• IdentificationICU.SPCL.KLUTZNICK
  • TitleGuide to the Philip M. Klutznick Papers1914-1999
  • PublisherUniversity of Chicago Library
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Date1914-1999
  • Physical Description175.5 linear ft. (306 boxes)
  • RepositorySpecial Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.
  • AbstractPhilip M. Klutznick, businessman, philanthropist, diplomat, government official and Jewish leader. The Philip M. Klutznick Papers comprise 175.5 linear feet and include correspondence, manuscripts, notes, published materials, photographs, scrapbooks, architectural plans, awards and mementos and audio and video recordings. The papers document Klutznick's career as a real estate developer, philanthropist, United Nations representative in the 1950s and 1960s, President of B'nai B'rith, 1953-59 and the World Jewish Congress, 1977-1979, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, 1979-1981 and leader of the American and international Jewish community.

© The contents of this finding aid are the copyright of the University of Chicago Library

Architecture and Urban Planning

Economics and Business

Chicago and Illinois

Politics, Public Policy and Political Reform

Middle East

The audio and video recordings in Series VI are restricted due to the condition of the material or need for special equipment.

When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Philip M. Klutznick. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Philip Morris Klutznick was born on July 9, 1907, in Kansas City, Missouri. His parents, Morris and Minnie, had emigrated from Poland two years earlier.

Klutznick graduated from Manual High School in Kansas City in 1924. He attended Kansas University in Lawrence and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln before moving to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska in 1926. He received a J.D. from Creighton Law School in 1930.

In 1924, Klutznick participated in the formation of the second chapter of the Jewish fraternal youth organization Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA). He became Grand Aleph Godol (President) of the expanding organization, now sponsored by local lodges of B'nai B'rith, in 1925. Following his service at the head of AZA, Klutznick was employed for several years as Secretary to its Supreme Advisory Council. Klutznick retained his ties to both AZA and the individuals he met during its early years throughout his life. In 1940, he became the first member of AZA to hold a major leadership post within B'nai B'rith, when he was elected President of District 6, which covered a large portion of the Midwest, including Omaha and Chicago.

Klutznick first put his legal education to work in the Omaha law firm of Fradenberg, Stalmaster and Beber. In 1933, he became Assistant to the city's Corporation Council. In this post, he worked to encourage city officials to take advantage of New Deal funding for housing, slum clearance and public works.

Klutznick entered federal government service in the mid-1930s as an Omaha-based Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney for Public Lands, focusing on slum clearance programs. In 1940, he served as a consultant to the U.S. Defense Housing Coordinator and in 1941 he moved Washington, D.C. to take a post in the Division of Defense Housing, where he worked to coordinate housing models for communities of defense workers in the Midwest and South, including Oak Ridge, Tennessee, site of atomic bomb production. After a brief service with the Omaha Housing Authority, Klutznick returned to Washington in 1944 as Commissioner of the Federal Public Housing Authority. He held the post until July, 1946, organizing wartime public housing and making plans for the alleviation of post-war housing shortages.

Klutznick left Washington for Chicago, to embark upon a commercial venture that took full advantage of the knowledge and contacts he had gained as a federal housing official. With his partners in American Community Builders (ACB), Klutznick built a new "G.I. town." Park Forest, Illinois, thirty miles outside Chicago, was designed not only to meet the housing needs of returning soldiers and their families, but also to provide a complete and enduring community, with shops, schools and places of worship. Residents were encouraged to take responsibility for planning, zoning and funding their town. Park Forest was incorporated in 1949. In 1953, it was the focus of a series of articles in Fortune magazine, later expanded by author William Whyte into a book, Organization Man (1956). Whyte presented Park Forest as the model of a new sort of community, with a social structure determined by the transience of its young residents and the pre-planned nature of their new home.

Klutznick and ACB went on to work in partnership with Marshall Field's department stores, building major shopping malls in the Chicago suburbs, including Old Orchard in Skokie (1955) and Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook (1959). In 1962, he sold his shares in ACB and with his son Tom formed Klutznick Enterprises, soon to be replaced by KLC Ventures, Ltd., a partnership with longtime associates Ferd Kramer, Jerrold Loebl, Norman Cohn and Lester Crown. KLC built and managed commercial properties in the Chicago area and in Denver.

In 1968, KLC was succeeded by Urban Investment and Development Company, which gained substantial capital when purchased by Aetna Life and Casualty Company in 1970. Among Urban's projects were "minitowns," small suburban communities sparked by the development of a regional shopping center. New Century Town in Mount Vernon, IL is a notable example. Klutznick retired as Chairman and CEO of Urban in 1972, but remained active in many business ventures, most notably the development of Water Tower Place in downtown Chicago. Water Tower, a pioneering "vertical" (high rise) shopping center, included retail and office space, a hotel and residential units and opened in 1975. As he had done in Park Forest a quarter century earlier, Klutznick moved with his family to his latest residential development.

Klutznick's career in public service advanced along with his success in business. In 1953, he was elected to the first of two three-year terms as President of B'nai B'rith. His presidency focused on strengthening the century-old organization's internal structure and expanding its constituency. He visited B'nai B'rith districts worldwide and worked to strengthen lodges in post-war Europe and Israel. Domestically, he instituted a membership drive, expanded support for youth programs and traveled in southern states to discuss B'nai B'rith support for school desegregation. A highlight of Klutznick's tenure was the financing and building of a permanent headquarters in Washington, D.C. Following his presidency, Klutznick served as chair of the newly-created International Council of B'nai B'rith.

Klutznick was also active in international affairs. In 1957, he served a three-month term as a United Nations delegate. He gained the rank of ambassador as U.S. representative on the UN Economic and Social Council in 1960, working closely with Ambassador Adlai Stevenson II. Klutznick resigned his UN post two years later, contending that a failure to integrate political goals with economic and social needs undermined the effectiveness of international diplomacy. In later years, he remained active in international affairs, completing a survey of Brazilian housing for the Johnson administration, writing and speaking frequently on international issues and working with the United Nations Association of the U.S.A.

Klutznick had a special interest in the Middle East and in U.S.-Israeli relations. As B'nai B'rith President, he traveled to Israel and advocated the use of German reparations funds to support Jewish organizations. He was among the American Jewish leaders to meet with President Eisenhower's Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to discuss Middle Eastern policy and events. In 1977, Klutznick became President of the World Jewish Congress, succeeding Nahum Goldman who had led the group since 1949. The WJC, an umbrella organization of Jewish groups, represents the diplomatic interests of the international Jewish community to governments and bodies such as the United Nations. During negotiations that preceded the 1977 Camp David Accords, Klutznick met with Israeli leader Menachem Begin, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Jimmy Carter, as well as other U.S. adminstration officials. In 1978, Klutznick initiated a commission headed by Baron Guy de Rothschild to examine the economic implications of Arab-Israeli peace for Israel and the international Jewish community. Another focus of his leadership was Jewish culture, demonstrated in efforts to strengthen and reorganize the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and Beth Hatefutsoth, the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora. Klutznick's service as WJC President was brief. He took a leave of absence upon his appointment as Secretary of Commerce in 1979, and chose to leave the position to his replacement, Edgar Bronfman, after leaving the government.

Klutznick's views on Middle Eastern issues were often controversial in the American and international Jewish communities. He considered himself a Zionist, and a strong defender of Israel, but encouraged dialogue with Arab groups and leaders. In 1975, he served on a "Middle East Study Group," sponsored by the Brookings Institution, which produced a report encouraging both Israeli and Arab concessions and active involvement by the U.S. government. In 1981, he traveled to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and the West Bank as part of a private group to meet with leaders in government, education, military affairs, business and communications, as well as political dissidents. The resulting "Seven Springs Report" attempted to provide a base of knowledge and understanding for the conduct of future negotiations and peace plans. In June, 1982, Klutznick joined with Nahum Goldmann, former President of the World Jewish Congress, and Pierre Mendes-France, former Prime Minister of France, to issue the "Paris Declaration," encouraging an end to Israel's siege of Beirut and negotiation with the PLO to ensure regional peace and security. Klutznick's involvement in each of these reports and statements prompted both widespread support and protest from Jewish organizations and individuals.

In January of 1980, Klutznick began service as Secretary of Commerce under President Jimmy Carter. He had long-standing relationships with Vice-President Walter Mondale and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and his ties to the Carter administration were further strengthened by his significant role in Arab-Israeli peace talks. His appointment was viewed by some critics as an effort to strengthen Carter's status among Jewish voters. Klutznick's tenure was marked by the economic recession and inflation that characterized the later years of the Carter administration, Carter's unsuccessful bid for reelection and the completion of the 1980 census.

After 1980, Klutznick retired from employment in business and government, but remained publicly active. He had a particular interest in education in "Jewish culture and civilization," founding chairs in the subject at Creighton and Northwestern Universities and serving on the boards of organizations such as the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization. He spoke regularly on economic development and housing issues and on international affairs, particularly Middle Eastern relations. Retirement from leadership posts such as the WJC presidency gave Klutznick the opportunity to speak freely on controversial issues, leading to his participation in public statements such as the Seven Springs Report and the Paris Declaration. In Chicago, he was active in civic affairs, serving on several public boards, including Task Forces on the city's steel industry and the Chicago Housing Authority. Klutznick's memoirs, Angles of Vision: Memoirs of My Lives, were published in 1991.

Klutznick married Ethel Riekes in 1930. They had six children, Bettylu, Richard, who died in early childhood, Thomas, James, Robert and Samuel. Ethel Klutznick died in 1996. Philip M. Klutznick died of Alzheimer's disease on August 14, 1999.

The Philip M. Klutznick Papers have been divided into six series: Series I, Family and Biographical Files; Series II, General Files; Series III, Correspondence; Series IV, Organizations; Series V, Speeches and Writings and Series VI, Clippings, Oversize and Audio-Visual Material. The collection spans the years 1914-1999, with the bulk of the material dating from 1938 to 1990 and one document from the 15th century. It contains correspondence, manuscripts, notes, published materials, photographs, scrapbooks, architectural plans, awards and mementos and audio and video recordings.

The Klutznick Papers primarily reflect Klutznick's public life as a businessman, philanthropist, diplomat, government official and leader in the American and international Jewish community. Series I, Family and Biographical Files, includes a small amount of personal material, including biographical documents and family correspondence.

Series II, General Files, is divided into six subseries and contains files on a multitude of subjects central to Klutznick's life and career. Subseries 1, Early Files documents Klutznick's early work in law, housing and community service and holds the bulk of the material in the collection (including general correspondence) dated prior to 1950. Subseries 2, Business and Development Files presents only a limited record of Klutznick's career in real estate and community management and development, but does contain records of several significant projects, including Park Forest, Illinois, Water Tower Place in Chicago and the redevelopment of Chicago's South Loop. The Development Files are supplemented by architectural plans and other oversized records in Series VI.

Series II also documents Klutznick's role in local, national and international civic affairs. Subseries 3 records his work on appointed boards and committees and his involvement in Chicago's politics and economy in the 1970s and 1980s. His significance on a national scale, as Jimmy Carter's Secretary of Commerce and as a supporter of the Democratic Party is reflected in Subseries 5 and 6. Klutznick's involvement in Israel and the Middle East, as a diplomat, Jewish leader and businessman, is demonstrated strongly throughout the collection. Records in Subseries 4, Middle East files are supplemented by copious material in Series III, Correspondence and Series IV, Organizations. Subseries 6 includes correspondence from Klutznick's United Nations service and documents many of his international travels.

Series III, Correspondence, includes both incoming and outgoing correspondence and comprises about one-third of the collection. It spans Klutznick's life and career, after 1945. (Earlier correspondence is in Series II, Subseries1.) Klutznick's correspondence is extensive and engaging and invaluable for understanding both his own thoughts and actions and the atmosphere in which he lived and worked. Significant correspondents include Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Adlai Stevenson II, Abba Eban, Teddy Kollek, Ashraf Ghorbal, Samuel Bronfman and many other prominent figures in the United States and abroad. Correspondence with long-time friends, such as Hyman Haves, Abraham Margolin, Julius Bisno and Lewis R. Sutin, and members of the Jewish press, such as Leonard Fein, Trude Weiss-Rosmarin and Gabriel Cohen is often the lengthiest and the widest-ranging in the collection.

Series IV, Organizations, is the largest in the collection and documents Klutznick's roles in more than 200 civic, economic, religious, cultural and educational organizations. The files for B'nai B'rith and the World Jewish Congress are particularly large. The WJC files include extensive correspondence from Klutznick's service as President, while the B'nai B'rith files more strongly document the years following his presidency, when he retained an active interest in the organizations' affairs.

The Organizations files contain correspondence to members, meeting materials and publications. Klutznick played an active role in many organizations, reflected in his regular correspondence with their leaders. Other organizations with extensive files in Series IV include the Conference of Presidents of Major American-Jewish Organizations, Beth Hatefutsoth, the Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Committee on Economic Development, the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, the United Nations Association of the USA and the International Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization. Series IV also contains records of Philip and Ethel Klutznick's support of several universities in the United States and Israel.

Series V, Speeches and Writings, contains speeches, opinion pieces and other manuscripts documenting most aspects of Klutznick's public life. It includes addresses on housing issues from the 1940s, writings on the American Jewish community in the 1950s and 1960s and speeches on economic development reflecting his experience as a businessman and as Secretary of Commerce. The later files in the series document Klutznick's active involvement in the search for Middle Eastern peace.

Series VI contains material in many formats, including clippings, awards, photos, scrapbooks, memorabilia, posters, architectural plans and audio and video recordings.

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:

  • Names
    • Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
    • Cohen, Gabriel
    • Eban, Abba Solomon, 1915-
    • Fein, Leonard J.
    • Ghorbal, Ashraf
    • Goldmann, Nahum
    • Haves, Hyman H.
    • Kennedy, John F.
    • Kennedy, Robert F.
    • Klutznick, Philip M.
    • Kollek, Teddy
    • Kramer, Ferdinand
    • Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1900-1965
    • Washington, Harold, 1922-1987
    • Aleph Zadik Aleph
    • B'nai B'rith International
    • Chicago 21 Corporation
    • Chicago. Mayor's Advisory Council on the Chicago Housing Authority
    • Chicago. Mayor's Task Force on Steel and Southeast Chicago
    • Committee for Economic Development
    • Creighton University
    • International Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization
    • Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture
    • Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Company
    • United Nations. Economic and Social Council
    • United States. Dept. of Commerce
    • Urban Investment and Development Company
    • World Jewish Congress
  • Geographic Coverage
    • Dearborn Park (Chicago, Ill.)
    • Park Forest (Ill.)
  • Subject
    • Jewish leadership - United States
    • Jews - United States - Politics and govermnent
    • Shopping centers
    • Suburbs - Economic aspects - United States
    • United States - Foreign relations - Israel
    • Urban economics - United States