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Guide to the Jacob Brenner papers 2006.023

128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY, 11201

Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Quinn Lai

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 22, 2011
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Finding aid revised and entered into Archivists' Toolkit by Nicholas Pavlik,  , September 7, 2011

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Brenner, Jacob A., 1857-1921
Creator: Brenner, Rose
Creator: Depew, Chauncey M., (Chauncey Mitchell), 1834-1928
Creator: Woodruff, Timothy L., (Timothy Lester), 1858-1913
Title: Jacob Brenner papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1884-1921
Dates [bulk]: Bulk, 1896-1902
Abstract: This collection contains documents and news clippings of Jacob A. Brenner (1857-1921), former Brooklyn magistrate and Kings County Commissioner of Jurors. The collection chiefly relates to Brenner's numerous appointments in the Kings County judicial system and his membership in the Republican Party, as well as personal materials regarding the death of his wife, Louise (Blumenau) Brenner.
Quantity: 2.18 Linear feet in two manuscript boxes and one oversize box.
Language of Materials: Materials in English, German, and Hebrew.
Text [Box]: 2006.023 1 of 3
Text [Box]: 2006.023 2 of 3
Text [Box]: 2006.023 3 of 3
Call Phrase: 2006.023
Sponsor: This collection was processed and described as part of the project, "Uncovering the Secrets of Brooklyn's 19th Century Past: Creation to Consolidation," funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources, with additional support from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

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Biographical Note

The Honorable Jacob A. Brenner, born on April 8, 1857 to Simon Brenner (1820-1898), an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, and Caroline Alexander (1830-1900), resided and worked in Brooklyn and Amityville, N.Y. his entire life. The Brenner family's financial circumstances prohibited Brenner from attending college after graduating at the age of 14 from Public School #27, also known as the Agnes Y. Humphrey School, on Nelson Street in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. Brenner instead entered the Manhattan law offices of Smith, Woodward & Buckley in 1871 and "read" law under General Jesse S. Smith, the firm's senior partner and former Surrogate of Brooklyn. Brenner passed the bar exam in 1879 and soon formed a partnership with William J. G. Bearns. They opened their own law offices on Court Street under the name of Bearns & Brenner, specializing in civil and real estate law, on February 1, 1891.

Brenner had a highly successful career within the Kings County judicial and political systems. Mayor Charles A. Schieren (1842-1915) appointed Brenner counsel to the Brooklyn Police and Excise Board in 1893. He resigned this post when elected to the bench in 1897. Elected Kings County Commissioner of Jurors in 1902, Brenner held the position until his death in 1921, and the Brooklyn Police and Excise Board reappointed Brenner as counsel in 1911. Brenner became very active in Brooklyn politics beginning in the late 1880s. He served as the Republican leader of the Tenth Ward in South Brooklyn, an area bounded by Bergen Street, Fourth Avenue, First Street, the Gowanus Canal, Second Avenue, Fifth Street, Fourth Place, and Court Street. Brenner held the position of chairman of the Republican Executive Committee of New York State from 1897 on and served through the terms of New York State Lieutenant Governor Timothy L. Woodruff (c.1858-1913) and United States Senator Chauncey M. Depew (1834-1928), both of whom became close personal friends. The New York State Executive Committee of the Republican Party named Brenner as a state delegate to the Republican National Convention from 1904-1916 as well as a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1915.

Brenner became prominent in Jewish communal and philanthropic activities, serving as president and Hebrew school teacher at Temple Beth-Elohim, a Reform congregation also known as the Eighth Avenue Temple, located on Eighth Avenue and Garfield Place for many years, as well as on the board of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the Young Men's Hebrew Association, the Federation of Jewish Charities, and as the first president of the Jewish Hospital on Prospect Place. His club memberships included the Euclid Lodge, a Masonic chapter in Kings County, the Royal Arcanum, as well as the Brooklyn, Montauk, and Unity Clubs. Brenner also served as vice-president of the Brooklyn Bar Association, and director of the First National Bank, then located at Fulton Street and Red Hook Lane.

Brenner married Louise Blumenau (ca. 1860-1902), the daughter of prominent Brooklyn real estate developer Levi Blumenau, on June 27, 1883. The couple had two sons, Arthur and Mortimer, and four daughters, Rose, Rica, Selma, and Caroline. The family resided at 252 Carroll Street in the present-day Brooklyn neighborhood of Carroll Gardens. Both Arthur and Mortimer Brenner became prominent lawyers and Republican Party members in Brooklyn. Rose Brenner became a well-known activist in Brooklyn for her work during World War I as president of the National Council of Jewish Women.

A quick succession of deaths within a period of four years marked the Brenner family: Simon Brenner (September 7, 1898), Caroline Brenner (September 22, 1900), and Louise Brenner (February 21, 1902). Jacob Brenner died on October 17, 1921 of heart disease while giving a speech at Temple Beth-Elohim. He is buried at Mount Neboh Cemetery in the Cypress Hills neighborhood of Brooklyn.

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Scope and Contents note

The Jacob Brenner papers contain materials dating from 1884 to 1921, with the bulk of the items dating between 1896 and 1902. The collection has been divided into two series:

  1. Business and political life, 1896-1921
  2. Personal and family life, 1884-1921

Series 1 contains correspondence and newspaper articles about Brenner's professional duties and affairs. Series 2 chiefly contains correspondence received by Brenner upon the deaths of his parents, Simon and Caroline, and his wife, Louise.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Brenner, Jacob A., 1857-1921
  • Brenner, Louise Blumenau
  • Brenner, Rose
  • Depew, Chauncey M., (Chauncey Mitchell), 1834-1928
  • Woodruff, Timothy L., (Timothy Lester), 1858-1913

Document Type

  • Cards (information artifacts)
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence

Subject Organizations

  • Legislative Correspondents' Association of the State of New York.
  • Republican Party (Kings County, N.Y.).
  • Republican Party (N.Y.).
  • Temple Beth-Elohim (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.).

Subject Topics

  • Courts |z New York (State) |z Kings County
  • Judges -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Lawyers -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Politics and government

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access note

Open to users without restriction.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date (if known); Jacob Brenner papers, 2006.023, Box and Folder number; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Related Materials

Related archival collections at the Brooklyn Historical Society:

  1. 1977.428, Matthews family papers, 1840-1910
  2. 1985.097, Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities collection, 1910-1927

Other Finding Aids note

An earlier version of this finding aid, containing a complete folder listing, is available in paper form at the Othmer Library. Please consult library staff for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Source and date of acquisition unknown. Formally accessioned in 2006.

Processing Information note

Minimally processed to the series level.

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Container List

Series 1: Business and political life, 1896-1921. 0.42 Linear feet in one manuscript box.

Scope and Contents

This series contains correspondence and newspaper articles about Brenner's professional duties and affairs. The correspondence includes congratulatory letters upon Brenner's judicial appointments, as well as correspondence documenting the efforts he made in assisting members of the Brooklyn community in obtaining employment. The newspaper articles provide details on the political strategies and judicial decisions made by Brenner during his tenure as magistrate. This series also includes material about Brenner's membership in the Kings County Federal Republican Party, as well as his association with United States Senator Chauncey M. Depew (1834-1928) and New York State Lieutenant Governor Timothy L. Woodruff (1858-1913).

Series 2: Personal and family life, 1884-1921. 1.76 Linear feet in one manuscript box and one oversize box.

Scope and Contents

This series chiefly contains correspondence received by Brenner upon the deaths of his parents, Simon and Caroline, and his wife, Louise. Also included are letters from Brenner's daughter Rose as a young girl to the Brenner family while she was traveling, items relating to Brenner's chairmanship at Temple Beth-Elohim, and newspaper articles about Brenner's death that were collected by his children after his death in 1921. The non-English language materials of this collection are also included in this series and are comprised of two letters in German, a German song sheet, and a Hebrew prayer pamphlet published on the occasion of Sir Moses Montefiore's 95th birthday in 1884. Box 3 holds oversized newspapers and newsletters, and also brittle and incomplete newspaper clippings.

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