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Silvia Tennenbaum Papers, 1944-2012
7 boxes (7 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 499

Abstract:
Author. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, her family fled Nazi Germany in 1936 and eventually emigrated to America. She married Rabbi Lloyd Tennenbaum in 1951 (divorced 1986). Her first novel Rachel the Rabbi's Wife (1978) portrays her own life experiences. She also the author of the novel Yesterday's Streets (1981), about life amongst upper-middle class Jews in Frankfurt, Germany in the early twentieth century. Her papers include almost seventy years of personal journals beginning in 1944 with descriptions of her travels in Europe, Israel, Germany, Russia, and the U.S. There are also notes for her novels. [NOTE: The contents list for this collection is not online. Contact the Sophia Smith Collection if you would like one sent to you.]

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection with the following caveats:

  • Collection is stored offsite; researchers must give 48 hours advance notice.
  • This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.
  • Researchers must sign an Access Agreement Form before using this collection, agreeing to protect the confidentiality of living persons.

Restrictions on use:

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to the unpublished works of Silvia Tennenbaum within this collection. Copyright to materials authored by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

Silvia Pfeiffer Tennenbaum was born in Frankfurt, Germany, the daughter of Lotti Clara Stern and Erich Pfeiffer-Belli. Her parents divorced in 1930 and in 1934, her mother married William Steinberg, a conductor who would lead several symphonies, including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (1952-1976). The Steinberg family fled Nazi Germany in 1936 and young Silvia spent the next two years living in Basel, Switzerland with her Aunt, Getrude Ritz-Stern. In 1938, reunited with her mother, stepfather and stepbrother, she emigrated to America where the family settled in New Rochelle, New York. Silvia Pfeiffer graduated from New Rochelle High School in 1946; she then attended Barnard College, earning a BA with honors in Art History in 1950. She started graduate school at Columbia University but left in 1951 upon her marriage to Lloyd Tennenbaum, a rabbi. The Tennenbaums lived the next seven years in Lynchburg, Virginia--it was during these years that Silvia Tennenbaum gave birth to three sons and started her writing career. Twenty years later, she would parlay that experience into her first book, Rachel the Rabbi's Wife (1978). After a brief stint in Plainfield, New Jersey, Lloyd Tennenbaum was appointed rabbi to two congregations on Long Island's North Shore and the family settled in Huntington, New York where Silvia Tennenbaum began writing in earnest. In 1981, after thirty years of marriage, the Tennenbaums separated and were divorced in 1986. By then, Silvia Tennenbaum had returned to graduate school at Columbia University and completed her MA in art history in 1983. An avid traveller and prolific diarist, she is also the author of Yesterday's Streets (1981), a fictionalized account of life amongst upper-middle class Jews in Frankfurt, Germany from the start of the twentieth century to the Nazi take-over. In 2012, the city that Silvia Tennenbaum had fled from as a young child to escape the Holocaust decades earlier named Yesterday's Streets as their "Book of the Year."

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Pspers consist of almost 70 years of Tennenbaum's personal journals beginning in 1944. They include descriptions of her travels in Europe, Israel, Germany, Russia, and the U.S.. There are also notes for her novels.

[NOTE: The contents list for this collection is not online. Contact the Sophia Smith Collection if you would like one sent to you.]


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection with the following caveats:

  • Collection is stored offsite; researchers must give 48 hours advance notice.
  • This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.
  • Researchers must sign an Access Agreement Form before using this collection, agreeing to protect the confidentiality of living persons.

Restrictions on use:

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to the unpublished works of Silvia Tennenbaum within this collection. Copyright to materials authored by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Silvia Tennenbaum Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection

Silvia Tennenbaum began donating her papers to the Sophia Smith Collection in 2012.

Accruals:

Periodic additions to collection are expected and may not be reflected in this record.

Processing Information

Accessioned by Kathleen Banks Nutter, 2013


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Special Collections
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: specialcollections@smith.edu
URL: https://www.smith.edu/libraries/special-collections
Language
English


Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Authors, American -- Biography -- Sources
  • Divorce -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Sources
  • Holocaust survivors -- United States -- Biography -- Sources
  • Jewish women -- Biography -- Sources
  • Jews -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Sources
  • Marriage -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Sources
  • Motherhood -- United States -- History -- Sources
  • New York (State) -- Long Island
  • Tennenbaum, Silvia
  • Travel writers -- Biography -- Sources
  • Women rabbis -- United States


Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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