1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY
1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY

Vicki Baum Papers


PDF Version


This collection contains Vicki Baum's correspondece related to publishing between 1929 and 1959 and notes and synopses of four of her manuscripts.


Baum, Vicki, 1888-1960
Date Coverage:
0.33 cubic ft. (about 0.33 boxes)

Vicki Baum, whose original name was Hedwig Baum was born in Vienna to a Jewish family on January 24, 1888, the only child of Herman and Matilda Baum. At the age of eight, Baum began studying at the Vienna Conservatory of Music, where she spent her time mastering the harp. Throughout her childhood, Baum had a passion for writing short stories and won certain school prizes, but her father discouraged her from a writing career. In 1906, she began her studies at the Hochschule fr Musik and began playing professionally in different orchestras such as the Vienna Konzert Verein. At the age of eighteen, Baum married journalist Max Prels. Through her husband's career as a journalist, Baum had the opportunity to showcase some of her literary work to publishers. For the first time in Baum's life, she experienced the lifestyle of a writer and in 1909 she published her first short story.

In 1910, Baum divorced and subsequently moved to Germany where she taught the harp at the musical high school of Darmstadt. With the onset of World War I, Baum temporarily worked as a nurse while gradually pursuing her literary passion. In 1914, Baum published her first novel Fruhe Schatten (Early Shadows). In 1916 Baum married conductor Richard Lert and they had two children. In the years following her second marriage, Baum gave up her music career to travel with her husband to various European towns where she was introduced to different cultures. In 1926, Baum was hired at Ullstein, one of the biggest German publishers at the time. Baum was editing magazine articles during the day and was writing her own novels at night. In 1928 she published Stud. Chem. Helene Willfuer (Helene) and in 1929 Menschem im Hotel (Grand Hotel), novels which explore the struggles of human motives and life altering events. Grand Hotel became Baum's most notable piece of literature and was turned into a play by Max Reinhardt that was performed throughout Europe and the United States.

In 1931, Baum went to the United States to see stage versions of her play and while visiting she realized that the United States was a safer and more hospitable place for a Jewish writer. Soon thereafter, Baum and her family permanently moved to California and she continued writing her novels, plays, and scripts for various studios, including Paramount and MGM. Eventually, MGM bought the film rights to Grand Hotel and Edmund Goulding directed the critically acclaimed film version of her novel, the Best Picture Oscar winner from 1932. During the 1930's and 1940's, Baum was one of the most popular migr authors. In 1938, Baum became naturalized as a citizen of the United States of America. With her success as a novelist and as a representative of a Jewish exile from Germany, her other publications such as, Ship and Shore (1941), Hotel Berlin (1943), Headless Angel (1948), The Mustard Seed (1953), Written on Water (1956), and Theme for Ballet (1958) were widely read. Baum represented the classic Jewish migr who escaped her controlled life and succeeded in following her true dreams. In 1960, Vicki Baum passed away from leukemia at the age of 72.

The collection, which consists of approximately 820 items, contains correspondence and manuscripts. The correspondence concerns Vicki Baum's works published by Doubleday, Doran and Co. (N.Y.): Grand Hotel, Secret Sentence, Helene, Men Never Know, The Ship and the Shore, Marion Alive, Weeping Wood, Danger from Deer, Headless Angel. Included in the correspondence are 166 letters by Vicki Baum, 249 letter to Vicki Baum and 397 third party letters. The manuscripts consist of notes and synopses of the following works: Marion Alive, Men Never Know, A Tale of Bali, and The Weeping Wood.

The collection is organized topically and then arranged chronologically. There are no series.

The Estate of Vicki Baum donated her papers to the University at Albany.1972

Processed by: Sandra Hunt Hawrylchak

Collection record created by: This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on

Published: 2018-03-06 07:06:25 -0500

Zohar Kastner further arranged and described the collection., 2005

Creation of EAD finding aid., 2015

Encoded in EAD by Jodi Boyle, 2015

Archival materials can be view in-person during business hours in our reading room, located on the top floor of the Science Library on the Uptown Campus.

We can also deliver digital scans for remote research for a fee.

Access to this record group is unrestricted.

Copyright Statement

This page may contain links to digital objects. Access to these images and the technical capacity to download them does not imply permission for re-use. Digital objects may be used freely for personal reference use, referred to, or linked to from other web sites.

Researchers do not have permission to publish or disseminate material from these collections without permission from an archivist and/or the copyright holder.

The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming to the laws of copyright. Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) and/or by the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations. More information about U.S. Copyright is provided by the Copyright Office. Additionally, re-use may be restricted by terms of University Libraries gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks.

The Department of Special Collections and Archives is eager to hear from any copyright owners who are not properly identified so that appropriate information may be provided in the future.

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Vicki Baum Papers, 1929-1959. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Baum Papers).

Contents of Collection



1 1Grand Hotel correspondence1931 April 30 - 1932 August 15


1 2Secret Sentence correspondence1931 May 25 - 1932 July 12


1 3Helene correspondence1931 April 29 - 1934 August 16


1 4Men Never Know synopsisUndated


1 5Men Never Know correspondence1934 March 28 - 1942 June 13


1 6The Ship and the Shore correspondence1940 March 26 - 1941 September 4


1 7The Weeping Wood notes and synopsisUndated


1 8The Weeping Wood correspondence1943 March 16 - 1945 December 14


1 9Marion Alive correspondence1941 September 24 - 1946 April 1


1 10Marion Alive correctionsUndated


1 11Headless Angel correspondence1944 July 9 - 1949 June 1


1 12Danger from Deer correspondenceMarch 16, 1948 - Dec. 16, 1951


1 13[Tale of Bali]. Das Ende der Geburt. SynopsisUndated


1 14Correspondence with Max Herzberg1932-1945, 1958-1959


1 15Miscellaneous correspondenceOct. 1, 1929 - April 24, 1953


1 16Obituaries, Vicki BaumUndated