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Dankmar Adler Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Adler

Scope and Content of the Collection

Clippings, books and articles, correspondence, and some photographs and genealogical materials relating to Dankmar Adler and his family.

The Dankmar Adler series includes correspondence to and from Adler, his autobiography, an early account book documenting his expenses in the 1850s, and (mostly copies of) his newspaper and magazine articles on designing buildings and acoustics. The Adler Family series includes correspondence by and information about Adler's wife, father, father-in-law, and daughter Sara. His granddaughter Joan Weil Saltzstein's correspondence and works constitute the bulk of this collection, and her series documents her research on Adler and other architects and buildings, as well as some of her genealogical research. The Photographs series includes some originals but mostly copy prints of buildings, family members, and friends of Saltzstein.


  • Creation: 1857-1984



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Dankmar Adler Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Dankmar Adler Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Dankmar Adler

Dankmar Adler was born on July 3, 1844, in Stadt Lengsfeld, Germany, to Rabbi Liebman and Sara Adler. Sara died a few days after Dankmar's birth, it is claimed by the family that his grieving father named him Dankmar to combine his thankfulness ("dank" in German) for his new son with the bitterness ("mar" in Hebrew) in losing his beloved wife. Liebman Adler remarried in 1846, and in 1854 the Adler family immigrated to America. Adler grew up in Detroit and apprenticed himself to an architect there until the family moved again, to Chicago, in 1861. In 1862 Adler enlisted in the First Regiment of the Illinois Light Artillery, fighting until he was discharged at the end of the war in 1865. Afterwards, he worked for various architecture firms, and during this time he designed the Central Music Hall in Chicago, his first major building. Around 1881, he founded his own firm with Louis Sullivan. During their fruitful years together Adler and Sullivan designed and built over 100 buildings, including Chicago's Auditorium Theater, Garrick Theater Building, and Stock Exchange Building. Adler built a reputation as a keen acoustician from his work on theater buildings, and he was an acoustical consultant in the construction of New York's famed Carnegie Hall.

Adler married Dila Kohn, daughter of a prominent Jewish merchant in Chicago, in 1872, and the couple had three children. He split amicably with Sullivan in 1896, and took smaller building projects in Chicago, including the Isaiah Temple (now the Ebenezer M.B. Church). Adler died unexpectedly of a stroke in 1900; he was only 56 years old. A pillar from his Central Music Hall marks his gravesite, at Mt. Mayriv Cemetery in Chicago.


6 Linear Feet (11 boxes and 1 oversize box)


Correspondence, autobiography, writings, articles, genealogy, books, clippings, photographs, and pictures relating to Dankmar Adler, Chicago architect, acoustician, and partner of Louis Sullivan in the Adler and Sullivan architectural firm. Also other family and research materials accumulated by Joan W. Saltzstein, Adler's granddaughter, for her study of Adler and his numerous architectural projects, including the Auditorium Theater, Stock Exchange Building, Garrick Theater Building, and the acoustics of Carnegie Hall.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Dankmar Adler, 1857-1963
Boxes 1-2
Series 2: Adler Family, 1866-1977
Boxes 2-3
Series 3: Joan W. Saltzstein, ca. 1880-1984
Boxes 3-10
Series 4: Photographs, ca. 1862-1971
Box 11

Collection Stack Location

1 2 2


Gift, Joan Weil Saltstein, 1967-1984.

Related Archival Materials note

Two books were removed from the collection and cataloged separately:

Adler, Liebman. Sabbath Hours: Thoughts. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1903.

Adler, Liebman. Betrachtungen dem Texte der funf Bucher Moschehs folgend, in 182 Vortragen, zur Belehrung und Erbauung, in Lieferungen unter den Namen Z'enah Ure'nah erschienen. Band 3: Siebenundfunfzig Vortrage.... Wien, 1891.

Related Archival Materials note

Two books were removed from the collection and are duplicated in the Newberry Library's collections:

Felsenthal, Bernhard, and Herman Eliassof. History of Kehillath Anshe Maarabh: Congregation of the Men of the West. Issued under the auspices of the Congregation on the occasion of its semi-centennial celebration, November 4, 1897. Chicago, 1897. Newberry Library's copy Call Number F 8962 .17

Markens, Isaac. Abraham Lincoln and the Jews. New York: Printed for the author, 1909. Newberry Library's copy Call Number F 6187 .548

Processed by

Alison Hinderliter, 2010.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the Dankmar Adler Papers, 1857-1984
Alison Hinderliter
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States