A collection of letters written by and to the German mathematician Richard Dedekind (1831-1916) came into the possession of the Professor Emmy Noether of the University of Göttingen not long before her moving to the United States in 1933.
When Professor Noether died in 1935, the Philadelphia law firm that handled her estate was unable to locate the previous owner of the letters. This and conditions in Germany led to the letters remaining in what became the "ancient files."
In 1968 I was researching the life of Emmy Noether and eventually received a letter from a retired attorney who remembered the troubles of trying to settle the Noether estate. He wrote, "In as much as you are researching her life, a rather valuable bit of information was unearthed by me going through the Estate file. Under separate cover you will shorly receive them... I suppose you will be agreeable to the modest charge of $25... Frankly, I spent almost half a day in my research."
The "bit of information" arrived soon after, and it consisted of the "Dedekind letters," including letters written by the mathematicians R. Dedekind, G. Cantor, G. Frobenius, and H. Weber.
In 1990, Professor Heiko Harborth of the Technical University of Braunschweig and I met at a number theory conference. He had read the description of the letters in an article I had written about Emmy Noether. Over the next few months, we became friends, and by 1994 he had persuaded me that the permanent repository for the letters should be Dedekind's university, TU Braunschweig.
Professor Harborth arranged for my wife and me to attend a special Festkolloquium in 1995, where I spoke on the Dedekind letters and their return to the university. A copy of my speech (in English) and a list of publications by various authors concerning the contents of the Dedekind letters appear in
B. Rebe, E. Schnieder, E. Grumbach-Raasch, editors, Momente eines Jubiläums: 250 Jahre Technische Universität Braunschweig, Braunschweig, 1996.