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Charles L. Bernheimer papers

Call Number

MS 58


1877-1935 (bulk 1906-1920), inclusive


Bernheimer, Charles L. (Charles Leopold), 1864-1944


7 Linear feet in 7 record cartons and 1 over-sized folder

Language of Materials

English .


Correspondence, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and photographs belonging to Charles L. Bernheimer (1864-1944). Bernheimer was a businessman and explorer who participated in several civic service related activities in New York City. The collection contains drafts and correspondence regarding Bernheimer's peace proposals for the termination of World War I. There is correspondence and other documents related to Bernheimer's work as a strike arbitrator. The collection also contains records of several political organizations that supported fusion politics and reform in New York's municipal government in the early twentieth century.

Biographical / Historical

Charles L. Bernheimer (1864-1944) was a Jewish merchant, arbitrator, and businessman who was involved in several civic activities in New York City. He was born in Ulm, Germany in 1864 and immigrated to the United States in 1880. Upon his arrival, he worked at the firm of Adolph Bernheimer for wholesale dry foods, which later became the Bear Mill Manufacturing Company of which he was president from 1907 to 1929. As a merchant, he was chairman of both the Trade Relations Council and the Council of Textile Executives.

In addition to his work in business, Bernheimer was involved in the political scene in New York. He was the treasurer of the Citizens' Municipal Campaign, also known as the "Committee of 107," which helped elect John Purroy Mitchel as mayor of New York City. The Citizens' Municipal Campaign was an anti-Tammany effort that sought to elect non-partisan politicians that would support progressive reform. Bernheimer was also an arbitrator for labor disputes as he was Chairman of the Committee on Arbitration of the New York Chamber of Commerce. He helped settle numerous strikes regarding the garment industry.

Charles Bernheimer was also an explorer and took several trips to the Southwest where he discovered dinosaur tracks and Native American artifacts. Furthermore, he was a congregant of Temple Emanu-El, the first reform Jewish congregation in New York City. He was also member of the City Club of New York.

Throughout 1914 and 1915, Bernheimer drafted his proposed settlement to end World War I; he saw the United States as being in a unique position to act as an international arbitrator that would oversee a peace resolution and ensure its continuation.

He married Clara Silberman in 1893 and had two daughters, Mrs. Hellen B. Halle and Mrs. Alice B. Pallain.

After numerous years of civic service, Bernheimer died in 1944 at age seventy-nine.

[This biographical note is drawn from the New York Herald Tribune obituary of Charles L. Bernheimer (see box 6, folder 25).]


The collection is organized by topic with much of the original ordering, such as content of the folders, remaining intact as found by the processing archivist in June 2019.

Scope and Contents

The Charles L. Bernheimer papers contain correspondence and records related to several activities that Bernheimer was involved with.

There are drafts and revisions of Bernheimer's "A Businessman's Plan for Settling the War" which was his own peace proposal for the termination of World War I. The collection contains correspondence regarding the proposal as Bernheimer sent it to numerous friends and public figures, including President Woodrow Wilson. In addition, there are clippings from newspapers and personal records related to the proposals and World War I in general.

The collection also includes documents and correspondence from Bernheimer's time working as an arbitrator in labor disputes with the Committee on Arbitration of New York Chamber of Commerce. There are records of strike settlements from many disputes such as those concerning the Cloak, Suit, and Skirt Industry, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, and the American Clothing Manufacturer's Association.

In addition, there is correspondence associated with the Safety First movement which was an organization that focused on several aspects of public safety such as street traffic and signaling devices on automobiles.

There are also documents, official records, and correspondence regarding numerous political organizations that Bernheimer was involved with such as the Citizens' Municipal Committee and the Fusion committee in the 1910s as well as local and national political campaigns.

Documents related to other topics are also present including a daylight savings time proposal, parks maintenance plans, subway system construction ideas, unemployment projects, and revisions for New York's bank laws.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers. Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use.

Use Restrictions

This collection is owned by the New-York Historical Society. The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder. Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to 20 exposures of stable, unbound material per day.

Preferred Citation

The collection should be cited as: Charles L. Bernheimer Papers, MS 58, New-York Historical Society.

Location of Materials

Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact prior to your research visit to coordinate access. Keep in mind that it will take between two (2) and five (5) business days for collections to arrive, and you should plan your research accordingly.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Charles L. Bernheimer in 1943.

Related Materials

New-York Historical Society holds the records of the government reform civic organization City Club of New York (MS 116). Charles Bernheimer was a member of that group, participating on their committees.

Collection processed by

Andy Latoni

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 15:48:27 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: English

Processing Information

At some point, possibly around 2000, the collection was re-housed in archival folders and boxes, and a catalog record prepared. In June 2019, intern Andy Latoni of the Princeton Internships in Civic Service program did more comprehensive processing, including removing pins used as fasteners, refining the arrangement, reboxing the collection, and preparing a detailed finding aid. Also at that time, photographs and scrapbooks that had been removed from the collection at some point were returned to it.


New-York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society
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New York, NY 10024