University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Adolf Leo and Elizabeth Oppenheim Papers 1988-1980

© 2013 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Oppenheim, Adolf Leo and Elizabeth. Papers




.25 linear feet (1 box)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


This collection consists of documents relating to the lives of Leo and Elizabeth Oppenheim. A majority of the documents and correspondence relate to the couple's sustained attempts to leave Europe and immigrate to the United States during World War II. Documents within this collection date from 1888 to 1980, with the bulk of the documents dating between 1938 and 1946.

Information on Use


This collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Oppenheim, Adolf Leo and Elizabeth. Papers, [Box#, Folder#], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Biographical Note

Adolf Leo Oppenheim was a specialist in the ancient Near East and he spent most of his career at the Oriental Institute working on the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary. Born in Austria on June 7, 1904, he received his PhD at the University of Vienna in 1933. When Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938, he was dismissed from his position at the University of Vienna. Because of the rapidly deteriorating situation of Austrian Jews, he and his wife, Elizabeth Oppenheim, began the process of fleeing Nazi persecution. Thanks to his connections with the Vatican University in Rome, Oppenheim was invited to work at the Collège de France in Paris. However, as the war escalated, he lost this position and was interred in a French detention camp as a foreign national. After the Nazi invasion, he was able to escape from detention and after finding his wife, he and Elizabeth Oppenheim began to search for a way to leave Vichy France. For the next three years, Oppenheim and his wife attempted to immigrate to the United States. Eventually, after receiving the proper documents, Oppenheim and his wife successfully immigrated to the United States in 1941. He began working at the University of Chicago Oriental Institute in 1947. After a long and successful career, Oppenheim died in 1974.

Scope Note

This collection consists of family and legal documents relating to Adolf and Elizabeth Oppenheim's sustained attempts to leave Europe and immigrate to the United States during World War II. The majority of the collection consists of official documents, affidavits, correspondence, and forms of identification procured in their attempt to leave Nazi Austria and Vichy France. Also included in this collection is personal correspondence contemporary to their attempt to immigrate to the United States, documents pertaining to Elizabeth Oppenheim's mother, and later correspondence relating to the creation of this collection.

Related Resources

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:


Subject Headings


Box 1   Folder 1

Emigration history of A. Leo Oppenheim and Elizabeth Oppenheim, undated

Box 1   Folder 2

Official Documents- Austria, 1922-1936

Box 1   Folder 3

Official Documents-France, 1939-1941

Box 1   Folder 4

Emigration Documents, 1904-1941

Box 1   Folder 5

Identification Cards, 1941-1946

Box 1   Folder 6

Naturalization, 1946-1950

Box 1   Folder 7

Passports, 1923-1985

Box 1   Folder 8

Family History, 1888-1949, undated

Box 1   Folder 9

New York Public Library, 1941-1973

Box 1   Folder 10

Correspondence, 1938-1966

Box 1   Folder 11

Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1979, undated

Box 1   Folder 12

Clippings, Photographs, and Miscellaneous Documents, 1943-1948, undated