Sunday, May 29, 2011


Today would be Charlotte Hubach’s 119th birthday.  Charlotte Hubach was born in Brooklyn NY of German parents.  She graduated from Girls High School in Brooklyn but had no college education.   

Hubach received her library training in the Brooklyn Public Library Training Class in 1911 and worked at BPL until 1919.  Hubach spent the following eight years working in special libraries.

Hubach entered NYPL in 1928 as First Assistant at the St. George Branch, 1928-1933, but she spent the rest of her career at two branches—Yorkville and Ottendorfer--in German neighborhoods.  She was Acting Branch Librarian at Ottendorfer, 1933-1948 and Branch Librarian there until her retirement in 1957.

Given her German background, the outbreak of war in Europe caused Hubach a range of emotions between optimism and despair.  In 1939 she was optimistic that the refugees from Europe provided “a wonderful opportunity here as librarians to sell America and the idea of a democratic state to these bewildered people.”  In her 1941 annual report, written the day that Germany declared war on the US, she described the war as “a bitter personal blow”.  Yet at war’s end, she rejoiced at the interaction with one former user who returned to the branch after serving in the Army.  He “paid us a high tribute when he said, ‘while I froze in my foxhole in Germany I often thought of the three nicest, friendliest places I knew—Home, Nick’s Poolroom, and the Library!’”

The young veteran had brought Hubach’s optimism to the fore again.


  1. Charlotte Hubach was an important librarian for a number of German-speaking Jews who had fled the Nazis and settled in New York. In the archives of the Leo Baeck Institute there is a long correspondence she held with Siegfried Guggenheim, a lawyer and art collector who fled Germany following the Kirstallnacht. It is digitized and can be read here, though it is only in German:

  2. Charlotte Hubach also served as a librarian for German-Jewish refugees to New York in the Nazi period. One of these individuals was a lawyer and art collector from Offenbach named Siegfried Guggenheim. Siegfried and Charlotte formed a friendly bond, and had a detailed correspondence with one another. Her letters to Siegfried are now at the Leo Baeck Institute in New York. They have been digitized and are available here:
    They document a friendly bond based on the ability of sharing German culture and language - something many Jewish refugees probably felt a need before, when they were forced to flee Germany and Austria in the 1930's.