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Helen Jonas correspondence from Otylka and Carlton Petersen, 1951-1975.
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Helen Jonas correspondence from Otylka and Carlton Petersen, 1951-1975


Jonas, Helen, 1910-1999, creator, creator.


Petersen, Otylka, correspondent.


Petersen, Carlton, correspondent.


Approximately 110 letters received by Helen Jonas of Brookfield, Illinois between 1951 and 1975. The bulk of the letters are written by Jonas' cousin Otylka Petersen and her son, Carlton, from Alhambra, California to Jonas and her children, Charles (Buddy) and Tracy, between 1951 and 1969. Ancestors of both Jonas and the Petersens emigrated to the United States from the Bohemia region of present day Czech Republic. The letters demonstrate the family's keen interest in genealogy and include translations of letters from family member Josef Vlastnik of Prague detailing the family history of both the Vlastnik and Spinka lineages. The Petersen's write of their concern for family located in Czechoslovakia during the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the letters also express the family's distrust of and hostility toward Communism. The letters reflect the Petersen family's reactions to the Kennedy assasination, the Vietnam War, the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, and Richard Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign and demonstrate conservative attitudes toward the counter cultural and social movements in the United States during the late 1960s. The letters also document natural disasters occuring in Los Angeles County, including the November 1961 Bel Air fire and the floods of January 1969. In both occurrences the family identify the development of natural areas for housing as partly to blame for the disasters. There are also frequent mentions of the hot weather and lack of rain in the Southern California basin. The letters also detail the daily life experiences of Otylka, a maker of arts and crafts, and Carlton, owner of Petersen Tool and Engineering, their finances, household duties, upkeep of pets and gardens, and learning the Russian language. Much is also discussed of health, particularly in Otylka's letters to Helen which detail her advice on menopause, blood pressure, gall bladder health, and general nutrition. After Helen's husband's death, the letters outline the family's decision to make Carlton the guardian of Buddy and Tracy should anything happen to Helen. The letters offer advice for the newly single mother, Helen, and parental advice to Buddy and Tracy as they grow older, with great emphasis put on hard work, education, and responsibility. There are a few letters from people other than the Petersens to Helen, including condolences at the death of her husband and get well cards during a brief stay in the hospital. Also includes a small batch of letters to the Chicago Better Business Bureau regarding Buddy's experience with a magazine subscription scam and two letters dated in the 1970s written in what is presumably Czech.


1951 (issued)


Immigrants -- Czech Republic
Alhambra (Calif.)
Los Angeles County (Calif.)
California -- Alhambra
California -- Los Angeles County
Czech Republic
Jonas, Helen -- 1910-1999 -- Archives
Petersen, Otylka -- Correspondence
Petersen, Carlton -- Correspondence


Purchase from McBride Rare Books; 2020.
Helen Jonas was born Helen Martha Spinka in Chicago, Illinois in 1910 and died in 1999. She married Charles J. Jonas in 1948 and together they had two children, Charles and Tracy.
Helen Jonas correspondence from Otylka and Carlton Petersen, 1951-1975, BANC MSS 2022/125, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.


Personal correspondence

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0.4 (1