Paul Leser Papers
The Department of Special Collections announces the completion of the finding aid for the Paul Leser Papers. Leser held positions at the Frankfurter Bund für Volksbildung and at the Ethnological Museum in Frankfurt, Germany before becoming a Privatdozent for Ethnology at the Darmstadt Institute of Technology. During this time period he became involved in the case against Dr. Julius Lips of the Raustenstrauch-Joest Museum, who was accused by Leser and others of plagiarizing from the works of Graebner, Schmidt, and Koppers. The case dragged on until 1933, when many of the participants were removed from their positions by the Nazis. Though the case took up much of his time in the early 1930's, his main interest was his own work on the history of the plow. In 1931, his most renowned work Entstehunq und Verbreitung des Pfluges was published (it was eventually reprinted in Denmark in 1971).
In 1936, because of the increasingly hostile political climate in Germany, Leser was forced to immigrate to Sweden. He took a position as translator for Folk-Liv in Stockholm. In 1941, he immigrated to the United States. Leser served in the United States Army in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy from 1942-1945. After the war, and a brief stint as a civilian employee at the U.S. War Department, Leser returned to the world of academia. Beginning in 1947, he held positions as Professor of Anthropology at Olivet College in Michigan, Black Mountain College in North Carolina, and The Hartford Seminary Foundation in Connecticut.
The Paul Leser Papers consist of 95 cubic feet of materials, 1850-1984. The collection, rich in family history, documents, and correspondence, documents not only the life and career of anthropologist Paul Leser, but also contains materials pertaining to Leser’s sister, Maria Lingemann and her husband Heinrich Lingemann, and earlier members of the Leser family. Although the collection contains correspondence between Paul and his brother, Albert (Leser) Lestoque, a separate collection, the Albert (Leser) Lestoque Papers, documents the life and career of Paul Leser’s brother as well as providing additional Leser family documents and material.
In addition to numerous family materials and related correspondence, the collection also contains: Leser’s vast correspondence with fellow anthropologists and ethnologists, colleagues, students, and life-long friends; a sizable reprint collection; manuscripts, typescripts and published versions of Leser’s own writings; course notes, materials and student files. Two series in the collection of special interest to researchers are the materials pertaining to the ethnologist and mentor of Paul Leser, Fritz Graeber, and the collection of materials pertaining to Julius Lips.
See the Paul Leser Papers Finding Aid