Lillian Oppenheimer

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Lillian Rose Vorhaus Kruskal Oppenheimer (October 24, 1898 in New York City – July 24, 1992) was an American origami pioneer.[1] She popularized origami in the West starting in the 1950s, and is credited[2] with popularizing the Japanese term origami in English-speaking circles, which gradually supplanted the literal translation paper folding that had been used earlier. In the 1960s she co-wrote several popular books on origami with Shari Lewis.

Lillian Oppenheimer ran an informal group of dedicated folders in the New York City area, and in 1978 she co-founded, with Alice Gray and Michael Shall, the non-profit Friends of the Origami Center. After Oppenheimer's death, it was renamed OrigamiUSA. As of 2016 it is the largest origami organization in the United States.[3][4]

Oppenheimer was born to a Jewish family of Austrian, Hungarian, and Czech origin, the daughter of Bernard Vorhaus, an attorney who made a living importing furs.[5] Oppenheimer is the mother of William, Molly, Rosaly, Martin, and Joseph.[5] The three sons were all prominent mathematicians.


  • Lewis, Shari; Oppenheimer, Lillian (1962). Folding Paper Puppets. New York: Stein and Day. ASIN B000NWKJ24.
  • Lewis, Shari; Oppenheimer, Lillian (1993). Folding Paper Toys. Lanham, Md.: Scarborough House. ISBN 0-812819-53-5.
  • Lewis, Shari; Oppenheimer, Lillian (1962). Folding Paper Masks. New York: E. P. Dutton. ASIN B000K6G2BK.
  • Oppenheimer, Lillian; Epstein, Natalie (1980). Decorative Napkin Folding for Beginners. Mineaola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486237-97-4.


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