The Walter Lichtenstein Papers fill two boxes, spanning the years 1908 to 1999, with the bulk of the records falling between 1913 and 1918. They comprise two main types of materials: those accumulated by Northwestern University Library (mainly biographical, with some publications, correspondence, and reports relating to his job as Head Librarian), and those compiled by Ralph D. Wagner (Northern Illinois University) in the course of his research for an article entitled “Walter Lichtenstein in South America: Books, Voyages, and the End of a Career” (1988).
Wagner donated his research materials to the Archives. These materials, mostly photocopies, include Lichtenstein's correspondence at Harvard, reports and correspondence from the Department of Justice, the German Foreign Office, and the US State Department, and, of course, a copy of Wagner's finished paper. Taken together, these materials document Lichtenstein's life at Harvard, his tumultuous career at Northwestern, and his success in the field of international banking after leaving Northwestern, with emphasis on his speaking and writing.
General biographical materials include entries from biographical dictionaries, records of affiliations with various organizations, minutes of meetings, and other miscellaneous items. These are arranged chronologically. The clippings folder contains short articles about Lichtenstein, as well as obituaries. Materials span the years from 1917 to 1973 and are arranged chronologically. Some information on family members and others associated with Lichtenstein are included.
Also included with the biographical materials is a folder containing the notes and correspondence of Northwestern University Librarian Rolf Erickson, who wrote several short biographies of Lichtenstein. This file, arranged chronologically, is comprised of Erickson's notes and his correspondence with Lichtenstein's family members (including interview transcripts) and various research facilities.
An article entitled “Building a Great Library: The Coolidge Years at Harvard” by William Bentinck-Smith (1976), with its frequent mentions of Lichtenstein, provides context for that phase of his life.
A file of correspondence relating to his time at Northwestern deals mainly with Lichtenstein's efforts to purchase a set of Library of Congress catalog cards for the Northwestern University Library and with questions about annual reports. Most letters date between 1908 and 1917. One letter, dated 1932 and supplying a correction to an article about the Library, reflects Lichtenstein's rather bitter attitude toward the University.
Walter Lichtenstein's publications span the years 1908 to 1945 and include published reports, addresses, and articles. Topics include library science, finance and foreign affairs. Also included are one book review (1945?) and copies of the cover pages of two works translated from the German by Lichtenstein. Documents are divided by type—reports, speeches, articles—and are arranged chronologically within folders. His momentous South American book-buying trip is described in two copies of the 1915 report “A Trip to South America.” (The second copy is annotated with names of booksellers?) Additional materials on his trip are found in the second section of the series.
Also of interest is an article entitled “The Jew in the Club,” which was published anonymously in the Atlantic Monthly (October, 1924). This article describes Lichtenstein's personal experience with anti-Semitism, with veiled references to Northwestern University. Also filed in this subseries is a bound copy of Lichtenstein's official report of his South American book-buying trip. Annual reports submitted by Lichtenstein regarding the state of the Library can be found in the President's Reports, 1908-1918, located in the University Archives.
Copies of the finding aids to the Walter Lichtenstein Papers held at Harvard University are contained in a separate folder.
Research materials donated by Ralph Wagner begin with “Walter Lichtenstein in South America: Books, Voyages, and the End of a Career”—in its first version as a graduate school paper and as a reprint from the journal Libraries and Culture (v. 23 no. 3, Summer 1988). Reports and other documents surrounding Lichtenstein's South America trip fill one folder and date between 1913 and 1976—including later articles citing the success of this trip.
General correspondence includes photocopies (from the Lichtenstein Papers at Harvard) of incoming and outgoing letters, the bulk of which fall between the years 1913 and 1915 and relate to Lichtenstein's South American book-buying trip. The folder dating from 1916-17 consists mostly of correspondence with Harvard's Coolidge, and deals with problems Lichtenstein was beginning to have at Northwestern University with accusations of being at best pro-German and at worst a spy.
Wagner's documentation of the investigation into Lichtenstein's suspicious activities includes photocopies of reports and correspondence supplied by the German Foreign Office, the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Foldered by agency, these copies are arranged in chronological order. The materials from the German Foreign Office include copies of both the German originals and translations by Wagner and two colleagues. A final folder documents Lichtenstein's resignation from Northwestern University in 1918 and consists of copies of pages from the Northwestern University Board of Trustees Minutes.