Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Naturalization Certificates, NY Addresses, Margaret Mahler & A Driver's License

An addendum to The Edith Buxbaum Journal

If you're interested in psychoanalytic trivia with class-based implications, here's a piece to whet the appetite. In November 1943, as her naturaliztion paper below indicates, Edith was living at 110 E. 87th St., New York's Upper East Side.

In 1938, a year or so after arriving in America, she lived in the east seventies. I know this, in part, from reading The Memoirs of Margaret S. Mahler, compiled and edited by Professor Paul E. Stepansky.

Margaret S. Mahler, best known for her work, The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant: Symbiosis and Individuation , writes in the memoirs:

"Edith Buxbaum,who had been in America for quite some time preceding our arrival, had allowed us to use her address in the east seventies as our mailing address..."  (As it turned out, Mahler's mail never reached her because it was delivered to the wrong address). (p. 97)

What intrigues me here is Mahler's concern that she live at the proper address so her patients wouldn't think less of her. She had been living  temporarily at 98th St and Columbus Ave. which was "on the wrong side of the [professional] dividing line." She "took on" her first two patients while living there:

 "... both had multiple dreams, the latent meaning of which revolved around their condescension toward me and pity for me, owing especially to the location of my apartment!" Soon the Mahlers learned "that most of the refugee analysts lived on Central Park West ...."  (p.97) I suppose this depended on which group of analysts one was attached to and, perhaps, it still does.

Note: Edith's last driver's license, signed Edith B. Schmidl, shows a different height and weight than the naturalization certificate. By all accounts she was a slight 5'3", not 5'7". 

When Edith and Fritz moved to Seattle, Edith's primary concern was rooted in where her mishpucha/(Jewish) family lived, even though she wasn't affiliated with the organized Jewish community, neither synagogue nor Federation.

(Source: Personal interviews with Adolph Gruhn, M.S.W., August 29, 1994; Morry Tolmach, M.S.W., September 29, 1994; for more on Buxbaum's Jewish identity, see my essay at HistoryLink, Washington State's on-line encyclopedia)

Fritz Schmidl's Naturalization Certificate. He and Edith were not yet married; thus, the difference in addresses and marital statuses. He was still legally married to his first wife, the emigre artist, Trude Schmidl-Waehner.

Naturalization Certificates and driver's license provided by Herbert J. Belch, Buxbaum Schmidl estate executor. In author's possession.

I look forward to reading Dr.Alma Bond's more recent biography of Mahler.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Edith Weds, August 16, 1944

An addendum to The Edith Buxbaum Journal
After years of friendship, Edith Buxbaum married Fritz Anthony Schmidl in a secular wedding ceremony on August 16, 1944. It was her first marriage and his second. Fritz was the Viennese attorney who, in 1937, helped with Edith's release from prison; she had been arrested for resisting pro-Nazi factions. The Anschluss, the incorporation of Austria into the German state, occurred on March 13, 1938, a day after German troops marched into Austria. Thanks to members of the New York psychoanalytic community, Edith was already in New York and employed by New York’s Bank Street Cooperative for Teachers. Fritz would soon follow. Document provided by Herbert J. Belch for the Buxbaum estate; in author's possession.

Esther Altshul Helfgott, Ph.D., October 12, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

UW Special Collections & the Solomon Katz Papers

An addendum to The Edith Buxbaum Journal

It's not easy finding material on Edith Buxbaum. When she died in 1982, helpful folks went  to her house on Upland Terrace to clean it out, tossing documents that may have made a biographer's job easier.  Even the Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, which houses the Edith Buxbaum Library, has little information on its co-founder; but it has offered me useful photos. In the undated photo below, taken at a fundraiser for a scaled-fee children's clinic, Buxbaum sits in the foreground looking at Dr. Lawrence Schwartz whom I had the pleasure of interviewing, in the mid-1990s, on at least three occasions.

Courtesy The Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (SPSI)
Since material on Dr. Buxbaum is thin, where does one go for archival holdings? One such place is the Special Collections division of the University of Washington's Suzzallo Library. It houses papers of members of local institutional Boards, including those of Solomon Katz, a history professor and later a provost of the university. He was on the Board of the Ryther Child Center where Buxbaum was a psychiatric consultant. (Note: Buxbaum was not a psychiatrist. She was a lay psychoanalyst who studied with Anna Freud after earning a Ph.D. In history from the University of Vienna, 1925).
Anna Freud

Solomon Katz's papers at the University of Washington, Special Collections, include materials he gathered while carrying out his duties as a Ryther Board member. Documents include a history of Ryther and its founder Mother Ryther; By-Laws; Minutes; Board meetings (with some restrictions); Correspondence from Director Lillian Johnson, Thomas P. Gallagher and other Ryther luminaries.

Katz's papers include a project report on the Ryther Central Area School (22nd and E. Union), a Black Dignity newsletter published by kids from the school; fundraising activities; reports on "Explorations into possible affiliations with community mental health centers;" Locations where board meetings were held, including the Men's University Club (1004 Boren Ave) and the Women's University Club (1105 6th Ave)

The papers include staff lists which mention  Dr. Frank Bobbitt and Dr. Edith Buxbaum as "Consulting Psychiatrists." They contain information on funding agencies, including the United Way of King County and the United Good Neighbors, and, for my purpose especially, primary sources connected with "Project Prevention," which Buxbaum was integrally involved with.  All this and more in one file folder marked "Katz - Subgroup - 1966-72."

Ryther children, circa 1946
Courtesy Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)


Susan Sodergren, MSW, a colleague and former student of Buxbaum's in Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute's Child Therapy Program, directed Project Prevention.     
Ryther children, circa 1946
Courtesy Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)

Sodergren writes: "Prevention is the term used, not in the sense of medical prophylaxis or inoculation, but rather in the sense that a disturbed relationship can be interrupted and prevented from getting worse or becoming chronic." 

(Source: HELP For the Troubled Parent and Very Young Child"  p. 2 of brochure, University of Washington, Special Collections, Solomon Katz papers, "Subgroup: Ryther Child Center (Katz - Board of Directors) 1966-72.")

Thanks to David Bird, M.S.W. of Ryther who gave me the  subtitle "She Led with Her Mind," in my 2003 interview with him.

I'll write more on "Project Prevention" in a subsequent blog.
If you have information on Dr. Edith Buxbaum that you would like to share, please email me at

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer 1947

An addendum to The Edith Buxbaum Journal

                                                            Edith Buxbaum, July 1947
                                                       (courtesy Robert Campbell, M.D.)

Edith looks wistful here, pensive as always, but also a bit sad.  Perhaps she is looking back to her childhood in Vienna before the wars. All the while, she is comfortable in her own skin and with herself in relation to Nature.  The photo was probably taken by her husband, Fritz Schmidl, when they were vacationing in Aspen, Colorado. I love her socks!

Same day, late evening: I look at the picture again, probably the tenth time today, and Dr. Buxbaum no longer looks sad; here in my present mood, she appears content, happy. How much of the biographer is reflected in the biographee?

Esther Altshul Helfgott, Ph.D., July 5, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Paul Kirk House on Upland Terrace

An addendum to The Edith Buxbaum Journal

Edith on her deck overlooking Puget Sound,
a cigarette in her right hand.

 c 1960s, courtesy Dr. Robert Campbell

After moving from their Mt. Baker home, Edith Buxbaum and Fritz Schmidl lived at  6036 Upland Terrace. The house was designed by Seattle architect Paul Kirk.

Seattle Telephone directories; Polk's Seattle city directories
Schmidl, Fritz, 6036 Upland Ter, PA3-9943,
Schmidl, Edith B PhD, 6036 Upland Ter, PA3-9943 
Many thanks to Darlene E. Hamilton
Sr. Librarian-Genealogy
History, Travel and Maps Department
The Seattle Public Library

Esther Altshul Helfgott, Ph.D.,June 1, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

She loved to travel: Pyramid Peak, 1947

An addendum to The Edith Buxbaum Journal
Edith Buxbaum, August 23, 1947
Pyramid Peak - Aspen, Colorado
courtesy Dr. Robert Campbell

The photo was probably taken by Edith's husband Fritz Schmidl (1897-1969), who was an enthusiastic photographer. Edith's friend Eleanor Siegl (1917-1996) gave it, and others, to Dr. Campbell who, generously, passed it on to me.

Esther Altshul Helfgott, Ph.D.May 27, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kaiserschmarrn or Emperor's Trifle

An addendum to The Edith Buxbaum Journal

Thanks to Dr. Diane Holloway, a retired Dallas psychologist, I have one of Edith's dessert recipes to share with you.

Kaiserschmarrn or Emperor's Trifle
1/3 cup shortening or oil
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
6 eggs separated
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons melted butter
2/3 cup raisins
2-3 tablespoons additional sugar

Melt the shortening in a large metal cake pan or skillet set over medium heat. Plump the raisins for 10 minutes in boiling water and then drain them.

Start heating the oven at 400 degrees. Mix the flour and water in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl add water to egg yolks and combine well. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing well with a whisk.

egg whites stiff, then fold them gently into the liquid mixture. Pour into the heated pan with the fat. Remove from heat at once and place in the oven. Bake until golden brown (8-10 minutes); then put back on stove top.

Tear into 2-3 inch squares, using two forks. Drizzle melted butter over, then sprinkle with raisins and sugar.

Serve with raspberry syrup or prune jam. To make prune jam for zwetschkenroster, cook dried prunes with water and sugar in a saucepan until it becomes a not so thick jam. Then add cinnamon and cloves to use as a topping on this trifle. Serves 8.


Authors' Famous Recipes and Reflections on Food, edited by Diane Holloway, Ph.D. San Jose, California: Writer’s Club Press, 2002, pp. 222-223

Photo courtesy Herbert J. Belch, in possession of author.

Esther Altshul Helfgott, Ph.D.
, May 24, 2011