The Straus family of New York City were the descendants of Lazarus Straus (1809-1898) and Sara Straus (1823-1876) who emigrated from Otterberg, Germany in the early 1850s with their four children: Isidor (1845-1912), Hermine (1846-1922), Nathan (1848-1931), and Oscar (1850-1926). They settled in Talbotton, Georgia where Lazarus opened a dry goods store. In 1865 the Strauses relocated to New York City and Isidor and Nathan joined their father in establishing L. Straus and Sons, a glass and chinaware store. They became partners with R.H. Macy's & Company in 1888 and by 1892 were also partners in the Brooklyn N.Y. retail company Abraham & Straus. Isidor Straus represented New York City's fifteenth district in the U.S. Congress, 1893-1894; and was founder and president of the Educational Alliance, an organization for immigrants living in New York. He and his wife were among the passengers who lost their lives in the sinking of the Titanic. Oscar Straus served as U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 1887 to 1900 and 1909, Secretary of Commerce and Labor from 1906 to 1908, and advisor to Woodrow Wilson during the first World War. Collection contains correspondence, speeches, photographs, scrapbooks, and other items concerning Lazarus, Oscar and Isidor Straus, and Isidor's sons and grandsons. Family papers include genealogical charts and family history. Oscar and Isidor Straus papers consist of one box of materials concerning Oscar Straus's 1912 campaign for governor of New York and other political and family matters; the remaining eleven boxes are papers of Isidor Straus and include family and business correspondence, speeches and writings, notebooks, scrapbooks, materials related to his political career and to his death on the Titanic, and biographical information. Papers of Isidor Straus's sons consist of personal and business papers with correspondence, speeches, scrapbooks, and clippings. L. Straus & Sons records concern the operations of the partnership. Also, photographs of Jack Straus (son of Jesse Straus) and members of his family, framed documents and other materials that belonged to Jack Straus.
Content: Nathan Straus Papers (13 linear feet) are located in Rare Books & Manuscripts Division, New York Public Library.
Acquisition: 1992 Macy's Department Store Gift
Content: The Straus Family Papers consist of personal and business correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, and other items pertaining to Lazarus, Oscar, and Isidor Straus, and Isidor's sons and grandsons. Materials range from the 1810s to the 1970s, with the bulk originating in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Ownership: Most of the papers seem to have belonged to Isidor Straus, who apparently kept many of his personal papers in his office at Macy's. After his unexpected death in 1912, the materials eventually were transferred to the store's in-house archives. Other items may have belonged to his sons, Jesse and Percy. In the early 1990s, Macy's deaccessioned these papers and gave them to the New York Public Library.