Print / View Finding Aid as Single Page

New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Edgar J. Nathan, Jr. Papers
 MS 438

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

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Zora Arum

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on September 06, 2018
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents

The Edgar J. Nathan, Jr. papers are comprised primarily of documents related to Edgar J. Nathan's work in civic service, both in terms of his involvement in New York politics and his active Jewish life. The collection includes papers—including correspondence, speeches, campaign materials, and reports on his accomplishments in office—for the three main stages of Nathan's political life, beginning with his time as a delegate to the 1938 New York Constitutional Convention and proceeding to his tenure as Manhattan Borough President in the early 1940s and New York Supreme Court Justice from 1946 until his death in 1965. During the years of Nathan's political service, he came into contact and formed relationships with a variety of influential political figures, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, Fiorello La Guardia, Robert Moses, Al Smith, Robert Wagner, Nelson Rockefeller, and Thomas Dewey. Thus, the collection includes correspondence with some of these men, though in other cases Nathan possessed only their signatures or impersonal notes from their offices. The collection also includes a significant amount of correspondence with Nathan's cousin, Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo.

In regards to Nathan's Jewish life, the collection contains documents—mainly souvenir programs, correspondence, speeches, and print matter—from a variety of organizations with which he was intimately involved, most prominently Shearith Israel (also known as the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation) and the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). The papers include extensive correspondence and memorabilia from major events in each organization's history, including Shearith Israel's (and worldwide) tercentenary celebrations commemorating the 300th anniversary of the arrival of Jews in America, the Jewish Theological Seminary's semi-centennial anniversary, and, in the case of Shearith Israel, stretching as far back as the consecration of their current house of worship in 1896.

The collection is also home to a sizable quantity of Nathan's personal correspondence and bills, most of which originate from the mid-20th century, as well as photographs, accumulated books (mostly on Jewish topics), and personal memorabilia, some of which pertains to preceding generations of the Nathan family—including, but not limited to, information on early Jewish immigration to the United States that traces the genealogies of the Nathan, Gomez, Seixas and Solis families.

For more information on early Jewish families that were related to the Nathans, see the New-York Historical Society's collection of the Hendricks Family papers.


The collection is organized in the following series:

Series I. Constitutional Convention, 1937-1941
Series II. Manhattan Borough Presidency, 1923-1945 (bulk, 1941-1945)
Series III. New York Supreme Court, 1938-1965
Series IV. Jewish Leadership, 1896-1967 (bulk, 1937-1965)
Series V. General Correspondence, 1900-1976
Series VI. Print Matter, 1881-1959 (bulk, 1890-1925)
Series VII. Memorabilia, 1808-1966