Frank Altschul Papers, 1884-1986 bulk 1925-1980

Altschul, Frank, 1887-1981 [Browse]
  • Multiple languages
  • English
  • French
90 linear feet (214 document boxes 1 oversize box)


Getty AAT genre
1884-1986 bulk 1925-1980
This collection has been arranged into 9 series.
Restrictions note
  • This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
  • This collection has no restrictions.
Biographical/​Historical note
  • Frank Altschul was born in San Francisco on April 21, 1887 to Charles and Camilla Mandlebaum Altschul. Charles, a partner in the investment firm Lazard Frares, brought his family to New York City in 1901 to work at the company's New York office. Frank Altschul studied at Yale University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1908. Following commencement, he traveled for two years, studying banking in London, Paris, Berlin, and Mexico City. During World War I, he served as an Army captain in France and was awarded the Legion of Honor. He married Helen Lehman Goodhart in 1913, and the couple would have four children.
  • Altschul proved to be a highly successful financier and became a senior partner at Lazard Freres in 1943. In 1948, he became chairman of the board of the General American Investors Corporation, where he remained until his retirement in 1961. During the 1930's, Altschul also served on the governing committee of the New York Stock Exchange and was director of the Chase National Bank.
  • Altschul applied his skill in running large organizations to a variety of causes, particularly political and advocacy organizations. He served as Director of the English-Speaking Union and vice president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and was heavily involved in the Council on Foreign Relations for almost four decades, serving as secretary and later as vice president from 1951 to 1971. Altschul's interest in interntional affairs was also present in his writing. A prolific writer of essays, articles, and book reviews, as well as a book, Let No Wave Engulf Us (1944). He frequently wrote letters to the editors of major newspapers, particularly the New York Times. Altschul was invited to speak before groups ranging from political and business committees to high school classes, and gave talks on psychological warfare, US relations with Israel, and many other subjects.
  • A self-described bibliophile, Altschul was an avid collector of books and possessed a lifelong fascination with printing. He was the co-founder and first chairman of the Yale Library Associates, which oversees the Yale Library System the Beineke Library. He established an endowment and donated much of his own collection to the Bienecke, including an extensive collection of the works and papers of George Meredith. In 1933, Altschul founded Overbrook Press on his estate in Stamford, Connecticut and began producing a wide variety of books, pamphlets, and ephemera. The press was highly regarded for its craftsmanship and innovative design work, and Overbrook volumes were consistently included in the ''Fifty Books of the Year'' show of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Overbrook Press was dissolved in 1969.
  • Altschul was a philanthropist and supporter of education and the arts, endowing chairs and fellowships at Yale, Williams College, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the New School for Social Research. He also gave generously to hospitals and charities. His wife Helen shared his interest in education, serving on the board of trustees Barnard College and funding a chair in English.
  • Frank Altschul died on May 29, 1981.
Summary note
  • This collection documents the life of Frank Altschul--investment banker, publisher, and philanthropist--through his correspondence, writing, and research.
  • The collection documents Altschul's personal life and his ventures into publishing, politics, and international affairs. It contains little material directly related to his banking career. The bulk of the files contain correspondence, drafts and discussions of Altschul's writings; administrative files from his positions in various organizations; and pamphlets, articles and brochures on subjects which interested him. It also holds smaller amounts of photographs and memorabilia, as well as writings and notes by his father, Charles Altschul, and other family members and associates.
Location of other archival materials
  • Overbrook Press Records, 1929-1978, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.
  • Herbert H. Lehman Papers, 1858-1963, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.
  • The International Institute of Rural Reconstruction Records, 1914-1999, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.
Action note
  • Correspondence, manuscripts, documents, memoranda, reports, printed material, photographs Surveyed Julie Miller 05/--/87.
  • Papers reprocessed Tracy Thai, Barnard 2012 2009.
  • Finding aid written Carolyn Smith March 2010.
  • German Poster, box 202, missing as of 4/3/24. kws
Accumulation and frequency of use
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact for more information.
Rights and reproductions note
Reproductions may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Gift of Frank Altschul, 1980.
Source acquisition
Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--1980. Accession number--M-37.
Cite as
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Frank Altschul Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
C - S
Statement on language in description
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Supplementary Information