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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS 8149092

Felix Frankfurter Letters to his sister Estelle

The collection consists of the letters of Frankfurter addressed to his sister Estelle; enclosures such as clippings and letters from others to Frankfurter which he deemed of interest to his sister; copies of letters of Frankfurter to others; and photographs.

Dates

  • 1933 - 1964

Conditions Governing Access

Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Harvard Law School Library. This collection is open to the public, but is housed off-site at Harvard Depository and requires 2 business-day advance notice for retrieval. Consult the Special Collections staff for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Harvard Law School Library holds copyright on some, but not all, of the material in our collections. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to the Special Collections staff. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Harvard Law School Library are also responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations who hold copyright.

Extent

1 collection (6 boxes (750 items))

The collection of approximately 750 items begins with letters written in 1933 when Frankfurter was a faculty member at the Harvard Law School, covers the 23 years he sat on the Supreme Court, and concludes with a card he wrote in 1964, the year before he died. The letters are addressed to his sister Estelle and are, unless otherwise noted, written in his own hand and signed "Filly" (for Felix). They relate to the everyday activities and occurrences in Frankfurter's life, such as seeing mutual friends; books he and his wife Marion were reading and plays they had seen; his attendance at professional meetings or award ceremonies; his travels and his summer vacations in New Hampshire and New York State; and his observations on the political scene here and abroad. Many letters enclose photographs, newspaper clippings, and copies of letters that Frankfurter had both sent and received. Throughout the correspondence, he discusses the challenges and frustrations that Estelle faced in her professional career in government service and social work. The letters show that Justice Frankfurter was much concerned with the happenings and problems in the lives of his siblings, especially Estelle.

Of special interest are the letters Frankfurter wrote while he was the George Eastman Visiting Professor at Oxford University during the academic year 1933-1934. His brief visits to Palestine and Egypt during this period reinforced his interest in Zionism and in the establishment of the state of Israel; these topics are discussed in many of the letters.

The tone of Frankfurter's letters is warm and affectionate, and makes it clear that his relationship with Estelle was an unusually close one. He remembered her birthday and their mother's, and references in his letters indicate that Estelle always wrote to him on the anniversary of his appointment to the Supreme Court (20 January 1939). The fact that Estelle kept all of these letters, most with their corresponding envelopes, indicates that she considered them treasured possessions.

There are only five letters known to be extant that Estelle wrote to Felix; they are in the contingent of Frankfurter papers housed at the Library of Congress.

Unless otherwise noted, all letters are written by Felix Frankfurter to his sister, Estelle. The main terms and abbreviations used in this inventory are the following:

A.: autograph

D.: document[s]

env.: envelope; in the description of a letter. This indicates that the original envelope has been preserved.

L.: letter[s], used thus: A.L.s.: autograph letter[s] signed T.L.s.: typed letter[s] signed The same terms and usages apply to documents.

ms.: manuscript

mss.: manuscripts

p.: pages of material written by F.F., NOT the number of separate pieces of paper contained in an envelope or clipped together

s.: signed; i.e., with autograph signature

s.: preceded by a number, in a collection of letters and unbound mss. sheet[s], the number of separate pieces of paper, of whatever size, including envelopes

Biographical Note

Estelle S. Frankfurter



  • 6 Nov. 1895 Born in New York City; family immigrated from Vienna in 1894.
  • 1918 A.B. Radcliffe College; postgraduate work in Bryn Mawr College and London School of Economics.
  • 1921-1933 Worked for Massachusetts Dept. of Labor and Industries; also for the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Dept of Labor.
  • 1933-1951 Administrative assistant on National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington.
  • 1938-1945 On leave from NLRB to work at the National War Board.
  • After 1945 On one-year leaves from NLRB to work for United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in Europe; volunteer worker in Israel 1948-1949; in Berlin 1949-1950 with American War Board.
  • 1951-1956 Director of the Rosenstiehl Foundation, a large charitable fund in New York City.
  • 1956-1986 Volunteer in the New York City public schools teaching Chinese and Puerto Rican children English under auspices of New York City Board of Education; also recorded for the blind. Visited England regularly after 1923; traveled widely in Europe, China, and Africa. Established fund at Radcliffe College in parents' memory: The Leopold and Emma Winter Frankfurter Fund.
  • 2 Oct. 1997 Died New York City of natural causes.
6 Nov. 1895
Born in New York City; family immigrated from Vienna in 1894.
1918
A.B. Radcliffe College; postgraduate work in Bryn Mawr College and London School of Economics.
1921-1933
Worked for Massachusetts Dept. of Labor and Industries; also for the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Dept of Labor.
1933-1951
Administrative assistant on National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington.
1938-1945
On leave from NLRB to work at the National War Board.
After 1945
On one-year leaves from NLRB to work for United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in Europe; volunteer worker in Israel 1948-1949; in Berlin 1949-1950 with American War Board.
1951-1956
Director of the Rosenstiehl Foundation, a large charitable fund in New York City.
1956-1986
Volunteer in the New York City public schools teaching Chinese and Puerto Rican children English under auspices of New York City Board of Education; also recorded for the blind. Visited England regularly after 1923; traveled widely in Europe, China, and Africa.
Established fund at Radcliffe College in parents' memory: The Leopold and Emma Winter Frankfurter Fund.
2 Oct. 1997
Died New York City of natural causes.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Louis Henkin, April 1998.

Processing Information

Processed by Michael Austin, 1998.
Link to catalog
Title
Frankfurter, Felix. Letters to his sister Estelle, 1933-1964: Finding Aid.
Author
Harvard Law School Library Cambridge, MA 02138
EAD ID
law00106

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections Repository

Harvard Law School Library's Historical & Special Collections (HSC) collects, preserves, and makes available research materials for the study of the law and legal history. HSC holds over 8,000 linear feet of manuscripts, over 100,000 rare books, and more than 70,000 visual images.

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