Max C. Fleischmann Foundation Records

Identifier: 90-36

Scope and Contents

The Max C. Fleischmann Foundation Records were received in excellent order and represents a nearly complete example of the records of a major national foundation from its inception in 1951 to its termination in 1980. The only records which were not donated to the Special Collections Department were employee earnings records and certain retirement plan documents, which were personnel matters and so considered by the Trustees to be confidential.

This collection is important not only because it documents the activities of a foundation whose purpose was to award grants to non-profit organizations but also because it illustrates the activities of a wide range of types of organizations throughout a nearly thirty-year time span. These groups included Ducks Unlimited, the American Red Cross, the University of Nevada System, the Friends of Tryon Creek, Callier Center for Communication Disorders, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, and the National College of Juvenile Court Judges, to name a few. Each applicant was required to submit an annual report of operations and project description, and was investigated personally by at least one trustee before grants were awarded. These documents are summarized in minutes of proceedings, reports to the court, and application lists, and found in full in the Nevada and Completed Grants series. Records of applications which were not funded were apparently not retained permanently by the Foundation but a card file summary of such applicants was compiled and is found in Series 16, "Rejection Indexes."

The philosophy of Mr. Fleischmann is also well documented in this collection through the minutes of the Trustees, in the Annual Reports of Operations, and in the Trustees' Files. The early minutes are particularly revealing as the trustees were guided by Mrs. Fleischmann's advice on specific interests of the Major. Correspondence in the Trustees' Files also includes discussions of a philosophy which was formulated in the early years and followed throughout the life of the Foundation.

As a trust and foundation established in Fleischmann's will, the Foundation was subject to the yearly scrutiny of the District Court of Douglas County, Nevada. Reports of both the Estate and the Foundation were made yearly and in 1967 they were combined into a single report. These narratives offer details about the financial status of the Foundation, including lists of stocks and bonds held as assets, auditor's statements, expenses of operation, and summaries of grant recipients. Similar documents are found in Series 6: Foundation Trust Inventories, Intermediate Accounts. Series 6 also contains an interesting document which compares the operation of the Fleischmann Foundation with that of similar foundations in the United States. A 1962 Congressional investigation of abuses by tax-exempt foundations in the U. S. examined the financial records and reports of 522 U.S. foundations, comparing income, grant levels and operating expenses. While the Congressional committee severely criticized many organizations, it found no problems with the operation of the Fleischmann Foundation. The collection contains three miscellaneous items which are not part of a particular series. They are as follows:

* A certificate of resolution honoring the Board of Trustees of the Foundation, presented by the Nevada State Board of Education. No date. [1980]. Placed in the manuscript map case. * A Nevada Governor's proclamation honoring the Board of Trustees of the Foundation. May 7, 1980. Placed in the manuscript map case. * Photograph of Max C. Fleischmann in a casual pose, No date [ca. 1950]. Transferred to the photo archives.


  • 1951-1981


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Administrative History

The Max C. Fleischmann Foundation was created by Mr. Fleischmann (often referred to as the Major) through an inter vivos trust document dated March 23, 1951; his last will and testament of May 11, 1945; and three codicils to his will, the last of which was dated March 23, 1951. These documents specified how the Foundation was to be administered, who the initial trustees would be, and what types of organizations would be eligible to receive grants or contributions from the Foundation. The trust document guided the Foundation until Mr. Fleischmann's death on October 16, 1951, after which the Foundation operated under terms of his will and codicils.

The purpose of the trust was to distribute funds for specific projects of religious, educational, charitable and scientific non-profit organizations in the United States (non-profit as defined by the United States Internal Revenue Service). Funds granted were to come from interest earned on the Foundation's extensive portfolio of stocks and bonds which in turn constituted the bulk of the Major's estate.

Mr. Fleischmann believed that each generation should learn to care for itself so the life of the Foundation was purposely limited under terms of his will. All funds were to be distributed within twenty years from the date of the death of the Major's widow, Sarah Hamilton Fleischmann, who died July 4, 1960; by July 4, 1980 all of the Foundation's assets had been liquidated and the proceeds distributed in "termination grants."

During the existence of the Foundation the Trustees made 1,962 grants totaling $192,037,457.82 to 790 grantees. The University of Nevada System received the largest amount in 45 grants totaling $19,375,037.37. (Source: Trustees' Accounts, Series 2, Box 3: "Fourteenth Combined Report and Account of the Estate of Max C. Fleischmann, Deceased, and the Max C. Fleischmann Foundation; and Fourth and Final Termination Report and Petition for Termination of Trust and Release of Trustees," 1980.) These grants assisted such projects as the construction of the Planetarium, Home Economics and Agriculture buildings; establishment of the Desert Research Institute; and purchase of the College Inn. Nevada was also the recipient of many other millions of dollars in grants, ranging from scholarships established for high school seniors, Indians, students of Fish and Game and Forestry, and medical and dental students; to hospitals and libraries for all Nevada counties; and organizations such as Boys' Clubs and the YMCA. Likewise, grants awarded to organizations in other states covered a wide range of projects and activities.

The Foundation was governed and operated personally by members of the Board of Trustees with the assistance of up to three paid secretaries. The Trustees' active management of the Foundation was a unique situation in foundation management in the United States, where such large foundations typically are managed by a professional staff supervised (in some cases, nominally) by a board of directors or trustees. The trustees' close management of the Fleischmann Foundation's activities, combined with the fact that the Trustees were all known and/or selected personally by Mr. Fleischmann, resulted in faithful adherence to the Major's preferences and philosophy of grant giving. The list of trustees who served over the twenty-nine year existence of the Foundation is a brief one:

* Sarah Hamilton Fleischmann (1881-1960), served March 23, 1951 to July 4, 1960 * Lester D. Summerfield (1888-1966), served March 23, 1951 to November 7, 1966 * Julius Bergen (1896-1987), served March 23, 1951 to termination of the Foundation (July 4, 1980) * Walter G. Dunnington (1891-1971), served June 12, 1951 to May 21, 1971 * Sessions S. Wheeler, served November 29, 1951 to termination * Francis R. Breen, served February 1, 1959 to termination * Thomas L. Little, served July 26, 1960 to termination * Walter Orr Roberts, served June 1, 1967 to termination

Sessions S. Wheeler's biography of Max C. Fleischmann describes the Major's interests which were continued by the Foundation. The book is Gentleman in the Outdoors: A Portrait of Max C. Fleischmann, published by the University of Nevada Press in 1985.The collection was donated to the Special Collections Department by the Foundation Trustees in 1987.


62 Linear Feet (74 boxes)

Language of Materials



Included are trustee minutes, reports of operations, financial statements, auditors' reports, reports of executors of the Fleischmann estate, inventories of assets, tax returns, trustees' files, application lists, Nevada scholarship files (including Nevada Indian applications), files of completed grants, scrapbooks, and indexes to rejected applicants.


Arranged into the following series: 1) Minutes; 2) Trustees' Annual Accounts; 3) Reports of Operations; 4) Financial Statements and Auditors' Reports; 5) Accounts and Reports of Executors of the Max C. Fleischmann Estate; 6) Foundation Trust Inventories, Intermediate Accounts; 7) Transcripts of Proceedings; 8: Request for Hearings (before the United States Internal Revenue Service); 9) Tax Returns; 10) Trustees' Files; 11) Application Lists; 12) Nevada Scholarships; 13) Completed Grants; 14) Financial Records; 15) Scrapbooks; 16) Rejection Indexes

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the Max C. Fleischmann Foundation Trustees F. R. Breen in 1987.

Separated Materials

Photographs have been transferred to the Special Collections Department photo archive as collection number UNRS-P1993-13.

Guide to the Records of The Max C. Fleischmann Foundation
Susan Searcy
August 1990
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)