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Bernard L. Gorfinkle Papers

Identifier: P-664 and P-664A

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains family and official U.S. Army correspondence, legal documents, reports, financial documents, telegrams, news clippings, press releases, handwritten notes, photographs, and photographs chronocling Bernard L. Gorfinkle's personal life and military career. The collection is divided into two parts, which were donated at differnt times. Included in Part I are correspondence to and from his family while he was serving in Euope during World War I; a scrapbook, which was once a French bank ledger book rescued from the bombed out rubble of a bank, containing photographs and news clippings; official documentation from the U.S. Army concerning his service during both World Wars; as well as drafts and notes from his work on the Surpreme Economic Council. Included in Part II are correspondence, photographs, and newsclippings sent to his family during his time at the Mexican border and in Europe during World War I, photographs and travel ephemera documenting his return trip from the Mexican border in 1916, publications he collected, military documentation, document drafts and notes from his time on the Peace Commission, and work her undertook for the troops during World War II.


  • undated, 1914-1979


Language of Materials

The collection is predominantly in English, with Hebrew, and French.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for researcher use. Please contact us to request access or to make an appointment to view this collection at

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of this collection. For more information contact

Biographical Note

A U.S. attorney and community leader, Bernard L. Gorfinkle was born on October 29, 1889 to Harris and Sarah (Miliontaler) Gorfinkle in Boston, Massachusetts. He married Frieda Edinberg on June 7, 1921 and had three children: Herbert, Ruth (later Ruth Gorfinkle Roberts) and Sara.

After graduating from Boston University Law School in 1911, Gorfinkle was admitted to the Massachusetts and Federal Bar the same year and practiced law in Boston. Upon his discharge from the Army in 1919, he returned to private corporate law practice and worked in every department of a large bank with legal work, establishing branches and new departments, supervising brokerage houses and businesses of all sorts.

Gorfinkle's military career began in 1913 when he enlisted in the Massachusetts cavalry and served at the Mexican border as a sergeant under General John J. Pershing. Upon the entrance of the U.S. into World War I, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the American Expeditionary Forces. He participated in seven major battles and was wounded twice at Verdun, and promoted on the battlefield from second lieutenant to Captain Judge Advocate in the 26th Yankee Division. After the armistice, he was assigned to the American Peace Commission as secretary and military aide to Bernard M. Baruch. He was appointed Secretary of the Raw Materials Section of the Supreme Economic Council and Paris representative of the Rhineland Commission. He was present at the signing of the Versailles Treaty in 1919 as a military aide to President Woodrow Wilson.

Gorfinkle was decorated by the U.S. and French governments and was knighted by the King of Belgium at the close of World War I.

In 1919 he became a member of the Reserve Corps of the Army with the rank of Colonel. After the entrance of the United States in World War II, upon recommendation of President Roosevelt and approval of the U.S. Senate, he was appointed as Field Supervisor of the War Manpower Commissions for New England. In 1962, he was promoted to Brigadier General by Governor John Volpe from Massachusetts.

His wide-ranging interest in Jewish life led him to be co-founder and commander of the Jewish War Veterans Post in Newton, Massachusetts. He also was the founder, first president, and honorary president of the Newton Squash and Tennis Club. He served as director of the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for the Aged, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Boston Brandeis Club, and was an honorary trustee of Beth Israel Hospital. He was organizer and first president of the New England graduates of Zeta Beta Tan, and past president and administrator of the New Century Club and its students aid fund. He was active in many different local, state and national organizations, such as the Gorfinkle Foundation and the YMHA of France. He served in an executive capacity in many businesses and communal, athletic, and social organizations. He was a member of the American Friends of Hebrew University, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, American Jewish Historical Society, and Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, Massachusetts,


  1. Material in the collection.
  2. The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 5, p. 67 (1941)
  3. Who's Who in World Jewry (1965 and 1972), p. 354
  4. Biographical Encyclopedia of American Jews (1935), p. 191


Born in Boston, Massachusetts
Graduates from Boston English High School
Earns an L.L.B. from Boston University Law School
Pvt., Massachusetts Cavalry
Sergeant, Mexican Border Service
Second Lieutenant, American Expeditionary Forces
Promoted in the field to Captain Judge Advocate in the 26th Yankee Division; wounded twice in France
Acting Jewish Chaplain
Trail Judge Advocate
Delegate, American Peace Commission & Commission on Germany
Secretary & Military Aide to Bernard M. Baruch
Secretary of the Raw Materials Section of the Supreme Economic Council
Paris Representative, Rhineland Commission
Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve Corps.
Military Aide to President Woodrow Wilson
Judge Advocate, Maritime Affairs, New York
Marries Frieda Edinberg
State Department Judge Advocate, JWV
New England Field Supervisor, War Manpower Commission
Colonel, military aide to Governor Herter of Massachusetts
Military aide to Governor John Volpe of Massachusetts
Brigadier General, promoted by Governor J. Volpe, Massachusetts
BLG dies
Military Honors
U.S. Service Medal, seven stars (1919)
Purple Heart (1919); Medals of Verdun, Chateau Thierry, St. Mihiel, Le Havre, BelleWoods (1919)
Belgian Order of the Crown (1919)


3 linear feet (6 manuscript boxes, 1 OS folder)


This collection contains correspondence, photographs, news clippings, ephemera and a scrapbook compiled by Bernard L. Gorfinkle, a Boston area lawyer and civic leader who served in the United States Army during both World Wars and was a participant in the negoriations leading to the Treaty of Versailled and the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Sara Gorfinkle in 1992. Additional papers were donated in 1995 (donor unknown). Addendum materials were donated by the Hingham Historical Society in 2014.

Processing Information

Processed by Claire B. Farkas. Reprocessed by Stephanie Call. Addendum processed by Stephanie Call.

Guide to the Bernard L. Gorfinkle Papers, P-664
Processed by Claire B. Farkas (1994), reprocessed by Stephanie Call (2007). Addendum processed by Stephanie Call.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Processed by Stephanie Call, Schilder Assistant Archivist, made possible by a grant from the Schilder Family Fund. This collection has been digitized, made possible by a grant from the Trustees u/w of Herman Dana.

Repository Details

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

99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States