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ARC MS20 - Nathaniel Julius Reich Collection

Nathaniel Julius Reich - Biography


Early Life and Education

Dr. Nathaniel Julius Reich was born in Sarvar, Hungary on April 29, 1876. Various biographical sources give different years of birth, with most listing his birth year as 1882. According to his passport, found in the Reich papers, his birth order, and his reported age at the time of his death in October of 1943, all of which has been researched by Prof. Robert Kraft, we record here his birth year as 1876 not 1882.

He was the son of Rabbi Wilhelm Reich and his first wife. His father was oberrabbiner (chief rabbi) of Baden bei Wien (Baden-near-Vienna, also known as Baden), Austria for 50 years, until his death in 1929. For more information about Dr. Reich's family, see "Family History", below. For more biographical information about his father, see the finding aid to the Wilhelm Reich Collection.

A member of a family of distinguished rabbis, it was expected that Nathaniel Reich would also join the Rabbinate. His father gave him "a complete Rabbinical training in Bible, Talmud, and other Rabbinical literature", and taught him "from childhood, Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic and Syriac". He also studied piano, violin and cello, as well as drawing, sketching and painting. His formal education included attending the Volksshule and Gymnasium of Baden. He also studied architecture and higher mathematics at the Technische Hochshule (Institute of Technology) in Vienna for one year. (1)

Higher Education

He received his PhD degree in 1904 from the Lehranstaltfur Orientalische Sprachen in Vienna, where his major subjects of study were "Semitics, Paleography, Papyrology, Oriental History and Egyptology, with a minor in Philosophy". (1) His dissertation was entitled: "Prolegomena zu einer vergleichenden und praehistorischen Grammatik mit besonderer Berucksichtigung des Aegyptischen und seiner Dialekte" (Introduction to a comparative and prehistoric Grammar with special attention to the Egyptian language and its Dialects.) He also pursued post-graduate training at the Universities of Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Strassburg and Oxford, where his studies included librarianship, museology, chemistry and preservation techniques. (1)

Choice of Career

In his curriculum vitae, he explains his decision to pursue an academic career: "I had resolved to make my life work a collection of data wherever found in Oriental records (manu-scripts, potsherds, inscriptions, etc.) concerning the Jews.... to write a complete history of the Jews in the Ancient Orient, North Africa, Greece and Rome. The work when completed should form a 'living commentary' on the Bible and Talmud." (1)

Although this ambitious plan was never carried out in full, his linguistic and antiquarian expertise enabled him to study the entire field which he set out to chronicle. The focus of his career became Egyptology, but he was perhaps best known as a linguist. He is reputed to have mastered 50 languages (2), among them, in addition to ancient Greek, Latin, and those already noted, "Persian, Turkish.... Sumerian, Assyrian, Hittite cuneiform, Phoenician, Meroitic and.... South Arabian dialects" (1), including the Mahri, Sokotri, Skhauri, and Sabaic dialects. He also learned the Hamitic languages of North Africa, including Libyan, Berber, Shilhish, and Taureg, as well as Somali, Nubian, and Ethiopian. (2)

Dr. Reich spoke modern German (his native tongue), English, French, Italian and Spanish; it is likely that he also knew some Hungarian. Among others, he studied the Indian language, Tamil, and some Native American languages of the North and Central Americas. When asked about his unusual linguistic facility, he is reported to have said "It just comes to you, almost without effort". (2)

He specialized in Egyptian hieroglyphs, particularly the Hieratic, abnormal Hieratic, Coptic and Demotic; he was one of only a handful of men in the world able to translate Demotic inscriptions. To explain the level of erudition this requires, one news article suggested that an Egyptologist's "knowledge of hieroglyphics is comparable to.... one's A B C's, while knowing Demotic or abnormal Hieratic is like being able to read and understand.... an income tax regulation". (2)
Choice of Career, Continued

His interest in Demotic was closely linked with his early goal to compile a complete history of ancient Jewry. He states in his vitae that "the Demotic material is very important.... because it is of the period when the Jews had the greatest political power and developed the Jewish Alexandrian culture" (2). At the height of his career Dr. Reich was recognized as the leading Demotist in the world. In another news article about his work
with Demotic papyri, he is quoted as saying: "Think now, how well rewarded I am by my persistence.... at the end of every hard task lies romance.... and the satisfaction of knowing that you have mastered an age old mystery." (3)

An obituary of Dr. Reich printed in the New York Times states that he "also was a rabbi", but this has not been substantiated. The statement may have been based on Dr. Reich's early rabbinical training. (4)

Early Career

His early work included cataloging and editing publications of the collections of ancient inscriptions held by various museums and libraries. These institutions include the Innsbruck Landesmueum, the Munich Library, the British Museum, the National Library of Vienna, and the Museo di Antichita of Turin. In addition, he held positions at the University of Prague and the University of Vienna.

It was probably at these institutions that he lectured on a wide array of subjects, from the grammar of individual languages to comparative Semitic grammar, and from the cultural history of the Near East to the smallest details of daily life in ancient Egypt. (1) In later years, he expressed some frustration that his position as Professor of Egyptology at Dropsie College did not allow him the scope to teach a much wider range of subjects, as he felt qualified to do.
World War I

The "Great War" came at a critical point in Dr. Reich's career. He had held a number of academic appoint-ments, had published widely, worked by invitation with several prestigious collections, and made himself known to the top men in his field. He was ready to find a permanent position on the faculty of a major University. But to his dismay, he never reached this goal. In the economic debacle following WWI, the secure academic milieu in which he was at home also collapsed. As one news article dramatically phrased it, "With the falling of the kronen his modest fortune, quite sufficient for a scholar's needs, was swept away. Austria was dismembered and the hand of science stayed." (2) It seemed that only those who were most pre-eminent in the field of oriental studies could now be assured of a position.


In the years following WWI Dr. Reich searched for such a position, with increasing desperation, in both Europe and the United States. Several items of correspondence reveal his sense of incredulity that there should be no prominent place for him in academia. However, there is room to question the extent to which academe had no place for anyone with his impressive credentials, and the extent to which his own personality may have influenced his opportunities.

He first came to the United States in January, 1921, and in 1922 was appointed Assistant Curator of the Egyptian Section in the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania. He was also appointed by the New York Historical Society to publish their collection of Demotic papyri (1), and served for a brief time as librarian of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. (4) He applied for United States citizenship in 1924.

Dropsie College

In 1924, at the urging of Cyrus Adler, the philanthropist Julius Rosenwald provided the funds necessary to create a position in Egyptology specifically for Dr. Reich at the Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning in Philadelphia. (5) Dr. Reich held this position (with various alterations in title) from 1925 until his death in 1943, after which the position was never filled again. For the rest of his life, Dr. Reich remained deeply grateful to Dr. Adler and the Rosenwald family.
Dropsie College, Continued

In his review of Abraham Neuman's book Cyrus Adler, A Biographical Sketch, Dr. Reich took the opportunity to speak about his own relationship with Dr. Adler, and the state of his own chosen profession:

Here in the United States.... where the well-endowed universities.... are not few in number, there are very few chairs of Egyptology (and cognate subjects). Some
of these have been occupied by men who lost no love for Jews or Judaism.... Yet Egyptology still remains a prime requisite in the basic study of the Semitic languages.... and in the study of the Bible, scriptural history and the history of Palestine.... Moreover, many of the Jewish customs are without satisfactory explanation without Egyptology; I mean customs especially and not religion...

.... no Jew ventured to redeem this.... neglected field of learning either in this country or abroad. Thus it happened that great Jewish Egyptologists were compelled to tend other vineyards.... until the eminent philanthropists, the late Julius Rosenwald and his son Lessing J. Rosenwald, established under the guidance of Dr. Cyrus Adler the chair of Egyptology .... at Dropsie College. (6)

From time to time Dr. Reich supplemented his income through special projects for various institutions holding collections of Egyptian inscriptions, both in the U. S. and abroad, very much as he had done in the years before WWI. In 1926 he lectured on Egyptology and historical law at Johns Hopkins University.

Literary Works

Throughout his career, Dr. Reich was a prolific author of books and scholarly articles. Many of his works are held by the Center's library. In 1933 he established the short-lived periodical, Mizraim, which he edited and to which he was a frequent contributor. The publication ran to nine volumes, the last of which was issued in 1938. Feature articles included translations of various papyri and ostraca.

Dr. Reich belonged to a number of professional organiza-tions, including the American Oriental Society, Archaeological Institute of America, Egypt Exploration Society of Great Britain, Linguistic Society of America, Society of Biblical Literature, and the Society of Oriental Research. His social memberships included the Arts Society, the Classical Club and Oriental Club of Philadelphia, and the Jewish Historical Society of America. He was also affiliated with Congregation Mikveh Israel and the Joshua Lodge in Philadelphia.

Personal Life

That Nathaniel Reich was a man of strong personality and deep emotions is amply demonstrated by this collection. Much of his social correspondence shows that his charm made him a welcome guest in homes across the country. Likewise, much of his profes-sional correspondence is most complimentary. While some of this may simply have been a return in kind, as his own style could be highly effusive, the collection reveals many lasting friendships.

On the other hand, a great proportion of his correspondence shows that Dr. Reich could also be demanding and quick-tempered. He frequently broke with his friends, family and peers. Just as often, however, such a breach was repaired and the friendship went on as warmly as before. In some instances (notably those with his brother Albert, and his former students Henry Gehman and Baruch Weitzel) the relationship endured a series of fallings-out and reconciliations over a period of years.

His health was not robust. He had frequent colds and other illnesses which kept him from work, and suffered particularly (and predictably) from eye strain. He also had a number of breakdowns, from emotional stress and overwork. Several of his letters refer to orders from his doctors to rest. The Holocaust of WWII, which he all too clearly foresaw, placed a tremendous burden on him.

Nathaniel Reich died at the age of 61 on October 5, 1943. The cause of his final illness is not documented, but one letter in the Abraham Neuman Presidential Papers refers to his having had high blood pressure. He is buried in the Beth El Emet cemetery in Philadelphia, where in 1945 his tombstone was erected by Dropsie College.

Dr. Reich's father was Wilhelm Reich, a member of a distinguished rabbinical family. During the 1870s, Rabbi Reich served the community of Sarvar Hungary, where his sons Albert and Nathaniel were born. Then, from 1880 until his death in 1929, he served as oberrabbi (chief rabbi) of Baden bei Wien (Baden-near- Vienna), Austria. His father's eldest brother, Koppel, was the most well-known member of the family. Biographical sketches of Rabbi Koppel Reich state that he was born in Verbo, Hungary in 1838, and that his father was Abraham Ezekiel Reich, rabbi of Bannewitz and possibly also of Verbo. (7, 8) For more information about both Wilhelm and Koppel Reich, see the finding aid to the Wilhelm Reich Collection.

Little is known about Nathaniel Reich's mother, or his step-mother, Jenny Ellern. Nathaniel Reich had two full brothers, Albert and Max, and a sister, Emma. He also had a step-brother, Ernst (also called Ernest) and step-sister, Sidonie, through his father's second marriage. (9) A third brother, Sigmund, is less well documented.

His brother Albert married Louise ("Lolly") Braun, and lived in Vienna, Austria before WWII. A letter from Albert in the Neuman Papers is dated 1945, at which time he was living in France. Dr. Reich's full sister Emma's married name was Rosenzweig. She had a son, Albert, and a daughter. Before WWII, they lived in Budapest, Hungary.

In 1944, Dr. Sigmund Reich wrote from Palestine to request information about his brother's death. In a letter to Cyrus Adler in 1929, Dr. Reich also spoke of his "brother's family in Haifa". (10) His step-sister Sidonie married Bertold Sternfeld of Lubeck, Germany, and had at least one son, Heinrich. His step-brother Ernest was living in Strasbourg, France before WWII. (11)

Dr. Reich sponsored the immigration to the United States of his cousins Otto Berdach and Rabbi Isidore Reich in 1939. There is also some correspondence in the collection from various cousins in the Sommer and Wolf families who were living in Philadelphia and New York.

The collection ranges in date from 1888 to 1942, with the bulk of the correspondence dating from the years 1920 to 1942. Much of the collection is undated. By far the most accessible and widely useful material will be found in the Correspondence Series, which comprises just under half of the collection. There are some items of ephemera in this Series, including invoices from a variety of European booksellers. While the Series is arranged in chronological order, its subject content is briefly described below.

Dr. Reich's career made him the friend or acquaintance of many of the leading personalities in the fields of oriental studies and Egyptology, and his correspondence with these individuals may be of interest to researchers. It should be noted, however, that much of this correspondence was brief and formal in content.

He frequently exchanged letters with his father in Baden, Austria, his brother Albert and sister-in-law Lolly in Vienna, and his sister Emma and her children in Budapest, Hungary. These letters more than any others may prove to be of particular interest to those studying Jewish life in Europe during the years between the two World Wars, and the early years of WWII. Most of this correspondence is in German. There may also be some letters (as yet unidentified) with other members of his family.

Also of note for those studying the rise of antisemitism in pre-war Germany are a number of letters received by Dr. Reich during the mid-to-late 1930s. These letters were written by Jewish individuals who hoped for his assistance in their attempts to immigrate to the United States.

The collection reveals relatively little of Dr. Reich's work as professor of Egyptology at Dropsie College. However, there are numerous items of correspondence with his students and former students. Some photocopies of letters written by Dr. Reich to Cyrus Adler, President of the College, have been inserted into this collection, to fill important gaps. Additional items have been copied from the files of Abraham Neuman. The researcher is referred to both the Adler and Neuman Presidential Papers, in the Dropsie College Archives, for a more complete picture of Dr. Reich's career at the College.

In addition to the correspondence, the collection contains many literary productions by Dr. Reich and some of his colleagues. Among the more significant items in the collection are a manuscript copy of a Demotic dictionary compiled by Dr. Reich's teacher, Dr. Leo Reinisch, and what appears to be the draft of another such dictionary compiled by Dr. Reich himself. Copies of Dr. Reich's published works were removed from this collection and added to the Archives Ephemera Collection.

There is also a Series of miscellaneous notes and transcriptions of ancient inscriptions made by Dr. Reich at some point in his career. Related to this material is the Series of notebooks, many of which appear to have been created during his years of study. There are also a number of documents in German which appear to be either academic papers or articles written for publication.

The Series of materials relating to his journal, Mizraim, includes a complete set of the journal's nine volumes, as well as supplementary manuscript and typescript files. Many of the documents in the Literary Productions Series and to a lesser extent the Notes and Transcriptions Series may have been written for publication in this journal.

Supplementing all of these Series is another, consisting of photographic facsimiles of various papyri, ostraca and other inscriptions with which Dr. Reich worked, or which were published in Mizraim. The collection also contains a small grouping of photographs of Dr. Reich, his family, and friends.

Finally, there is a small Series of news-clippings about Dr. Reich and about the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb, most of which were found among the correspondence. More detailed information about the scope and content of the collection is given in the following Series Descriptions.


The collection is arranged in seven Series: Correspondence, Notebooks, Notes and Transcriptions, Literary Productions, News Clippings, Facsimiles and Photographs. The scope and significance of each Series is described below.

Correspondence Series (Boxes 1-8)

This Series primarily consists of correspondence received by Dr. Reich from his family, friends, colleagues and associates. It also contains some drafts and carbon copies of letters written by Dr. Reich. Additional materials in this series include occasional ephemeral items such as invoices, receipts, programs of events, and academic certificates.

All correspondence is arranged in rough chronological order, by month and year only, rather than by exact date. This method of organization merits some discussion. On the one hand, it presents difficulties to the researcher seeking the whole of Dr. Reich's correspondence with given individuals, or materials relating to specific topics. On the other, it provides a chrono-logical overview of the changing events of one man's lifetime.
Spanning the period leading up to and including the two World Wars, the circumstances of Dr. Reich's life -- his upbringing as a member of an Austro-Hungarian rabbinical family, his cosmopolitan education as well as his career, vigorously pursued throughout Europe and in America -- make a chronological arrangement particularly useful for the study of that era.

The collection contains many examples of both drafts and carbon copies of the letters written, or dictated, by Dr. Reich. Internal evidence suggests that many of his own letters were typed for him by his associate, Mr. James Johnson. It is apparent, however, that he did not create or keep such copies systematically.

There is relatively little ephemeral material in this Series, although what there is of it does have some interest. These items include European academic certificates, the newsletter of an ocean-going liner, programs of professional conferences, immigration documents, and a few financial records. Of the latter, the most numerous are invoices and receipts for books which Dr. Reich ordered from European book dealers.

Correspondence Series, Continued

Undated materials in this series are arranged in ten categories: Cyrus Adler; Citizenship papers; Colleagues (frequent correspondents); Professional (other materials relating to his professional memberships and activities); Miscellaneous; Reich family (letters and biographical statements); drafts of letters by Nathaniel Reich; Rosenwald family correspondence; Solis-Cohen family correspondence; Social (primarily materials relating to his social activities and memberships); and Unidentified materials in German and other languages.

While the bulk of the correspondence is in English, much of the family correspondence is in German. Other languages to be found infrequently in this Series are French, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, and perhaps Yiddish. Aspects of the material in this Series which are of special interest are described more fully below, as Family, Personal, Professional, Dropsie College, and WWII Correspondence. However, the researcher must bear in mind that the collection is not arranged in these categories, but rather in chronological order.

Family Correspondence

Virtually all of the family letters written to Dr. Reich are in manuscript, while all the copies of his own letters to his family are typed. There are comparatively few copies of the latter. Among the closest members of his family, Nathaniel was called by his childhood nickname, "Nasi" or "Nazi". All of the letters from his father are so addressed, as are many from his sister-in-law, Lolly. All other members of the family addressed him in their letters as "lieber (Dear) Nathaniel".

There are several letters from his father, Wilhelm. Problems of language and legibility have caused these to be placed in the file of "undated" family correspondence. Some letters from Dr. Reich to his father can be found in the Wilhelm Reich Collection, also in this repository.
Correspondence Series

Family Correspondence, Continued

Much more numerous are letters both to and from Dr. Reich and his brother Albert and sister-in-law Lolly in Vienna. All of those written by Albert are in German, but many of those written by Lolly are in English. He also corresponded frequently with his sister Emma Rosenzweig and her children, who lived in Budapest. Some of the letters from his niece and nephew were written in English, perhaps as an educational exercise.

Dr. Reich was instrumental in assisting members of his family to immigrate to the United States, including his cousins Otto Berdach and Rabbi Isidore Reich. The collection also includes occasional letters from various cousins in the Sommer and Wolf families.

Personal Correspondence

Other material in the correspondence series includes papers relating to Dr. Reich's application for United States citizenship in the mid-1920s, and his U. S. passport, dated 1929. Social correspondence includes invitations and letters exchanged with his close friends in the Rosenwald and Solis-Cohen families.

Professional Correspondence

A tireless and exacting correspondent, Dr. Reich continually exchanged letters with his peers in the United States and abroad. There are numerous instances of his recriminations against tardy correspondents, and a good many of the letters he received begin either with an apology, or a declaration that no apology is necessary.

Professional Correspondence, Continued

There were many professional peers with whom he carried on a cordial correspondence over the years. These friends included orientalists, linguists, egyptologists, and museum curators. Among his more frequent correspondents were: H. I. Bell,
Freiherr Friedrich Wilhelm von Bissing, Romain F. Butin, Sir Frederic Llewelyn Griffith, Henri Hyvernat, Sir Frederic George Kenyon, James Meek, T. C. Skeat, and Sir Herbert Thompson. Dr. Reich also received occasional letters from William F. Albright, James H. Breasted, H. Breitner, Glanville Downey, Stuart A. Epler, S. R. K. Glanville, Eduard Mahler, James A. Montgomery, and Alan W. Shorter.

Much of this correspondence relates in part to these individual's contributions to the journal, Mizraim, which Dr. Reich edited. Also, a large proportion of the letters exchanged with his colleagues are brief notes of congratulation, thanks, and the like. Those from his most frequent correspon-dents tend to be more personal in their content.

Dr. Reich often sent gratis copies of his publications to his peers, and this courtesy was frequently returned. Many of the pamphlets and offprints autographed by his correspondents can be found in the Center's Library. Only a relatively small proportion of this correspondence relates to Dr. Reich's activities as a member of various professional organizations.

Dropsie College

A significant portion of the professional correspondence concerns Dr. Reich's career as a member of the faculty of the Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning. Much of this material consists of letters both to and from Dr. Cyrus Adler, President of the College. It was in Dr. Reich's nature to show great respect for persons in authority, but there is an added dimension to these letters. He felt a deep sense of personal obligation to Cyrus Adler for his support over the years.
Correspondence Series

Dropsie College, Continued

His correspondence with Dr. Abraham Neuman, who succeeded Adler as President of the College, was necessarily more brief and less personal. Between Adler's death in 1940 and Reich's own death in 1943, there was little time for him to develop a close relationship with the new President. The researcher is advised to consult the Presidential papers of both Dr.s Adler and Neuman for more pertinent information.

Another revealing facet to this Series is the correspondence which Dr. Reich kept up with his students at Dropsie College. These students included Arthur Dembitz, Zellig Harris, and Dr. Michael M. Zarchin. Among them, he most frequently met and corresponded with Dr.s Henry Gehman and Baruch Weitzel.

WWII Correspondence

During the mid-to-late 1930's Dr. Reich received numerous letters from strangers, writing chiefly from Austria and Germany. Most of the letters are in English. All of them consist of pleas for his assistance in attempts to immigrate to the United States. Some of the correspondents represented themselves as relatives, or as possible relatives. Others wrote to him simply "out of desperation". Many referred to the restrictions against immigration imposed by both the United States and Germany, among them the "Hungarian Quota". Others referred to the fact that German Jews were at that time legally prohibited from being employed. Often, these letters describe the kind of work the correspondents were able or willing to do, and request that Dr. Reich send "the affidavit" that would enable them to emigrate.

Dr. Reich was anxious to help members of his own family immigrate to America. Most of these letters are, of course, in German. Because they are also lengthy, they are likely to be of particular interest. Of special note is the frequent correspon-dence from his brother Albert and sister-in-law Lolly. Those written by Lolly repeatedly beg for his help.
Correspondence Series

WWII Correspondence, Continued

Unlike the correspondence relating to his cousins Carl and Isidore, there is no evidence in the collection that he sponsored his brother Albert's immigration. There is, however, one page of an undated letter by Dr. Reich in which he outlines his frantic efforts to help Albert and other members of the family. There are also several biographical sketches of Albert, which are similar to those supplied by Dr. Reich for Carl and Isidore, and by others for Dr. Reich himself at the time of his own immigra-tion to the United States.

There are no such letters, and no correspondence at all with his family in Europe, dated later than 1939. Dr. Reich himself died in 1943, before the end of the war. Nothing in the Correspondence Series is dated later than 1942.

Notebooks Series (Boxes 8 and 9)

Most of the items in this Series appear to be academic notebooks, dating from Dr. Reich's years of undergraduate and graduate study. Most of them are written in German. A few appear to record his work with the collections at various museums.

News Clippings Series (Box 14)

These chiefly consist of biographical sketches and obituaries of Nathaniel Reich. Some are news articles featuring interviews with Dr. Reich and describing his unusual work. Another file concerns a bizarre imposture of Dr. Reich which occurred in 1925. Some of these copies were collected during the research done toward processing this collection; others were drawn from the archives of the Dropsie College Registrar (DC 6 B1.) Not surprisingly, there are a number of clippings about the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb by Howard Carter in 1923.
Notes and Transcriptions Series (Boxes 9, 10 and 12)

The material in this series is quite varied, and appears to range widely in date. Those items written in German probably pre-date his immigration to the United States. Unfortunately, there is little information to identify the many Demotic and other inscriptions he transcribed. Some of these materials may belong more properly in the Literary Productions Series.

Some files relate to specific papyri, ostraca, or other objects held by various institutions, including the British Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Louvre, and the New York Historical Society. Often, these were museums for which Dr. Reich did some work, such as cataloging a collection. Usually, the collection contains photographic or other facsimiles of these and related items in the Facsimiles Series.

Literary Productions Series (Boxes 10, 11, 12 and 14)

The material in this Series also ranges widely in date and subject. Most of the material is written in Dr. Reich's own hand, and the majority of these documents were clearly authored by him. Notable exceptions to this rule are items written by H. I. Bell (Box 10, FF 19) and William F. Albright (Box 10, FF 30.) Two other items were credited on the original covers to Stuart A. Epler and Ruth Lee Michael (possibly Dr. Reich's students.) These and the mimeographs of hieroglyphics, which might have been used for classroom exercises, are among the few items in the Collection which seem to relate to Dr. Reich's work as Professor of Egyptology at Dropsie College.

Some of the materials in this Series may be original drafts of works which he later published (a likely example is the material about Jacob Kroll, Box 10, FF 12-13.) Others may belong more properly in the Notes and Transcriptions Series. The literary material includes many book reviews and a few full-length articles by Dr. Reich, which may have been intended for publication in his journal, Mizraim. Those which were identified as having been published in that journal have been removed to the Mizraim Series, described below.
Mizraim Series (Boxes 13 and 14)

From 1933 to 1938 Dr. Reich published and edited the irregular periodical Mizraim: Journal of Papyrology, Egyptology, History of Ancient Laws, and their Relations to the Civilizations of Bible Lands. His long-time friend and benefactor, Lessing Rosenwald, provided the necessary funds for publication. In his forward to the first volume, Dr. Reich takes the opportunity to express his thanks for this support, and his "gratitude and affectionate admiration" for Mr. and Mrs. Rosenwald's "most precious gift of all: ideal friendship". The same forward also explains that the title "Mizraim" (the Biblical designation of Egypt), was chosen because Egypt "presents a unique example of an uninterrupted civilization.... which offers.... a laboratory for the historian and archaeologist". (12)

This Series includes a complete set of the journal's nine volumes. It also contains typed drafts of some materials submitted by various authors, and some holograph materials written by Reich himself for publication in the journal. Many more items, including book reviews and articles, which were written by Dr. Reich with the apparent intention of printing them in this journal, can be found in the Literary Productions Series. There are also two items in that Series written by others (Bell and Albright), which appear also to have been intended for publication in Mizraim. The journal was printed in Germany, and cessation of publication may have been due to the increasing difficulties of working with this printer in the late 1930s.
Facsimiles Series (Boxes 15 and 16)

This Series contains numerous photographic facsimile reproductions of papyri, ostraca and other inscriptions. Certain of these photographs are clearly identified (for example, "Field Museum coffin box # 30020 A" in Box 15, FF 11.) Unfortunately, however, the bulk of this material has no identification.

Many items in this Series relate to other textual materials elsewhere in the Collection. Wherever possible, the Container List gives cross references to these materials (eg: the folder listing for the Field Museum facsimile gives a "see also" reference to the additional material in Box 10, FF 1.)

Some overlap is likely between the items in this Series and those in the Mizraim Series. A careful comparison of these files with the contents of that periodical may furnish clear identifi-cations for much of this material. For example, the photographs of mummy tickets (Box 15, FF 17-19) were sent to Dr. Reich by
N. Lewis, apparently to serve as illustrations for his article on this topic which appeared in Volume II of Mizraim.

The researcher should note that additional materials belonging to this Series might also be housed in the Center's Facsimile Manuscript Collection, which at the date of this writing has not been processed. Two sets of glass plate negatives have been removed from this Collection for purposes of preservation, and are currently housed in the Photographic Collection.

Photographs Series (Box 16)

This small Series contains photographs (and one pencil drawing) of Nathaniel Reich, various members of his family, and his friends and colleagues. It includes photographs taken of painted portraits of his ancestor Koppel Altenkunstat, known as "Koppel Charif", for whom his father's eldest brother was named. Unfortunately, few of the family photographs are identified.


This collection has been processed twice, and may require a third "round" before it can be considered completely accessible. The collection was first organized in 1988-1989 by Jonathan Weiser, Library Assistant. He first segregated the material into two distinct collections: the papers of Dr. Nathaniel Reich and those of his father, Rabbi Wilhelm Reich.

He then combined all of Dr. Reich's correspondence and ephemera, and arranged these in chronological order. It is not known whether this reflects the order in which the material was received after Dr. Reich's death in 1943.

The collection was processed again in 1992-93 by Judith Robins, Archivist, who elected to retain Mr. Weiser's chronological arrangement of the correspondence, but reorganized the other materials. She would like to acknowledge her debt to her predecessor for his extensive and useful work.

It is more than possible that many related items, such as pages of a single letter, were inadvertently separated during some stage of the physical processing. An additional hindrance, during the second phase at least, has been the processor's lamentable ignorance of German, Hebrew, and any number of other languages, including ancient Greek and Egyptian hieroglyphics. Of them all, the processor's lack of German has imposed the greatest limitations on the accessibility of this collection's contents.

A third phase of processing, conducted by persons fluent in German and the other relevant languages, may well yield far more valuable results than have been achieved to date. Until such time as this may be done, the researcher will be obliged to search carefully for integral materials in these languages. This is particularly true of the Notes and Transcriptions, Mizraim, and Facsimiles Series, which contain many reproductions of ancient documents and inscriptions.

Published works by Dr. Reich and his contemporaries have been removed from his papers and placed as appropriate in the Library's other collections. Many pamphlets and offprints of his own works can be found in the Archives Ephemera Collection.

Two sets of unidentified glass-plate negatives have been removed from the Facsimile Series and placed in the Library's Photographic Collection.


The researcher should note that important correspondence to and from Dr. Reich can be found in the Dropsie College Archives, specifically in the records of past Presidents Cyrus Adler and Abraham Neuman. The file in President Neuman's records also contains information about the settlement of Dr. Reich's estate, as well as letters of condolence from many of his friends and colleagues. Relevant correspondence might also exist in the personal papers of Dr. Reich's father, the Wilhelm Reich Collection (MS 19).

Those who have an interest in the reproductions of ancient manuscripts and inscriptions in this Collection should also consult the Center's Facsimile Manuscript Collection, where related materials might be found.


The processor wishes to thank Arthur Kiron, Manuscripts Curator and Assistant Archivist of the Center for Judaic Studies, for translating various materials in German and Yiddish. Thanks are also due to the Archives of the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania, and to Temple University's Urban Archives, for supplying numerous biographical source materials.