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Dr. Frank Felsenstein papers

Identifier: SPEC-109

Scope and Contents

This collection includes materials pertinent to Dr. Frank Felsenstein’s academic career and personal life, including coursework from grade school, undergraduate, and graduate school; teaching notes, syllabi, and lesson plans from his various teaching positions; research materials for his publications; research papers from colleagues and advisees with acknowledgments to Dr. Felsenstein; and programs from various Broadway and off-Broadway performances.

As of 2021-11-19, Series 3: Research papers is currently still in processing and not available. Please contact an archivist for more information.


  • 1960 - 2018

Conditions Governing Access

Series 1, 2, 4, and 5 are open for research.

As of 2021-11-19, Series 3: Research papers is currently still in processing and not available. Please contact an archivist for more information.

As of 2022-10-01, portions of Series 3: Research papers is currently on exhibit. Please contact an archivist for more information.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Frank Felsenstein was born in 1944 in London, England, to a German Jewish family. His mother—who was studying to become a medical practitioner—left Germany in 1933 after experiencing Anti-Semitic discrimination at the hospital she was employed. She settled in England with hopes to complete her medical degree, but after learning she would need to start medical school from the beginning, she chose to pursue career in personnel management. She returned to Germany to visit family in 1936 where she met Frank’s father. They married in 1937.

Dr. Felsenstein’s father was born to a fur trading family known as Gebrüder Felsenstein. Near the end of World War I, he was drafted to serve in the German army where he was badly injured when a piece of shell shrapnel hit his leg. The army doctor wanted to amputate the leg, but his father refused, and he was later transferred to a hospital for treatment. He remained there for nearly six months and made a full recovery.

After their marriage in 1937, Dr. Felsenstein’s father was visiting the Soviet Union when he received a message from his cousin. The message informed him that the Gestapo had searched his apartment and issued a warrant for his arrest. This prompted the Felsenstein family to return to England, where they settled permanently. After his birth, Dr. Felsenstein was sent to Yorkshire to avoid the frequent blitzes during the war. Upon the conclusion of World War II, he returned to London.

Dr. Felsenstein graduated from high school in 1963, then began attending classes at University of Leeds, where he received his Bachelor and PhD degrees, both in English. For his doctoral dissertation, he researched Tobias Smollett’s travels through Italy and France, which was eventually published by University of Oxford Press. After graduating with his PhD, Dr. Felsenstein remained at University of Leeds as a lecturer. In the mid-1980s, he travelled to America to attend a cousin’s wedding. It was at this wedding that he met his wife, Carole, who was also a guest. He left the University of Leeds in 1998 after his marriage, and took a position leading the honors program at Yeshiva College in New York. While there, he published Anti-Semitic Stereotypes (1995) and English Trader, Indian Maid (1999). In 2002, he was offered a tenured professor position at Ball State University. He taught honors classes in the history of the book, Jewish literature, and early Modern English literature.

During his time at Ball State, he visited the Muncie Carnegie Library to view archival resources, where he discovered multiple book circulation ledgers from the Muncie Public Library from the late 1890s to the early 1900s, all of which totaled 175,000 book transactions. He partnered with Dr. Jim Connolly to comb through the ledgers and compile circulation data into a database, which eventually became the What Middletown Read database. A book entitled What Middletown Read: Print Culture in an American Small City was released in 2015.

In June of 2017, Dr. Felsenstein retired after fifteen years at Ball State University. He resides in New Jersey with his wife, Carole.


50 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Custodial History

This collection was received by Archives and Special Collections as a donation from Dr. Frank Felsenstein on 2018-08-03 and 2019-08-26.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing for series 1, 2, 4, and 5 completed 2021-11-19 by Cassidy Clouse, Nicholas Miller, Sarah Allison, Brian Faust, and Lindsey Vesperry. EAD finding aid created 2021-11-19 by Lindsey M. Vesperry.

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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Alexander M. Bracken Library
2000 W. University Avenue
Muncie Indiana 47306 USA