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The Salomons-Fox Family Collection

The Lives and Creativity of an Uprooted Austrian/German- Jewish Family

The Salomons-Fox Family Collection is a recently processed collection of the LBI Archives that features papers of members and descendants of the Fox family of Vienna (originally the Fuks family of Lødz, Poland) and the Salomons family of Germany (with earlier generations from Amsterdam and Spain). These two families were united with the marriage of the artist Dave Fox and Senta Salomons in Los Angeles in 1943. The collection includes papers not only of this couple, but also of members of the extended branches of this family, including members of the Steindecker and Kahn families from the Salomons side of the family. The papers of the collection chronicle the lives of multiple family members.

Dave Fox, Belgian identification papers
Belgian identification papers of Dave Fox. From the Salomons-Fox Family Collection. AR 25886, Box 1, Folder 31.

Much of this collection consists of the papers of the artist Dave Fox. As a young man he was influenced by the artistic influences of Vienna, in particular the artists of the Vienna Secession, especially Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. His parents, Abraham and Regina (Ryfka, née Gerlich) Fuks owned a small grocery store. After the Anschluss of Austria in 1938, Dave and his brother Jakob would hide in the Augarten park in Vienna to escape the harassment of the Nazi-sympathizing youths of the neighborhood, some of whom had previously been friends. Later that year Dave Fox fled Vienna along with a Jewish friend and came to Belgium. From there he went to New York, and eventually, Los Angeles, where his younger brother lived. He found a job as a sheet metal worker and was later drafted to serve in the U.S. Army's occupation forces in Asia.

Dave Fox, untitled sketch (father and son)
Untitled sketch by Dave Fox. From the Salomons-Fox Family Collection. AR 25886, Box 3, Folder 1.

Following his military service, Dave Fox began to study art at the Bistrim School of Fine Arts and the Jepson Institute, then found work at an electrical engineering company as a silkscreen artist and photography and later became a supervisor in the manufacturing division. In 1977 he decided to continue his art studies and received Associate's, Bachelor's, and Master's degrees from the California State University, Fullerton and eventually retired from his engineering work to focus on his art. Over the next three decades his work appeared in many group and solo exhibitions. In November 2009, a selection of his works was featured at an exhibit at the Aktionsradius Wien: Vom Augarten nach Los Angeles. Almost half of the family collection consists of examples of his art and his art process, including numerous sketches in varying stages of completion and using different mediums, many with notes on future development of the pieces.

Jackie Gerlich, letter to his mother (Regina Fuks)
Letter by Jackie Gerlich to his mother, Regina Fox, in 1942. From the Salomon-Fox Family Collection. AR 25886, Box 1, Folder 23.

Another family member whose story is represented in the Salomons-Fox Collection is the performer Jackie Gerlich (born Leo Gerlich), Dave Fox's younger brother. Jackie Gerlich had dwarfism and was taken to the United States at the age of 10 as a member of the "Singer Midgets" group run by Leo Singer and worked as a performer and clown. In order to emigrate at such a young age his older brother's name and identification were used, without his parents' consent. He worked as a clown and eventually became part of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In 1939 he starred in the film The Wizard of Oz as the red munchkin of the Lollipop Guild. Further details on the complicated story of his early separation from his family and his life in the United States can be found in the archival collection.

Lina Kahn, Wedding poem
A wedding poem found in a notebook of Lina Kahn's poetry. From the Salomons-Fox Family Collection. AR 25886, Box 1, Folder 9.
Frida Kahn, letter from Bertha Pappenheim
Letter to Frida Kahn from Bertha Pappenheim, 1925. From the Salomons-Fox Family Collection. AR 25886, Box 1, Folder 7.

Samuel and Lina Kahn were the maternal grandparents of Senta Fox (née Salomons) and married in 1898. They lived in Dortmund, Germany, and had four daughters: twin sisters Bertha and Frida, Trude, and Charlotte. Bertha married Alex Salomons in 1920 and was the mother of Senta Salomons and her brother Rudolf. The Salomons owned a clothing store in the same building in which Samuel Kahn had a shoe store; in 1940 the Salomons family came to the United States, having previously sent their son there in a HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) transport four years earlier. Samuel Kahn passed away in 1924. His wife Lina along with her brother Isaac Stern tried unsuccessfully to follow their four daughters in immigrating to the United States via several Central and South American countries and perished in the Holocaust.

After completing studies in domestic sciences in Dortmund, Frida Kahn came to Berlin, where she attended the Soziale Frauenschule (women's school for social work) headed by Dr. Alice Salomon. She continued her studies at the Niederrheinische Frauenakademie (Lower Rhine Women's Academy) in Düsseldorf and became a registered social worker. After working in her field she became the Acting Director of the Jüdischer Frauenbund (League of Jewish Women) in Berlin. She left that position in November 1921, desiring to be closer to her family, and moved to Elberfeld, where she joined several social work organizations, including secretary of the Association of German Jewish Employment Services and a social worker for the Jewish congregation in Elberfeld. In 1929 Frida married Alfred Steindecker and moved to Hamburg. There she became involved in various efforts for the support of children. In 1939 Frida and Alfred Steindecker came to the United States, where they settled in Missouri. She continued her interest in social work in Missouri, including further studies and working as a caseworker for the state welfare office.

The Salomons-Fox Family Collection includes papers of a number of other family members. Further details on the lives and work of family members described here or about other family members mentioned in the papers of the archival collection as well as the genealogy of the different branches of the family may be found in viewing the collection's finding aid.