Thérèse Jelenko was born Theresa Ehrman in 1884. The daughter of Jennie Rosenthal Ehrman and Herman Ehrman, Thérèse grew up in San Francisco, where she nurtured her talent as a pianist. Thérèse's parents were friends with Michael and Sarah Stein (the Steins were an East Bay family) and Thérèse taught piano to the Stein's son, Allan. When the Steins moved to Europe in 1903, they took Thérèse with them. She lived with the Stein family at 1 Rue de Fleurus (down the street from Leo and Gertrude Stein, who lived at 27 Rue de Fleurus). Sarah and Michael, of course, became important early collectors of modernist art. The Stein home in Paris was filled with paintings by artists like Matisse and Picasso that would rest firmly in the modernist canon in decades to come. Gertrude, for her part, built a career as one of the great modernist writers. In the midst of all this excitement, Thérèse established connections with Pablo Casals, Henri Matisse and others who travelled in the same circles as the Steins. Thérèse actually accompanied Casals on the piano at times and they remained in touch until the 1960s. Thérèse stayed in Europe through the First World War, studying music with Blanche Selva. She returned the United States after the war, though she continued to travel back to Paris throughout her life. Thérèse's three husbands were Sigmund Bauer (b. 1870), Max Schukl (b. 1869), and Victor Jalenko. She had no children.
The collection includes correspondence from Theresa Ehrman (later Thérèse Jelenko) to her mother (Jennie) and sister (Sally) sent during Theresa's stay in Paris with the Steins in the first decade of the 20th century. The collection also includes correspondence and postcards from Pablo Casals to Theresa Ehrman from the 1900s through the 1960s and correspondence with other friends and acquaintances. Especially notable in the collection are the photographs of the Stein family, family friends, and the family residences and studios in Paris circa 1909-1910. These photographs include images of Sarah, Michael, Allan, Gertrude, and Leo Stein as well as images of the interiors of their Parisian apartments (with their art collections on the walls). The photographs also include images of Henri Matisse, Pablo Casals and others.
The Magnes Collection also includes a portrait of Theresa Ehrman, painted in Paris in 1906 by Sarah Stein.