Leopold Stieglitz
Papers, 1942-1956; bulk, 1950-1956


Quantity: 1 box (0.25 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Gift: Unknown, February 2015
Processed By: Regina Berry, Student Assistant, State University of New York at Albany for Manuscripts & Special Collections, February 2015

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Biographical Note:

Dr. Leopold Stieglitz (1867-1956) was a member of the Stieglitz family that produced photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) and Julius Stieglitz (1867-1937), a chemist and chair of the chemistry department at the University of Chicago from 1915-1933 and Leopold’s twin brother.  Their parents, Edward and Hedwig, were German-Jewish immigrants who settled in New Jersey and New York.  Edward became a successful wool importer, which gave him the means to have his family summer in the Adirondacks near Lake George.  Edward moved the family back to Germany in 1881, so the boys could get a more rigorous education. It was there that the three boys met the women they would later marry.  They all eventually returned to America.

Leopold went to medical school in Berlin and Leipzig, Germany, returning to the United States around 1891.  Settling again in New York City, he received the first medical license from the New York State Board of Regents in December 1891.  In 1892, he married Elizabeth Stieffel (1865-1955).  He began practice as a general practitioner in the city and became known as a keen diagnostician.  Leopold and Lizzie had two daughters: Flora (Stieglitz) Straus (1895-1994) and Elizabeth (Stieglitz) Davidson (ca. 1898-ca. 1956).  The couple apparently divorced around 1931 and Leopold married Amanda Liebmann Hoff in 1932.  Amanda died in 1938.

While he continued to reside in New York City and practice there, Leopold and his brother Alfred purchased summer homes in the Lake George area, which was the scene of many family gatherings over the years.  Leopold and Lizzie’s cottage, “Red Top,” was later used by their daughters, while he went on to own another home called “Greenook.”

Leopold Stieglitz died at his home in New York City on October 7, 1956, at the age of 89.

Scope and Content Note:

These papers consist chiefly of letters Leopold wrote to Kathryn Colton during the last few years of his life.  Kathryn and her lawyer husband, David Colton, a couple in their 40s, appear to have become acquainted with Dr. Stieglitz through his good friend, René Sichel.  René, possibly a stockbroker in New York City, was a single professional man whose company Dr. Stieglitz enjoyed.  At the time these letters begin, René had passed away and Dr. Stieglitz had struck up a friendship with the Coltons and he invited them to visit him at Lake George, as René had done.  The Coltons also lived in New York.  These letters were primarily written during the summers when Dr. Stieglitz was in Lake George and the Coltons were either in the city or summering elsewhere. 

The letters, most to Kathryn, discuss their visits, health and family matters, life in Lake George, and literature, and are full of his thoughts on the histories, biographies, classics and novels he was reading.  He suggested books for her and they even seem to have exchanged books as gifts.

For example, on July 5, 1953, Leopold wrote to Kathryn: “I am reading a book called “The Natural Superiority of Women” by a man named Ashley Montagu.  His whole theme is stupid, to my mind, and some of his statements are too ridiculous for anything—for instance he claims that men envy women for their ability to bear children—a function they are deprived of!!!  He ignores the fact that without a man’s help nary a child would women be able to conceive!  It was sent to me by a woman who has always taken the stand that she was brighter, than her husband, who is an unusually successful and intelligent banker—while she has nary an original thought of her own.”

“The Stieglitz Story” is a fascinating piece of this collection and seems to be the start of a possibly larger unfinished project. Leopold mentioned in a letter to Kathryn in 1952 that a Mr. Simpson of the New York Times wanted to write a book about Leopold and his twin Julius.  It is unclear whether Simpson’s interest in him and his twin or the death, in 1955, of his ex-wife Lizzie, prompted Leopold to begin this autobiographical effort, but it is full of the details of the three brothers and their early romantic involvements in Germany, and his brother Alfred’s unhappiness in marriage and how he came to meet Georgia O’Keeffe. 

The photographs of Kathryn Colton with Dr. Stieglitz at Lake George appear to have been taken by her husband, David.

Related Collections:

Two related collections are held by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University: the Alfred Stieglitz/Georgia O’Keeffe Archiveexternal link(1728-1986) and the Flora Stieglitz Straus Collection of Stieglitz Family Papersexternal link (1860-1999).

Box and Folder List:

Box Folder Description
1 1 Letters: Leopold Stieglitz to Kathryn Colton, 1950-1951 (14 items)
1 2 Letters: Leopold Stieglitz to Kathryn Colton, 1952  (8 items)
1 3 Letters: Leopold Stieglitz to Kathryn Colton, 1953  (10 items)
1 4 Letters: Leopold Stieglitz to Kathryn Colton, 1954  (5 items)
1 5 Letters: Leopold Stieglitz to Kathryn Colton, 1955-1956  (8 items)
1 6 “The Stieglitz Story,” as told by Leopold Stieglitz, 1955  (8 pages)
1 7 Newspaper Clippings and Obituary, 1951-1956 (4 items)
1 8 Notes of Leopold Stieglitz, 1950, undated (3 items)
1 9 Patient Medical Notes of Leopold Stieglitz, undated  (7 items)
1 10 Photograph: René Sichel, undated  (1 item)
1 11 Photographs: Kathryn Colton at Lake George, ca. 1950s  (4 items)
1 12 Photographs: Leopold Stieglitz, undated  (4 items)
1 13 Miscellaneous Items, 1942, 1951  (4 items)
  1. Program from Lotos Club dinner for Dr. Stieglitz, 1942
  2. Article: “Dr. A.A. Berg: An Appreciation” by Leopold Stieglitz, 1951
  3. Letter: Kathryn Colton to Dr. Stieglitz, 1951
  4. Note: Flora Straus to Kathryn Colton, ca. 1956
Last Updated: May 21, 2021