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Gordon Family Papers

Identifier: Mss 387

Scope and Contents

Researchers examining the Gordon Family Papers will gain insight into Jewish life in the American South during the 19th and 20th centuries. Some items of interest are materials related to Jack and Samuel Gordon’s military service during World War II including personal letters from Chester Nimitz and James Forrestal, as well as letters from Jack while interned in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Also of note, a letter from Bobby Jones is in the papers.


  • Creation: 1898 - 1999
  • Creation: undated


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

The Gordon family spans several generations in Georgia. The patriarch of the family, Lewis Gordon, immigrated from Kovno, Lithuania, and started his working life in the United States as a peddler with a pack on his back. He settled in Atlanta and opened Gordon Tuttle Department Store on Peters Street in Atlanta, Georgia. He met Elizabeth Gottlieb and they gave birth to Jacob Benjamin Gordon on December 21, 1888 (d. Feb. 27, 1955).

Jacob married Sadie Goldstein who was born on November 9, 1891 in Macon, Georgia. Sadie’s family owned Goldstein’s Dry Goods Company that had locations in Macon. Sadie and Jacob had two children, Samuel Lewis Gordon (1918-2016) and Jack Benjamin Gordon (1920-1944). Both served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Jack was captured in the Philippines in 1942 and tragically perished when his POW transport ship was sunk in 1944. Sadie Goldstein Gordon died on November 12, 1945 in Atlanta.

Sam received his medical license from Emory in 1941 and served as a surgeon during the war. He met and married Nancy Willstatter (1920-2012) of New York City while a medical student at Emory in January of 1942. Nancy was in school at Agnes Scott College. Her father, Alfred Willstatter, was a member of the New York Stock Exchange and her uncle was a Nobel award winning chemist, Richard Willstatter. They had three children, Samuel Lewis Gordon, Jr. (1942- ), Jack Benjamin Gordon (1946- ), and Peter A. Gordon (1949- ). Nancy died on June 4, 2012 in Atlanta and Sam died in Lantana, Florida on June 28, 2016.


2.2 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The Gordon family spans several generations in Atlanta and Macon, Georgia. Their papers include correspondence, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, military records, genealogical information, and diaries.


The papers are arranged in alphabetical order by subject and chronologically within each file.

Separated Materials

Photographs removed to visual arts collection, artifacts removed to artifact collection, and oversized removed to oversized collection.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Jeremy Katz in May 2017. It was entered into ArchivesSpace by Jeremy Katz, with revisions by Lindsay Resnick, in 2020.

Gordon Family Papers, Mss 387
Jeremy Katz
May 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum Repository

1440 Spring St. NW
Atlanta Georgia 30309 United States