Benjamin Gettler Papers
Scope and Content Note
The Benjamin Gettler Papers contain meeting minutes, business records, correspondence, photographs, pamphlets, awards, scrapbooks, articles, stock certificates, political ephemera, a cassette tape, a robe, and jelly beans. Material represents Benjamin Gettler’s work and contributions to the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Public Transportation, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), Business, and Politics. Significant topics include rail-based and bus-based public transportation in Cincinnati, communication with local and national politicians over political, business, and foreign affairs, and activities of the University of Cincinnati. Material in the collection dates from 1902-2013. Material representing Gettler’s work begins with material dated from 1943.
Language(s) of the Materials
The collection is in English
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Biographical / Historical Note
Benjamin Gettler was born on September 16, 1925 in Louisville, Kentucky. He was born to Herbert and Gertrude Cohen Gettler, both of whom where Jewish and immigrants. As an insurance agent, Herbert moved his family to Chicago, Illinois, Indianapolis and Terre Haute, Indiana before settling in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1938. Benjamin Gettler attended Walnut Hills High School, where he was a varsity member of the track team and graduated summa cum laude in 1942.
In 1942 Gettler enrolled at the University of Cincinnati. He was a member of the track team and also joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Coastal Artillery Unit. He graduated in 1945 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with honors. Gettler continued his education at the Harvard University Law School beginning in September 1945, and graduated in 1948 with a Juris Doctorate.
Gettler passed the Ohio Bar exam in 1949, and in 1951 joined Jake Brown as a junior partner in their firm, Brown & Gettler, specializing in labor law. During their partnership, Gettler worked for the Teamsters and represented James Luken, President of the Milk Drivers Union Teamsters Local 98, when he agreed to testify against Jimmy Hoffa. In 1973 Gettler split with Brown, and joined Jonas Katz to form Gettler & Katz. The firm later hired Dennis Buckley and became Gettler, Katz, & Buckley. Gettler’s primary clients were American Controlled Industries (ACI) and Vulcan.
In 1948, Gettler and Lloyd Miller began buying shares of the Cincinnati Street Railway Company, and by 1956 they were on the board of directors and owned enough shares to control the company. As the Cincinnati Street Railway Company altered service models, American Controlled Industries, a holding company, emerged. The nature of American Controlled Industries allowed Gettler and Miller to participate in many business ventures, as well as sell the transit operations of the Cincinnati Transit Company to the City of Cincinnati.
In 1873, four horse-drawn tram systems merged to form the Cincinnati Consolidated Railway Company, which was renamed the Cincinnati Street Railway Company in 1880. It operated under this name until 1952, when the company ceased rail service and shifted to solely bus service, becoming the Cincinnati Transit Company. Gettler joined the Board of Directors in 1956. In 1973, American Controlled Industries sold the bus service to the City of Cincinnati, forming the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA). Gettler continued his involvement in public transit in 2003, when he became a trustee for SORTA. He was Chairman of the Board from 2004-2006.
Gettler returned to the University of Cincinnati in 1994 as a trustee appointed by Ohio Governor George Voinovich. He served as Vice Chairman of the board in 1999 and then as Chairman from 2000 until 2002. His term as trustee ended in 2003. While Gettler was a trustee, the University of Cincinnati undertook a number of major project including developing the Department of Judaic Studies, the renovation of Tangeman University Center, and the construction of Main Street. In 2003 the Benjamin and Dee Gettler Track & Field and Soccer Stadium was named in recognition for the contributions of Benjamin and his wife Dee.
Gettler’s Jewish heritage was a driving force for his community activities and involvements. He was active with the Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Cincinnati Bonds with Israel, the National Jewish Cemetery, the Rockwern Charitable Fund, and the Republican Jewish Coalition. He served as Chairman for the Policy Committee for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs from 1994-1998. The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, or JINSA, works to maintain a strong military alliance between the United States and Israel.
Gettler was politically involved throughout his life, and maintained many relationships with people in office. He was an avowed Republican and contributed to many campaigns through donations, fundraisers, and serving on campaign committees. He maintained active relationships and correspondence with Ronald Reagan, George Bush, John McCain, John Boehner, Steve Chabot, Steve Forbes, George Voinovich, and many others. After Gettler’s passing, Representative Brad Wenstrup read a tribute to Benjamin Gettler before the House of Representatives.
8.92 Linear Feet (7 boxes plus one oversize item)
The Benjamin Gettler Papers represent Benjamin Gettler’s work and contributions to the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati public transportation, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), business, and politics. The collection contains meeting minutes, business records, correspondence, photographs, pamphlets, awards, scrapbooks, political ephemera, a robe, and jelly beans.
Statement of Arrangement
The collection is arranged into series by material type.
Archives and Rare Books Library
- Cincinnati Street Railway Company
- Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (Washington, D.C.)
- Jewish businesspeople -- Ohio -- Cincinnati Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Local transit - Ohio - Cincinnati Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Political participation Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Reagan, Ronald
- Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority
- Transportation - Ohio - Cincinnati Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- University of Cincinnati - Administration
- University of Cincinnati. Board of Trustees
- Finding aid for the Benjamin Gettler Papers
- Alex Temple
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note