Alfred Schütz (spelled Schutz after his immigration to the U.S.) was born on April 13, 1899 in Vienna, Austria, the son of Alfred and Johanna (née Heim) Schütz. His biological father died prior to his birth; his mother remarried his uncle and adoptive father, Otto Schütz, a banker. Alfred Schütz served in World War I and later studied law, sociology and philosophy at the University of Vienna, receiving his doctoral degree in law and social science in 1921. It was while studying there that he came into contact with Hans Kelsen and Ludwig von Mises; he was also a member of the Mises Circle. In 1921 he became executive secretary of the Austrian Bankers' Association. Throughout his life Alfred Schütz would continue to maintain careers both in law as well as in the social sciences, where he became known especially for his work in the area of phenomenological sociology. In 1929 he joined the international banking firm Reitler & Co., a position that would necessitate frequent trips away from home. In 1932 his book Der sinnhafte Aufbau der sozialen Welt was published, a work that focused on phenomenology.
In the early 1920s Alfred Schütz met Ilse Heim, who had studied art history at the University of Vienna. Ilse was the daughter of the banker Leopold and Gisella (née Frankl) Heim. Alfred and Ilse were married in March 1926. They would have two children, Eva Elizabeth (later Evelyn) and Franz Georg (later George).
When the Anschluss of Austria occurred in March 1938, Alfred Schütz was in Paris on a business trip. After much discussion with his wife he brought her and the children to Paris and after some difficulties in acquiring their visas and a trip by Ilse Schütz to the United States in order to assist in resolving the situation, the family finally came to the United States on July 21, 1939. Following their own immigration they assisted Alfred's parents, Johanna and Otto, who arrived in the United States in October 1941. In April 1945 Ilse's mother also joined them, having first emigrated to England.
During the early 1940s Alfred Schutz was employed by several corporations under the control of former partners of Reitler & Co. In April 1943 he became a senior consultant to the Office of Economic Warfare. In 1943 he also began teaching sociology and philosophy at the New School for Social Research. From 1952-1956 he served as chair of the philosophy department of the New School. After 1956 he left his business activities and concentrated on his sociological research and writing. Alfred Schutz died on May 20, 1959.
During his lifetime Alfred Schutz had only one book published, the above-mentioned Der sinnhafte Aufbau der sozialen Welt, although he also wrote many articles. Following her husband's death Ilse Schutz became an advocate for the publication and translation of his many written articles and other work, making his work more widely available, with translations in English, German, Spanish, Japanese, Danish, Italian and Polish. She also became a painter and participated in some exhibitions. Ilse Schutz died in 1990.
From the guide to the Alfred Schutz Family Collection, 1868-2005, bulk 1935-1959, (Leo Baeck Institute)