Gertz, Elmer, 1906-2000

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Elmer Gertz (September 14, 1906 - April 27, 2000) was an American lawyer, writer and civil rights activist. During his lengthy legal career he won some high-profile cases, most notably parole for notorious killer Nathan Leopold and the obscenity trial of Henry Miller's novel Tropic of Cancer (novel). In addition to accounts of his cases and career, he also reviewed books and edited a collection of works by Frank Harris, whom he represented as literary agent.

From the description of Elmer Gertz collection, 1962-1991. (Southern Illinois University). WorldCat record id: 263033438

Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr. (November 19, 1904 – August 29, 1971) and Richard Albert Loeb (June 11, 1905 – January 28, 1936), often referred to as "Leopold and Loeb", were privileged and wealthy teenage University of Chicago students who murdered 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks in 1924 in a desire to commit the “perfect crime,” and were sentenced to prison for 99 years plus a life term. Leopold was paroled in 1958 and spent the rest of his life in Puerto Rico, dying of heart failure in 1971.

From the guide to the Leopold and Loeb Collection, 1894-1990, 1952-1971, (Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections)

Lawyer, author, and manuscript collector. Died 2000.

From the description of Elmer Gertz papers, 1789-1997 (bulk 1926-1988). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70982328

Biographical Note

  • 1906, Sept. 14: Born, Chicago, Ill.
  • 1928: Ph.B., University of Chicago,Chicago, Ill.
  • 1930: J.D., University of Chicago,Chicago, Ill.
  • 1930 - 1941 : Associate in law firm of McInerney, Epstein & Arvey,Chicago, Ill.
  • 1931: Married Ceretta Samuels (died 1958) Published with A. I. TobinFrank Harris: A Study in Black and White (Chicago: Madelaine Mendelsohn. 293 pp.)
  • 1934: Director of public relations, Illinois Police Association
  • 1941 - 1973 : Attorney in private practice, Chicago, Ill.
  • 1944: Member, Executive Committee, Illinois Committee for Equal Job Opportunity Member, national and Chicago Advisory Board Commission on Law and Social Action, American Jewish Congress
  • 1945 - 1947 : Chairman, Veterans Housing Committee,Chicago, Ill.
  • 1946 - 1948 : Legislative chairman of Mayor's Emergency Housing Committee,Chicago, Ill.
  • 1949 - 1951 : Member, Mayor's Housing Action Committee,Chicago, Ill.
  • 1959: Married Mamie L. Friedman
  • 1959 - 1963 : President, Greater Chicago Council of the American Jewish Congress
  • 1965: Published A Handful of Clients (Chicago: Follett Publishing Co. 379 pp.)
  • 1965 - 1969 : President, Adult Education Council of Greater Chicago
  • 1968: Member, Chicago Citizens Commission to Study the Disorders of Convention Week Published Moment of Madness: The People vs. Jack Ruby (Chicago: Follett Publishing Co. 564 pp.)
  • 1969 - 1970 : Delegate to the sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention; chairman of its Committee on Bill of Rights
  • 1970 - circa 1997 : Professor, John Marshall Law School,Chicago, Ill.
  • 1972: Israel's State of Israel Awarded the state of Israel's Prime Minister's Medal Published For the First Hours of Tomorrow: The New Illinois Bill of Rights (Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 178 pp.
  • 1973: Became partner in law firm of Gertz and Giampietro,Chicago, Ill.
  • 1974: Successful plaintiff in landmark libel suit Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. Published To Life: The Story of a Chicago Lawyer (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co. 308 pp.)
  • 1975: Editor, The Short Stories of Frank Harris: A Selection (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. 299 pp.)
  • 1978: Editor, Henry Miller: Years of Trial and Triumph, 1962-1964: The Correspondence of Henry Miller and Elmer Gertz (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. 345 pp.)
  • 1978 - 1980 : First Amendment Lawyers Association; president, 1978-1979; chairman, 1979-1980
  • 1979: Published Odyssey of a Barbarian: The Biography of George Sylvester Viereck (Buffalo: Prometheus Books. 305 pp.)
  • 1980: Published Charter for a New Age: An Inside View of the Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention (Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 378 pp.)
  • 1983: Published A Guide to Estate Planning (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. 179 pp.)
  • 1984: Published Quest for a Constitution: A Man Who Wouldn't Quit: A Political Biography of Samuel Witwer of Illinois (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America. 231 pp.)
  • 1992: Published Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc.: The Story of a Landmark Libel Case (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. 295 pp.)
  • 2000, Apr. 27: Died, Chicago, Ill.

From the guide to the Elmer Gertz Papers, 1789-1997, (bulk 1926-1988), (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949. Papers, 1872-1949 Houghton Library
referencedIn Bloom, Roger. Selected Roger Bloom correspondence, 1956-1969. Southern Illinois University, Morris Library
creatorOf Schevill, James Erwin, 1920-. The James Schevill Papers relating to Bern Porter, 1943-1992. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
referencedIn Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle Collection: Correspondence, 1819, 1849-1957, 1962 William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA
creatorOf Higdon, Hal. Hal Higdon research papers on the Leopold and Loeb case, ca. 1920-1980. Chicago History Museum
creatorOf Gertz, Elmer, 1906-2000. Elmer Gertz papers, 1789-1997 (bulk 1926-1988). Library of Congress
creatorOf Elmer Gertz Papers, 1789-1997, (bulk 1926-1988) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Joseph Ishill papers, 1888-1966. Houghton Library
creatorOf Leopold and Loeb Collection, 1894-1990, 1952-1971 Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections
referencedIn Douglas, Melvyn. Papers, 1892-1983. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf Miller, Henry, 1891-1980. Elmer Gertz collection of Henry Miller, 1962-1975. Southern Illinois University, Morris Library
referencedIn The Nation, records, 1879-1974 (inclusive), 1920-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Elmer Gertz Papers. 1949 - 1960. Subject Files Harry S. Truman Library
creatorOf Gertz, Elmer, 1906-2000. Papers, 1789-1992 (bulk 1926-1988). Library of Congress
creatorOf Gertz, Elmer, 1906-2000. Elmer Gertz collection, 1962-1991. Southern Illinois University, Morris Library
creatorOf Gertz, Elmer, 1906-2000. Correspondence : with Theodore Dreiser, 1927-1935. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Weinberg, Arthur, 1915-1989. Arthur and Lila Weinberg papers, 1950-1988. Newberry Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Adamic, Louis, 1899-1951 person
correspondedWith Anastaplo, George, 1925- person
associatedWith Baldwin, James, 1924-1987. person
associatedWith Blind Service Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Bloom, Roger. person
associatedWith Caxton Club. corporateBody
associatedWith Chicago Bar Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Chicago Citizens Commission to Study the Disorders of Convention Week. corporateBody
correspondedWith Crandall, Allen, 1896-1973 person
correspondedWith Crump, Paul person
correspondedWith Crump, Paul person
correspondedWith Daley, Richard J., 1902-1976 person
correspondedWith Daley, Richard M. (Richard Michael), 1942- person
associatedWith Darrow, Clarence, 1857-1938. person
associatedWith Decalogue Society of Lawyers. corporateBody
associatedWith Democratic National Convention (1968 : Chicago, Ill.) corporateBody
correspondedWith Douglas, Alfred Bruce, Lord, 1870-1945 person
associatedWith Douglas, Melvyn. person
correspondedWith Douglas, Paul H. (Paul Howard), 1892-1976 person
correspondedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
correspondedWith Eisenschiml, Otto, 1880-1963 person
correspondedWith Fink, Eli E., 1907-1979 person
correspondedWith Freud, Sigmund, 1856-1939 person
correspondedWith Gertz, Theodore G. person
correspondedWith Giampietro, Wayne B. (Wayne Bruce), 1942- person
correspondedWith Goldberg, Arthur J. person
correspondedWith Goldberg, Arthur J. person
associatedWith Harris, Frank, 1855-1931. person
correspondedWith Hechtman, Margery A. person
correspondedWith Herman, Samuel G. person
associatedWith Higdon, Hal. person
associatedWith Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty. corporateBody
associatedWith Illinois. Constitutional Convention (1969-1970) corporateBody
correspondedWith Ishill, Joseph. person
correspondedWith Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963 person
associatedWith Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963. person
associatedWith Leopold, Nathan Freudenthal, 1904-1971. person
associatedWith Levin, Meyer, 1905-1981. person
associatedWith Loeb, Richard A., 1905-1936 person
correspondedWith Lovitz, Gene person
correspondedWith McWilliams, Carey, 1905-1980 person
correspondedWith Meyer, Russ, 1922- person
correspondedWith Meyer, Russ, 1922- person
correspondedWith Miller, Henry, 1891-1980 person
correspondedWith Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865). corporateBody
correspondedWith Pearson, Hesketh, 1887-1964 person
correspondedWith Peters, Muriel person
correspondedWith Pollack, Peter, 1909-1978 person
associatedWith Robert Welch, Inc. corporateBody
correspondedWith Rosten, Leo, 1908-1997 person
correspondedWith Ruby, Jack person
associatedWith Ruby, Jack. person
correspondedWith Ryan, William F., 1922-1972 person
associatedWith Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967. person
associatedWith Schevill, James Erwin, 1920- person
correspondedWith Schwartz, Edward P. person
associatedWith Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950. person
correspondedWith Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968 person
correspondedWith Stephens, Kate, 1853-1938 person
correspondedWith Tobin, A. I. person
associatedWith Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972. person
correspondedWith Viereck, George Sylvester, 1884-1962 person
correspondedWith Viereck, Peter, 1916-2006 person
correspondedWith Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949 person
associatedWith Weinberg, Arthur, 1915-1989. person
associatedWith William Andrews Clark Memorial Library corporateBody
correspondedWith Witherspoon, William W. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
American literature
Capital punishment
Libel and slander
Trials (Murder)
Obscenity (Law)
Practice of law
Practice of law


Birth 1906-09-14

Death 2000-04-27




Ark ID: w6mk6xb6

SNAC ID: 17303788