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Alvin Johnson letters to Dannie Heineman

Identifier: NA-0001-01


Consists of handwritten and typed letters from Dr. Alvin Johnson, President Emeritus of the New School for Social Research, to philanthropist Dannie N. Heineman and carbon copies of some of Heineman's replies.


  • 1951 - 1961



0.1 Cubic Feet (1 folder (12 letters))

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents of Collection

The collection consists of handwritten and typed letters from Dr. Alvin Johnson, President Emeritus of the New School for Social Research, to philanthropist Dannie N. Heineman and carbon copies of some of Heineman's replies. Johnson correspondence to Heineman includes fundraising appeals interspersed with reminiscences about their long friendship, updates on Johnson's writing endeavors, and expressions of the grief experienced upon Johnson's daughter Dorothy's death from cancer. Although it largely concerns financial matters, the correspondence is warm in tone and chronicles a number of Johnson's activities outside of his role at the New School.

In addition to the letters, the collection includes clippings of book reviews for Johnson's Battle of the Wild Turkey, and Other Stories (Antheneum, 1961). Johnson shared an essay about Moses and short stories with Heineman, who was a book and manuscript collector, prior to publication, although the manuscripts are not present in the collection.

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for appointment.

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the Kellen Design Archives. Please contact:

Biographical note

Alvin Johnson was born in Nebraska in 1874 to Danish immigrants. He studied at the University of Nebraska and received a PhD from Columbia University in economics. In 1918, Johnson helped found the New School for Social Research in New York along with fellow academics associated with Columbia and The New Republic. He served as the New School's director from 1922 until 1945, although he continued his involvement with the institution's administration until the 1960s, when he helped save the New School from financial crisis through fund raising activities. Beginning in 1933, Johnson orchestrated the emigration of European intellectuals to the United States, forming the University in Exile. He served as editor of the Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, the Yale Review, and The New Republic, and authored works of fiction, memoir, journalism, and non-fiction on economics. Alvin Johnson died in Nyack, New York in 1971.

Dannie N. Heineman was born in North Carolina in 1872, but moved to Europe with his German-born mother following the death of his father. He received an engineering degree from the Technical University of Hanover and worked as an electrical engineer, becoming head of the Belgium-based SOFINA (Societe Financiere de Transports et d'Enterprises Industrielles) in 1905. Heineman retired from his post at SOFINA in 1955. During the Second World War, he worked to prevent mass starvation in his adopted country of Belgium -- Heineman would later be honored with the Grand Cross of Leopold for his efforts on Belgium's behalf. Heineman and his wife, Hettie, were philanthropists and funders of scientific institutions and research facilities; they were among the donors who responded to Alvin Johnson's appeals on behalf of the New School for Social Research. Dannie Heineman died in New York in 1962.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Marian H. Rose, daughter of Dannie N. Heineman, 2010.

Related Materials

The New School arts and public programs collection (NS.02) in the Kellen Design Archives includes a series documenting a celebration honoring Alvin Johnson, as well as various examples of his fund raising appeals. The New School photographs and publicity collection (NS.01) includes photographs of Johnson. The University of Nebraska holds the Alvin Johnson papers.

Guide to the Alvin Johnson letters to Dannie Heineman
New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
November 9, 2010
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