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Guide to the Charles L. Bernheimer Papers
1877-1935 (bulk 1906-1920)
 MS 58

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Andy Latoni

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on September 06, 2019
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Bernheimer, Charles L. (Charles Leopold), 1864-1944
Title: Charles L. Bernheimer papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1877-1935 (bulk 1906-1920)
Abstract: Correspondence, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and photographs belonging to Charles L. Bernheimer (1864-1944). Bernheimer was a businessman and explorer who participated in several civic service related activities in New York City. The collection contains drafts and correspondence regarding Bernheimer's peace proposals for the termination of World War I. There is correspondence and other documents related to Bernheimer's work as a strike arbitrator. The collection also contains records of several political organizations that supported fusion politics and reform in New York's municipal government in the early twentieth century.
Quantity: 7 Linear feet in 7 record cartons and 1 over-sized folder
Location: Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact prior to your research visit to coordinate access. Keep in mind that it will take between two (2) and five (5) business days for collections to arrive, and you should plan your research accordingly.
Call Phrase: MS 58

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Biographical / Historical

Charles L. Bernheimer (1864-1944) was a Jewish merchant, arbitrator, and businessman who was involved in several civic activities in New York City. He was born in Ulm, Germany in 1864 and immigrated to the United States in 1880. Upon his arrival, he worked at the firm of Adolph Bernheimer for wholesale dry foods, which later became the Bear Mill Manufacturing Company of which he was president from 1907 to 1929. As a merchant, he was chairman of both the Trade Relations Council and the Council of Textile Executives.

In addition to his work in business, Bernheimer was involved in the political scene in New York. He was the treasurer of the Citizens' Municipal Campaign, also known as the "Committee of 107," which helped elect John Purroy Mitchel as mayor of New York City. The Citizens' Municipal Campaign was an anti-Tammany effort that sought to elect non-partisan politicians that would support progressive reform. Bernheimer was also an arbitrator for labor disputes as he was Chairman of the Committee on Arbitration of the New York Chamber of Commerce. He helped settle numerous strikes regarding the garment industry.

Charles Bernheimer was also an explorer and took several trips to the Southwest where he discovered dinosaur tracks and Native American artifacts. Furthermore, he was a congregant of Temple Emanu-El, the first reform Jewish congregation in New York City. He was also member of the City Club of New York.

Throughout 1914 and 1915, Bernheimer drafted his proposed settlement to end World War I; he saw the United States as being in a unique position to act as an international arbitrator that would oversee a peace resolution and ensure its continuation.

He married Clara Silberman in 1893 and had two daughters, Mrs. Hellen B. Halle and Mrs. Alice B. Pallain.

After numerous years of civic service, Bernheimer died in 1944 at age seventy-nine.

[This biographical note is drawn from the New York Herald Tribune obituary of Charles L. Bernheimer (see box 6, folder 25).]

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Scope and Contents

The Charles L. Bernheimer papers contain correspondence and records related to several activities that Bernheimer was involved with.

There are drafts and revisions of Bernheimer's "A Businessman's Plan for Settling the War" which was his own peace proposal for the termination of World War I. The collection contains correspondence regarding the proposal as Bernheimer sent it to numerous friends and public figures, including President Woodrow Wilson. In addition, there are clippings from newspapers and personal records related to the proposals and World War I in general.

The collection also includes documents and correspondence from Bernheimer's time working as an arbitrator in labor disputes with the Committee on Arbitration of New York Chamber of Commerce. There are records of strike settlements from many disputes such as those concerning the Cloak, Suit, and Skirt Industry, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, and the American Clothing Manufacturer's Association.

In addition, there is correspondence associated with the Safety First movement which was an organization that focused on several aspects of public safety such as street traffic and signaling devices on automobiles.

There are also documents, official records, and correspondence regarding numerous political organizations that Bernheimer was involved with such as the Citizens' Municipal Committee and the Fusion committee in the 1910s as well as local and national political campaigns.

Documents related to other topics are also present including a daylight savings time proposal, parks maintenance plans, subway system construction ideas, unemployment projects, and revisions for New York's bank laws.


The collection is organized by topic with much of the original ordering, such as content of the folders, remaining intact as found by the processing archivist in June 2019.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Mitchel, John Purroy, 1879-1918

Document Type

  • Circulars
  • Clippings (information artifacts).
  • Correspondence
  • Memorandums
  • Minutes (administrative records)
  • Scrapbooks.
  • Speeches

Subject Organizations

  • Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
  • Adler and Ast (Firm)
  • Citizens' Municipal Committee (New York, N.Y.)
  • Cloak, Suit and Skirt Manufacturers' Protective Association (New York, N.Y.)
  • National Trades Relations Council
  • New York Chamber of Commerce. Committee on Arbitration
  • Parks Rehabilitation Committee (New York, N.Y.)
  • Safety First Federation
  • Safety First Society (New York, N.Y.)
  • Textile Integrity Guild (New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Arbitration, Industrial -- United States
  • Banking law -- New York (State)
  • Daylight saving
  • Garment Workers' Strike, New York, N.Y., 1912-1913.
  • Industrial relations -- New York (State)
  • Labor unions -- Political activity
  • Mayors -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Political campaigns -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Presidents -- United States -- Election -- 1912
  • Strikes and lockouts -- Clothing trade -- New York (State)
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Peace

Subject Places

  • Central Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Politics and government -- 1898-1951
  • North America -- Discovery and exploration

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers. Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use.

Use Restrictions

This collection is owned by the New-York Historical Society. The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder. Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to 20 exposures of stable, unbound material per day.

Preferred Citation

The collection should be cited as: Charles L. Bernheimer Papers, MS 58, New-York Historical Society.

Related Materials

New-York Historical Society holds the records of the government reform civic organization City Club of New York (MS 116). Charles Bernheimer was a member of that group, participating on their committees.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Charles L. Bernheimer in 1943.

Processing Information

At some point, possibly around 2000, the collection was re-housed in archival folders and boxes, and a catalog record prepared. In June 2019, intern Andy Latoni of the Princeton Internships in Civic Service program did more comprehensive processing, including removing pins used as fasteners, refining the arrangement, reboxing the collection, and preparing a detailed finding aid. Also at that time, photographs and scrapbooks that had been removed from the collection at some point were returned to it.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: - Folder : - Peace Proposals
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 1-10 Peace proposals, correspondence (10 folders)
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 11-14 Peace proposals (4 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes drafts, translations into French, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch, and clippings.

Box: - Folder : - Labor Strikes
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 15-21 Labor strikes, 1912-1913 (7 folders)

Scope and Contents

Records, clippings, pamphlets, and correspondence regarding the strikes by the garment industry including the Men's Garment Industry, the Cloak, Suit, and Skirt Industry, and the Dress and Waist Industry.

Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 1-12 Labor strikes, 1915-1916 (12 folders)

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, publications, and records from strikes regarding the garment industry including the Amalgamated Clothing Workers' of America, the Cloak, Suit, and Skirt Industry, and the Adler and Ast controversy. Petitions to President Woodrow Wilson regarding 1916 strike in New York City.

Folder: Oversize-Medium Labor strikes, 1915-1916. Oversize

Scope and Contents

Poster from the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America declaring the beginning of a general strike for the garment industry on January 13, 1916. The poster is written in English, Hebrew, and Italian.

Box: - Folder : - Safety First
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 13-20 Safety First, correspondence (8 folders)
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 1-2 Safety First, correspondence (2 folders)
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 3-6 Safety First, management (4 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes by-laws, contracts, promotional pamphlets, and conference records.

Box: - Folder : - Citizens' Municipal Committee/Fusion Committee
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 7-9 Citizens' Municipal Committee, early papers (3 folders)

Scope and Contents

Records of contributions to the Citizens' Municipal Committee including those of John D. Rockefeller.

Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 10-23 Citizens' Municipal Committee, 1913 (14 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence, clippings, and records relating to the role of the Citizens' Municipal Committee of 107 in the election of Mayor John Purroy Mitchel; the financial contributions to the Citizens' Municipal Committee, including those of John D. Rockefeller; the disbanding of the Citizens' Municipal Committee; and the appointment of several individuals to certain political positions.

Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 1-8 Citizens' Municipal Committee, 1913 (8 folders)
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 9-13 Citizens' Municipal Committee, 1914-1921 (5 folders)
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 14-20 Fusion Campaign, 1917 (7 folders)

Scope and Contents

Records of the Fusion Committee's effort to re-elect Mayor John Purroy Mitchel including correspondence with potential contributors to the campaign; lists of financial contributions; pamphlets regarding the Fusion Committee's purpose; and documents about the 1917 election.

Box: - Folder : - Political Campaigns
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 1-3 Political campaigns, 1912 (3 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence and contribution records regarding the 1912 Congressional Campaign in the 18th Congressional District for S. Walter Kaufman. Records of the Republican Party's 1912 campaign.

Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 4-5 Political campaigns, 1917 (2 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence regarding several municipal campaigns from both Republican and Fusion candidates during the 1917 election.

Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 6 Political campaigns, 1919

Scope and Contents

Records of contributions to the campaign of Henry H. Curran for the presidency of the borough of Manhattan including those of John D. Rockefeller and John D. Rockefeller Jr.

Box: - Folder : - Other Materials
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 7-8 Chamber of Commerce (2 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes personal writings related to the Chamber of Commerce as well as publications about the Great Depression.

Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 9-10 Committee on Unemployment (2 folders)
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 11 Correspondence, William George Jordan
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 12 Daylight Savings Time Committee

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence and pamphlets regarding the movement to pass federal legislation for a Daylight Savings Time bill.

Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 13 Exploration

Scope and Contents

Correspondence and clippings regarding Robert Peary's exploration of the North Pole as well as Charles Bernheimer's own exploration activities.

Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 14 Fifth Avenue Association

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence, clippings, and publications regarding the Fifth Avenue Association's efforts to restrict building heights.

1917- 1921
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 15 Honest Ballot Association
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 16-18 New York Bank Law revision (3 folders)
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 19 New York Federation of Churches

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence and publications related to the New York Federation of Churches' work to combat unemployment as well as documents regarding the Committee for Immigrants in America.

Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 20-21 New York parks (2 of 3 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes documents related to the Central Park Rehabilitation Committee, later the Parks Advisory Committee, and its maintenance efforts for New York City's public parks. Photographs of Central Park.

Folder: Oversize-Medium New York parks (1 of 3 folders). Oversize

Scope and Contents

Blueprint of geological sign for the Great Lawn in the lower reservoir site of Central Park.

Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 1-3 Newspapers (3 folders)
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 4-6 Parks Advisory Committee (3 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence and records detailing the work of the Parks Advisory Committee in the maintenance of New York City's parks.

Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 7 Park Avenue Improvement Association
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 8 Photographs (1 of 2 folders)

Scope and Contents

Photographs of Charles L. Bernheimer and his wife Clara Silberman Bernheimer.

Folder: Oversize-Medium Photographs (1 of 2 folders). Oversize

Scope and Contents

Photograph of Charles L. Bernheimer.

Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 9 Real estate
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 10 Red Cross
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 11 Safety Deposit Boxes
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 12-14 Speech materials (3 folders)
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 15 State Charities Aid Association
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 16 Subway system
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 17 Textile Integrity Guild
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 18 Trade Relations Council
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 19-22 Miscellaneous (4 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes biographical clippings and notes; political correspondence; and school notebooks.

Offsite-Box: 7 Volume : 1-2 Scrapbooks

Scope and Contents

Two scrapbooks containing clippings related to Bernheimer's work in public service and exploration.


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