Leo Szilard Letters to Gertrud Weiss, 1937-1959 (MSS 0650)

Extent: 0.4 Linear feet (1 archives box)

View OnlineThis collection has been digitized with funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

The Leo Szilard Letters to Gertrud Weiss collection contains letters written between 1937 and 1959 from Szilard to Weiss. The letters document the development of their relationship during this period and cover a variety of topics, including Szilard's battle with cancer. There are also a small number of letters from other correspondents at the end of the collection. Letters are primarily in German, with some in English.

Gertrud Weiss was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1909. She began studying medicine at the University of Vienna in the 1920s but quit within the first four months to pursue travels in Berlin, where she met Szilard. After several years in Berlin, Szilard convinced her to return to Vienna to pursue her degree in medicine, which Weiss completed in 1936. Compelled by the political climate and Szilard's urgings, Weiss moved to London and then, in 1938, to New York City. There she worked in a hospital until 1950 when she moved to Denver to teach public health at the University of Colorado's Medical School.

During this time, Szilard's and Weiss's relationship was conducted almost entirely through letters. Szilard was uninterested in marriage and it wasn't until 1951, when speculations on their relationship threatened Weiss's job, that they considered marriage. They married on October 13, 1951, and Weiss took Szilard's name, though they often lived separately during the years following.

In 1964, they moved together to La Jolla, California, where Szilard was offered a position at the Salk Institute. Szilard died that same year.

After her husband's death, Gertrud Weiss Szilard collected and co-edited Szilard's papers, producing three volumes published by MIT Press. Gertrud Weiss Szilard remained in California until her death in 1981.

The Leo Szilard Letters to Gertrud Weiss collection contains letters written between 1937 and 1959 from Szilard to Weiss. The letters document the development of their relationship during this period and cover a variety of topics, including Szilard's battle with cancer. Szilard addresses Weiss by his nicknames for her: Trude, Child, and Ch, for short. Letters are arranged chronologically. The last three folders in the box contain letters addressed to both Gertrud Weiss and Leo Szilard. Correspondents include Louis Szilard, Leo Szilard's father; Szilard's brother Bela Szilard; Dr. Henry Hausner, nuclear metals expert and Szilard's colleague; Dr. Robert Glaser of University of Colorado; Dr. Ben Liebovitz, friend who helped arrange Weiss's visas and travel in the United Kingdom and the United States; and a small number of unidentified correspondents.

Letters are primarily in German, with some in English.

English translations of some of the German letters are available in the Lanouette/Szilard Papers, MSS 659, Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego. Translations were commissioned by William Lanouette, author of Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb, and conducted by Lanouette's research assistant Joseph Ernst.

Gertrude Weiss Szilard Papers, MSS 432. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

Leo Szilard Papers, MSS 32. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

Container List

LETTERS

Box 1 Folder 1
Box 1 Folder 2
Box 1 Folder 3
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