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Herbert B. Ehrmann Papers

Identifier: P-94

Scope and Content Note

The bulk of this material pertains to HBE's involvement with the American Jewish Committee. Some correspondence with relatives in Poland before World War II, and in Italy immediately after the war, is also included, as is a small amount of material pertaining to his wife Sara, who was active in the Massachusetts campaign to abolish the death penalty. Some letters in German are included in the Personal Series.


  • undated, 1913-1970


Language of Materials

The collection is in English and German.

Access Restrictions

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Use Restrictions

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Biographical Note

Herbert B. Ehrmann (HBE) was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1891. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and practiced law in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1917 HBE married Sara Emilie Rosenfeld. They had two sons: Hilmar Bruce and Robert Lincoln. With William G. Thompson, HBE served as associate counsel for Sacco and Vanzetti during the closing years of their trial. He wrote two books, The Untried Case and The Case that Will Not Die, about the trial and also wrote articles, an additional book, and a play, "Under this Roof," which was produced on Broadway in 1942. He also translated poetry from the Hebrew language.

He was active in civic affairs and in Jewish organizational life and in 1957 was a member of a nine-man delegation which conducted a 15,000-mile fact-finding survey in Europe, North Africa, and Israel. This delegation was granted a special audience with Pope Pius XII, and was the only Jewish group to be awarded such an honor. The delegation also met with Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and other Israeli officials, and with government leaders in France, Italy, Tunisia, and Morocco. HBE was elected president of the American Jewish Committee in April 1959 and served in that capacity until 1961. He died in 1970.


  1. "Biographical Sketch: Herbert B. Ehrmann, President, American Jewish Committee," 1959, P-94, Herbert B. Ehrmann Papers, American Jewish Historical Society
  2. "The Tragedy of the S.S. St. Louis," The Jewish Virtual Library,


HBE born in Louisville, Kentucky
Receives A.B. from Harvard
Receives LL.B. from Harvard Law School
Marries Sara Emilie Rosenfeld
Son Hilmar Bruce is born
HBE becomes partner in law firm Goulston and Storrs, Boston, MA; Criminal Courts of Cleveland, Ohio published
Counsel, with William G. Thompson, for Sacco and Vanzetti
The Untried Case (about Sacco and Vanzetti) published
"Under this Roof" produced on Broadway
HBE serves as Chair of the Greater Boston Tercentenary Committee
HBE participates in American Jewish Committee fact-finding mission in Europe, North Africa, and Israel
HBE elected president of American Jewish Committee
The Case that Will Not Die published
HBE dies


1.25 linear feet (2 manuscript boxes, 1 half-manuscript box)


Contains correspondence, addresses and speeches, newspaper clippings, and published material relating primarily to Ehrmann's activity in the national and Boston chapter of the American Jewish Committee (1935-1970). Of special interest is material on the relation of the Committee to the American Jewish Conference (1943-1948), the relationship of American Jewry to the State of Israel, and the attitude of the Committee to the establishment of Israel. Also contains genealogical material, in German and in English, between Ehrmann and his relatives in Poland immediately prior World War II, and in Italy immediately after the war. Also contains letters and reports sent by Mrs. Sara Rosenfeld Ehrmann (b. 1895) by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the United Jewish Appeal, dealing primarily with fund-raising matters.

Also included are Speakers bulletins used by the Women's Division of the Greater Boston United Jewish Campaign, of which Mrs. Ehrmann was chairman. Of special interest are reports sent to Mr. Ehrmann by the JDC regarding the ship "St. Louis." The collection includes photographs.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Donated in 1971, with additional material donated by Sara Rosenfeld Ehrmann in 1977.

Processing Information

Reprocessed by Susan Earle, March 2004

Herbert B. Ehrmann Papers
Processed by Susan Earle
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Revision Statements

  • 06/13/2023: Revised by Gabrielle Roth

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at American Ancestors Repository

99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States