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Yellen Family Papers

Identifier: MS 0838
Finding aid note: Forms part of the Houston Jewish History Archive. Stored offsite at the Library Service Center and require 24-hour notice for retrieval. Please contact the Woodson Research Center at 713-348-2586 or for more information.

Scope and Contents

The Yellen Family papers contain black-and-white photographs of Milton Yellen, Florence Kless Yellen, and the extended Yellen family. In addition to Milton's time spent with the army practicing dentistry in New Guinea, the photographs depict Florence throughout the years, including her performances, graduation, and an event honoring her contributions to the Judaica Museum of Houston. The collection also contains correspondence, publications such as newsletters, certificates, documents like membership and registration cards, and memorabilia, including a class ring, army service medals, and dentistry equipment. The materials are in good condition and range in date from 1935 to 1998. Researchers interested in the Houston Jewish community, World War II camps, dentistry in World War II, or Jewish families would all find this collection insightful.


  • Creation: 1935 - 1998


Conditions Governing Access

This material is open for research. Stored offsite at the Library Service Center and require 24-hour notice for retrieval. Please contact the Woodson Research Center at 713-348-2586 or for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from the Yellen 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

Marc and Gay Yellen donated the materials for the collection, which primarily center around their father, Milton Yellen, and mother, Florence Kless Yellen.

Milton was born in Beaumont, in 1918. Milton Yellen’s father was Reverend Lazer Meyer Yellen, who served as the first religious leader in Beaumont. Milton’s mother died when he was 14, and he moved in with his older sister Libby and her husband Abram Geller. He played baseball for years and, though he had aspirations to be an engineer in his youth, pursued a career in dentistry at Lamar University, and then UT Dental in Houston. Milton practiced dentistry with the army in New Guinea from 1943 to 1944, before opening his own practice and later teaching at UT Dental.

Florence Kless Yellen was born in Houston, the oldest of 3 girls. She was a talented dancer and actor, and often performed solo or with her sister Ruby Lee when she was growing up. Florence was a Rice grad well-known for her civic works in the city and state, particularly her contributions as director of the Judaica Museum of Houston. Florence married Milton at the Women’s Club on Stratford in 1944.

Other members of the Yellen Family featured in the collection include Florence Kless Yellen's parents Celia Juran Kless and Herman Louis Kless (formerly Kleshevsky), Florence' grandfather Reverend Jacob Juran, and Milton’s father the Reverend Lazer Meyer Yellen. A family tree depicting the relationships between family members can be found in the control folder.

Florence’s mother, Celia Juran Kless, owned a baby supply shop called Camel Tot Shop, and ran it until the 1950s when she went to work for Craig’s. Celia married Herman Louis (Lou) Kless, whose employer changed his name from Kleshevsky after he fled conscription in Russia, sailed on the Lusitania, and received mechanical training with Cooper Union in New York City. Herman made his mark developing a drill bit for the oil industry.


1.5 Linear Feet (2 box)

Language of Materials



The Yellen Family papers are comprised of photographs and memorabilia related to Milton Yellen’s time practicing dentistry in New Guinea for the army during World War II, and photographs and newsclippings of his wife Florence Kless Yellen throughout her life. The collection also contains religious and army certificates, publications, and correspondence depicting the Yellen family’s connections to the Jewish community.


The materials are arranged by date in three series, as follows:

Series I: Photographs

Series II: Documents

Series III: Memorabilia

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Marc and Gay Yellen donated the materials in February of 2019 and May of 2019.

Related Materials

Milton Yellen is one of the names memorialized on the Beth Jacob Congregation Houston World War II banner.

Guide to the Yellen Family papers, 1935-1998
Gabby Parker
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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