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Lenel (Irmgard) papers
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Collection Details
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  • Scope and Content
  • Biographical Note
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation

  • Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
    Title: Irmgard Lenel papers
    Creator: Lenel, Irmgard
    Identifier/Call Number: 0212
    Identifier/Call Number: 332
    Physical Description: 12.8 Linear Feet 18 boxes
    Date (inclusive): 1912-1999
    Abstract: This collection contains the papers of Irmgard Lenel, who was born in Germany in 1901 and who immigrated to the United States in 1937. She was a politically active socialist involved with groups like Women for Legislative Action and the Friends Committee on Legislation. Her papers include correspondence, photographs, legal papers, and some periodical publications.
    Language of Material: While most of the collection is in English, a significant portion of it is in German, including almost all of Lenel's correspondence, papers and photographs from before she moved to the United States in 1937. After emigrating, she began writing her correspondence and notes in English. However, some of her later correspondence, usually with her family, is also in German.

    Scope and Content

    This collection includes the personal and business correspondence, photographs, and personal papers of Irmgard Lenel from both her life in Germany and from after her immigration to the United States in 1938. In addition, the collection documents her prolific political activity (predominantly in the form of writing letters to politicians and other officials and Letters to the Editor) and her interest in a number of political movements, including the curtailment of civil liberties during the McCarthy era, and the civil rights, disarmament, and anti-war movements. Political groups Lenel was actively involved in include the Friends Committee on Legislation (FCL), Women for Legislative Action (WLA), and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). One of Lenel's good friends and correspondents was Dorothy Healey, the long-time head of the Communist Party in Los Angeles, and much of the collection reflects Lenel's socialist leanings.

    Biographical Note

    Irmgard Lenel was born in Manheim, Germany, on July 1, 1901, to the manufacturer Richard Lenel and his wife, Emilie (nee Maas). Lenel was raised in Manheim, where she attended the Manheim School for Social Work, and after completing her training there she worked as a private secretary for Professor S.P. Altmann. After that, she spent a year attending The London School of Economics to improve her command of the English language. Upon her return to Germany in the mid-1920s, she spent three years as a magazine editor and then six working as a secretary for the publishing firm Ullstein Verlag.
    Lenel emigrated to the United States in 1937 and lived in New York City until 1941, when she moved to Santa Monica, California. While living in California, she held a number of secretarial and stenographer positions. She was naturalized in 1941, and worked at the Veterans Administration for six years. In 1947 she was let go on suspicion of disloyalty to the United States. She appealed her dismissal and was found to have been unjustly terminated. After her hearing, she became active in the defense of others charged with performing un-American activities. Lenel never married, and had no children. She passed away in Santa Monica in November 2001.

    Conditions Governing Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The collection contains published materials; researchers are reminded of the copyright restrictions imposed by publishers on reusing their articles and parts of books. It is the responsibility of researchers to acquire permission from publishers when reusing such materials. The copyright to unpublished materials belongs to the heirs of the writers. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder# or item name], Irmgard Lenel papers, Collection no. 0212, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Anti-communist movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Exiles -- Germany -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Germany -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 1933-1945 -- Archival resources
    Germany -- Social life and customs -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Political participation -- United States -- Archival resources
    Secretaries -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Socialists -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Socialists -- United States -- Archival resources
    United States -- Politics and government -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Women political activists -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Legal instruments
    Friends Committee on National Legislation (U.S.) -- Archives
    Lenel, Irmgard -- Archives
    Healey, Dorothy -- Archives
    Women for Legislative Action -- Archives