My Goldschmidt Family Project: Looking Back and Looking Forward

With this post, I come to the end of my Goldschmidt research—at least until I get new updates or make new discoveries. I’ve done my best to find whatever records, stories, and photographs exist for Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Reuben Seligmann, my four-times great-grandparents, and their descendants.1

I started blogging about my Goldschmidt relatives a little over three years ago on January 12, 2018, making it the longest of any of my family research projects.  And it’s been such a rich and rewarding journey. I’ve connected with Goldschmidt/Goldsmith cousins in France, England, and all over the United States. Some of those cousins have roots in the US that are as deep as mine—going back to the 1840s when Simon Goldschmidt/Goldsmith arrived or the 1850s when my great-great-grandmother Eva Goldschmidt Katzenstein arrived; some are the children of those who were born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany, and were forced to leave their comfortable and successful lives to escape from the Nazis as recently as the 1930s or 1940s.

One thread that runs through so much of the Goldschmidt family is an interest in the arts and literature—whether in writing, as with Milton Goldsmith and Anna Seghers, or an interest in antiquarian books, as with Alfred Goldsmith and Emil Offenbacher, or in music like Florence Goldsmith, or  in creating art like William Sigmund and Martha Loewenthal Wolff, or by working as an art historian and curator like Yvonne Hackenbroch, and, of course, then there are the many, many Goldschmidt family members involved in collecting and dealing in art—from the Goldschmidt brothers Jacob Meier and Selig to Julius Falk Goldschmidt to the Freres Tedesco family and so on.

Alfred Goldsmith self-portrait, Joseph J. Felcone, The Old Book Table. A Record of its First Seventy-Five Years, 1931–2005 (New York: The Old Book Table, 2006), p. 5.

Painting by Martha Loewenthal Wolff

Of course, there were also many merchants, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and scientists in the Goldschmidt clan. But when I think of my father’s artistic ability and his passion for art, architecture, music, and literature, I attribute it to his Goldschmidt DNA. His mother was artistic, and she was the granddaughter of Eva Goldschmidt. My great-uncle Harold Schoenthal, also a grandchild of Eva Goldschmidt, was also an artist and an architect. My daughter is also very artistic, though she did not pursue it as a career. When I see my grandsons drawing, I think, “It must be their Goldschmidt DNA.” I may not be artistic, but I’d like to think that my love of reading and writing comes from that Goldschmidt DNA as well.

The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers

The Rabbi and The Priest by Milton Goldsmith

After three years of research, it’s hard to boil down in one post all that I have learned. That research has exposed me to so much of American Jewish history and German Jewish history—from the late eighteenth century right up to 2020. The Goldschmidts kept my brain busy during this pandemic time, and they provided me with some truly memorable Zoom calls with cousins.

It has been an amazing experience. I am indebted to so many of my Goldschmidt cousins that I fear if I make a list, I will leave someone out. But thank you to all of you who shared your family’s photographs, letters, memoirs, documents, and stories. I hope that I’ve served our extended family well by recording the stories of their lives for posterity. And please stay in touch! I want to meet as many of you as I can in person someday soon.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Madame Stumpf and Her Daughter, 1872. Courtesy of the National Gallery.
Once owned by the Freres Tedesco Gallery, Paris

A work from the Guelph Treasure
Reliquary of the arm of Saint Blaise (Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Dankwarderode Castle). User:Brunswyk, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons. Once owned by J&S Goldschmidt

It’s bittersweet to reach this point and know it’s time to move on to the next project. But I’ve gone as far as I can go in the Goldschmidt research—at least for now.  I need to decide what to do next. I’ve been dipping my toes in several ponds to see which one grabs my attention.

Before I reveal where I am going next, however, I need to take a break for a bit to catch my breath and to catch up on the research it will take to start that new project, whatever it may be. But first, I will introduce my new novel. So stay tuned!


  1. I would be remiss in my duties as a family historian if I didn’t mention that in addition to their four sons Meyer, Seligmann, Lehmann, and Simon, whom I’ve studied in depth, my four-times great-grandparents Jacob Falcke Goldschmidt and Eva Seligmann had a daughter Jette Goldschmidt. She married David Gruenwald of Poembsen, Germany, and they had two children. One died as an infant or was stillborn, but the other, Jacob Gruenwald, was born in 1820, lived to adulthood, married Sarah Nethe, and had fourteen children born between 1847 and 1872. All of this information, however, is based purely on a secondary source, a report in the Alex Bernstein Collection at the Leo Baeck Institute. I’ve tried to locate more information about Jette’s descendants, but so far have not succeeded. If the day comes when I can, I will add Jette’s family to the blog.