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Louis E. and Carmen K. Freudenthal family papers

Identifier: Ms-0002

Scope and Contents

The Freudenthal collection spans the years 1837 to 1990. The materials have been divided into three major series: Louis E. Freudenthal, Carmen K. Freudenthal, and Photographs. Louis E. Freudenthal materials span the years 1837 to 1971 and have been arranged into eleven subseries: Family Histories; Family Correspondence; Personal Miscellany; Interest Files; Business Enterprises; Legal Records; Financial Records; Maps, Plats, and Blueprints; Valley Insurance Agency; Max Freudenthal; and Printed Materials and Notebooks. Family Histories contains biographies and autobiographies, as well as genealogy charts clarifying family relationships. Correspondence between members of the Freudenthal Club, a family group organized to maintain family relationships, and Freudenthal Club pamphlets are also contained within the Family Histories subseries. Personal correspondence between family members, including letters written in German from Phoebus Freudenthal to his parents and siblings dated as early as 1869, are part of the Family Correspondence. The Personal Miscellany and Interest Files subseries contain materials pertaining to Louis Freudenthal’s personal and business interests. Other family members are represented in these subseries, including Max and Phoebus Freudenthal. Papers from Louis Freudenthal’s tenure as president of the New Mexico Farm Bureau in the 1930s are contained in the Interest Files. Business Enterprises; Legal Records; Financial Records; and Maps, Plats, and Blueprints contain significant amounts of material regarding the Freudenthal land holdings and farming operations. A division was made between farm properties and various other businesses within the Business Enterprises section, and records are ordered by the name of the business or corporation. Financial Records consists mainly of ledgers and daybooks including personal and business finances. Four ledgers belonging to Mrs. Katie Reymond are found in this subseries. Valley Insurance Agency contains records of the business operated by Louis Freudenthal and his son, Max. These materials are organized roughly by individual or agency. The Max Freudenthal subseries contains unarranged materials that pertain to his personal and business interests. The Carmen K. Freudenthal series spans the years 1890 to 1990 and consists of six subseries: Correspondence, Personal Miscellany, Legal Records, Financial Records, Social and Civil Activities Files, and Printed Materials. Carmen’s Correspondence files are largely letters received. There is a small amount of family correspondence. Letters of condolence on the deaths of both Louis and Max Freudenthal form the majority of this subseries. Personal Miscellany contains an autobiography of Carmen Freudenthal, as well as files she maintained on her personal accomplishments. Also included are memorabilia, family histories, and materials from various trips throughout the world. Estate records, investment reports, medical coverage and personal tax information are found in the Legal and Financial Records subseries. The most extensive parts of the Carmen Freudenthal series are the Social and Civic Activities Files and the Printed Materials. These files cover the broad range of interests Carmen maintained throughout her life. The Abortion, Planned Parenthood, and Right to Choose files contain materials pertaining to the Planned Parenthood organization that Carmen helped found in Las Cruces and to the issues of women’s rights and family planning and health. Notes from Carmen’s term as secretary of the State Advisory Committee for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission are included as are records documenting her involvement in the American Association of University Women. The final series Photographs contains family images dating between 1905 to 1976. The Frenger and Lezinsky families are also represented in these images. A 1924 panorama of the Democratic Convention in Las Cruces, New Mexico, has a key identifying many of the people depicted.


  • 1837-1990

Biographical / Historical

Louis Edwin Freudenthal was born 18 June 1895 to Phoebus and Amalia Lewy Freudenthal in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Phoebus was the fourth generation of his family to settle in New Mexico. Phoebus left Germany in 1869 at age thirteen to work for an uncle in Las Cruces. He eventually established his own business, Louis Freudenthal and Company, named for his father. The business was sold to Adolph Jacoby in 1899 when Phoebus took over the management of Solomon Commercial Company in Arizona. Phoebus and Amalia had two other children: Bernard, who eventually settled in California, and Robert, who died in infancy. Louis Freudenthal attended school as a child in Solomonville, Arizona. He was later sent to live with relatives in New York where he attended private schools and eventually graduated from De Witt Clinton High School. Freudenthal graduated from Cornell University in 1916 with a major in agricultural studies. Freudenthal returned to New Mexico around 1918 to manage his father’s properties and founded the Valley Insurance Agency. He became involved in the Farm Bureau and served as the local director for ten years. Freudenthal was active in numerous local organizations throughout his life. In 1940 he helped organize the Doña Ana County Taxpayers League. In 1943 he joined the war effort that created the Valley Locker Co-op. He served as director of the Mutual Building and Loan Association from 1948 to 1970. Freudenthal was interested in local history and served as an early president of the Doña Ana County Historical Society. He participated in the local Stamp Club, Doña Ana Mental Health Services, New Mexico Association of Insurance Agents, the Kiwanis Club, Temple Beth El, and the United Jewish Appeal In 1931, while on a lobbying trip for Elephant Butte, Freudenthal met Carmen Kahn in New York City. On 28 March 1932, they married. The couple's first child, Elsa, was born in 1934. Two years later they had a son, Max. Louis and Carmen shared a lifelong interested in social activism as well as the arts and history. Carmen Sylvia Kahn was born in Sedalia, Missouri, on 8 February 1898 to French immigrants, Arthur Kahn and Clémence Joseph. Arthur worked with his brothers in the garment business. Clémence was involved in various civic activities and is credited with organizing the first Red Cross chapter in Missouri. Carmen attended public school in Sedalia and later attended preparatory school in St. Louis. She attended Washington University in St. Louis for a short time then transferred to Smith College in Northhampton, Massachusetts, where she studied Economics and Sociology. She graduated cum laude in 1920. Carmen was a social worker at the Jewish Charities in Chicago for a short time and worked for several years as an encyclopedia salesperson in St. Louis and in New York. Carmen maintained a lifelong commitment to social and political involvement. She served as president of the Women's Improvement Association and chaired its legislative committee, which sought to reform New Mexico's community property laws. Carmen also became active in civil rights efforts in the state and promoted women's education through the local branch of the American Association of University Women. She also helped establish a Planned Parenthood clinic in Doña Ana County and served as its first president. She was also affiliated with the local hospital auxiliary, the Doña Ana Chapter of the Red Cross, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and the Democratic Party. Louis Freudenthal died in Las Cruces in 1971 after a lengthy illness. Max, who had been his father’s partner at the Valley Insurance Agency, died about two years later, in 1973. Carmen remained in Las Cruces and was active until her death in 1991. The Freudenthal’s daughter, Elsa, still lives in Las Cruces and continues her parents’ enthusiasm for social reform.


40 Linear Feet (88 Boxes)

Language of Materials



Personal and business papers of a prominent pioneer Jewish family who first settled in the Mesilla Valley around 1850. Records include farm and property management records, insurance records from Louis Freudenthal’s insurance agency, correspondence between family members, personal memorabilia, and social and civic activities files of Carmen Freudenthal.

Related Materials

Fierman, Floyd S. Some Early Jewish Settlers on the Southwestern Frontier. El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1960.

Fierman, Floyd S. Samuel J. Freudenthal: Southwestern Merchant and Civic Leader Reprinted from the American Jewish Historical Quarterly 57:3 (March 1968).

Narrative of Samuel J. Freudenthal. n.p., n.d.

Processing Information

Margaret B. Thwaits, November 1975 Revised by Marah deMeule and Christine Moreland-Bruhnke, August 2000 Edited by Rick Hendricks, August 2003
Guide to the Louis E. and Carmen K. Freudenthal family papers
Margaret B. Thwaits, November 1975 Revised by Marah deMeule and Christine Moreland-Bruhnke, August 2000 Edited by Rick Hendricks, August 2003
August 2003
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA