, a scrapbook, printed matter, a small amount of family correspondence, 1840-1954, and other writings.
The bulk of correspondence dates from 1910 to 1914 and consists primarily of drafts and carbons of letters written by Straus or by secretaries on his behalf, and includes some letters by Lina Straus. A smaller number of letters received by Straus is included. A few letters are in German. The chief topic of the correspondence is milk pasteurization, specifically, the operation of the Nathan Straus Pasteurized Milk Laboratory in New York, and the "milk depots" set up to distribute the Laboratory's milk and infant formulas in poor areas of the city. Also covered are the operation of milk laboratories and depots in other parts of the United States and the world, and Straus's larger efforts to promote milk pasteurization through speech-making before medical and public health groups, and advocacy of legislation.
Other topics include the Tuberculosis Preventorium for Children; Straus's relief efforts on behalf of earthquake victims in Italy, 1909; Oscar S. Straus's 1912 gubernatorial race; a 1914 trip to California; work in Palestine; and some personal, household, and business matters.
Prominent correspondents include Joseph Barondess, Arthur Brisbane, the newspaper editor and a friend; and Hugh J. Grant, mayor of New York, 1889-1892, with whom Straus shared an interest in horse-racing.
Telegrams received by Straus on his 70th birthday, 1918, and condolence notes received on the death of Lina Straus, 1930, are included.
Documents other than correspondence include manuscript, typescript, and printed speeches and articles by Straus, largely undated, on milk pasteurization and tuberculosis. His milk pasteurization work is documented by materials put out by the milk laboratories, including reports, brochures, instructions for mothers, recipes for infant formulas prepared at the laboratories, an order book containing coupons to be redeemed at milk depots, instructions for use of a home pasteurizer ("system Nathan Straus"), and article reprints, ca. 1890s-1910s.
Material on the Tuberculosis Preventorium includes a disassembled scrapbook containing correspondence, minutes, and reports, 1909-1910, with a few later items dating to 1916. These concern the founding and organization of the Preventorium, and the controversy that led to the move from Lakewood to Farmingdale. Also included are some additional correspondence, minutes, statements, reports, and clippings, 1909-1917, concerning the Preventorium, which were removed from scrapbooks in the collection. Of note are two illustrated brochures, 1909 and 1912, which describe life there.
Straus served as a United States delegate to the Third International Congress for the Protection of Infantile Life (III Internationaler Kongress fur Sauglingsschutz - Gouttes de Lait), Berlin, 1911, and documents and notes, in French and German, from that conference as well as from the Deuxième Congres International des Gouttes de Lait, Brussells, 1907, are included.
Straus's interest in Zionism is documented in by-laws, reports, minutes, and letters, 1910-1913, of the Jewish Agricultural Experiment Station, Haifa, Palestine; Henrietta Szold, Secretary, and Dr. Aaron Aaronsohn, Managing Director of the station are the principal writers. Also, minutes, 1912-1913, with some related correspondence and printed material, of the Executive Committee of the Federation of American Zionists; printed material, chiefly from the Zionist Organization of America, concerning the dedication of Hebrew University, 1925; and a report, (no. 14, April/May 1913) of Das Actionscomite der Zionistischen Organisation, Berlin, on colonization activities in Palestine.
A trip to California in 1914 is documented by printed material from California Zionist, civic, and other groups, and visiting cards collected in San Francisco. Invitations, texts of speeches, menus, and presentation volumes, 1894-1930, are from testimonial dinners and meetings given in honor of Straus (one of these, 1909, was for Oscar Straus). Similar materials document a dinner given in honor of Prince Henry of Prussia by the New Yorker Staats-Zeitung to the American press at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, 1902. Invitations to dinners given for the Belgian, English, French, Italian, Japanese, and Russian war commissions who were visiting New York, May 1917; an 1898 report of the New York City Board of Health; two large notebooks kept by Straus while a book-keeping student at Bryant and Stratton College, New York, 1865-1866; clippings; and printed material, 1890s-1910s, concerning infant mortality, milk pasteurization, and public health from around the world, particularly Germany, are also included.
The Nathan Straus papers are arranged in seven series: