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Charles Heller papers

Call Number: RH MS 314


Charles Anthony Heller, born in Vienna, Austria and later becoming an American citizen, worked extensively in petroleum economics and politics. The Heller collection is concerned primarily with his work in this field.


  • Creation: 1927-1991 (bulk 1950s-1980s)


Language of Materials

Most of the collection is in English; some materials are in French, Spanish, or German, and these items are typically noted as such at the file level.

Conditions Governing Access

All materials in this collection except those items stored at RH MS R408 are stored in the KU Annex off-site storage area.

All researchers interested in reviewing this material must consult Spencer Research Library Public Services staff (785-864-4334 or, 9-5 M-F CST) no less than three days in advance of a planned visit. Be advised that drop-in requests for this material cannot be accommodated.

Restrictions originally associated with this collection expired 10 years after material was transferred to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library; there are now no access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Dr. Charles Anthony Heller (1891-1986)

Dr. Charles Anthony Heller, a naturalized citizen of the United States of America from August 22, 1946, was born on July 6, 1891 in Vienna, Austria. He graduated from the Vienna Gymnasium with honors. He thereafter entered the University of Vienna and obtained a doctorate degree in law, with studies in economics, in 1913.

Heller joined the Fanto Petroleum Company, then the largest in Central Europe, as the Private Secretary to the President of the company, Dr. Sigmund Stranky, in 1913--the same year he graduated, starting a career in the petroleum industry that was to become his lifetime vocation. The petroleum industry in Austria had started in 1874 upon the discovery of oil near Kleczany in 1857, before Colonel Drake's first application of boring for oil in 1859 in the USA, instead of mining for oil.

During World War I, Dr. Heller was drafted into the army and was posted to the War Ministry of Austria. He organized the first Petroleum Department of the War Ministry and also served as the Oil Strategist to Emperor Francis Joseph.

After the war, Heller returned to Fanto Petroleum Company in 1918, having been released from the army. He was elected to the Board of Directors. He left Fanto in 1926.

From 1926 to 1932 Heller transacted business with petroleum industries in Austria, Germany, and France. He became a representative of an international banking group in Warsaw, Poland. In 1939 he escaped to Paris from the Nazi invasion of Poland. He finally proceeded to the United States in 1941, having visited the U.S. initially in 1923 while serving with Fanto.

From 1941 to 1944 Heller worked in the chemical and petroleum industry. He later joined a New York petroleum group in which he worked in the position of the Officer-in-charge of drilling operations of the group's activities in Oklahoma City. In 1950 he joined Sonneborn Company, a specialist company in petroleum refining and marketing.

Heller retired from business and devoted his efforts to the study of petroleum economics and politics. In 1961 he became the economic editor for World Petroleum as well as serving as advisor to the governments of Trinidad and Tobago and to the United Nations on world petroleum affairs.

Heller was appointed a member of the three-person Committee on Inquiry that probed the oil industry of Trinidad and Tobago from 1963-1964. He was called back by the government of Trinidad and Tobago as the sole commissioner to investigate the marketing of petroleum and petroleum products in Trinidad and Tobago from 1964-1967. By the request of the government, Heller stayed on to advise the government until 1974, when he terminated his appointment.

Heller wrote extensively on international petroleum affairs (see Box 1 of this collection), particularly on petroleum matters related to developing countries. He also gave a number of public lectures in the area of his expertise. Among his works of writing are, notably, the history of petroleum technology, writings about OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, writing both on its existence and development), and petroleum administration.


32.25 Linear Feet (31 boxes + 1 oversize folder, 10 folders)

Scope and Contents

The Heller collection is concerned primarily with petroleum and parapetroleum affairs. The greater parts of the collection are connected with the petroleum industry in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as international petroleum affairs at the UN and global levels. There is also considerable information on petroleum science and technology.

Physical Location

RH MS 314

Physical Location

RH MS-P 314

Physical Location

RH MS R408

Physical Location

Contact Spencer Library Public Services (Library Annex)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Dr. and Mrs. Heller, 1976, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1991.

Separated Materials

Oil Industry Developments. London: Petroleum Economics Limited. Some issues available at Spencer Research Library at RH Ser E63.

Platt's Oilgram News Service. New York: McGraw-Hill. Some issues available at Spencer Research Library at RH Ser E64.

Processing Information

Collection formerly located at RH MS 211.

Guide to the Dr. Charles Anthony Heller Collection
Charles Heller papers
Finding aid compiled and encoded by amh, 2004. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2017; cmp, 2021.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Charles Heller papers, Kansas Collection, RH MS 314, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States