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Blanche Frank Ittleson and Henry Ittleson Collection

Identifier: MSS 0439

Scope and Content

The items in this collection are records of Henry Ittleson’s and Blanche Frank Ittleson’s family and social life as well as many of their philanthropic activities and work in the fields of child care and promotion of mental health care. Folders 1. and 2. house photographs of family members and friends, mostly unidentified people. There are some pictures of Henry Ittleson Sr., Henry Ittleson Jr., and the Palm Beach house’s garden. There is a picture, removed from its original frame signed by David Sarnoff, founder of RCA. It is dedicated to "Uncle Henry" (Ittleson). Folder 3 contains documents related to Henry Ittleson’s move from St. Louis to New York: invitation and small booklet including menu, a small picture, and the program at the banquet along with names of organizers. There is also a poem by Rabbi M. Spitz in German in the name of Ittleson’s friends and an anonymously authored poem in English. Folder 4 includes correspondence regarding private purchases and their import to the US as well as several letters from Henry to Blanche while she travelled in Europe with their children in 1921. During their travels they made several purchases. Folder 5 has mostly receipts of clothes and furniture items. The two envelopes included in the box hold receipts and notes from their travels, probably in 1921 and 1926. Among the items in folder 6 are a satin printed program of a December 25, 1937 and January 1, 1938 concert of the NBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Arturo Toscanini, a weekly diet description, flyers, entrance tickets to a bull fight, steamship company’s itinerary, American Express Company’s tickets, postcards and a flyer for Westminster tour of 1926 in Europe. The items in folder 7 mostly relate to Henry Ittleson Sr. and Henry Ittleson Jr. Two pictures of the latter were taken in the Palm Beach house, in 1935. There are pictures of the Ittleson motorboat on water mounted on cardboards, unclear who was steering it. There are two pictures of Henry Ittleson Sr. and a letter accompanying them. One of the two pictures of the Russian logician Gregorious Itelson was removed from its original frame and was dedicated by Itelson to Henry and Blanche Ittleson on 1926 April 7. It is unclear if Ittleson and Itelson were related in any way. In folder 8 Blanche’s correspondence includes letters from Herbert H. Lehman, governor of the State of New York; postmarked on November 4, 1930, an invitation from President Hoover to a White House conference on child health and protection; a letter from Therese Bonney, attached to it is a photograph exhibition catalog from Finland; a handwritten letter from Eleanor Roosevelt from 1940 regretting that she could not accept Blanche’s invitation. Attached are a memorandum on invitees and invitation from Mrs. Felix M. Warburg to the fundraising luncheon for the United Jewish Appeal in NY’s Harmonie Club on May 6, 1941 and a letter from Columbia University’s Teacher College, dated February 3, 1940. There is an essay on "The Need for a Neuropsychiatric Institute in the U.S. Public Health Service for the Study of Nervous and Mental Diseases" with handwritten note: "Dr. Stevenson [medical director of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene] answered;" several exchanges with Otto Neurath, at the time working at the International Foundation for Visual Education in The Hague. Also enclosed are envelopes addressed to Wallace Frank, Blanche’s relative, and a letter addressed to Wally from Julius Rosenwald II nicknamed Dooly, son of Julius Rosenwald, retailer, establisher of Sears and founder of YMCA and YWCAs across the US. Additionally, there are letters and other documents from the American Museum of Health and The National Committee for mental hygiene, a telegram form Mayor LaGuardia, letters from The Brooklyn Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, the statistician Dr. Louis I. Dublin, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Attorney General Frank Murphy.

In folder 9, there are a portrait of an elderly woman in two copies and a group photograph of unknown women. Blanche Ittleson’s photograph is dated January 1938. Documents in folders 10 and 11 relate to the V.A.B. pavilion and exhibit on mental health at the 1939 World’s Fair. The next folder, no. 12 holds letters with World’s Fair letterhead, addressed to Mrs. Ittleson, member of the National Advisory Committee. Materials in folder 13 relate to V.A.B. In folder 14, there are a Smithsonian Institution certificate given to Blanche Ittleson for patronage and photographs removed from the original folder where they were housed together. Folder 15 holds pictures of the Japanese house Blanche Ittleson built in Palm Beach. Black and white photographs of both the interior and exterior of the Palm Beach House by Mary Ann Witcare, Robert M. Ackerman (whose portraits of Henry Jr. are included in folder 7) and a photographer of unreadable name are included in folder 16. Some of these photographs are mounted on cardboard. Folder 17 contains printouts from the internet, including Blanche Ittleson’s obituary.

Box OS2 (Folder 6) holds the Official World Fair pictorial map, blue prints of the VAB pavilion, exhibit agreement with VAB Ltd. signed by Blanche Ittleson in March 1939. A printed map of the exhibit and an envelope are also attached. In Box OS1 , in addition to a picture of Henry Ittleson, newspaper clippings related to child mental hygiene and Therese Bonney’s visit in Finland can be found.


  • Creation: 1894 - 2018
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1921 - 1943


Language of Materials (Language of Materials

Includes materials written in English, Dutch, German, and Spanish.


The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Blanche Frank was born in in 1875 in St. Louis, Missouri; her family had immigrated from Germany to the US. After having graduated at the Mary Institute, a girl’s preparatory school for Washington University, she trained to be a kindergarten teacher. Later she studied social work at Washington University’s School of Social Economics. She got married to Henry Ittleson in 1898, who at the time was working as a department store executive. In 1908, he founded the Commercial Credit and Investment Company, which he moved to New York in 1915 and renamed as the Commercial Investment Trust (C.I.T.). Blanche and Henry had two sons: Lee, born in 1899, struggled with mental health problems and Henry Jr., born in 1900. Henry Jr. became the chairman of C.I.T. Blanche survived both her husband who died in 1943 and Henry Ittleson Jr., who died in 1973. Lee died in 1986.

Probably due to her experience with her son Lee, Blanche Ittleson’s charitable work was divided between helping children with mental health issues and helping the poor and disadvantaged by providing professional training and opportunities to find employment. In 1919, she organized the Vocational Adjustment Bureau, which helped maladjusted women and girls to find a profession and earn a living. Blanche Ittleson arranged that V.A.B. had an exhibit pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair. During the War, the bureau’s activities were extended to the mentally ill 4-Fs and after 1945 they were focused on children’s mental health care. It was closed in 1950. Blanche Ittleson, however, continued working in this field. Having reorganized the work of the Ittleson Family Foundation, established in 1932, in 1953 she established the Henry Ittleson Center for Child Research to care for intellectually disabled children. In 1956, the Ittleson Foundation and Mrs. Ittleson endowed the Blanche F. Ittleson Chair of Child Psychiatry in the School of Medicine of Washington University in St. Louis.

Blanche Ittleson had many titles: she was a board member and officer of the National Association for Mental Health. She was also the honorary president of the US committee of the World Federation for Mental Health. Through her philanthropic work she was in contact with the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, the Austen Riggs Center, the Menninger Foundation, and the Vocational Advisory Service, she served as board member of the Jewish Board of Guardians, and she was an honorary fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

In 1953, she received the first Herbert H. Lehman Human Relations Award named after the former governor of New York, whom the Ittlesons knew. The Social Work Recruiting Committee of Greater New York established the Blanche F. Ittleson Award for outstanding community service in 1962.

The Ittlesons were also patrons of the arts and architecture, as their house in Palm Beach and the Japanese house Blanche Ittleson built in Palm Beach in the late 1950s testify. They were connected socially and through philanthropy and business to personalities such as David Sarnoff, founder of RCA; the thinker Gregorious Itelson, New York governor Herbert H. Lehman, the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the socialite Mrs. Felix M. Warburg (wife of the leader of the American Joint Distribution Comettee), Attorney General Frank Murphy, and the journalist Therese Bonney. Mrs. Ittleson was corresponding with Otto Neurath, a former member of the Viennese circle and the father of pictograms.


.85 Linear Feet (2 Boxes and 2 Oversized Folders)


The items in the collection relate to the Ittlesons’ private and social life, philanthropy, and Blanche Frank Ittleson’s work in the field of social welfare, child mental health protection, and more. Several photographs of their houses in Palm Beach and the many receipts and notes from their travels abroad illustrate the high standard of the lives they lived.


This collection is arranged in chronological order and topically.


University of Florida Smathers Library Building

A Guide to the Blanche Frank Ittleson and Henry Ittleson Collection
Finding aid created by Katalin Franciska Rac
June 2018
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America