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Leo G. Bernheimer Diaries

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Collection Summary

Leo G. Bernheimer Diaries


Collection ID

Bernheimer, Leo G. (Leo Gabe), 1876-1941

0.63 linear feet (2 boxes)

Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries

Materials in English.


Detailed Collection Information

Biographical Note
Leo G. Bernheimer was born May 19, 1876, in Philadelphia. He attended Central High School and the Wharton School before studying Law at the University of Pennsylvania. Bernheimer married Hannah Rose Nathan on April 28, 1908, and they had six children. Daughter Betty Ray was the first woman to graduate with a degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. Bernheimer was a practicing attorney, recording secretary for the Young Men’s Young Women’s Hebrew Association from 1901 until 1919, and an active member of the Pow Wow Club, a literary society of prominent Philadelphians. Bernheimer died on January 4, 1941.

Description of Collection
The collection consists of handwritten and typescript diary volumes that chronicle Bernheimer’s day to day experiences as an adolescent and then as a young man living and working as an attorney in Philadelphia at the turn of the century. Bernheimer maintains a consistent and almost methodical approach to his diary entries. For most entries, he includes specific information regarding the events of the day including the exact time he woke in the morning, weather conditions, status of his health, particularly his poor eyesight, and books he was actively reading. He also includes detailed information about the places he visited giving exact street locations and intersections, as well as first and last names of people he interacted with in his daily life.

The collection of diaries is comprised of twenty-two volumes. Bernheimer assigned volume numbers to the first 15 diaries using a mix of Arabic and Roman numerals.  Each diary covers a date range that is transcribed on the front cover of the volume or on the first loose leaf page in cases where the diary is not bound. Beginning with volume I and carrying through volume XIII, the pages are numbered consecutively. Beginning in volume 2, Bernheimer affixes his signature at the end of most diary entries which continues throughout the remaining volumes. Beginning with the 5th volume through the rest of the series of diaries are entries or portions of entries in varying length written in a code generated by Bernheimer. He uses two different and distinct cyphers to encode the text, the first of which applies to the 5th and 6th volumes.  The second cypher applies to entries in volume 7 to the last diary. The key to the first cypher is on page 468 of the 5th volume and the key to the second cypher is on page 674 of volume 7. There are encoded entries for which there is no apparent cypher, an example of which can be found on page 511 of volume VI.

In addition to the volumes, there are typescript reprints of entries from New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day for a select number of years; a photocopy of a handwritten family tree that shows the generation before and after that of Leo G. Bernheimer; and a diary supplement titled “The I Composition,” an autobiographical description of Bernheimer’s character and personality traits.

Organization and Arrangement
The diaries are arranged in chronological order with duplicate typescripts, supplement, and family tree at the end.


Patron Information

Catalog Record
A record for this collection is available in Temple University’s online library catalog: https://librarysearch.temple.edu/catalog/991037395104903811

Research Access
Collection is open for research.

Collections Stored Off-Site
This collection may be housed off-site at the Library Depository, and require up to two business days to retrieve. Please review the finding aid and be prepared to identify specific materials to be retrieved. Contact the Special Collections Research Center in advance of your visit, so that materials may be relocated to the reading room for research.

Publication and Copyright Information
The Leo G. Bernheimer Diaries are the physical property of the Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries. The donor has not assigned their rights to Temple University Libraries.  Other creators’ intellectual property rights, including copyright, belong to them or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for determining the identity of rights holders and obtaining their permission for publication and for other purposes where stated. 

Preferred Citation
[Description and date of item], [Box/folder number], Leo G. Bernheimer Diaries, 1890-1898, SCRC 12, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Administrative Information

Acquisition Information
Donated in 1979 by Betty Rotenberg, daughter of Leo G. Bernheimer. Collection previously administered by the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center, acquired by Temple in June 2009.

Processing Information
Collection processed and finding aid prepared in 1981 by Lee Leopold. Finding aid revised according to contemporary archival standards in 2012 by Jessica M. Lydon, Project Archivist. Finding aid reformatted and patron and administrative information updated in February 2020. 

Index Terms

The following headings have been used to index the description of this collection in Temple University’s electronic catalog:

Personal Names:
Bernheimer, Leo G. (Leo Gabe), 1876-1941

Jewish lawyers
Jews -- United States -- Diaries

Philadelphia (Pa.) -- Social life and customs

Material Types:


Inventory, Leo G. Bernheimer Diaries

Box   Folder   Desciption

1          1          Volume I          December 30, 1890–September 15, 1891

1          2          Volume 2          September 16, 1891 –March 17, 1892

1          3          Volume 3rd, 2nd year          March 18–September 2, 1892

1          4          Volume 4th, 2nd and 3rd year          September 3, 1892 –February 13, 1893

1          5          5th volume, 3rd year          February 14–June 17, 1893

1          6          Volume VI          June 18, 1893–June 29, 1894

1          7          Volume 7          June 30–September 12, 1894

1          8          Volume VIII          September 12–December 4, 1894

1          9          Volume IX          December 5, 1894–March 8, 1895

1          10          Volume X          March 9–June 6, 1895

1          11          Volume XI          June 7–September 3, 1895

1          12          Volume XII          September 4–November 6, 1895

1          13          Volume XIII          November 7, 1895–January 8, 1896

1          14          Volume XIV          January 9–March 14, 1896

1          15          Volume XV          March 15–May 30, 1896

2          1          Diary          May 31–July 25, October 2–November 29, 1896

2          2          Diary          July 27–October 1, 1896

2          3          Diary          November 30, 1896–March 16, 1897

2          4          Diary          March 17–September 12, 1897

2          5          Diary          September 13, 1897–January 26, 1898

2          6          Diary          January 27–May 18, 1898

2          7          Diary          May 19–December 31, 1898

2          8          Duplicate typescripts of New Year’s Eve entries          1890–1895

2          9          Diary supplement, “The I Composition,”           September 20–21, 1894

2          10          Bernheimer family tree photocopy          undated