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COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:78 1911-1951 L699

Walter Lichtenstein papers


The Walter Lichtenstein papers span the years 1911-1951 and document Lichtenstein's work as an economist and banker in the United States, including his work at First National Bank of Chicago (1918-1945) where he was vice-president from 1933-1945, and as the secretary for the Federal Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Board (1926-1948).


  • 1911-1951


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored offsite; access requires advance notice. Contact for more information.


3.25 linear feet (8 boxes)
The collection consists of selected correspondence, writings by Lichtenstein, and bound volumes containing minutes and recommendations of the Federal Advisory Council. Only a few letters cover the period 1911-1932; the bulk of the correspondence dates from 1933-1945. The correspondence ends at the time Lichtenstein left for Germany to take up his responsibilities there.

The correspondence includes copies of outgoing letters as well as incoming correspondence. Subjects include the Harvard College Library; Lichtenstein’s 1930 trip to Russia; and the political and economic situation in both Germany and the United States during the 1930s and 1940s. There are a number of letters to Herbert Hoover, but no incoming correspondence from the former President. Also included are references to personal and family matters.

Lichtenstein’s writings include copies of articles and addresses on subjects ranging from library education to postwar German economic recovery. The main topics covered in the writings are banking and economic matters.

The collection includes bound volumes of minutes (1914-1951) and recommendations of the Federal Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Board. The minutes are augmented by a draft report to a congressional subcommittee entitled “Draft Replies to a 1951 Questionnaire Addressed to the President of the Federal Reserve Banks by a subcommittee of the Joint Congressional Committee on the Economic Report”. A copy of a letter from Allen Sproul, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, to Representative Wright Patman, chairman of the subcommittee, dated November 14, 1951, is also included.

Biographical / Historical

Walter Lichtenstein (1880-1964) was born in Germany, but his parents immigrated to the United States when Walter was two years of age. He grew up in Hoboken, New Jersey and attended New York University before earning the A.B. (1900), M.A. and Ph.D. (1907) from Harvard. His field was European history. Lichtenstein became curator of the Hohenzollern Collection at the Harvard College Library in 1903. He continued to travel to Europe and South America to buy books for the collection even after leaving his position at Harvard to join the faculty of Northwestern University.

In 1918, Lichtenstein left Northwestern University for the business world, becoming a foreign trade advisor at the First National Bank of Chicago. He became a vice-president of the bank in 1933 and remained in that position until his retirement in 1945. He was for many years an active member of the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs, serving a term as president of that organization in 1933.

In 1929, Lichtenstein served as general secretary for a conference gathered at Baden-Baden to organize the Bank for International Settlements. In 1930, he traveled to Russia on behalf of the bank and the International Harvester Company. Herbert Hover asked Lichtenstein to be a delegate to the 1932 International Telecommunications Conference in Madrid, and from 1945-1947 he served under Military Governor General Lucius D. Clay as Principal Assistant to the United States Control Commission for Germany. In 1926, Lichtenstein became secretary of the Federal Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Board, a post he held until 1948. In later years Lichtenstein was a consultant to International Harvester; served on the Executive Committee of the Harvard Foundation; and from 1954-1964 was an honorary curator of German History at the Harvard College Library.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Walter Lichtenstein papers were received by Baker Library Special Collections as a donation from Walter Lichtenstein in 1953 and 1954.

Related Materials

Walter Lichtenstein Documents on the Bank for International Settlements, 1928-1930 (MS Am 1359). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Walter Lichtestein Correspondence, 1935-1954 (MS Am 1479). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Processing Information

Processed: October 2017 By: Baker Library Special Collections Staff
Link to catalog
Lichtenstein, Walter, 1880-1964. Walter Lichtenstein Papers, 1911-1951: A Finding Aid
Baker Library
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University Repository

Baker Library Special Collections holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.

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