|Rare Book & Manuscript Library|
Table of Contents
Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
Container ListView All
Series I: Lehman Special Files, 1895-1987
Series II: Correspondence, 1913-1963
Series III: Senate Files, 1949-1956
Series IV: Campaigns, 1926-1961
Series V: Speeches and Statements, 1918-1963
Series VII: Writings by and about Herbert Lehman, 1880-2002
Series VIII. Media, 1920s-1980s
Series IX: Photographs
Series XIII: Press Releases, 1939-1956
Series XIV: General, 1933-1965
Series XV: Lieutenant Governorship and Governorship Microfilms, 1929-1945
At a Glance
This collection has been organized into 16 series.
Scope and Content
The collection documents Herbert H. Lehman's entire political career, though it focuses most heavily on his years as governor and senator. There is also material relating to his personal life, particularly his family and hobbies. It contains correspondence, speeches, research files, photographs, audio and visual recordings, oral histories, scrapbooks, articles, clippings, book drafts, appointment books, artwork, political cartoons, and memorabilia.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Conditions Governing Access
The following boxes are located on-site: Subseries I.1: Special Correspondence (Boxes 137-186, 1298-1303).
This collection is located off-site except as noted above. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions.
All original copies of audio and moving image media (Series VIII) are closed until reformatting in 2021.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Herbert H. Lehman Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Marshall MacDuffie Papers Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Orin Lehman Papers Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Overbrook Press Records, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
William B. Welsh Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Frank Altschul Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Paul Baerwald Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Hugh R. Jackson Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Sir Robert G.A. Jackson Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Edith Lehman Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
James G. McDonald Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Charles Poletti Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Richard Scandrett Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
UNRRA Microfilm, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Existence and Location of Copies
The Special Correspondence Files have been scanned and cataloged and are available online at https://dlc.library.columbia.edu/lehman.
Ownership and Custodial History
Gift of Edith Lehman, William Shannon, Alan Nevins, and indefinite loan from New York Public Library.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Correspondence, manuscripts, documents, sound recordings, motion pictures, political cartoons, clippings, printed material, memorabilia.
Surveyed Julie Miller. Processed by Brian Mackus, Columbia College '12; Tracy Thai, Barnard College '11; Stefanie Patterson, Columbia College '12; Hilary Hanson, Columbia College '12; Reuben Berman, Columbia College '14, and Carolyn Smith, archivist. Finding aid written by Carolyn Smith in 05/--/87 April 2014.
2014-10-04 xml document instance created by Carolyn Smith
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
2020-03-01 AV descripton added. kws
2020-07-23 Series X (Memorabilia) description added. kws
History / Biographical Note
Herbert Henry Lehman was born in New York City on March 28, 1878. He was the son of Mayer Lehman of Rimpar, Germany, and Babetta Newgass. Along with his brothers Henry and Emanuel, Mayer Lehman founded the Lehman Brothers investment banking firm.
Herbert Lehman grew up in New York and attended Sachs Collegiate Institute. After graduating from Williams College with a BA in 1899, he worked for the J. Spencer Turner Co., a textile manufacturing company, as a salesman and quickly worked his way up to vice president and treasurer. In 1908, he became a partner in Lehman Brothers. Lehman married Edith Altschul in 1910 and they would adopt three children, Peter, John, and Hilda Lane.
When World War I began, Lehman was eager to join the armed services. At 39 he was considered too old to fight, but persisted until he found a position at the Navy Department in the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, where he became responsible for procuring textiles for clothing, uniforms, and blankets. He was eventually made assistant director of the Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, which was charged with securing supplies for the Army on a massive scale. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for his work.
During the 1920s, Lehman became actively involved in politics and assisted with the presidential campaign of Al Smith. He left business entirely in 1928 and became Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Democratic Party. Lehman was elected lieutenant governor of New York in 1928 and 1930 and worked closely with then-governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, who valued his understanding of business. Lehman was elected governor of New York in 1932 and served four terms from 1933 to 1942. He was the first Jewish governor of the state.
During the Depression, Lehman supported President Franklin D. Roosevelt and based New York relief efforts on the New Deal. His "Little New Deal" programs set a minimum wage, provided aid to the unemployed, created options for public housing, created an unemployment insurance program, reduced utility rates, and aided farmers. Lehman also ensured that New York received maximum funding from New Deal programs such as the Civil Works Administration and the Works Progress Administration. LaGuardia Airport, The Central Park Zoo, the Triborough Bridge, and the Lincoln Tunnel were among the projects created by New Deal programs.
On December 3, 1942, Lehman resigned as governor and become Director of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations for the United States Department of State, an appointment offered by Roosevelt. The remainder of his term--only one month--was served by Charles Poletti. The following year, Lehman was chosen for the position of Director-General of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). From 1943 to 1946 he helped organize the distribution of food, supplies, and equipment to European countries.
All three of Lehman's children served in the US military during World War II. His son Peter, a pilot who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his missions in Germany, was killed during a practice flight in 1944.
Lehman was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from New York in 1946, but was defeated by Republican candidate Irving Ives. In 1949, when Senator Robert F. Wagner retired early due to health issues, Lehman ran in the special election for the remainder of the term and won, defeating John Foster Dulles. In 1950, he was re-elected to a full term and served until 1956. As a senator Lehman faced many challenges. He opposed changes to immigration policies that would base quotas on national origin, arguing that such policies were racist and that family unification, occupational skill, and pleas for asylum were more important considerations. He argued for better enforcement of civil rights legislation and an end to discrimination in housing and employment. Lehman strongly opposed the actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy throughout the 1950s and spoke openly and persistently against him.
Lehman retired from the senate in 1956 and did not seek another office, but he was still involved in politics and joined a group of reform Democrats with the aim of removing Tammany Hall influences from the party. Their efforts eventually ended the Tammany political machine.
Both Herbert and Edith Lehman were active in philanthropy throughout their lives and were given many awards in recognition of their aid. They funded "Pete's House" at the Henry Street Settlement honor of their son Peter, who had been a youth leader there. They also created the Lehman Children's Zoo (now the Tisch Zoo) at the Central Park Zoo in 1961.
Herbert Lehman died on December 5, 1963, at the age of 85.