Leo Szilard Letters to Gertrud Weiss

Finding aid prepared by Special Collections & Archives
Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
Copyright 2010

Descriptive Summary

Title: Leo Szilard Letters to Gertrud Weiss
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0650
Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
Languages: German
Physical Description: 0.4 Linear feet (1 archives box)
Date (inclusive): 1937-1959
Abstract: The Leo Szilard Letters to Gertrud Weiss collection contains letters written between 1937 and 1959 from Szilard to Weiss. The letters document the development of their relationship during this period and cover a variety of topics, from the everyday to more personal topics, including Szilard's battle with cancer. There are also a small number of letters from other correspondents. Letters are primarily in German, with some in English.
Creator: Szilard, Leo

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection is arranged in two series: SZILARD LETTERS TO GERTRUD and OTHER CORRESPONDENTS.
The LETTERS TO GERTRUD series spans from 1937 to 1959 and is arranged chronologically. Throughout the letters, Szilard addresses Weiss by her nicknames: Trude, Child, and Ch, for short. The bulk of the letters were written in German, though there are some in English.
The OTHER CORRESPONDENTS series also ranges from 1937 to 1959 and contains letters in German and English to both Gertrud Weiss and Leo Szilard. Correspondents include Louis Szilard, Leo Szilard's father; Szilard's brother Bela Szilard; Dr. Henry Hausner, nuclear metals expert and Szilard's colleague; Dr. Robert Glaser of University of Colorado; Dr. Ben Liebovitz, friend who helped arrange Weiss's visas and travel in the United Kingdom and the United States; and a small number of unidentified correspondents.

Related Materials

English translations of some of the German letters are available in University of California, San Diego, Mandeville Special Collections Library MSS 659, Lanouette/Szilard Papers. Translations were commissioned by William Lanouette, author of Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb, and conducted by Lanouette's research assistant Joseph Ernst.
Gertrude Weiss Szilard Papers (MSS 432); Leo Szilard Papers (MSS 32).


Gertrud Weiss was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1909. She began studying medicine at the University of Vienna in the 1920s but quit within the first four months to pursue travels in Berlin, where she met Szilard. After several years in Berlin, Szilard convinced her to return to Vienna to pursue her degree in medicine, which Weiss completed in 1936. Compelled by the political climate and Szilard's urgings, Weiss moved to London and then, in 1938, to New York City. There she worked in a hospital until 1950 when she moved to Denver to teach public health at the University of Colorado's Medical School.
During this time, Szilard's and Weiss's relationship was conducted almost entirely through letters. Szilard was uninterested in marriage and it wasn't until 1951, when speculations on their relationship threatened Weiss's job, that they considered marriage. They married on October 13, 1951, and Weiss took Szilard's name, though they often lived separately during the years following.
In 1964, they moved together to La Jolla, California, where Szilard was offered a position at the Salk Institute. Szilard died that same year.
After her husband's death, Gertrud Weiss Szilard collected and co-edited Szilard's papers, producing three volumes published by MIT Press. Gertrud Weiss Szilard remained in California until her death in 1981.

Publishing Rights

Publishing rights are held by the creator of the collection.

Acquisition Information

Acquired 2004.

Preferred Citation

Leo Szilard Letters to Gertrud Weiss, MSS 650. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Szilard, Gertrud Weiss -- Correspondence
Szilard, Leo -- Archives



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Languages: English
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Languages: English
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Financial documents and related correspondence 1954-1955

Languages: English
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