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Joseph, Jr. Seligman


Seligman, Joseph

k-Selligman, Joseph A., Jr.(used the name Frank Neary to enter the IB; Sligman; Frank Selligman), b. December 25, 1916; Jewish; Senior at Swarthmore College; CP; received passport# 350380 on October 29, 1936 which listed his address as 1415 Willow Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky; Selligman arrived in Spain in January 1937; Served with the XV BDE, British BN, Estado Mayor, interpreter; WIA Jarama, on February 12, 1937, he was wounded in the head and died on February 20, in Comenares de Oreja Hospital.

Sources: SACB, RA, Selligman Papers ALBA 296, USSDA 2:0916, 60:0110. 

Photograph: Swarthmore Phoenix, Yearbook 1936, same photograph appeared on the front page of the Swarthmore Phoenix on March 16, 1937 announcing Selligman's death in combat.



Joseph Selligman Jr. was born on December 25, 1916 in Louisville Kentucky to Esther and Joseph Selligman. He was the second of three children, his eldest sister Augusta was born in 1913 and his younger sister Lucy was born in 1920. His mother, the former Esther Rosenberg, taught kindergarten prior to her marriage to Joseph Selligman Sr. in 1909. His father worked as a lawyer in partnership with his brother Alfred and was also prominent in local politics.

Joseph Selligman Jr. attended Louisville Men’s High School for three and a half years, graduating early in 1933. He then enrolled in Swarthmore College, a Quaker school in Pennsylvania, at the age of 16 in the fall of 1933. At Swarthmore Selligman wrote for the school’s literary magazine and later became the editor and served on the debate team. In the summer of 1935 Selligman also participated in a Quaker Peace Caravan in Iowa, which promoted peace and non-violent resistance along with other Swarthmore students. In October of his senior year Selligman applied to Harvard for graduate work in philosophy, but in mid-December he left Swarthmore without his parents’ knowledge and traveled to Europe to join the International Brigades fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

In an attempt to convince him to return Selligman’s father sent his law partner, Joseph Everhart, to Paris, where he had last been heard from. By the time Everhart arrived, however, Selligman had already left for Spain. In Europe, Selligman initially tried to enlist under his own name but was rejected because he was only nineteen years old. He instead enlisted in a British battalion under the name Frank Neary, who was a young Irishman who sold his enlistment papers to Selligman after changing his mind about going to war.

Selligman entered Spain sometime in late December or early January. By mid-February he was fighting with a British battalion of the International Brigade along the Jarama River. At the battle of Jarama he suffered a head wound and was evacuated to a hospital near Madrid where he died two weeks later. His family believes he was the first American casualty of the Spanish Civil War.  - Biography Courtesy of Tamiment Library, NYU

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Full Database Record

Last Name Seligman
First/Middle Name Joseph, Jr.
Ethnicity Note
Immigration Status
AKA Last Name 1
AKA First / Middle 1
AKA Last Name 2
AKA First / Middle 2
Foreign Nation
Foreign Nation City
Alt Pob State, City
Family: Name
Family: Relationship
Family: Begin Date
Family: End Date
Family: Comments
Education HS
Education College / Univ 1
Education College/Univ Notes
Education College/Univ 2
Graduate or Doctoral Work
Graduate or Doctoral Work Notes
Prior Military Service
Passport #
Passport Series
Passport Reported Lost in Spain
Passport Age
Passport Date
PP or Known Address Street
PP or Known Address City
PP or Known Address State
ALT City
Alt State
Sail Date
Marital Status
Marital Notes
Vocation 1
Vocation 2
Vocation 3
Party Affiliation
Date Affiliation
ALT Affiliation
ALT date
ALT affiliation 2
Arrival (in Spain) Date
Units served with
Battle action
Returned Date
Returned other
WWII Service
Place Died City
KIA/MIA/Died other
KIA/MIA/Died other Date
KIA/MIA/Died other Location
KIA/MIA/Died other Battle
Additional Notes