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Collection Overview

Greenbaum, Edward S. (Edward Samuel), 1890-1970
Edward S. Greenbaum Papers
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
1888-1969 (mostly 1930-1960)
48 boxes, 1 folder, and 2 items
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-48


Edward S. Greenbaum (1890-1970) was a lawyer in New York City in the legal firm of Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst who was involved in court reform efforts throughout his career. He also served in the War Department during World War II as executive officer to Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson, negotiating contracts with the private sector for munitions and supplies. Greenbaum's papers document his career as a lawyer, as well as his government service, and include correspondence, legal documents, reports, and publications.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Greenbaum's papers document his career as a lawyer, as well as his government service, and include correspondence, legal documents, reports, and publications. The papers particularly document his involvement in the study and reform of the court system and his service in the United States War Department during World War II, as well as his work on cases.

Please see the series descriptions in the contents list for additional information about individual series.


The Papers have been arranged in eight series:

Collection Creator Biography:

Greenbaum, Edward S. (Edward Samuel), 1890-1970

Edward S. Greenbaum (1890-1970) was a lawyer in New York City in the legal firm of Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst who was involved in court reform efforts throughout his career. He also served in the War Department during World War II as executive officer to Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson, negotiating contracts with the private sector for munitions and supplies.

Edward Samuel Greenbaum was born in New York City on April 13, 1890. He was the second son of Samuel Greenbaum, who became a New York State Supreme Court Justice in 1900. Greenbaum studied at the Horace Mann School and then attended Williams College, where he received his A.B. in 1910. He earned his law degree (LL.B.) from Columbia University in 1913. Edward Greenbaum married Dorothea Schwarcz, a sculptor, in October 1920 and they had two sons: Daniel and David.

Greenbaum began to practice law in 1913 in New York City with his older brother Lawrence and Herbert A. Wolff, a classmate. In 1915, they were joined by Morris L. Ernst and founded the firm of Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst. Lawrence Greenbaum died in 1951 and the other three men continued the firm. Greenbaum choose not to specialize, instead staying involved with many areas of the law. He tried cases, argued appeals, conducted family counseling, worked for corporations, and administered estates. Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst became one of New York's most prominent law firms and was well-respected in literary and civil-liberties legal circles.

Greenbaum interrupted his practice of law to serve the United States when America entered World War I. He was unable to qualify for officers' training at the citizens' training camp in Plattsburgh, N.Y. because of color blindness, so he enlisted as a private. During training at Camp Upton, he created and ran a program to teach English to immigrant soldiers. On February 6, 1918, he was promoted to the rank of captain. Greenbaum was later made a major in the Judge Advocate's Department and served in Germany for several months. He served in the military from 1917 to 1919 and then returned to his law practice.

In the 1920s, Greenbaum became increasingly involved in public affairs. He joined a group at the John's Hopkins Institute for the Study of Law that was studying the civil litigation system in the fall of 1928. He became chairman of the committee of nine lawyers working with the institute on the study in 1929. This work was the beginning of his life-long pursuit for court reform.

Greenbaum was called into active service in World War II, commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in 1940 and rising to the rank of brigadier general in March 1943. He served as executive officer to Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson from 1941 to 1946. Greenbaum worked as a lawyer for the War Department, negotiating contracts with private industry, and was instrumental in ensuring that there were sufficient munitions and supplies for the war. Because of his work, he became known for his ability to work out satisfactory compromises between groups of conflicting people. Greenbaum also shaped the War Department's labor policies. He received the Distinguished Service Medal in 1945.

Following his service in the War Department, Greenbaum again returned to his law practice at Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst. He also continued his efforts to improve the organization of the court system, serving as chairman for many professional groups studying court reform and helping to establish the Citizens Committee for Modern Courts in 1955. He played a major role in establishing an Adolescent Court in New York as head of a New York Law Society study, and in the 1950s was part of the efforts that culminated in the first major New York state and local court reforms in 115 years, instituted in 1960 and 1961.

During the course of his career, Greenbaum worked on many prominent cases. He served as trustee for the American estate of Ivar Kreuger when his company, Kreuger & Toll, declared bankruptcy in the 1930s, and also served as special assistant to the United States Attorney General from 1934 to 1938. While he served the Attorney General, Greenbaum prosecuted banker Charles E. Mitchell for income tax evasion. Governor Thomas E. Dewey appointed Greenbaum to serve as chief counsel for the commission to reorganize the Long Island Rail Road after a series of accidents in 1950, and Greenbaum represented Harper & Row Publishers when Jacqueline Kennedy withdrew her support for the publication of The Death of a President by William Manchester in 1966. Greenbaum's most famous case is generally considered to be serving as legal counsel to Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin's daughter, when she published her book Twenty Letters to a Friend and subsequently serving as her mentor when she came to the United States in 1967.

In addition to his career as a lawyer, Greenbaum was active in his community. He was a founder of the Jewish Big Brothers, which aids troubled youth, and served as trustee of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Greenbaum also continued to serve the government. In 1933, he was appointed chairman of the Alcohol Control Commission, created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to establish Federal codes to control liquor after the repeal of the Prohibition Amendment, and in 1958 he was a member of the New Jersey Department of Institutions and Agencies Study Commission. Greenbaum also served as the alternate United States delegate at the 1956-1957 United Nations General Assembly, where he presented the United States call for Korean unity.

Additionally, Greenbaum was a very active member in the American, City of New York, and New York State bar associations. He was co-author of The King's Bench Masters with Leslie I. Reade, published in 1932. Greenbaum's autobiography, A Lawyer's Job, was published in 1967. He received an honorary Doctor of Letters in 1946, and the Rogerson Cup and Medal in 1957, from Williams College. The Cup and Medal is given to an alumnus or senior for service and loyalty to the college and for distinction in any field. It was given to Greenbaum for his ability to negotiate acceptable compromises in difficult situations between conflicting parties. Greenbaum died on June 12, 1970.

Collection History


This collection was donated by Edward S. Greenbaum in December 1968 and November 1969 , with additions in July and December 1969 . An addition was received from Dorothea Greenbaum, Greenbaum's wife, in June 1976 .


Duplicate publications have been separated from this collection. Publications have been removed to be cataloged separately.


These papers were processed with the generous support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Fund.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Adriane Hanson and Elissa Frankle in 2006. Finding aid written by Adriane Hanson in April 2006.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Edward S. Greenbaum Papers; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (scamudd): Box 1-48

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Related Materials

A collection of papers related to Greenbaum's service in the War Department, "Security-Classified Records of Executive Assistant Brig. Gen. Edward S. Greenbaum and His Aide, Lt. Col. James P. Hendrick, 1940-1945" (5 linear feet) is located at the National Archives in College Park, MD.

This collection is part of a group of 28 Mudd Manuscript Library collections related to 20th century economic thought and development which were processed as part of a National Historical Publications and Records Commission funded project. Researchers wishing to access these collections should search for the subject "Economics--20th century" or related terms in the Princeton University Library Main Catalog. Collections at the Mudd Manuscript Library of particular relevance to the Edward S. Greenbaum Papers are the Kreuger & Toll Company Records, which contain materials on Greenbaum's work as trustee of the American estate of Ivar Kreuger, and the papers of two other individuals who served in the United States War Department during World War II, J. Douglas Brown and Howard C. Petersen.


The following sources were consulted during preparation of biographical note: "E.S. Greenbaum Wed to Miss Schwarcz." The New York Times, October 22, 1920. "Law Firm that Won Battle to Publish 'Ulysses' is Closing its Doors," by David M. Margolick. The New York Times, March 19, 1982. Materials from Series 1: Biographical; Edward S. Greenbaum Papers; Public Policy Papers, Special Collections, Princeton University Library. Obituary of Edward S. Greenbaum. The New York Times, June 13, 1970. "Study the Causes of Civil Litigation." The New York Times, July 25, 1929.

Subject Terms:
Bar associations -- United States.
Courts -- United States.
Economics -- 20th century.
Law -- United States -- Cases.
Law reform -- United States.
World War, 1939-1945 -- United States.
Genre Terms:
Legal documents.
Columbia University. Project for Effective Justice
United Nations. General Assembly
United States. War Department
The Committee for Modern Courts
Long Island Rail Road Commission
Kreuger & Toll
Greenbaum, Wolff & Ernst
New Jersey. Dept. of Institutes and Agencies Studies Commission
New York (State). Judicial Conference
Allilueva, Svetlana, 1926-2011
Greenbaum, Edward S. (Edward Samuel), 1890-1970