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   Herbert H. Lehman Papers, 1878-2002 [Bulk: 1930-1963].

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Herbert H. Lehman Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

Abstract

This collection documents the personal and political life of Herbert H. Lehman, who served as lieutenant governor, governor, and senator of New York, and as director-general of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

At a Glance

Bib ID:4078518 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Lehman, Herbert H. (Herbert Henry), 1878-1963.
Title:Herbert H. Lehman Papers, 1878-2002 [Bulk: 1930-1963].
Physical description:607 linear ft. (1,357 document boxes, 20 record storage cartons, 23 flat boxes)
Language(s):In English
Access: Series I.1, Special Correspondence, is located on-site. All other series are located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. Items identified with an "L" code rather than a box number can be seen by appointment only. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection has been organized into fifteen series:

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Description

Scope and Content

The collection documents Herbert H. Lehman's entire political career, though it focuses most heavily on his years as governor and senator. There is also material relating to his personal life, particularly his family and hobbies. It contains correspondence, speeches, research files, photographs, audio and visual recordings, oral histories, scrapbooks, articles, clippings, book drafts, appointment books, artwork, political cartoons, and memorabilia.

Series I: Lehman Special Files, 1895-1987

Originally, the "special files" were a small collection of files that Lehman kept separate from general correspondence for quick personal reference. After his death, the file was expanded to include the correspondence of individuals deemed especially well-known or significant. Most of this material was moved from general correspondence.

Subseries I.1: Special Correspondence, 1895-1981

This subseries contains correspondence between Lehman and significant politicians, artists, scientists, and other well-known individuals, as well as members of Lehman's family. Correspondents include, among many others, Albert Einstein, Alfred Knopf, Wellington Koo, J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph McCarthy, and Presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon. The Special Correspondence Files have been scanned and are available online at http://lehman.cul.columbia.edu/.

Subseries I.2: Special Subject Files, 1885-1987

This subseries contains special files that were organized by subject rather than by correspondent name. Subjects include the McCarran-Walters Act; McCarthyism; celebrations of the Tenth Anniversary of Israel; information on Lehman's estate, Meadow Farm; the construction of the Central Park Children's Zoo, and many others.

Series II: Correspondence, 1913-1963

While correspondence can be found throughout the collection, this series contains several large correspondence files that were maintained for long periods of Lehman's life.

Subseries II.1: General Correspondence, 1913-1963

This correspondence file ranges from early in Lehman’s political career until his death in 1963. It is a mix of personal and professional letters. The documents have been filed chronologically and then arranged alphabetically within each year.

Note: Many files in this subseries contain pink cross-reference forms. It is unclear at what point in the collection’s history these were added, and they make reference only to names and titles, not to location. As a result it is not always clear to what files they are referring to. Files which contain only these pink slips and no original documents have been labeled "cross reference only."

Subseries II.2: New York Office Correspondence, 1947-193

The bulk of this correspondence is from 1950 to 1961 and has been arranged by year and then alphabetically by subject or name. It includes correspondence filed at his New York office while he was senator.

Subseries II.3: Carolin Flexner and Francis Bergman, 1921-1953

These are the files of Lehman’s secretaries, Carolin Flexner and Francis Bergman. The Flexner files are comprised of general correspondence, aid requests, Albany cross reference files, and charities files. General correspondence contains letters between Lehman and Flexner written when he was away from his office and needed updates, as well as correspondence between Flexner and others filed by subject or name. The Albany cross reference files appear to refer to a file not included in the collection. The aid request files primarily contain correspondence between Flexner and US citizens with family in Germany, who wrote to Lehman in with the hope that he could help their relatives leave the country or at least send them food or money. In some cases German refugees wrote to him looking for job assistance, since they faced discrimination in the US. Their letters and Flexner’s responses on behalf of Lehman are included here. The charities files hold correspondence with charities arranged by name. The much smaller collection of Bergman files contains correspondence on a variety of subjects, in most cases from people contacting Lehman through his secretary.

Series III: Senate Files, 1949-1956

This large series contains documents created during Lehman's terms as a Senator of New York, 1949 to 1956.

Subseries III.1: Tissue Files, 1949-1956

These files hold carbon copies (printed on thin "tissue" paper) of outgoing correspondence sent by Lehman or his assistants and secretaries during his term as senator. Some of these letters simply acknowledge receipt of the many inquiries Lehman received on a daily basis, but others provide more in depth responses to a wide variety of questions and requests. In most cases the subject of the letter has been added to the top right hand corner. The files have been arranged chronologically by month and year, and then further arranged alphabetically within each month by addressee name.

Subseries III.2: Day-to-Day Files, 1950-1956

Like the tissue files, this series is comprised mainly of carbon copy responses from Lehman and his assistants, but it contains personal letters—such as thank you notes, responses to invitations, letters of recommendation, congratulations, and condolences--rather than discussions of political issues. The files are arranged chronologically.

Subseries III.3: Legislative Files, 1931-1960

This large subseries primarily contains research and correspondence on the many topics and issues that confronted Senator Lehman, ranging from education to dairy farming to taxes on alcohol. These were filed alphabetically by topic into a group of office files, three large subject files, and research files compiled by Lehman’s executive assistant Julius Edelstein and research assistants Jack Carter, Elizabeth Donahue, Stanley Carson, John Silard, Robert Low, Ruth Schneider, and Francis Williams, which are arranged under each assistant's name. There are also small groups of labor legislation files and nomination files.

Subseries III.4: Senate Robo Files, 1954-1957

As a senator, Lehman received many letters from the public urging him to support or oppose proposed legislation on a wide variety of topics. He often responded with "robo" letters (or form letters)--pre-written responses that outlined and explained his position. Most of the robo letters in this subseries concern legislation discussed during the 84th Congress, along with a small amount from the 82nd and 83rd Congresses. In addition to the robo letters themselves, some files also contain examples of the letters Lehman received from the public, and a few contain copies of bills or other related information. Files are arranged alphabetically by topic.

Subseries III.5: Bill Files, 1949-1956

This series contains documents relating to both public and private bills. Public bill files typically contain copies of the bill and congressional record, reports, research material, Lehman’s position on the bill, and correspondence with lawyers and other experts on the topic. Most of the private bills concern individuals seeking visas or permanent resident status, either for themselves or for their spouses, children, or employees. Many of their situations are related to the war – soldiers who married while overseas or adopted children there. Most files contain letters from these individuals explaining their situation, recommendation letters, and correspondence between Lehman, lawyers, and other senators discussing the case. The subseries also holds printed copies of bills.

Subseries III.6: Departmental Files, 1947-1957

This series is comprised of correspondence between Lehman and various government departments and offices. Lehman often contacted these departments on behalf of individuals who wrote to him for help, and much of this series involves these cases. It has been arranged into several sections: Military Academies contains Lehman’s nominations of students to military academies and their application packets and references. The Postmaster Files contain recommendations and discussions of the appointments of postmasters in New York towns and cities. Subject Files includes correspondence and other documents arranged by office or department. The Correspondent Files contain further correspondence between Lehman and a number of offices and government officials, usually on behalf of citizens who had written to Lehman asking for help; the Services Files contain correspondence with government agencies that are involved in public service, including the armed services and those relating to health, housing, agriculture, and many others; Finally, the State Department Files contain correspondence between Lehman and the Visa Division of the Department of State regarding cases of individuals seeking visas or visa extensions.

Subseries III.7: Senate Subject Files, 1938-1956

This subseries is comprised of subject files on some of the major topics and issues that Lehman faced while he was senator. It includes a significant amount of information on the Immigration Act of 1953, McCarthyism, rent control, internal security, and social security, among many other subjects. Files typically contain correspondence, clippings, reports, articles, and press releases. They have been arranged alphabetically.

Subseries III.8: Recommendation Files, 1920-1956

This subseries contains requests asking Lehman for recommendations or letters of reference for jobs, college admission, and military and government appointments, as well as Lehman’s responses and occasionally letters of thanks.

Subseries III.9: "Crank Files," 1950-1960

As Senator, Lehman received correspondence of all kinds, including letters about conspiracy theories and unusual requests and concerns. These were referred to as "crank letters" and were usually filed separately, though some can also be found in other correspondence series.

Series IV: Campaigns, 1926-1961

Documents in this series relate to Lehman's campaigns and the campaigns of several other politicians.

Items identified with an "L" code rather than a box number can be seen by appointment only.

Subseries IV.1 General Campaign Files, 1926-1961

This subseries documents all of Lehman’s campaigns for lieutenant governor, governor, and senator of New York, as well as campaigns of Al Smith, William Averell Harriman, and Robert F. Wagner. It contains correspondence and memos, speeches, research files, clippings, reports, budget information, and other material. It has been organized chronologically by campaign.

Subseries IV.2 Campaign Scrapbooks, 1930-1950

This subseries holds scrapbooks that chronicle Lehman’s campaigns through clippings, photographs, and other documents.

Items identified with an "L" code rather than a box number can be seen by appointment only.

Subseries IV.3: Campaign Contributions, 1946-1950

This subseries contains index cards recording names and addresses of campaign contributors, arranged alphabetically.

Series V: Speeches and Statements, 1918-1963

Subseries V.1: Speeches, 1918-1963

This subseries contains many of Lehman's speeches, including campaign speeches, addresses at events, and radio broadcasts. It also contains a few speeches about Lehman given by others. Most do not have titles, but have been described by topic, venue, or audience and arranged chronologically. Files typically contain typed copies of speeches, although some contain drafts. Recordings of some speeches can be found in Series VIII: Media.

Subseries V.2: Statements, 1932-1942

Organizations often wrote to Lehman to request short statements or written endorsements, which were read at events or published. On occasion he was asked to write forwards for books. This subseries contains both the requests and Lehman’s responses and statements. They have been arranged chronologically.

Series VI: Scrapbooks, 1885-1946

This series contains several scrapbooks, including a scrapbook on Jewish immigration, governor’s program books from 1938-1942 that contain lists of legislative decisions made by committees, and a commemorative book from the Williamsburg Settlement’s Gold Medal Award Dinner, which contains a copy of the speech and photographs of the ceremony. Scrapbooks relating to Lehman’s campaigns can be found in Subseries IV.2: Campaign Scrapbooks.

Items identified with an "L" code rather than a box number can be seen by appointment only.

Series VII: Writings by and about Herbert Lehman, 1880-2002

Subseries VII.1: Working Papers for Herbert Lehman and His Era, 1880-1965

This subseries contains research material and drafts of Herbert Lehman and His Era, a biography of Lehman by Allan Nevins. It included Nevins’s interviews and correspondence with Lehman, extensive research notes on many aspects of Lehman’s life and political career, research reports on several topics, clippings, and drafts of the book.

Subseries VII.2: William V. Shannon Research Files, 1930-1955

This subseries holds research notes for publications by William V. Shannon. Most relate to his unfinished biography of Lehman, and include extensive research notes and copies of sources arranged by subject, as well as several manuscript drafts. Other files contain research about women and child workers and may relate to a second book.

Subseries VII.3: Oral Histories, 1957-1979

This subseries contains transcripts of oral histories and interviews with Herbert Lehman, in which he discusses both his personal and political life. The series also includes oral histories from seventeen of Lehman's associates, who recount their memories of working with him: Frank Altschul, Emanuel Celler, Paul Douglas, his assistant Julius Edelstein, James Farley, his secretary Carolin Flexner, Estes Kefauver, George Meany, Wayne Morse, Charles Poletti, Eleanor Roosevelt, Anna Rosenberg, Samuel Rosenman, Marc Tanenbaum, Roy Wilkins, and Ben Davidson.

Note: Oral Histories conducted by the Columbia Oral History Office cannot be photocopied, photographed, or cited without permission from the Oral History Office.

Subseries VII.4: Articles by and about Lehman, 1932-1974

This subseries contains a collection of articles about Herbert Lehman, as well as smaller number written by him.

Subseries VII.5: Pamphlets, 1931-1982

This small subseries contains pamphlets on the Roosevelt administration, anti-Semitism, and relief efforts after World War II and other topics related to Lehman’s political career, though most do not focus on him directly.

Subseries VII.6: Writings of Arthur Lehman Goodhart and Others, 1927-1975

This subseries contains articles on law written by Lehman’s nephew, Arthur Lehman Goodhart, a lawyer and professor. It also contains articles on the Olympics and Vietnam by his son Philip Goodhart, and articles on legal topics and stamps by Howard Rossbach.

Subseries VII.7: General, 1944-2002

This small subseries contains some additional research material, including files on Lehman and the Lehman Children’s Zoo compiled by unknown researchers, and several files of research by Harold Fruchtbaum, which include notes on UNRRA and copies of Lehman’s Paris diaries.

Series VIII: Media, 1933-1964

This series is in process. Please contact Carolyn Smith (cks2118@columbia.edu) for more information.

Series IX: Photographs

This series contains photographs of Lehman and his family members and colleagues as well as photographs taken by Lehman.

Items identified with an "L" code rather than a box number can be seen by appointment only.

Subseries IX.2: Printing Plates and Prints, circa 1930s

This series holds metal printing plates and prints of photographs of Lehman, including his portrait, several events, and campaign ads.

Series X: Memorabilia, 1858-1968

This series is in process. Please contact Carolyn Smith (cks2118@columbia.edu) for more information.

Series XI: Political Cartoons, 1933-1960

This subseries contains political cartoons by artists Jerry Costello, Rollin Kirby, Herbert Block ("Herblock"), Frank Hanley, Miguel Covarrubias, Doc Rankin, Crook, Fred Graf, and Jerry Doyle. They depict moments in Lehman's political career and appeared in popular newspapers and magazines. There are a few reproductions, but most are original drawings that were given to Lehman as gifts by the artists.

Series XII: Clipping Collection, 1928-1963

This series contains bound volumes of newspaper clippings about Lehman that were compiled by clipping agencies. It spans most of Lehman’s career. Earlier volumes contain clippings only, but later books incorporate photographs and other documents as well. There are also books for Lehman’s campaigns for governor and senator, books of editorials and photographs, and several volumes entitled Voice of the People.

Series XIII: Press Releases, 1939-1956

This series contains press releases announcing events and decisions that took place during Lehman’s time as head of UNRRA and during his term as senator. They are described by title or subject and filed chronologically.

Subseries XIII.1: Press Releases from Washington Files, 1939-1956

Files in this subseries came from Lehman’s Washington DC office and include both UNRRA press releases and press releases from Lehman’s term as senator.

Subseries XIII.2: Senate Press Releases, 1950-1956

These press releases come from Lehman’s term as senator of New York. Although the dates overlap with those in subseries XIII.1, this file seems to have been maintained separately.

Series XIV: General, 1933-1965

Subseries XIV.1: Invitations, 1950-1963

This subseries contains invitations to meetings, lectures, parties, dinners, and other events, divided into accepted and rejected categories by year.

Subseries: XIV.2: Birthday and Other Greetings, 1938-1965

This subseries holds cards, letters, dinner programs, and poems celebrating Lehman’s birthdays, as well as smaller amounts relating to his anniversaries and retirement. There are also some get well cards and notes.

Subseries XIV.3: Guest Lists and Entertainment, 1933-1942

This subseries holds lists of guests invited to receptions, luncheons, and dinners, usually divided into "accepted" and "regretted" columns. Some lists also give more detail about the events, such as the name of the orchestra or the types of flowers used as decorations.

Subseries: XIV.4: Condolences, 1944-1963

This subseries contains letters of condolence sent to the Lehman family after the death of their son Peter in 1944. It also contains condolences, obituaries, and funeral information after the death of Herbert Lehman in 1963.

Subseries: XIV.5: Honorary Memberships, 1933-1942

Many organizations offered honorary memberships or positions to Lehman, or asked him to be a patron. This subseries contains letters from these groups and Lehman’s responses.

Subseries XIV.6: American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in Europe, 1943-1946

This subseries of eleven folders contains a variety of information on the organization, which gathered information on monuments and cultural landmarks damaged by the war and encouraged their repair.

Subseries XIV.7: New York State Department of Labor, 1937-1951

This subseries focuses primarily on women, children, and minorities in the workplace and includes information on minimum wage and equal pay, reports, and publications. It also contains meeting minutes, studies, and reports from the Division of State Planning.

Series XV: Lieutenant Governorship and Governorship Microfilms, 1929-1945

This series contains microfilms of Lehman’s lieutenant governorship and governorship papers. The originals are housed at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York.

Subseries XV.1: Lieutenant Governorship Files, 1929-1932

Papers from Lehman’s years as lieutenant governor are arranged alphabetically by name or subject on 43 reels of microfilm.

Subseries XV.2: Governorship Files, 1927-1945

Papers from Lehman’s years as lieutenant governor are arranged alphabetically by name or subject on 106 reels of microfilm.

Series XVI: UNRRA, 1939-1950

This series holds correspondence, reports, scrapbooks, and bulletins relating to Lehman’s position as director of UNRRA.

Series XVII: Additions

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Using the Collection

Partially Offsite

Access Restrictions

 Series I.1, Special Correspondence, is located on-site. All other series are located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

      offsite requestMore information and link to off-site request form

Items identified with an "L" code rather than a box number can be seen by appointment only.

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Herbert H. Lehman Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Material

Marshall MacDuffie Papers Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

Orin Lehman Papers Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

Overbrook Press Records, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

William B. Welsh Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

Frank Altschul Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

Paul Baerwald Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

Hugh R. Jackson Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

Sir Robert G.A. Jackson Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

Edith Lehman Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

James G. McDonald Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

Charles Poletti Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

Richard Scandrett Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

UNRRA Microfilm, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Correspondence, manuscripts, documents, sound recordings, motion pictures, political cartoons, clippings, printed material, memorabilia

Surveyed 05/--/87 Julie Miller. Processed by Brian Mackus, Columbia College '12; Tracy Thai, Barnard College '11; Stefanie Patterson, Columbia College '12; Hilary Hanson, Columbia College '12; Reuben Berman, Columbia College '14, and Carolyn Smith, archivist. Finding aid written by Carolyn Smith in April 2014.

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion October 4, 2014 Finding aid written in English.
    2014-10-04 xml document instance created by Carolyn Smith

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Cartoons.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Motion pictures.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Political cartoons.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Agriculture.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Civil rights.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Conspiracy theories.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Dairy farming.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Depressions 1929.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Discrimination in housing.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Emigration and immigration.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Families--New York (State)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Governors--New York (State)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Governors.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Henry Street Settlement (New York, N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Herbert H. Lehman Collections (Columbia University)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
International relations.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
International relief.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Israel.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Johnson, Lady Bird, 1912-2007.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Labor unions.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lehman Brothers.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lehman family.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lehman, Herbert H. (Herbert Henry), 1878-1963.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lehman, Herbert H., Mrs.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
McCarren-Walters Act.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
McCarthy, Joseph, 1908-1957.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Medical care.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Natural resources.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New Deal, 1933-1939.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York (N.Y.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York (State)--Commerce.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York (State)--Politics and government--1865-1950.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York (State)--Politics and government--1951-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York (State)--Social life and customs.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York (State).--Governor.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New York (State).--Office of the Lieutenant Governor.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Politicians.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Presidents--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Social security.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Taxation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United Nations.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States--Politics and government--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States.--Congress.--Senate.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
World War, 1939-1945--Civilian relief.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
World War, 1939-1945--War work.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Zoos.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Historical Note

Herbert Henry Lehman was born in New York City on March 28, 1878. He was the son of Mayer Lehman of Rimpar, Germany, and Babetta Newgass. Along with his brothers Henry and Emanuel, Mayer Lehman founded the Lehman Brothers investment banking firm.

Herbert Lehman grew up in New York and attended Sachs Collegiate Institute. After graduating from Williams College with a BA in 1899, he worked for the J. Spencer Turner Co., a textile manufacturing company, as a salesman and quickly worked his way up to vice president and treasurer. In 1908, he became a partner in Lehman Brothers. Lehman married Edith Altschul in 1910 and they would adopt three children, Peter, John, and Hilda Lane.

When World War I began, Lehman was eager to join the armed services. At 39 he was considered too old to fight, but persisted until he found a position at the Navy Department in the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, where he became responsible for procuring textiles for clothing, uniforms, and blankets. He was eventually made assistant director of the Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, which was charged with securing supplies for the Army on a massive scale. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for his work.

During the 1920s, Lehman became actively involved in politics and assisted with the presidential campaign of Al Smith. He left business entirely in 1928 and became Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Democratic Party. Lehman was elected lieutenant governor of New York in 1928 and 1930 and worked closely with then-governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, who valued his understanding of business. Lehman was elected governor of New York in 1932 and served four terms from 1933 to 1942. He was the first Jewish governor of the state.

During the Depression, Lehman supported President Franklin D. Roosevelt and based New York relief efforts on the New Deal. His "Little New Deal" programs set a minimum wage, provided aid to the unemployed, created options for public housing, created an unemployment insurance program, reduced utility rates, and aided farmers. Lehman also ensured that New York received maximum funding from New Deal programs such as the Civil Works Administration and the Works Progress Administration. LaGuardia Airport, The Central Park Zoo, the Triborough Bridge, and the Lincoln Tunnel were among the projects created by New Deal programs.

On December 3, 1942, Lehman resigned as governor and become Director of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations for the United States Department of State, an appointment offered by Roosevelt. The remainder of his term--only one month--was served by Charles Poletti. The following year, Lehman was chosen for the position of Director-General of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). From 1943 to 1946 he helped organize the distribution of food, supplies, and equipment to European countries.

All three of Lehman's children served in the US military during World War II. His son Peter, a pilot who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his missions in Germany, was killed during a practice flight in 1944.

Lehman was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from New York in 1946, but was defeated by Republican candidate Irving Ives. In 1949, when Senator Robert F. Wagner retired early due to health issues, Lehman ran in the special election for the remainder of the term and won, defeating John Foster Dulles. In 1950, he was re-elected to a full term and served until 1956. As a senator Lehman faced many challenges. He opposed changes to immigration policies that would base quotas on national origin, arguing that such policies were racist and that family unification, occupational skill, and pleas for asylum were more important considerations. He argued for better enforcement of civil rights legislation and an end to discrimination in housing and employment. Lehman strongly opposed the actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy throughout the 1950s and spoke openly and persistently against him.

Lehman retired from the senate in 1956 and did not seek another office, but he was still involved in politics and joined a group of reform Democrats with the aim of removing Tammany Hall influences from the party. Their efforts eventually ended the Tammany political machine.

Both Herbert and Edith Lehman were active in philanthropy throughout their lives and were given many awards in recognition of their aid. They funded "Pete's House" at the Henry Street Settlement honor of their son Peter, who had been a youth leader there. They also created the Lehman Children's Zoo (now the Tisch Zoo) at the Central Park Zoo in 1961.

Herbert Lehman died on December 5, 1963, at the age of 85.

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