Harris and Eliza Kempner Collection

About the Kempner Family

One of Galveston's most iconic families, the Kempner family influenced the social and philanthropic landscape of Galveston, and its members created an expansive economic empire. The Kempner family of Galveston began with Harris Kempner (1837-1894), who emigrated from Poland in 1854 and settled in Cold Spring, Texas. In 1858, he opened a general store and established the firm that still bears his name. Harris, foreseeing the growth of Galveston, moved his business to the seaport around 1868 and enlarged his interests as a cotton factor and commission merchant. He also entered a partnership with M. Marx to build a wholesale grocery business. Marx withdrew from the business in 1886, but Harris continued the firm and extended his range of operations into finance. He served as the president of Island City Savings Bank. Harris organized and directed some thirty-five banks throughout Texas, especially in smaller cities that lacked adequate banking facilities.

After Harris Kempner's death in 1894, his widow, the former Miss Eliza Seinsheimer of Cincinnati, preserved the estate. The line of trusteeship passed to Harris and Eliza's four sons: Isaac H. Kempner, Daniel W. Kempner, Robert L. Kempner, and Stanley E. Kempner. Isaac Kempner and his family purchased controlling interest in what later would become the United States National Bank in 1902. Isaac, who was born in Cincinnati in 1873 but received his early education in Galveston, later became president of the bank. He also served as president of the Galveston Cotton Exchange from 1905 to 1919.

The trusteeship later passed on to Harris and Eliza's two grandsons: Harris L. Kempner and Isaac H. Kempner, Jr. The Kempner family built a fortune not only through ventures in cotton and banking, but also in railroading, land development, ranching, oil, and sugar. The Kempner family partnered with William T. Eldridge and bought plantations in the area southwest of Houston between 1906 and 1908. This area, known as Sugar Land, became the base of production for the newly formed Imperial Sugar Company. The Kempner family became the sole owners of the sugar firm in 1946. Sugar Land, Texas operated as a company town for employees and became incorporated in 1959.

About the Physical Collection

The Rosenberg Library in Galveston maintains an extensive amount of Kempner family business records and personal papers The collections include a wealth of documentation relating to the Kempner family's involvement in business and industry, especially regarding the H. L. Kempner Company and the Imperial Sugar Company. Personal papers from dozens of Kempner family members may also be found in the collections. These papers reflect the family's extensive philanthropic activities and engagement in local, national, and international affairs.

Some additional materials are held by the Kempner Foundation.

About the Digital Collection

This digital collection contains a selection of materials drawn from the larger tangible collections.



At a Glance



Cite This Collection

Here is our suggested citation. Consult an appropriate style guide for conformance to specific guidelines.

Harris and Eliza Kempner Collection in The Portal to Texas History. University of North Texas Libraries. https://texashistory.unt.edu/explore/collections/KEMP/ accessed June 15, 2024.


Explore Holdings

Start browsing through the holdings of this collection in one of the following ways:

Counties (expand list)

Galveston County, TX
24,685
Fort Bend County, TX
9,250
Harris County, TX
5,786
Dallas County, TX
1,472
Travis County, TX
1,396
Bexar County, TX
1,093
Hamilton County, OH
937
Grimes County, TX
895
Cook County, IL
733
Greene County, AR
548
Essex County, NY
491
Tarrant County, TX
386
Orleans Parish, LA
361
Los Angeles County, CA
306
Reeves County, TX
241
Middlesex County, MA
206
Cameron County, TX
201
Suffolk County, MA
186
Limestone County, TX
185
Shelby County, TN
161
Nueces County, TX
158
Brazos County, TX
146
Hidalgo County, TX
134
Philadelphia County, PA
128
Wichita County, TX
127
Jefferson County, TX
118
Brazoria County, TX
110
Montgomery County, PA
89
McLennan County, TX
80
Baltimore County, MD
67
Brooks County, TX
66
Suffolk County, NY
66
Fulton County, GA
65
Durham County, NC
63
Franklin County, MA
62
Jackson County, MO
60
Palo Pinto County, TX
60
Somerset County, NJ
58
Santa Barbara County, CA
57
Queens County, NY
56
Cuyahoga County, OH
54
New York County, NY
54
Clinton County, IA
53
Denver County, CO
50
Miami-Dade County, FL
49
Presidio County, TX
48
Mercer County, NJ
47
Smith County, TX
46
Jefferson County, KY
44
Jefferson County, AL
43
El Paso County, TX
42
Bell County, TX
41
Santa Clara County, CA
41
Westchester County, NY
41
Henderson County, TX
39
Essex County, NJ
38
New Haven County, CT
37
Bosque County, TX
36
Monroe County, NY
36
Victoria County, TX
36
Oklahoma County, OK
35
San Mateo County, CA
35
Pecos County, TX
34
Dimmit County, TX
33
Highlands County, FL
31
Manatee County, FL
31
Santa Fe County, NM
31
Bergen County, NJ
30
Wayne County, MI
29
Colorado County, TX
28
Kinney County, TX
28
Lubbock County, TX
28
Chelan County, WA
27
Dutchess County, NY
27
Orange County, FL
27
Ward County, TX
27
Weld County, CO
27
Garland County, AR
26
Kerr County, TX
25
Potter County, TX
25
Caddo Parish, LA
24
East Baton Rouge Parish, LA
24
Eastland County, TX
24
King County, WA
24
Fairfield County, CT
23
Jackson County, OR
22
Orange County, CA
22
Pulaski County, AR
22
San Diego County, CA
22
Greenbrier County, WV
21
Norfolk County, MA
21
Allegheny County, PA
20
Davidson County, TN
20
Miami County, IN
20
Waller County, TX
20
Providence County, RI
19
Baker County, FL
18
Matagorda County, TX
18
New Castle County, DE
18
Gregg County, TX
17
Hartford County, CT
17
Morris County, TX
17
Pinellas County, FL
17
Alameda County, CA
16
Charleston County, SC
16
Cleveland County, OK
16
Kings County, NY
16
Miami County, OH
16
Multnomah County, OR
16
Solano County, CA
16
Taylor County, TX
16
Albany County, NY
15
Dunklin County, MO
15
Grayson County, TX
15
Hawaii County, HI
15
Starr County, TX
15
Wharton County, TX
15
Bucks County, PA
14
Fannin County, TX
14
Hudson County, NJ
14
Morris County, NJ
14
Nassau County, NY
14
Prince William County, VA
14
Union County, NJ
14
Anderson County, TX
13
Bowie County, TX
13
Caldwell County, TX
13
Clark County, OH
13
Floyd County, GA
13
Milwaukee County, WI
13
Mobile County, AL
13
Passaic County, NJ
13
San Jacinto County, TX
13
Walker County, TX
13
Broward County, FL
12
Fayette County, KY
12
Hennepin County, MN
12
Hinds County, MS
12
Lampasas County, TX
12
Mahoning County, OH
12
Montgomery County, OH
12
Oneida County, NY
12
Rockbridge County, VA
12
Windham County, CT
12
Chatham County, GA
11
Denton County, TX
11
Houston County, TX
11
Middlesex County, NJ
11
Tom Green County, TX
11
Baldwin County, AL
10
Coryell County, TX
10
Elkhart County, IN
10
Lauderdale County, MS
10
Lavaca County, TX
10
Maricopa County, AZ
10
Nacogdoches County, TX
10
Prince George's County, MD
10
Shawnee County, KS
10
Calcasieu Parish, LA
9
Chautauqua County, NY
9
Hamilton County, TN
9
Hill County, TX
9
Hillsborough County, FL
9
La Plata County, CO
9
Montgomery County, TX
9
Ottawa County, MI
9
Palm Beach County, FL
9
Polk County, IA
9
Tulsa County, OK
9
Atlantic County, NJ
8
Bolivar County, MS
8
Harrison County, MS
8
Harrison County, TX
8
Hays County, TX
8
Hunt County, TX
8
Pima County, AZ
8
Riverside County, CA
8
Saratoga County, NY
8
Washington County, TX
8
Austin County, TX
7
Bronx County, NY
7
Cass County, TX
7
Contra Costa County, CA
7
Cotton County, OK
7
Ector County, TX
7
Ellis County, TX
7
Falls County, TX
7
Jack County, TX
7
Lamar County, GA
7
Leon County, FL
7
Liberty County, TX
7
Lucas County, OH
7
Marion County, IN
7
Sedgwick County, KS
7
Duval County, FL
6
El Paso County, CO
6
Gonzales County, TX
6
Hardin County, TX
6
Jackson County, MS
6
Kleberg County, TX
6
Lee County, TX
6
Litchfield County, CT
6
Midland County, TX
6
Navarro County, TX
6
Northampton County, PA
6
Polk County, TX
6
Santa Cruz County, AZ
6
Surry County, NC
6
Berks County, PA
5
Bernalillo County, NM
5
Bibb County, GA
5
Burlington County, NJ
5
Calhoun County, TX
5
Carter County, OK
5
Cooke County, TX
5
Craighead County, AR
5
Crane County, TX
5
Edwards County, TX
5
Franklin County, OH
5
Geauga County, OH
5
Ingham County, MI
5
Josephine County, OR
5
Kalamazoo County, MI
5
Mecklenburg County, NC
5
Montgomery County, AL
5
Montgomery County, MD
5
Muskegon County, MI
5
Orange County, NY
5
Parker County, TX
5
Racine County, WI
5
Richland County, SC
5
Wayne County, IN
5
Webb County, TX
5
Winnebago County, WI
5
York County, ME
5
Briscoe County, TX
4
Broome County, NY
4
Burleson County, TX
4
Cabell County, WV
4
Collin County, TX
4
Dauphin County, PA
4
Erie County, OH
4
Fayette County, TX
4
Gillespie County, TX
4
Hall County, TX
4
Hancock County, MS
4
Hopkins County, TX
4
Jackson County, WI
4
Jasper County, TX
4
Jefferson County, AR
4
Johnson County, TX
4
Kendall County, TX
4
Lake County, FL
4
Lamar County, TX
4
Lincoln County, OK
4
Luzerne County, PA
4
Marion County, OR
4
Mississippi County, AR
4
Montgomery County, IN
4
Ohio County, KY
4
Pottawattamie County, IA
4
Randall County, TX
4
Red River County, TX
4
Rock Island County, IL
4
Rockingham County, VA
4
San Patricio County, TX
4
Sangamon County, IL
4
Shelby County, TX
4
Titus County, TX
4
Troup County, GA
4
Tuscarawas County, OH
4
Val Verde County, TX
4
Washoe County, NV
4
Watauga County, NC
4
Wyandotte County, KS
4
Angelina County, TX
3
Bandera County, TX
3
Bastrop County, TX
3
Beckham County, OK
3
Bennington County, VT
3
Blaine County, ID
3
Brown County, TX
3
Cape Girardeau County, MO
3
Cass County, IN
3
Comanche County, OK
3
Comanche County, TX
3
Crockett County, TX
3
Erie County, NY
3
Essex County, MA
3
Guilford County, NC
3
Hardeman County, TX
3
Horry County, SC
3
Kent County, DE
3
Lake County, IL
3
Lucas County, IA
3
Miller County, AR
3
Mills County, TX
3
Monterey County, CA
3
Nolan County, TX
3
Olmsted County, MN
3
Orange County, NC
3
Pierce County, WA
3
Pitkin County, CO
3
Robertson County, TX
3
Rusk County, TX
3
Salt Lake County, UT
3
San Benito County, CA
3
San Saba County, TX
3
Santa Cruz County, CA
3
Sarasota County, FL
3
Schenectady County, NY
3
Scott County, IA
3
Sebastian County, AR
3
Skagit County, WA
3
Trinity County, TX
3
Upshur County, TX
3
Washington County, AR
3
Washita County, OK
3
Williamson County, TX
3
Wise County, TX
3
Albemarle County, VA
2
Anderson County, SC
2
Arlington County, VA
2
Blanco County, TX
2
Boulder County, CO
2
Brewster County, TX
2
Buncombe County, NC
2
Camp County, TX
2
Champaign County, IL
2
Chaves County, NM
2
Cherokee County, TX
2
Clackamas County, OR
2
Clay County, MO
2
Cochran County, TX
2
Comal County, TX
2
Crenshaw County, AL
2
Crosby County, TX
2
Cumberland County, ME
2
Dane County, WI
2
Dodge County, WI
2
Dougherty County, GA
2
Douglas County, NE
2
Erath County, TX
2
Erie County, PA
2
Escambia County, FL
2
Fauquier County, VA
2
Fresno County, CA
2
Gloucester County, VA
2
Grand County, CO
2
Gray County, TX
2
Hampshire County, MA
2
Harrison County, OH
2
Haskell County, TX
2
Hillsborough County, NH
2
Imperial County, CA
2
Ionia County, MI
2
Jasper County, IA
2
Jefferson County, CO
2
Jim Wells County, TX
2
Jones County, TX
2
Kanawha County, WV
2
Kay County, OK
2
Kendall County, IL
2
Kern County, CA
2
Lake County, IN
2
Lyon County, KS
2
Madison County, NY
2
Madison County, TX
2
McCurtain County, OK
2
McMullen County, TX
2
Meriwether County, GA
2
Milam County, TX
2
Muscogee County, GA
2
Muskogee County, OK
2
Nash County, NC
2
Onondaga County, NY
2
Orange County, IN
2
Orange County, TX
2
Otsego County, NY
2
Parmer County, TX
2
Payne County, OK
2
Pemiscot County, MO
2
Peoria County, IL
2
Phillips County, AR
2
Pickens County, SC
2
Putnam County, TN
2
Ramsey County, MN
2
Rockland County, NY
2
Shackelford County, TX
2
Stephens County, OK
2
Summit County, OH
2
Sunflower County, MS
2
Talladega County, AL
2
Terry County, TX
2
Tyler County, TX
2
Uvalde County, TX
2
Van Buren County, MI
2
Vigo County, IN
2
Warren County, MS
2
Washington County, MS
2
Washington County, OH
2
Washington County, OK
2
Wayne County, IL
2
White County, AR
2
Wood County, TX
2
Woodward County, OK
2
Worcester County, MA
2
Yoakum County, TX
2
Young County, TX
2
Adams County, CO
1
Adams County, MS
1
Alcorn County, MS
1
Allegany County, NY
1
Alleghany County, VA
1
Aransas County, TX
1
Asotin County, WA
1
Atascosa County, TX
1
Avery County, NC
1
Bath County, VA
1
Bedford County, TN
1
Bee County, TX
1
Blaine County, OK
1
Branch County, MI
1
Bristol County, MA
1
Brown County, WI
1
Bryan County, OK
1
Buchanan County, MO
1
Burleigh County, ND
1
Butler County, MO
1
Butler County, PA
1
Camden County, NJ
1
Cape May County, NJ
1
Carson County, TX
1
Cattaraugus County, NY
1
Chambers County, TX
1
Chautauqua County, KS
1
Cherokee County, KS
1
Chisago County, MN
1
Citrus County, FL
1
Claiborne County, TN
1
Clark County, NV
1
Clark County, WA
1
Clarke County, GA
1
Clay County, AR
1
Clay County, TX
1
Cleveland County, NC
1
Clinton County, NY
1
Coweta County, GA
1
Crawford County, OH
1
Culpeper County, VA
1
Cumberland County, NC
1
Cumberland County, PA
1
Dallas County, AL
1
Dawson County, TX
1
DeKalb County, IL
1
DeSoto County, FL
1
Delaware County, IN
1
Delaware County, NY
1
Des Moines County, IA
1
Door County, WI
1
Dukes County, MA
1
Eau Claire County, WI
1
Etowah County, AL
1
Fairfax County, VA
1
Floyd County, TX
1
Forsyth County, NC
1
Franklin County, KY
1
Franklin County, PA
1
Franklin Parish, LA
1
Frederick County, MD
1
Frederick County, VA
1
Freestone County, TX
1
Goliad County, TX
1
Grafton County, NH
1
Grant County, OK
1
Green County, WI
1
Greenville County, SC
1
Greenwood County, SC
1
Greer County, OK
1
Guadalupe County, TX
1
Hale County, TX
1
Hampden County, MA
1
Hardin County, KY
1
Harlan County, NE
1
Haskell County, OK
1
Houston County, GA
1
Howard County, TX
1
Howell County, MO
1
Iberia Parish, LA
1
Iberville Parish, LA
1
Indian River County, FL
1
Indiana County, PA
1
Iowa County, IA
1
Irion County, TX
1
Jackson County, AR
1
Jackson County, TX
1
Jefferson Parish, LA
1
Johnson County, IA
1
Kane County, IL
1
Karnes County, TX
1
Kauai County, HI
1
Kaufman County, TX
1
Kent County, MI
1
Kenton County, KY
1
King County, TX
1
Kingfisher County, OK
1
Kitsap County, WA
1
Knox County, ME
1
Knox County, TX
1
La Salle County, TX
1
LaSalle County, IL
1
Labette County, KS
1
Lackawanna County, PA
1
Lancaster County, PA
1
Lane County, OR
1
Latimer County, OK
1
Lawrence County, PA
1
Le Sueur County, MN
1
Leavenworth County, KS
1
Lee County, AL
1
Lee County, IA
1
Lincoln County, ME
1
Linn County, IA
1
Llano County, TX
1
Madison County, AL
1
Marin County, CA
1
Marion County, KS
1
Mason County, TX
1
McCulloch County, TX
1
McLean County, IL
1
Medina County, TX
1
Mercer County, WV
1
Mesa County, CO
1
Minnehaha County, SD
1
Missoula County, MT
1
Montgomery County, IL
1
Montgomery County, KS
1
Moore County, TN
1
Moore County, TX
1
Nance County, NE
1
New Hanover County, NC
1
New London County, CT
1
Newport County, RI
1
Noble County, OK
1
Nowata County, OK
1
Oakland County, MI
1
Okfuskee County, OK
1
Osage County, OK
1
Ottawa County, OK
1
Panola County, TX
1
Pike County, IL
1
Placer County, CA
1
Polk County, FL
1
Pushmataha County, OK
1
Rapides Parish, LA
1
Refugio County, TX
1
Richmond County, GA
1
Richmond County, NY
1
Robeson County, NC
1
Rockingham County, NC
1
Rockingham County, NH
1
Russell County, AL
1
Rutland County, VT
1
Sacramento County, CA
1
San Augustine County, TX
1
San Bernardino County, CA
1
San Joaquin County, CA
1
Scott County, MO
1
Scurry County, TX
1
Shelby County, OH
1
Spokane County, WA
1
St. Clair County, IL
1
Stafford County, VA
1
Stanislaus County, CA
1
Steele County, MN
1
Swisher County, TX
1
Taos County, NM
1
Texas County, OK
1
Tulare County, CA
1
Tuscaloosa County, AL
1
Van Zandt County, TX
1
Vanderburgh County, IN
1
Ventura County, CA
1
Volusia County, FL
1
Walker County, GA
1
Warren County, NY
1
Warren County, VA
1
Washington County, MD
1
Washington County, NY
1
Washington County, PA
1
Washtenaw County, MI
1
Webster County, IA
1
Webster Parish, LA
1
Wheeler County, GA
1
Whitman County, WA
1
Willacy County, TX
1
Wilson County, TN
1
Woodbury County, IA
1
Wythe County, VA
1
York County, VA
1
Zavala County, TX
1

Titles (expand list)

Personal Papers (MS 80-0002)
53,730
Kempner Family Papers and Business Records (MS 86-0008)
1,082
Business Papers (MS 80-0003)
387
Imperial Sugar Company Estimated Daily Cash Balance
131
Galveston Water Works Monthly Statement
85
Merchants & Planters Compress & Warehouse Co. Statements
82
Imperial Sugar Company Actual and Projected Operations
74
Imperial Sugar Company Sugar Stock and Sales Report
66
Lurie's Weekly Report
45
Southern Union Gas Company Monthly Statement
32
Houston Lighting & Power Company Monthly Statement
30
Texas Public Service Company Monthly Statement
27
Southwestern Bell Telephone Company Bills
23
Galveston Chamber of Commerce Financial and Operating Statement
18
Sugarland Industries Cattle Inventory
18
AWVS Official Monthly Progress Report
15
Congregation B'nai Israel Bulletin
14
The Imperial Crown
13
Sugarland Industries Cotton Operations
12
AWVS Secretary's Office Monthly Report
11
Imperial Sugar Company Aged Summary of Accounts Receivable
11
News and Views of Harvard Athletics
11
Texas Research League Bulletin
9
Southwestern Bell Telephone Company Monthly Statement
8
Fund Raising Bulletin
6
Harvard Business Review
6
Texas Metroplitan Study Newsletter
6
AWVS Greater New York Region Monthly Report
5
AWVS Public Relations Department Monthly Report
4
Imperial Sugar Company Statement of Past Due Accounts
3
Inventory Policy Series
3
Jewish Newletter
3
Texas Research League Analyzes
3
Galveston Scuttlebutt
2
It's Said and Done
2
News of the National
2
Report to Members of the National Campaign Council
2
Right to Work National Newsletter
2
Rotunda Topics
2
Sugarland Industries Monthly Statement
2
The San Jacinto Times
2
Trade Talk
2
{{{Subject line}}}
2
A Program for Harvard Medicine
1
AWVS National Quarterly Progress Report
1
AWVS Official Quarterly Progress Report
1
Aero Digest
1
Annual Brotherhood Award Dinner News Letter
1
Big Bend Gin Company Actual and Projected Operations
1
Blue Cross - Blue Shield Bulletin
1
Briefly Speaking
1
Congressional Record
1
Cotton Comments
1
Cotton's Week
1
Country Club News
1
Doane Agricultural Digest
1
Doane Agricultural Reports
1
Field Organization News Letter
1
Fiscal Year 1965
1
Foreign Policy Briefs
1
Galveston Artillery Club Newsletter
1
Galveston Journal
1
Harvard Business Review Reprint Series
1
Journal of Jewish Communal Service
1
Little Journeys to Farmland
1
Morgan Camera News
1
National Audubon Society Bird Leaflets
1
National Conference of Christians and Jews Newsletter
1
National Right to Work Committee: Right to Work Status Report
1
News and Notes from the FPA President's Office
1
Newsletter: Institute of Human Relations (American Jewish Committee)
1
ORT Bulletin
1
San Antonio Light
1
TMA News and Views on Legislation
1
Tax Letter
1
The Bankers Magazine
1
The Business Week Letter
1
The Chain
1
The Citizens' Bulletin
1
The Galveston Planning Group Reports
1
The Gillman Tax Letter
1
The Medical Advance
1
The State Observer
1
The Times: Reprinted from Company Meetings
1
Treasure Isle
1
U.T. Record
1
Univeristy Medical Center News
1
Vol. 1 No. 2 Hillel Foundation U. of Texas, September 29, 1945
1
Washington Report
1
World Business Series
1

Back to Top of Screen