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Blumenthal family papers

Identifier: MS0394

Scope and Contents

The Blumenthal Family papers (Collection 394) contain a large assortment of documentation of one of the most prominent Jewish families in North Carolina. The history of this family in Charlotte, North Carolina goes back to the 1920s, when Isadore D. Blumenthal (familiarly known as "Dick" Blumenthal) established the Radiator Specialty Company along with George G. Ray, his partner. As this company prospered, Blumenthal bought out his partner and then ran the company with his younger brother, Herman. With the wealth that they accumulated, they dispensed millions of dollars to a wide variety of charitable causes, and there is a great deal of documentation in this collection concerning their various charities. As devout Jews, the Blumenthals were active with their synagogue, Temple Israel, and were also interested in the history and the development of the state of Israel since 1948. There is a wealth of information in this collection concerning the Charlotte Jewish community, Judaism, the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, anti-Semitism, and Israel. One of their biggest and dearest projects was the establishment and development of the North Carolina Blumenthal Home for the Jewish Aged and also Fair Oaks retirement center. Both of these institutions were conceived, planned by the Blumenthals and financed mostly from their generosity; and there are many files in this collection about these institutions.


  • Creation: 1910-2004
  • Creation: 1945-2001


Language of Materials


Language of Materials

Predominantly in English, though some materials are in Hebrew.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Notes on I.D. Blumenthal: According to his obituary (printed in the Charlotte News on December 7, 1978), Isadore D. Blumenthal was the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, born in New York City on September 4, 1894. The family soon moved to Savannah when Isadore was still very young. His father owned a discount retail store (then known as a 5 and 10 cent store), where he worked during his youth. Known familiarly as "Dick" to his family and friends, he later attended the University of Georgia, but when the United States became involved in World War I, he joined the army. Later, while working as a traveling salesman, he had automotive problems in the form of a faulty radiator. By chance, he met George G. Ray, a tin-smith, who had developed a product that would seal the leaks in a radiator. Blumenthal was fascinated with this product, which Ray was unable to market. With Blumenthal's business acumen and Ray's patented product, the two of them formed the Radiator Specialty Company. In time, Blumenthal later became the president of the company, which went on to develop many more products, most of which had automotive applications. Success came steadily, but when the U.S. entered World War II, the company profited more than its owner could have imagined. Over the years, Blumenthal turned Radiator Specialty into a multi-million dollar enterprise with plants and distribution centers in Charlotte, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and Ontario, Canada. Blumenthal at one time employed Harry Golden's Advertizing agency, though conflicts over billing issues and debts of the Golden Advertising Agency to Radiator Specialty soured their friendship and business relationships. Ultimately, an arbitration committee heard their case and sided with Blumenthal and Radiator Specialty. Blumenthal was also one of Charlotte's greatest philanthropists, giving millions to colleges, universities, hospitals and local performing arts venues. For his generosity, he was lauded and rewarded by (among other institutions) Catawba College and Belmont Abbey College in the form of honorary doctoral degrees. On August 23, 1944 he married Madolyn Carpenter Flynn. Like her husband, Madolyn was extensively involved in community service and philanthropy. In 1968 she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and her health steadily declined. She died on Friday, July 19, 1974. The couple had no children. Blumenthal was active with his synagogue—Temple Israel. He was also the president of the North Carolina Association of Jewish Men in the 1950s, and he was one of the driving forces behind the highly successful "Circuit-Riding Rabbi" program. One of his greatest accomplishments was the establishment (along with his younger brother, Herman) of the North Carolina Blumenthal Jewish Home for the Aged. Blumenthal conceived this idea in the early 1960s, and even chose the location for this home himself. Subsequent planning and growth of the home came mostly as the result of his younger brother's initiative. Blumenthal was also the owner and publisher of the American Jewish Times-Outlook, and its articles were a reflection of his personality and values. As an active member of the Charlotte community, Blumenthal was a member of Civitan International and the Masons. He died on December 6, 1978, at the age of 84. [Sources: The Blumenthal Papers, Mss 394, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Library ; Charlotte Observer, Dec. 28, 1958 ; The Blumenthal Foundation's website (accessed online on March 24, 2010) ; Correspondence and arbitration memo. Harry Golden Papers, Part 2, box 3, file 16.]

Biographical / Historical

Notes on Herman Blumenthal: Herman Blumenthal joined his brother, I.D. "Dick" Blumenthal, at the Radiator Specialty Company in 1936. It was then that his brother (who was twenty-one years older) bought out his partner, George Ray, from the company that they had founded. Herman helped manage Radiator Specialty and was a co-inventor of Liquid Wrench. Over the years, Radiator Specialty expanded its line of automotive and mechanical products, steadily amassing a fortune over time. When the United States entered World War II in 1941, he joined the Army and served as a captain. In addition to his work in the family firm, Herman was known as one of North Carolina's greatest philanthropists. He was a co-founder of the Blumenthal Foundation in 1953, and made a large contribution to the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. He was instrumental in the establishment of the North Carolina Blumenthal Jewish Home for the Aged (along with Dick Blumenthal). After Dick died in 1978, Herman took the initiative in establishing Fair Oaks—an institution within the North Carolina Blumenthal Jewish Home for the Aged. He, along with Dick, founded the Wildacres retreat in the mountains of western North Carolina in 1946. He was the major contributor to the Blumenthal Cancer Center at the Carolinas Medical Center, and he served on the North Carolina School of the Arts endowment fund board. In 1993, he received the Vanguard Award for his contributions to the Performing Arts Center, the Charlotte Symphony, the Mint Museum of Art, Discovery Place and Opera Carolina. In 1998 he received the Charlotte World Affairs Council annual World Citizen Award as a result of his generous philanthropy to so many causes. For this the Charlotte Chapter of the National Society of Funding Raising Executives named him its Outstanding Philanthropist. Herman was a man who was dedicated to his Jewish faith and was deeply involved in activities at his synagogue—Temple Israel. His contributions there included the financing of the Blumenthal Education Wing at Shalom Park, and also the sanctuary at Temple Beth El. He was also connected to Jewish issues internationally and had met twice with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. When Rabin was assassinated in November 1995, Blumenthal commented, "I had met with him a couple of times. This was the first time I'd had the opportunity to have an audience with him and hear him talk about the plans they had for the peace. It appeared when we were there that things were moving along, and maybe they would have peace… He was so intent on negotiating peace with all of the neighboring Arab countries… he made a lot of concessions in order to do that." (Charlotte Observer, November 5, 1995, p6A) Herman died on October 28, 2001. [Sources: The Blumenthal Papers, Mss 394, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Library ; Charlotte Observer, October 31, 2001 ; Business North Carolina, July 1996.]


26 Linear Feet


The collection contains primarily the papers and photographs of I.D. and Herman Blumenthal and also records from the Radiator Specialty Company and the Blumenthal Foundation. Other papers concern Judaism, Israel, Wildacres Conference Center and Retreat, the Blumenthal Jewish Home and Fair Oaks Assisted Living Facility, during the twentieth century.


The collection is arranged into eight series, four of which (Blumenthal, Isadore D., Blumenthal, Herman, Jewish history and Photographic prints) are further divided into subseries. The eight series are: Blumenthal family, Blumenthal, Isadore D. (1894-1978), Blumenthal, Herman (1915-2001), Radiator Specialty, Jewish history, Photographic prints, Sound recordings and Oversize materials and memorabilia.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Philip Blumenthal in May of 2008.

Related Materials

Harry Golden Papers, Mss 20 ; Morris Spiezman Papers, Mss 82 ; Leon Gutmann Papers, Mss 297 ; Holocaust Commemoration Display Materials, Mss 305.

Processing Information

Processed by Robert A. McInnes, 2009.

Blumenthal family papers MS0394
Robert A. McInnes
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

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