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.


  1. Thanks for the mention, Esther. I hope you enjoy my book, "Margaret Mahler, a Biography of the Psychoanalyst."
    Warm regards,

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