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The University of Southampton
Special Collections

MS 377 Papers of William Frankel

William Frankel

William Frankel was born in Whitechapel, London, in February 1917, the second of three sons to Orthodox Jewish parents – Anna and Isaac – who had recently emigrated from Galicia, the Polish part of the Austrian empire.

Frankel attended the Jews’ Free School and the St-George-in-the-East Central School. He studied medicine for a year at the Regent Street Polytechnic before moving to Davenant Foundation School to study classics in order to qualify for Jews’ College. He was excluded from military service in the Second World War on medical grounds and completed a law degree at the London School of Economics, which had been evacuated to Cambridge, followed by postgraduate studies in International Law at the University of Cambridge. He was called to the Bar in 1944 and for the next ten years was a barrister at the Middle Temple, London.

In 1945, Frankel became the London correspondent of the American Jewish Committee. He also held office in several of the leading organisation of the Anglo-Jewish community, including secretary of Mizrachi. 

Frankel was asked to become the Jewish Chronicle’s general manager in 1954, a position he held until he was appointed editor in 1958. In 1977, Frankel retired from the editorship of the Jewish Chronicle, remaining a Director of the publishing company. In the same year he became editorial advisor to The Times and contributed regularly to that newspaper. In January 1970, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

He edited Friday Night (1973), a JC anthology and also the annual Survey of Jewish Affairs, 1982-92. He wrote Israel Observed in 1980 and his autobiography, Tea with Einstein and other memories, was published in 2006. 

He continued his legal interests: from 1963-9 he was a Justice of the Peace for London and also served as president of the Mental Health Review Tribunal and chairman of the Social Security Appeal Tribunal, 1978-89. In the academic field he was visiting professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1968-9; Vice President of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research from 1993; and a governor at both Oxford and Cambridge Hebrew study centres. 

In 1938 Frankel married Gertrude Reed and they divorces in 1971. In 1973 he married divorcee Claire Neuman.

Frankel died Washington in 2008.

Arrangement of the collection

An attempt has been made to arrange Frankel’s papers – while respecting their natural order – into a series of personal papers and then to subdivide the professional to reflect his career. There seems to have been considerable overlap in Frankel’s life, making it hard to distinguish between ‘personal’ and ‘work’ correspondence and between the varied and voluminous jobs he filled within the international Jewish community. As a result, this collection has been split into nine main sections which should not be taken to be mutually exclusive: (1) personal; (2) main correspondence; (3) the Jewish Chronicle; (4) America; (5) working papers; (6) travel papers; (7) other work; (8) printed and published material and (9) Britain and Israel (including papers of Terence Prittie)

About the collection 

Frankel’s papers include a small amount of personal material, including correspondence, photographs and memorabilia, 1929-2004.

Main series of alphabetical correspondence, 1947-90

A series of files directly concerning the Jewish Chronicle and Frankel’s work there although a significant majority of this collection relates directly or indirectly to work he did while editor. There is also a series of files, 1960s-78 and 1992, concerning the Jacobs-Brodie affair, the Jews’ College and New West End Synagogue ‘crisis’, the establishment of the New London Synagogue and the Society for the Study of Jewish Theology.

A large series of papers concerning Frankel’s work as London correspondent for the American Jewish Committee, mostly correspondence, reports and concerning his visits to America, 1940s-80s. In March 1946, the AJC and the Anglo-Jewish Association, decided to sponsor a Consultative (or London) Conference of Jewish Organisations, due to their concern for the reconstruction of Jewish education and culture in Europe. At a repeat conference held in Paris in September 1946, the United Jewish Educational and Cultural organisation of Europe (UJECO) was created. Frankel’s papers include material concerning the CCJO and UJECO; he was on the executive committee of UJECO and joint honorary secretary. There is also considerable correspondence with friends and colleagues in America, 1944-91.

Working papers, 1947-2003, including typescripts and manuscripts for articles, lectures and talks plus research material and correspondence concerning getting his work published. 

Travel papers: Frankel travel extensively both as editor to the Jewish Chronicle and in a more personal capacity. His travel papers contain a small amount of material regarding his visit to places in the UK (1961-72) with the majority of the papers concerning his visits abroad (1947-89). Frankel kept manuscript notes for many of the places he visited and the collection also contains some correspondence and photographs.

Other work: smaller series of papers concerning Frankel’s other work. These papers cover: correspondence and typescript copies of articles while correspondent for the Statesman, India, 1976-2001; Frankel’s publications: papers concerning Israel Observed, 1978-83 and Tea with Einstein, 2005-7; Frankel’s legal work for Medical Health Review Tribunal and the Social Security Appeal Tribunal and his work in the academic world with the University of Cambridge: Centre for Modern Hebrew Studies, 1994-2007; Girton College Cambridge, 2000-6; the Jewish Academic Foundation, 1973-4 and the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, 2004-6. 

Frankel continued to be very active in the Anglo-Jewish community following his official retirement and the collection includes records of his work, 1989-2005, for the following organisations: Beni Foundation B, the Institute of Jewish Affairs, Institute of Philanthropy, the Else and Barnett Janner Charitable Trust, the New Israel Fund, the Posen Foundation and the Yakar Centre for Social Concern.

Printed and published material: this section includes many press cuttings of articles by Frankel, about Frankel or the Jewish Chronicle as well as about Jewish matters of interest to Frankel. 

Papers of Britain and Israel mostly generated by Terence C.F.Prittie, its first Director. Prittie was one of the journalists Frankel chose to use while editor of the Jewish Chronicle and Frankel seems to taken on responsibility for Britain and Israel following Prittie’s death. There also are some papers of Walter Henry Nelson, Prittie’s business partner at their media and public relations company, International Relations.

Date range:



Former references: 



50 boxes






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