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Monday - Friday:
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Other times by appointment


The Special Collections is located on the east side of the Library at the front of the 3rd floor.

Contact Information

Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
telephone (757) 683-5350
fax (757) 683-5954


The Strauss Family Papers

Scope and Contents - Series Descriptions - Access - Contents List


Arthur Strauss, the main focus of the collection, was a physician, poet, art collector, and painter. He was born in 1864 in Halle, Westphalia, Germany. His father, Abraham Strauss, was a physician. Arthur studied medicine and received his medical diploma in 1888. He specialized in Dermatology and published a textbook on skin diseases in 1895. He settled in Barmen, Germany where he had a successful medical practice. In 1900 Arthur married Lucy Hertz. Arthur and Lucy traveled extensively throughout Europe and also to the east coast of the United States. Many of the letters in the collection were written during these travels.

Arthur and Lucy had one son, Arnold, in 1902 who also became a physician. Arnold worked as a pathologist at a hospital in Berlin. In 1933 Adolph Hitler came into power in Germany and began to implement his policies against Jews. Because the Strauss' were of Jewish ancestry they were subject to these discriminative policies and found it hard to continue to work. In 1933 Arnold and his parents immigrated to the Netherlands. In 1935 Arnold secured a position at St. Vincent's Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia and immigrated to the United States. Arthur who was a very patriotic man and loved Germany greatly was reluctant to leave Europe. It wasn't until 1938 that he finally gave up hope of returning to Germany and agreed to immigrate to the United States. Thus when Arnold began trying to obtain immigrant visas for them to join him in the United States it was probably too late due to the large numbers of people also trying to leave Europe at the time. He also unsuccessfully tried to obtain an immigration visa for his fiancee, Irmgard Keun, a German author. When the German army invaded the Netherlands in May 1940 the Strauss' became trapped there. Arthur and Lucy Strauss endured 4 months of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Then after apparently losing hope of being able to join Arnold in the United States they took their own lives in September 1940. Arnold's long-distance relationship with Keun eventually came to an end as well. In 1941 Arnold married and American, Marjory Ware Spindle. Arnold died in 1965.

Scope and Contents

The Strauss collection covers the years 1839 to 1938. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence between Arthur and Lucy Strauss between the years of 1900 and 1933. Also included is correspondence with their son, Arnold Strauss. Most of the collection is in German. In addition to correspondence the collection includes publications, newspaper clippings, typed manuscripts of works by Irmgard Keun, record books, legal documents, and school records for Abraham, Lucy, and Arnold Strauss.


The collection is divided into four series: Series I Personal Correspondence, Series II Publications, Series III Certificates and Legal Documents, Series IV Miscellaneous.

The collection is arranged chronologically within each series. The postcards, photographs, and calling cards are not arranged chronologically as most of them are not dated.

Series Descriptions

Series I: Personal Correspondence ranges from 1863 to 1938. The series includes correspondence between family and friends. All but a few letters are in German.

Series II: Publications ranges from 1844 to 1935. The series includes published articles by Arthur Strauss and Arnold Strauss. Also included are two reprints from "Der Beobachter", a copy of "Bericht 1915-1917 Nationaler Frauendienst", and "Wieder Liebesbriefe" containing a poem by Irmgard Keun. There are two articles about Keun and other German women writers. Other newspaper clippings are from the Barmen newspaper and the "Women's Page" of the Frankfurt newspaper. All publications are in German

Series III: Certificates and Legal Documents range from 1839 to 1918. This series includes certificates to practice medicine, documents regarding service in the army as a physician, and certificates of donations to the national treasury. School documents are also included such as grade reports, certificates of graduation and other academic documents. Most of these documents are in German, and a few of the academic certificates are in Latin.

Series IV: Miscellaneous includes undated manuscripts of works by Irmgard Keun, poetry by unknown authors, financial record books, post cards and picture postcards from the early 20th century, photographs, and calling cards.


Gift of Marjory S. Strauss, September 1976
Accession #: A76-54


The collection is open to researchers without restrictions. Questions about literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.


3.5 linear feet, 7 document cases, one card box

Related Materials

Keun, Irmgard. Ich lebe in einem wilden Wirbel: Briefe an Arnold Strauss 1933 bis 1947.
Selected and edited by Gabriele Dries and Marjory S. Strauss. Dusseldorf: Claassen, 1988. In German.

This book is not part of the Strauss collection but is held in the Perry Library's general collection. The book tells the story of Arnold Strauss and Irmgard Keun's relationship through their letters.

Contents List

Series I: Personal Correspondence

Folder 1 Correspondence 1863
Folder 2 Correspondence March 1864
Folder 3 Correspondence April 1864
Folder 4 Correspondence May - June 1864
Folder 5 Correspondence July - December 1864
Folder 6 Correspondence 1865
Folder 7 Correspondence 1866
Folder 8 Correspondence 1888-1895
Folder 9 Correspondence January-May 1900
Folder 10 Correspondence June-July 1900
Folder 11 Correspondence August-September 1900
Folder 12 Correspondence October-December 1900

Folder 1 Correspondence January-April 1901
Folder 2 Correspondence May-July 1901
Folder 3 Correspondence August-September 1901
Folder 4 Correspondence October 1901
Folder 5 Correspondence November-December 1901

Folder 1 Correspondence January 1902
Folder 2 Correspondence February 1902
Folder 3 Correspondence March 1902
Folder 4 Correspondence April - June 1902
Folder 5 Correspondence July- August 1902

Folder 1 Correspondence September - October 1902
Folder 2 Correspondence November - December 1902
Folder 3 Correspondence January - April 1903
Folder 4 Correspondence May - August 1903
Folder 5 Correspondence September - December 1903
Folder 6 Correspondence January - June 1904
Folder 7 Correspondence July - November 1904

Folder 1 Correspondence 1905-1907
Folder 2 Correspondence 1908
Folder 3 Correspondence January - July 1909
Folder 4 Correspondence September 1909
Folder 5 Correspondence October 1909
Folder 6 Correspondence 1910 - 1914
Folder 7 Correspondence 1915 - 1938
Folder 8 Correspondence not dated I
Folder 9 Correspondence not dated II

Folder 1 Correspondence not dated III
Folder 2 Correspondence not dated IV
Folder 3 Correspondence not dated V
Folder 4 Correspondence not dated VI
Folder 5 Correspondence not dated VII
Folder 6 Correspondence not dated VIII
Folder 7 Correspondence not dated IX

Series II: Publications

Folder 1 Publications by Arthur Strauss 1872, 1885
Folder 2 Publication by Arnold Strauss 1927
Folder 3 Other Publications 1844, 1917, not dated
Folder 4 Publications pertaining to Irmgard Keun 1932-1933
Folder 5 Newspaper Clippings 1905, 1911, 1935

Series III: Certificates and Legal Documents

Folder 6 School Certificates, Grade Reports 1840-1847
Folder 7 School Certificates, Grade Reports 1885-1888
Folder 8 Medical and Army Medical Service 1839-1918
Folder 9 Other Certificates 1917

Series IV: Miscellaneous

Folder 10 Irmgard Keun Manuscripts, not dated
Folder 11 Poetry, not dated
Folder 12 Record Books 1909-1933
Folder 13 Miscellaneous papers

Picture Postcards
Calling Cards

Revised: 7/14/08