Skip to main content

David M. Leff Family papers

Identifier: MS 754
Finding aid note: Forms part of Houston Jewish History Archive. Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Research Center in a small collection.

Scope and Contents

One folder of correspondence, World War II military records, news clippings, a Leff Brothers 50th anniversary book, and family photographs documents events in the lives of members of the Leff family from 1943 to 2006. Of particular interest are histories of the Leff family members and Leff Brothers Dry Goods and a number of photographs of Rabbi Jacob Geller and his family.


  • 1943 - 2006

Conditions Governing Access

This material is open for research. Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center in a small collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from the David M. Leff Family Papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.

The Woodson Research Center use policy is that researchers assume sole responsibility for any infringement of privacy, literary rights, copyrights, or other rights arising from their use of the archival materials. In addition to any restrictions placed by donors, certain kinds of archival materials are restricted for the life of the creator plus 50 years. These materials include, but are not limited to, student grades, transcripts, and any job applications or recommendations.

Biographical / Historical

Jacob Geller was born, 1863, in what historically was known as Gilicia or Austrian Poland, which at the time of his birth was ruled as part of the Austrian Empire. His wife, Sara, was also born in 1863 in Austrian Poland. The two were married in 1882. Rabbi Jacob Geller and his wife, Sara, immigrated to the United States from Europe around 1882 at the bequest of the Orthodox community of Galveston, Texas, to fulfill their search for an Orthodox rabbi. He served as rabbi for the congregation called "Bikur Cholim" for a number of years. While living in Galveston the couple had eight children: Harry, Sam, Annie, Max, Abraham, Goldie, Leah, and Esther. To help support his family, Rabbi Geller also opened a butcher shop and sold kosher meat. In 1910 Rabbi Geller moved his family to Houston and accepted the pulpit at Adath Israel.

The Leff brothers -- Ben, Jacob, and Sol -- were born in 1894, 1896 and 1900, respectively. The family immigrated from Austria to the United States in the early 1900s and settled in Texas. The three set up a corporation in 1921 and began a whole sale dry goods operation at 521 Preston Avenue in Houston. Sol was the salesman for South Texas, Jacob was office manager and sales, and Ben was buyer of all merchandise. After flooding twice the brothers moved the operation in 1937 to 1711 Preston. As the years passed the brothers' children began working in the family business, including Jacob's son David.

Jacob married Annie Geller in 1917. The couple had three children, including David M. Leff, born in Houston on August 24, 1924. David graduated from high school early and enrolled at Texas A & M University. David left college after three years, when World War II began, to join the Army where he served at military intelligence schools in France and England during the war. After the war, he returned to Texas A & M and graduated with a degree in business and accounting before joining his father and uncles at Leff Bros. Dry Goods. David met Evelyn Zimmerman on a blind date and the two married in 1947. They had three children: Stanley, Sharan, and Tina. Evelyn died in 1993 and David died in 2017 at the age of 93.

Excerpted from:


.10 Linear Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



The collection consists of correspondence regarding Geller/Leff family history, a Leff Brothers Dry Goods 50th anniversary book, David Leff's World War II military records, news clippings of David and Evelyn Leff's engagement and marriage, and family photographs spanning the years 1943 to 2006.


The materials in this collection have been arranged in one series as follows:

Series I: General

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Sharan Leff Zwick donated the papers in May 2018.
Guide to the David M. Leff family papers, 1943-2006
Traci Patterson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA