Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Leo Szilard. Letters to Gertrud Weiss
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 650
Mandeville Special Collections Library
La Jolla, California 92093-0175
Language of Material:
0.4 Linear feet
1 archives box
Date (inclusive): 1937-1959
The Leo Szilard Letters to Gertrud Weiss collection contains letters written between 1937 and 1959 from Szilard to Weiss.
The letters document the development of their relationship during this period and cover a variety of topics, from the everyday
to more personal topics, including Szilard's battle with cancer. There are also a small number of letters from other correspondents.
Letters are primarily in German, with some in English.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection is arranged in two series: LETTERS TO GERTRUD and OTHER CORRESPONDENTS.
The LETTERS TO GERTRUD series spans from 1937 to 1959 and is arranged chronologically. Throughout the letters, Szilard addresses
Weiss by her nicknames: Trude, Child, and Ch, for short. The bulk of the letters were written in German, though there are
some in English.
The OTHER CORRESPONDENTS series also ranges from 1937 to 1959 and contains letters in German and English to both Gertrud Weiss
and Leo Szilard. Correspondents include Louis Szilard, Leo Szilard's father; Szilard's brother Bela Szilard; Dr. Henry Hausner,
nuclear metals expert and Szilard's colleague; Dr. Robert Glaser of University of Colorado; Dr. Ben Liebovitz, friend who
helped arrange Weiss's visas and travel in the United Kingdom and the United States; and a small number of unidentified correspondents.
English translations of some of the German letters are available in University of California, San Diego, Mandeville Special
Collections Library MSS 659, Lanouette/Szilard Papers. Translations were commissioned by William Lanouette, author of
Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb, and conducted by Lanouette's research assistant Joseph Ernst.
Gertrud Weiss was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1909. She began studying medicine at the University of Vienna in the 1920s but
quit within the first four months to pursue travels in Berlin, where she met Szilard. After several years in Berlin, Szilard
convinced her to return to Vienna to pursue her degree in medicine, which Weiss completed in 1936. Compelled by the political
climate and Szilard's urgings, Weiss moved to London and then, in 1938, to New York City. There she worked in a hospital until
1950 when she moved to Denver to teach public health at the University of Colorado's Medical School.
During this time, Szilard's and Weiss's relationship was conducted almost entirely through letters. Szilard was uninterested
in marriage and it wasn't until 1951, when speculations on their relationship threatened Weiss's job, that they considered
marriage. They married on October 13, 1951, and Weiss took Szilard's name, though they often lived separately during the years
In 1964, they moved together to La Jolla, California, where Szilard was offered a position at the Salk Institute. Szilard
died that same year.
After her husband's death, Gertrud Weiss Szilard collected and co-edited Szilard's papers, producing three volumes published
by MIT Press. Gertrud Weiss Szilard remained in California until her death in 1981.
Publishing rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Leo Szilard. Letters to Gertrud Weiss, MSS 650. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Szilard, Gertrud Weiss
Szilard, Gertrud Weiss -- Archives
Szilard, Leo -- Archives