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Richard Jacobs papers

Identifier: IWA1027

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Scope and Contents

The Richard Jacobs papers date from 1895-2015 and measures 5 linear inches. The papers are arranged in five series: Biographical, Federbusch Family, Professional Career, Photographs, and Artifacts. This collection provides a look into the life of a Warsaw Ghetto survivor and his subsequent immigration to the United States in 1949. The papers in this collection are not only from Richard Jacobs, but also from his aunts, Zenia and Lola Jakub, and his second wife, Ruth Federbusch Jacobs’ family including her parents Salomon and Anna. The Biographical (1895-2012) series includes biographical information about Richard Jacobs including pages from a diary he wrote living in Germany at the end of World War II and a family history written by his third wife, Kathleen Jacobs.

The Federbusch Famliy series (1931-1962) contains information about Richard Jacob’s second wife Ruth Federbusch Jacobs’ family including her parents Salomon and Anna. This series includes the family’s papers and identification cards from Austria and Poland and Nazi ration cards in Polish from 1944. A small amount of correspondence before World War II between two of Jacob’s aunts are included in this series.

The Professional Career series (1962-1995) consists of materials concerning Jacobs’ education, academic career, association memberships and awards.

The Photographs series (1929-2010) include a small number of photographs of the Jakub and Federbusch families before World War II, with the bulk of the series including post WII photographs from Jacobs and his extended family, including a Jakub family cousin named Praquier who settled in Paris.

The Artifacts series comprises of an oil painting of Ruth Federbusch.


  • Creation: 1935-2015


Language of Materials

Collection materials are primarily in English, but there are materials in Polish, German, Hebrew, Russian and Spanish. Most of the Polish materials have English translations.

Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Richard Jacobs, nee Ryszard Mieczyslaw Jakob, was born in Wloclawek, Poland in 1924. His parents, Irena Spiro and Kopel Jakub, were prosperous, secular Jews. Kopel Jakub ran a branch of a grain training business and Irena, the daughter of a leather merchant, had attended finishing school. Richard was educated in a German language gymnasium until his early teens when his family began to flee Poland. The family attempted to flee Wloclawek in a caravan with two horse-drawn carriages but were caught by Poles and turned over to the Nazis. The men in the family were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto. Richard and his mother, Irena, were initially sent to the Lublin Ghetto and then reunited with Richard’s father in the Warsaw Ghetto.

During the family’s time in the Warsaw Ghetto, Richard’s mother was sent on a transport out of the ghetto which he understood as going to Auschwitz. After that, his father helped him escape the ghetto with forced papers that identified him as Ryszard Jablonski (a common Polish surname). Alone on the streets of Warsaw, Jakob survived by squatting in abandoned apartments. In the spring of 1943 he was arrested as a vagrant and as part of a criminal work gang sent into the Warsaw ghetto to clean up after the failed uprising. Eventually he met a physician who was serving as a Polish Army doctor, Dr. Jablonski, who had a Jewish wife and daughter in the Warsaw Ghetto. Amused by Richard’s nom de guerre Jablonski helped him become a Polish Army medic.

After the war, Ryszard Jablonski went to study at Maximilian University in Munich, Germany. He married Dr. Jablonski’s daughter, Irena Jablonski who was also studying in Munich. Together they had one son, Stephen. After receiving his degree in 1949, Jablonski immigrated to the United States with the assistance of an uncle, Morris Wolf, who was a dentist in New York City. Jablonski changed his name to Richard Jacobs and received his D.D.S. degree from New York University in 1952 and had a private dental practice with his uncle in New York City from 1956-1959.

By the early 1960s, Jacobs was divorced. He then married Ruth Federbusch, another Holocaust survivor. They moved to California where he received his MPH in public health from the University of California in 1961. Jacobs then went on to receive his PhD from the Medical College of Virginia in 1964, and his MS in Orthodontics from the University of Illinois in 1965. In 1966 Dr. Jacobs became Professor of Orthodontics at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. He served as Assistant Dean, Associate Dean and as the Acting Head of the Department of Oral Biology at the University of Iowa.

Ruth Federbusch Jacobs committed suicide in 1991, and Jacobs remarried Kathleen Smith in 2001. After a struggle with Parkinson’s, Jacobs passed away in 2008 in Iowa City.


5.00 linear inches


Associate Dean of the College of Dentistry and Professor of Orthodontics at the University of Iowa in Iowa City who, as a young Jewish man, escaped the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were donated by Kathy Jacobs (donor no. 1531) in 2017.

Richard Jacobs papers
Jeannette Gabriel
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)