Collection ID: AR 25309

Collection context


Plaut, Elizabeth S., 1910-2003
This collection contains the genealogical research of Elizabeth Strauss Plaut. Papers to be found here include extensive correspondence, family trees, and research notes on the genealogy of the Plaut and Strauss families.
14 linear feet + 1 oversized box
The collection is primarily in English with some German and Hebrew .


Scope and Content:

The Elizabeth Strauss Plaut collection holds the genealogical research that culminated in the production of three books,Gumprichs of Münster/ Westphalia: a Tale of Four Continents,Guggenheim/ Wormser Family: a Genealogical 300-Year Memoir, andPlaut Family: Tracing the Legacy.

Nearly all of the series in this collection consist of extensive genealogical correspondence, family trees, and research notes, with most folders holding family trees or notes on family trees.Series Iholds research on the Plaut family, with much of it divided by the location in Germany from which the family derived. In addition, this series also includes material on the Gumprich and Rosenthal families, related to the genealogy of Selma Gumprich Plaut. Genealogy on the Strauss family will be found inSeries II, and consists of research into many branches of the family tree; the most prominent branches of the family loosely form the basis for subseries within Series II, including theAbraham, Strauss,Guggenheim/ Wormser,Wertheimer,Wisebart,Kline,Rauh, Mack, andDreyfoosfamilies. General genealogical research, or research whose branch was not clearly identified by Elizabeth Strauss comprisesSeries III: General and Unsorted Genealogical Files. Oversized family trees of both Plaut and Strauss ancestors are included inSeries IV. Papers pertaining to the writing or publishing of Elizabeth Strauss' books make upSeries V, and include drafts of her books on the Gumprich and Guggenheim/ Wormser families as well as some correspondence with publishers.

Photographs and copies of photographs of family members are often included with the correspondence or collected material on family branches. However, some of these types of material were not included among the genealogical files, and these primarily formSeries VI. In addition to photographs, this series holds a few other papers of visual material.

Files unrelated to genealogical research formSeries VII. Included here is one folder of personal correspondence, drafts of Elizabeth Strauss Plaut's creative writing and texts for lectures and other public addresses.

Biographical / Historical:

Elizabeth Strauss was born on October 12, 1910 in New York City, the second child of Harry Strauss and Therese Abraham Strauss. A few years after the birth of his daughter Harry Strauss died of typhoid fever, and Therese Strauss relocated with her children to her family home in Cincinnati, where the family resided with her parents, Victor and Emma Abraham.

Elizabeth Strauss attended the University of Cincinnati, where she majored in zoology. While continuing to study for her teacher's certificate, she met W. Gunther Plaut, a recent immigrant from Germany who was studying at the Hebrew Union College. They were married on November 10, 1938.

The following September the couple moved when Gunther Plaut became assistant rabbi of the Washington Boulevard Temple in Chicago. There Elizabeth Plaut started a Judaica shop in addition to her duties as rebbetzin. In 1942 the couple had a son. The family moved several times due to Gunther Plaut's various assignments as a chaplain in the U.S. Army during World War II. After a return to Chicago, where the family expanded to include a daughter, they moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, when Gunther Plaut became rabbi at the Mount Zion Hebrew Congregation. The family remained there for thirteen years. During this time Elizabeth Plaut was also very active as the rabbi's wife. In addition, in 1952 she created "Holiplay," a children's game about the Jewish holidays. Finally, the family made its last relocation when Gunther Plaut became rabbi for the Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, Ontario, a much larger congregation than that in St. Paul.

It was during the early 1970s that Elizabeth Plaut became involved in documenting the genealogy of the Strauss, Plaut, and related families. Over the following three decades she accumulated numerous family trees and voluminous research on the family history, collecting information from family members as well as print sources and archival records. This work culminated in the publication of articles in genealogical periodicals such asSearchandToledot, as well as in three books.

Elizabeth Strauss Plaut died on September 13, 2003 (16 Ellul 5763).

Published Books:
Date Event
1996 Guggenheim/ Wormser Family: a Genealogical 300-Year Memoir
2000 Gumprichs of Münster/ Westphalia: a Tale of Four Continents
2007 Plaut Family: Tracing the Legacy (with Jonathan V. Plaut as editor and an introduction and additional research by Karen S. Franklin)

The collection is arranged in six series:

  • Series I: W. Gunther Plaut Genealogy, 1738-2006
    • Subseries 1: Locations, 1738-2005
      • A) Falkenberg and Felsenberg (Dannenberg Family)
      • B) Frankershausen
      • C) Frielendorf
      • D) Geisa
      • E) Gudensberg and Obervorschuetz
      • F) Ottrau
      • G) Rauschenberg
      • H) Reichensachsen
      • I) Rotenburg an der Fulda
      • J) Schenklengsfeld
      • K) Schmalkalden
      • L) Wehrda
      • M) Willingshausen
      • N) Other Locations
    • Subseries 2: Other Research Material, 1860-2006
    • Subseries 3: Gumprich and Rosenthal Families, 1858-1999
      • A) Gumprich
      • B) Rosenthal
  • Series II: Elizabeth Strauss Plaut Genealogy, 1847-1999
    • Subseries 1: Abraham/ Strauss, 1851-1999
    • Subseries 2: Dreifus/ Dreyfus/ Dreyfoos, 1847-1997
    • Subseries 3: Kline, 1978-1994
    • Subseries 4: Rauh/ Mack, 1956-1993
    • Subseries 5: Wertheimer, 1860-1865, 1975-1993
    • Subseries 6: Wisebart, 1873-1995
    • Subseries 7: Wormser/ Guggenheim, 1850-1996
  • Series III: General and Unsorted Genealogical Files, 1950-1999
  • Series IV: Oversized Family Trees, undated
  • Series V: Writing and Publishing, 1977-1998
  • Series VI: Visual Material, 1865-1999
  • Series VII: Non-Genealogical Material, 1940s-2001
    • Subseries 1: Writings, Correspondence, and Notes, 1940s-2001
    • Subseries 2: Collected Material, 1969-1998

Online content


Leo Baeck Institute
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011, United States