Carrie Bamberger Frank Fuld
1864 – 1944
The daughter of German Jewish immigrant parents, Carrie Bamberger Frank Fuld was a philanthropist who, in partnership with her brother, department store magnate Louis Bamberger, founded the internationally acclaimed Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. The institute became an important center for scholarship and counted among its first professors Albert Einstein and other refugees from Hitler’s Germany. In a quiet and effective manner, Fuld worked with Abraham Flexner, founding director of the institute, to help craft an institution that would become a model for scholarly endeavor, largely unfettered by worldly concerns. They hoped to create a forum for the kind of disinterested scholarship that was almost absent from American higher education in 1930 and that was about to disappear completely from Germany, where Flexner looked for the model of this tradition. In their lengthy correspondence about the nature of this new institution, Fuld and Flexner explored the possibilities of scholarship in a world that was coming apart. In her concern for the success of her most active philanthropic endeavor, Fuld involved herself in the well-being of the permanent members of the institute.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 16, 1864, Caroline Bamberger was the fifth of the six children born to Theresa Hutzler, who emigrated with her family from Bavaria to America in 1838, and Elkan Bamberger, who also came from Bavaria, in 1840. Both families owned dry-goods stores, and Carrie, with her older brother Louis, followed in that tradition. In 1883, she moved to Philadelphia and married Louis Meyer Frank. A decade later, her husband, her brother, and her brother’s friend Felix Fuld started L. Bamberger and Company in Newark, New Jersey. The store was very successful and was similar in size and influence in its community to stores developed by other German Jewish merchant families like Neiman-Marcus, Filene, Macy, Straus, Rosenwald, and Rich.
Louis Frank died in 1910, and Carrie married Felix Fuld in 1913. Carrie and Felix Fuld and Louis Bamberger were then virtually inseparable. They lived together on a jointly owned thirty-three-acre estate that straddled Newark and its suburbs, South Orange, and East Orange. There they enjoyed the benefits of lush gardens and a small working farm.
While Felix Fuld was alive (he died on January 20, 1929), the family philanthropies had a decidedly community-oriented and Jewish thrust, investing in such institutions as the Newark Beth Israel Hospital and the YM-YWHA. Carrie Fuld associated herself closely with the Jewish Day Nursery and with Neighborhood House, which catered to the needs of Russian Jewish immigrants. The Fulds were members of Newark’s B’nai Jeshurun Reform Congregation, the oldest synagogue in the state of New Jersey. She belonged to the local chapter of Hadassah and was a member of the board of directors of the National Council of Jewish Women from 1930 to 1935.
After Felix Fuld’s death, Louis Bamberger decided in 1929 to sell the family business to R. H. Macy so that he and his sister could devote themselves to philanthropy. Louis and Carrie were intent upon founding a Jewish medical college in the Newark area, but Abraham Flexner helped change their minds, planting the seed that created the Institute for Advanced Study within a few months of the sale of Bamberger’s. Originally planned to be housed on the Bamberger-Fuld estate as a last great gift to the Newark community, Flexner convinced the brother and sister that the institute, for which they provided an initial endowment of $5 million and made subsequent large gifts throughout the rest of their days, needed to be near a great university and library. Carrie Bamberger Frank Fuld made the institute the chief occupation of her last years. She died in Lake Placid, New York, on July 18, 1944.
AJYB 47:522; Fuld, Carrie Bamberger Frank. Archives. Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J.; NAW; Obituary. NYTimes, July 19, 1944, 19:1; Porter, Laura Smith. “From Intellectual Sanctuary to Social Responsibility: The Founding of the Institute for Advanced Study, 1930–1933.” Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1988; UJE, s.v. “Fuld, Felix.”