Nathan Straus papers

Collection Data

Description
Nathan Straus (1848-1931) was a German-born New York City businessman and philanthropist. After making his fortune as a partner in the New York department stores Abraham and Straus and R.H. Macy and Co., Straus, with his wife Lina Gutherz Straus, turned to philanthropy. He advocated milk pasteurization to check the spread of tuberculosis, opening the Nathan Straus Pasteurized Milk Laboratory in New York in 1892; founded the Tuberculosis Preventorium for Children in New Jersey in 1909; supported Jewish colonization efforts in Palestine; and provided relief for the poor during economic and natural disasters. Straus served as Park Commissioner in New York City from 1889 to 1893, as president of the New York City Board of Health in 1898, and in 1894 refused the Democratic nomination for mayor. Collection consists of correspondence, writings, scrapbooks, photographs, and printed matter concerning Straus and his family. Topics include milk pasteurization, tuberculosis prevention, Zionism, public health, infant mortality, and relief for earthquake victims in Italy in 1909. Writings consist of manuscript, typescript and printed speeches and articles by Straus on milk pasteurization and tuberculosis. Scrapbooks contain letters, documents, photographs, and printed materials documenting Straus's political and business careers, his philanthropic activities, his interest in trotting horses, and family and personal matters including the deaths of his brother and sister-in-law, Isidor and Ida Straus, on the Titanic in 1912.
Names
Aaronsohn, Aaron, 1876-1919 (Contributor)
Barondess, Joseph (Contributor)
Brisbane, Arthur, 1864-1936 (Contributor)
Grant, Hugh J (Contributor)
Straus, Ida (Contributor)
Straus, Isidor, 1845-1912 (Contributor)
Straus, Lina Gutherz, 1854-1930 (Contributor)
Straus, Nathan, 1848-1931 (Creator)
Straus, Oscar S. (Oscar Solomon), 1850-1926 (Contributor)
Szold, Henrietta, 1860-1945 (Contributor)
Federation of American Zionists (Contributor)
Lakewood Hotel and Land Association (Lakewood, N.J.) (Contributor)
Macy's (Firm) (Contributor)
Nathan Straus Pasteurized Milk Laboratory (Contributor)
Tuberculosis Preventorium for Children (Contributor)
Zionist Organization of America (Contributor)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1840 - 1990
Library locations
Manuscripts and Archives Division
Shelf locator: MssCol 2906
Topics
Agricultural colonies -- Palestine
Earthquakes -- Italy
Harness racehorses
Infants -- Mortality
Jewish farmers -- Palestine
Milk -- Pasteurization
Public health -- New York (State) -- New York
Tuberculosis -- Prevention
Zionism
Zionists -- United States -- Societies, etc.
Philanthropists
Universiṭah ha-ʻIvrit bi-Yerushalayim
Genres
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Correspondence
Documents
Clippings
Notes
Biographical/historical: Nathan Straus (1848-1931), was a German-born New York city businessman and philanthropist. After making his fortune as a partner in the New York department stores Abraham and Straus and R. H. Macy and Co., Straus, with his wife Lina Gutherz Straus (1854-1930), turned to philanthropy. He advocated milk pasteurization as means to check the spread of tuberculosis, opening the Nathan Straus Pasteurized Milk Laboratory, 1892, in New York at his own expense; he founded the Tuberculosis Preventorium for Children at Lakewood (later it was moved to Farmingdale), New Jersey in 1909; he supported Jewish colonization efforts in Palestine; and he provided relief for the poor during economic and natural disasters. Straus, like his brothers Isidor (1845-1912) and Oscar S. (1850-1926), was also involved in politics. He served as Park Commissioner in New York City, 1889-1893, as president of the New York City Board of Health, 1898, and in 1894 he refused the Democratic nomination for mayor.
Content: Of the Nathan Straus materials received in 1976, half consists of letters and documents, and the other half of scrapbooks, all dating from the late nineteenth century until soon before Straus's death and primarily documenting his activities as an advocate of milk pasteurization. The 1992 additions include two boxes of family photographs, as well as genealogical materials, a scrapbook, printed matter, a small amount of family correspondence, 1840-1954, and other writings. The bulk of correspondence dates from 1910 to 1914 and consists primarily of drafts and carbons of letters written by Straus or by secretaries on his behalf, and includes some letters by Lina Straus. A smaller number of letters received by Straus is included. A few letters are in German. The chief topic of the correspondence is milk pasteurization, specifically, the operation of the Nathan Straus Pasteurized Milk Laboratory in New York, and the "milk depots" set up to distribute the Laboratory's milk and infant formulas in poor areas of the city. Also covered are the operation of milk laboratories and depots in other parts of the United States and the world, and Straus's larger efforts to promote milk pasteurization through speech-making before medical and public health groups, and advocacy of legislation. Other topics include the Tuberculosis Preventorium for Children; Straus's relief efforts on behalf of earthquake victims in Italy, 1909; Oscar S. Straus's 1912 gubernatorial race; a 1914 trip to California; work in Palestine; and some personal, household, and business matters. Prominent correspondents include Joseph Barondess, Arthur Brisbane, the newspaper editor and a friend; and Hugh J. Grant, mayor of New York, 1889-1892, with whom Straus shared an interest in horse-racing. Telegrams received by Straus on his 70th birthday, 1918, and condolence notes received on the death of Lina Straus, 1930, are included. Documents other than correspondence include manuscript, typescript, and printed speeches and articles by Straus, largely undated, on milk pasteurization and tuberculosis. His milk pasteurization work is documented by materials put out by the milk laboratories, including reports, brochures, instructions for mothers, recipes for infant formulas prepared at the laboratories, an order book containing coupons to be redeemed at milk depots, instructions for use of a home pasteurizer ("system Nathan Straus"), and article reprints, ca. 1890s-1910s. Material on the Tuberculosis Preventorium includes a disassembled scrapbook containing correspondence, minutes, and reports, 1909-1910, with a few later items dating to 1916. These concern the founding and organization of the Preventorium, and the controversy that led to the move from Lakewood to Farmingdale. Also included are some additional correspondence, minutes, statements, reports, and clippings, 1909-1917, concerning the Preventorium, which were removed from scrapbooks in the collection. Of note are two illustrated brochures, 1909 and 1912, which describe life there. Straus served as a United States delegate to the Third International Congress for the Protection of Infantile Life (III Internationaler Kongress fur Sauglingsschutz - Gouttes de Lait), Berlin, 1911, and documents and notes, in French and German, from that conference as well as from the Deuxième Congres International des Gouttes de Lait, Brussells, 1907, are included. Straus's interest in Zionism is documented in by-laws, reports, minutes, and letters, 1910-1913, of the Jewish Agricultural Experiment Station, Haifa, Palestine; Henrietta Szold, Secretary, and Dr. Aaron Aaronsohn, Managing Director of the station are the principal writers. Also, minutes, 1912-1913, with some related correspondence and printed material, of the Executive Committee of the Federation of American Zionists; printed material, chiefly from the Zionist Organization of America, concerning the dedication of Hebrew University, 1925; and a report, (no. 14, April/May 1913) of Das Actionscomite der Zionistischen Organisation, Berlin, on colonization activities in Palestine. A trip to California in 1914 is documented by printed material from California Zionist, civic, and other groups, and visiting cards collected in San Francisco. Invitations, texts of speeches, menus, and presentation volumes, 1894-1930, are from testimonial dinners and meetings given in honor of Straus (one of these, 1909, was for Oscar Straus). Similar materials document a dinner given in honor of Prince Henry of Prussia by the New Yorker Staats-Zeitung to the American press at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, 1902. Invitations to dinners given for the Belgian, English, French, Italian, Japanese, and Russian war commissions who were visiting New York, May 1917; an 1898 report of the New York City Board of Health; two large notebooks kept by Straus while a book-keeping student at Bryant and Stratton College, New York, 1865-1866; clippings; and printed material, 1890s-1910s, concerning infant mortality, milk pasteurization, and public health from around the world, particularly Germany, are also included.
Physical Description
Extent: 13 linear feet (26 boxes, 19 v.)
Type of Resource
Text
Identifiers
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12428744
MSS Unit ID: 2906
Archives collections id: archives_collections_2906
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): e2b543b0-dd3a-0136-e922-13241c207565
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