Archival Collections
Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Frank Altschul Papers, 1884-1986 bulk 1925-1980 

Creator: 
Altschul, Frank, 1887-1981
Phys. Desc: 
90 linear feet (214 document boxes 1 oversize box)
Call Number: 
MS#0022
Location: 
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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Biographical Note

Frank Altschul was born in San Francisco on April 21, 1887 to Charles and Camilla Mandlebaum Altschul. Charles, a partner in the investment firm Lazard Frares, brought his family to New York City in 1901 to work at the company's New York office. Frank Altschul studied at Yale University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1908. Following commencement, he traveled for two years, studying banking in London, Paris, Berlin, and Mexico City. During World War I, he served as an Army captain in France and was awarded the Legion of Honor. He married Helen Lehman Goodhart in 1913, and the couple would have four children. Altschul proved to be a highly successful financier and became a senior partner at Lazard Freres in 1943. In 1948, he became chairman of the board of the General American Investors Corporation, where he remained until his retirement in 1961. During the 1930's, Altschul also served on the governing committee of the New York Stock Exchange and was director of the Chase National Bank. Altschul applied his skill in running large organizations to a variety of causes, particularly political and advocacy organizations. He served as Director of the English-Speaking Union and vice president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and was heavily involved in the Council on Foreign Relations for almost four decades, serving as secretary and later as vice president from 1951 to 1971. Altschul's interest in interntional affairs was also present in his writing. A prolific writer of essays, articles, and book reviews, as well as a book, Let No Wave Engulf Us (1944). He frequently wrote letters to the editors of major newspapers, particularly the New York Times. Altschul was invited to speak before groups ranging from political and business committees to high school classes, and gave talks on psychological warfare, US relations with Israel, and many other subjects. A self-described bibliophile, Altschul was an avid collector of books and possessed a lifelong fascination with printing. He was the co-founder and first chairman of the Yale Library Associates, which oversees the Yale Library System the Beineke Library. He established an endowment and donated much of his own collection to the Bienecke, including an extensive collection of the works and papers of George Meredith. In 1933, Altschul founded Overbrook Press on his estate in Stamford, Connecticut and began producing a wide variety of books, pamphlets, and ephemera. The press was highly regarded for its craftsmanship and innovative design work, and Overbrook volumes were consistently included in the ''Fifty Books of the Year'' show of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Overbrook Press was dissolved in 1969. Altschul was a philanthropist and supporter of education and the arts, endowing chairs and fellowships at Yale, Williams College, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the New School for Social Research. He also gave generously to hospitals and charities. His wife Helen shared his interest in education, serving on the board of trustees Barnard College and funding a chair in English. Frank Altschul died on May 29, 1981.