As part of this initiative, the Library has hired Helen Lewandowski to lead as Project Officer. Helen has a curatorial background working in museums, galleries and archives, with an academic speciality in documentary and vernacular photography in the 20th century. Vernacular photography, which includes every day and common subjects such as family snapshots and ID cards, is a particular strength of the collection. Warm, funny, poignant and tragic moments are all captured in the many images from our Family Papers collections. This image (above) is a contact sheet of Herbert and Eleanor Hess as children. Eleanor came to Great Britain from Munich with her mother in 1939. Her brother, Herbert, immigrated to Brazil where he eventually died in 1981. For a brief period, Eleanor went to live with her brother in the early 1950s. She died in London c. 1999.
Material like this, as well as the numerous documents, correspondence, objects and audio recordings in the collection all, serve to tell, bring to life, and preserve important stories of the individuals and families that fled from Nazi persecution and antisemitism in the years before, during and after the war. Emigrating from Germany and other Nazi-controlled countries, including Poland, Austria and France, these refugees found temporary or permanent adopted homes in the UK, amongst other countries.
The Library continues to actively build and develop its Family Papers collections. Senior Archivist, Howard Falksohn said:
The Coronavirus pandemic has necessarily resulted in a considerable reduction in numbers physically visiting the library although this is beginning to rise as we start to re-open to the public. Up until recently, potential donors of archival material have been advised to hold on to their papers until such time as it is safe to come in. We would like to emphasise that we are still very much interested in acquiring this material where it meets our collecting remit. I am happy to advise donors on how to preserve material and have now begun to take in collections if potential donors are willing and/or able to bring the material in.
The Library welcomes donations of any original material that documents the Holocaust and Nazi era. Such material might include correspondence, diaries, photographs, identity and emigration papers, compensation claim papers or ephemera (contemporary leaflets, programmes, publications). We collect material relating to individuals, organisations, political groups and companies.
If you would like to speak to the Library about documents you wish to donate, please contact Howard Falksohn.
Help the Library Develop our Refugee Family Papers Map
Whether you’ve browsed the map before or you are taking a look now for the first time, we would be grateful for your feedback to help us to make this resource more responsive and adapted to our audience’s needs. If you would like to help us with this initiative, please visit the link here to complete a short survey and let us know your thoughts!