Alfred S. Austrian

Alfred S. Austrian

Alfred S. Austrian  and Paul M. Godehn, both of the Chicago law firm of Mayer, Meyer, Austrian & Platt, corresponded for the purpose of acquiring rare books and manuscripts with many significant and knowledgeable dealers in the trades.  This collection, obtained in 1990 from Kenneth Nebenzahl, consists of letters, telegrams, invoices, etc. exchanged with the major U.S. and U.K. book and manuscript dealers of the period, particularly those of Chicago, New York, and London and extendinbg into the 1930s and 1940s. It is not immediately clear if they were acting for a client, not named, or for themselves.  Neither appears among the names of the membership of Chicago’s Caxton Club, a book collectors group.  Further investigation of the contents of what was purchased — Anatole France manuscripts, for example — might suggest the identity of a client or clients, if any. 

Among the dealer names included in the correspondence, typically with typed letters signed, are Walter Hill, Chicago; A.S.W. Rosenbach, Philadelphia; Thomas Madigan and Walter Benjamin, New York; and Dawson’s and Maggs, U.K. 

Alfred S. Austrian was born in Chicago June 15, 1870, the son of Solomon and Julia Austrian.  He was a Harvard graduate, 1891, and was admitted to the bar, Chicago, in 1893.  He married Mamie Rothschild October 1, 1901.  His conduct representing the club ownership in the 1919 Chicago Black Sox baseball scandal allegedly is open to question for its ethical behavior by modern standards (see websites on Shoeless Joe Jackson, 1888-1951).   Austrian died Jan. 26, 1932.  Who Was Who in America, v. 1 (1942), 38. 

Paul M. Godehn also was an attorney practicing with Mayer, Meyer, Austrian & Platt.  He was born in Moline, Illinois Oct. 29, 1891, the son of Charles H. and Ida (Anderson) Godehn.  He received his L.L.B. degree from the University of Michigan, 1915, and married Myrtle Penniman Sept. 26, 1927.  He also served as a member of  the board of United Airlines and was associated with airline and transportation law.  A resident of Barrington, he was a member of the Attic, Tavern, Chicago, and Saddle and Sirloin clubs, Chicago, and of the Barrington Hills Country Club.  He died Jan. 31, 1952.  Who Was Who in America, v. 3 (1960), 330.

This .5 linear ft. archive, in its original letter file, is located in Donnelley and Lee 003 at 1.2.1.


Arthur H. Miller

January 25, 2010