Lucius N. Littauer Foundation

  • Dates: 1931-1950, (1938-1944, Bulk)
  • Size: .4 linear ft.
  • Number of Boxes: 1
  • Languages: English
  • Location: Special Collections Reading Room, Jewish Theological Seminary Library.
  • Restrictions: Reproduction of fragile items is not permitted; consult the archivist about literary rights.
  • Gift Of: The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation
  • Date: 1986
  • Related Collections: Records of The Jewish Theological Seminary, Record Group 5, Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion; R.G. 16, Institute for Religious and Social Studies.

SGS, 5/26/92

Table of Contents:

A Note on Folder Headings

Individual folders are identified in the following way on the left side of each folder: Name of Collection, box #/folder#, as in Ben Zion Bokser Papers, 4/22. Please use this format in citations and when referring to files for any other reason.

Biographical Note

Lucius N. Littauer was born in Gloversville, New York on January 20, 1859. After earning an undergraduate degree at Harvard in 1878, he entered his father's glove manufacturing business. Littauer served as a Republican member of the United States Congress from 1897 until 1907. A noted philanthropist, Littauer's bequests included the Littauer School of Public Administration at Harvard, the Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville, NY, and the Graduate Faculty for Political and Social Science at the New School for Social Research.

In 1938, Littauer provided funds for the creation of the Institute of Interdenominational Studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary. For the next five years, Littauer contributed five thousand dollars per year toward the endeavor. The Institute (renamed the Institute for Religious Studies in the early 1940s) sought to promote interfaith and interracial understanding through a series of lectures, meetings, courses, and publications. The early programs of the Institute were particularly directed at stimulating dialogue among clergy of various faiths. Several extension branches of the Institute were founded in this period: one in Chicago in conjunction with the University of Chicago, and a second in Boston in cooperation with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Until 1944, the Lucius Littauer Foundation provided a substantial portion of the funding for the Institute's activities.

As the founding sponsor of the Institute, Littauer engaged in frequent correspondence with Louis Finkelstein, director of the Institute and provost at the Jewish Theological Seminary (Finkelstein became president of JTS in 1940). Finkelstein often wrote to Littauer relating the progress of the Institute's work. The two men also shared a personal friendship which is reflected in the correspondence.

Littauer's philanthropic concerns at JTS and in Jewish matters extended beyond the boundaries of the Institute. He supported scholarship in the fields of Jewish history and literature, and established the Littauer Fund at the JTS library. Finkelstein also kept Littauer abreast of the progress of the Conference on Science, Philosophy, and Religion, a project related to the Institute. In 1939, JTS hosted an eightieth birthday party for Littauer to commemorate his association with the institution.

Lucius Littauer died in 1944. In the same year the Littauer Foundation, headed by Harry Starr, determined to cease funding the Institute. The Institute, renamed the Institute for Religious and Social Studies in the late 1940s, has survived to the present day as the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies.

Collection Description

The Lucius N. Littauer Papers, 1931-1950, consist largely of correspondence between Littauer and various officials of JTS concerning the Institute of Interdenominational Studies (later the Institute for Religious Studies), the Littauer Fund at the JTS library, and related matters. The bulk of the correspondence is between Littauer and JTS provost and president Louis Finkelstein and pertains to the Institute, the Conference on Science, Philosophy, and Religion, and personal matters. These letters describe the programs and courses offered by the Institute from 1938 to 1944, as well as the scope of Littauer's financial support for these activities. Also included amongst the correspondence are programs for meetings, copies of lectures, and other documentary evidence of the Institute's work in these years.

Other correspondents include JTS Librarian Alexander Marx, who wrote to Littauer in relation to the acquisition of books and manuscripts; JTS President Cyrus Adler, who acknowledges Littauer's contributions to JTS and the Institute; Sol M. Stroock, chairman of JTS's board of directors; and Professor Louis Ginzberg, who appeals for funding for scholarly volumes. In the years after 1944, the Littauer Foundation was represented by its president, Harry Starr, in its correspondence with the JTS.

The collection is divided into eight chronologically ordered folders. The dates covered by these folders overlap; within each folder the material is organized in reverse chronological order.

The file for 1931-1940 (folder 1) includes correspondence with Librarian Alexander Marx regarding acquisitions for the JTS's library; records of Littauer's support for individual scholars in Jewish letters (see correspondence with Michael Higger, April-October 1937 and correspondence with Israel Davidson, February 1938); programs of the Institute of Interdenominational Studies, 1938-1939; invitations to luncheon meetings of the Institute, 1940 and to other JTS conferences; correspondence with JTS President Cyrus Adler acknowledging Littauer's support of the Institute of Interdenominational Studies; a copy of a lecture by Arthur H. Compton entitled "The Religion of a Scientist" delivered at the "Seminary Institute of Jewish Affairs"; and a catalog of "Women's Hour" radio broadcasts offered by JTS in 1938. A large part of the file consists of correspondence with Louis Finkelstein regarding the founding and early progress of the Institute.

Folder 2, 1939, includes letters from Finkelstein detailing the activities of the Inst itute (see especially letters of July 20, November 3 and 15, 1939) and providing accounts of his lecture tours; copies of addresses relating to the mission of the Institute; an appeal from Finkelstein for $25,000 from Littauer for the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion (dated November 8, 1939) and other correspondence related to the organization of the Conference; correspondence pertaining to Littauer's donation of an additional sum ($1500) to hire Rabbi Aaron J. Tofield as an assistant at the Institute; and additional letters relating to Littauer's involvement in sponsoring Jewish scholarship (see letters re: Dr. [Leo?] Baeck, April 1939). Of particular interest is a letter dated February 24, 1939 in which Finkelstein gives an account of the effect of the broadcasts of radio priest Father Coughlin on the Detroit Jewish community. In another notable letter dated February 10, 1939, Finkelstein describes the state of Jewish-Christian relations in Rochester, NY and Toledo, Ohio.

Folder 3, 1939-1942 contains invitations to Institute affairs; records of Littauer's membership contributions to the JTS; a series of letters from Finkelstein to Littauer dated February 27, March 8, and March 15, 1939 which describes Finkelstein's attempts to promote interfaith relations in Kansas City, Denver, Nebraska and California; and a pamphlet describing means of sending remittances to Jews in Germany.

Folder 4, 1940, contains continued correspondence between Finkelstein and Littauer relating to the Institute (including a letter which reveals a difference of opinion about the funding and direction of the Institute, dated November 5, 1940); letters from Finkelstein apprising Littauer of the early development of the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion; correspondence with Librarian Alexander Marx; typescripts of the 1940-1941 program of the Institute and of a paper on religion in the American tradition; a handwritten account of Littauer's contributions to the Institute; and a report entitled "Agitation for Introduction of Religious Classification in Population Census."

Folder 5, 1941-1950, includes correspondence between Littauer and Louis Finkelstein relating to the Institute, 1941-42; a detailed report dated May 1942 in which Finkelstein relates the achievements and projected future of the Institute; a letter from Professor Louis Ginzberg requesting financial support for Jewish scholarship; letters from Librarian Alexander Marx requesting funds for manuscript acquisitions; a letter from Finkelstein, dated June 16, 1941 outlining the proceedings of the first meeting of the Conference on Science, Philosophy, and Religion; and correspondence between Littauer Foundation President Harry Starr and JTS officials Louis Finkelstein and Simon Greenberg, 1945-1950.

Folder 6, 1942, consists of correspondence between Littauer and Finkelstein relating to the programs and development of the Institute and a reproduction of a letter from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Finkelstein commending JTS and the Institute for Religious Studies.

Folder 7, 1943, contains correspondence between Littauer and Finkelstein describing the work of the Institute (especially letters dated February 24, March 24, March 17, August 16, 1943) and copies of addresses made under Institute auspices.

Folder 8, 1944, includes correspondence between Littauer and Finkelstein (including a letter describing the donation of the Felix and Frieda Warburg house as a site for an expanded Jewish Museum); correspondence and programs from the opening meeting of the Chicago Institute for Religious Studies; a typescript of an article about Littauer written by JTS public relations officer Marjorie Wyler; invitations of Institute events (including a lecture on "America and the Problem of Group Relations" by Pearl S. Buck); and correspondence between Harry Starr and Louis Finkelstein related to the determination of the Littauer Foundation to cease funding the Institute (May-June, 1944).

Box List

Box  Folder(s)  Description 
 2 1939
 3 1939-1942 (correspondence and miscellaneous)
 4 1940
 5 1941-1950
 6 1942
 7 1943
 8 1944
 9 Fragile originals - do not use