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Esther Lowenthal Papers

Identifier: CA-MS-00062

Scope and Contents

The Esther Lowenthal Papers mostly cover her time as a student at Columbia University and a faculty member at Smith College. Most of the material is composed of correspondence, speeches, publications, and student notebooks. Other types of materials represented in this collection include news articles and photographs.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1902 - 1997


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Smith College retains copyright of materials created as part of its business operations; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Smith College, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Esther Lowenthal was born on September 15, 1883 in Rochester, New York on to Louise and Max Lowenthal. Her father was one of the founders of the Mechanics Institute, now known as the Rochester Institute of Technology. Lowenthal graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1905, then went on to study economics at Oxford University. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1911. While at Columbia, the university published her dissertation The Ricardian Socialists, which studied the work of socialist economists such as William Thompson, John Grey, Thomas Hodgskin, and John Francis Bay, between 1820 and 1840, and the significant place they occupy in the history of socialist theory.

Lowenthal joined Smith College in 1911 as an assistant in the Department of Economics and Sociology, and was made a full professor of economics in 1921. In 1925, she became the Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics. She served as chairman of the department until her retirement in 1952. From 1946 to 1948, while she filled the role of dean of the college, she focused primarily on educational policy and curriculum. Lowenthal also served as chair of the Council on Industrial Studies, as well as president of the Smith Chapter of the American Association of University Professors. She was recognized by Bryn Mawr in 1960 for distinguished service. At the time of her retirement, a fund from former students and friends was presented to the college to provide an Esther Lowenthal Scholarship for a student in economics.

Lowenthal was a specialist in public finance, especially government expenditures and revenues, and modern forms of taxation. She was also an active speakers in the community on subjects such as taxes, New Deal programs, and the relation of government to industry. She was also a strong supporter of the local services provided by United Way. In her will, she bequeathed $5,000 to the local United Way agency, thus establishing the Esther Lowenthal Memorial Fund.

Lowenthal died in a Rochester nursing home after a long illness on May 18, 1980 at the age of 96.


1.104 linear feet (3 containers)

Language of Materials



Professor, Economics. Contains biographical materials, correspondence, speeches, publications, photographs, and notebooks.


This collection is organized into five series:

  1. I. Biographical Material
  2. II. Correspondence
  3. III. Speeches/Publications
  4. IV. Photographs
  5. V. Student Notebooks

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials in this collection. Please consult with Special Collections staff or email to request the creation of and access to digital copies.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source unknown.

Processing Information

The Esther Lowenthal Papers were processed by Katrina Cokeng, '02, CDO Archival Intern in 1999-2000.

Processing Information

Please note that prior to 2018, folder inventories were not always updated when new material was added to the collection. As a result, folder inventories may not be complete and folder numbers may be incorrect.

Finding aid to the Esther Lowenthal Papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Katrina Cokeng
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: manosca62 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2018-11-12: Containers added and finding aid updated as part of the College Archives Survey

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063