Back on July 10, 2018, I wrote about Samuel Goldsmith, the son of Meyer Goldsmith, who died in 1907 when he was just forty years old, leaving behind his wife Helen Rau and toddler daughter Catherine. From my research I knew that after Samuel died, Helen and Catherine lived in France for many years, rarely returning to the US until the Nazis invaded France in 1940. At that point Catherine was married to Gerard Lambert, a Frenchman, with whom she had two children born in the 1930s. Eventually, Helen, Catherine, Gerard, and the two children settled in the US. But there were many unanswered questions. I ended my discussion about Catherine and her family by noting that “I hope I can connect with her descendants at some point.”
Well, thanks to the miracle of the internet and Facebook, that point has arrived. I have been in touch with Catherine’s son Alan, who has generously answered my questions and filled in some of the gaps in the story of his family. With his permission, I am able to share his story here. Most of this information came directly from Alan, though some was discovered by additional research. Alan also shared this wonderful photograph of his mother, Catherine Goldsmith Lambert:
Alan told me that his grandmother Helen Rau Goldsmith went to France to work as a buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue after Samuel died and took her young daughter Catherine with her. Helen’s sister Emma Rau had served as a nurse during World War I and had settled in Paris after the war, so Helen and little Catherine joined her there. Alan shared with me this photograph of his great-aunt Emma’s glass and sterling silver hip flask, which she carried throughout her service during the war.
Catherine grew up and went to school in France and married Gerard Lambert sometime before 1934. Gerard was born in 1904 in St. Quentin, France;1 he was a captain in the French army and then served during World War II in the Free French army and the US’s Office of Strategic Services (the OSS).
UPDATE: According to Alan, his parents had both attended the Beaux Arts in Paris as he became an architect (Architecte Diplome par le Gouvernement) and she a skilled sculptress. Alan’s architectural career was interrupted by the war.
Meanwhile, with the rise of Nazism in Germany and the threat of war, the family decided it was time to leave France. Fortunately, Helen had contacts back in the United States to help them escape. Her sister Adelaide Rau had married Julius Rosenwald on January 19, 1930, in Chicago.2 Julius had been one of the founders and the president of the Sears, Roebuck Company. It was a second marriage for both. She was sixty, and he was 67. Sadly, Julius died only two years later on January 6, 1932, leaving Adelaide once again a widow.3
But Adelaide now had the resources and connections to help get Helen, Catherine, and the children out of France in 19384 and to support them once they got to the United States. According to Alan, he and his mother and sister first lived in New Jersey when they left France but then moved to California where Adelaide was living. Emma and Helen were also living there.
After his service in World War II ended, Gerard Lambert joined them in the US, working in Washington, DC, doing import-export work, but then moved to London to work for the US government’s Military Production and Supply Board. Catherine and the children joined him there for some time. Alan left London to attend Stanford University, and soon thereafter Helen and her daughter also returned to California. Catherine and Gerard divorced, and Gerard returned to France and to his career as an architect. One of his projects was the South African embassy building in Paris. Gerard died in France in 1986.As for Catherine, her son Alan described her as “an intensely intelligent and artistic person.” She developed hearing problems as well as vision problems and became involved in researching and educating others about ways to assist those with hearing impairments, including through lip reading and other means. She worked with Lucelia M. Moore and Boris V. Morkovin, who wrote Through the Barriers of Deafness and Isolation: Oral Communication of the Hearing-Impaired Child in Life Situations (Macmillan Company, 1960), as well as a number of other works on this topic. Catherine died in California on October 7, 1981.5
Here is a letter Catherine received in 1948 from Eleanor Roosevelt related to Catherine’s efforts to assist those with hearing impairments:
I am very grateful to my cousin Alan for sharing his family’s story and these images with me and for allowing me to share it with all of you.
Gerard Lambert, passenger manifest, Year: 1946; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 7236; Line: 1; Page Number: 58,
Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 ↩
- Chicago Tribune, 09 Jan 1930, Thu, Page 1 ↩
- FHL Film Number: 1684326, Ancestry.com. Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 ↩
- Catherine Lambert and children, passenger manifest, Year: 1938; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6227; Line: 1; Page Number: 30, Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 ↩
- Number: 100-16-2554; Issue State: New York; Issue Date: Before 1951, Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 ↩