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Ruth Salzmann Becker papers

Identifier: IWA0123

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Scope and Contents

The Ruth Becker papers date from 1858 to 2012 and measure 4.75 linear feet. The papers are arranged in four series: Salzmann Family, Ruth Salzmann Becker, Photographs, and Artifacts. This collection provides a look into the life of a German Jewish family from Berlin during the early days of the Nazi occupation and the family's subsequent immigration to the United States in 1940. The papers in this collection are not only from Ruth Salzmann Becker, but also from her parents Hans and Käethe Salzmann, her sister Eva Salzmann Vichules, and her uncle Curt Salzmann. A considerable amount of information is also included about Becker's grandparents.

The Salzmann Family series (1858-1996) contains biographical information about Ruth Salzmann Becker, her parents Hans and Käethe Salzmann, and her sister Eva Salzmann Vichules. Hans Salzmann was a medical doctor in Berlin. After emigrating to the United States, he established a medical practice in New York City. Käethe Salzmann was a physical therapist and amateur athlete. The series also includes papers of Becker's grandparents, Max and Henriette Salzmann, and Hugo and Jenny Salzmann. Max Salzmann owned a department store in Wittenberg, Germany. This series includes the family's papers and identification cards from Nazi Germany in 1939 as well as letters and postcards written or received by the Salzmann family during World War II. A small amount of correspondence from relatives who had emigrated to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century is also included in this series. Many of the items in this series are written in German.

The Ruth Salzmann Becker series (1943-2004) consists of materials concerning Becker's education, professional activities, and community activism. This series also contains a small amount of material Becker saved on the subject of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust including a Holocaust Museum booklet and a German souvenir book from the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

The Photographs series (1911-1996) makes up the bulk of the collection. Most of the albums were compiled by Hans Salzmann; a number of them picture family vacations in Europe in the 1930s. The earlier albums include photographs of German soldiers in World War I. The captions in the pre-1939 photograph albums are written in German. The Familienbuch is a genealogy containing photographs and identifications of several generations of the family.

The Artifacts series include military items from World War I such as dog tags, Käethe Salzmann's decathalon medals, and political buttons. Several books in German complete the collection.


  • Creation: 1858-2012


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

Ruth Henriette Salzmann Becker, a nurse and community activist, was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1922 to Hans and Käethe Salzmann. As a young Jewish woman in 1939, Salzmann fled Nazi Germany by way of England, while her parents and younger sister Eva left via Cuba. The family met again in New York in 1940.

Ruth Salzmann received her R.N. in 1945 from Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing in New York City and her B.S. and M.S. from Columbia University Teachers College in 1950 and 1952 respectively. From 1947 to 1952, Salzmann worked as an instructor of medical nursing at the Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing.

Ruth Salzmann married Samuel Becker in 1953. Together they raised three children. After her marriage, Ruth Becker worked part time in the College of Nursing at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. After her youngest child, Anne, was born with Downs syndrome, Becker become active in various organizations that serve disabled persons, including the Arc of Southeast Iowa (formerly the Association for Retarded Citizens), Goodwill Industries of Southeast Iowa, and Families, Inc. She was also active in the Johnson County Democratic Women's Club and numerous other organizations. Becker has been featured in Who's Who in World Jewry, Who's Who in American Jewry, and American Jews: Their Lives and Achievements. She died in 2007.


4.75 Linear Feet

Photographs in boxes 6-9 and 11-14, 2 audiocassettes [AC1300-1301] boxes

Language of Materials



Nurse and community activist in Iowa City who, as a young Jewish woman, fled Nazi Germany in 1939 and emigrated to the United States.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no.186) were donated by Ruth Becker in 1997 and subsequent years.

Related Materials

Ruth Salzmann Becker papers, Mt. Sinai Hospital School of Nursing, Alumnae Association, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1143, New York, NY 10029-6574: This collection includes Becker's nursing school papers and yearbooks.

Care Review Committee for Johnson County Care Facility records (Johnson County Historical Society, Coralville, Iowa): Ruth Becker was active in the committee.

Johnson County Democratic Women's Club records (State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa): Ruth Becker donated these materials to SHSI.

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Medical Museum (includes Becker's nursing cap and cape).

Samuel L. Becker papers (University Archives, University of Iowa Libraries): Samuel Becker is Ruth Becker's husband.

Processing Information

This collection contains materials from the organization The Arc of Southeast Iowa, previously known as the Johnson County Association of Retarded Citizens, before their name change in the 1990s.

Kristen Rassbach, 1997; June Silliman, 2007; Maggie Halterman, 2013, Shirley Ratliff, 2019.
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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)