Austro-American Relief Society records
Held at: German Society of Pennsylvania: Joseph P. Horner Memorial Library [Contact Us]611 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19123
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the German Society of Pennsylvania: Joseph P. Horner Memorial Library. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Founded in 1890; incorporated in 1914; annual anniversary celebrations (Stiftungsfest) enumerated from 1916. During the period covered by these records, the Society had its headquarters at 921 N. 8th Street, Philadelphia. It had about 150 members in the mid 1920s. Through at least 1918 it was known as the Austro-Hungarian American Relief Society and used the motto Viribus unitis, the personal motto of Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Josef I. By the mid 1920s it had become known as the Austro-American Relief Society, or the Austrian-American Relief Society; on letterhead, the Society also identified itself secondarily with the German phrase: Deutsche der früheren Oesterr.-Ung. Länder (Germans of the former Austro-Hungarian nations). During World War I and its aftermath, it gathered charitable aid to relieve suffering of civilians and prisoners of war; in 1916 over $8,000 in aid was collected and sent primarily to Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Siberia, with lesser amounts to Turkey, Bulgaria, England, and France. In 1920 the Society raised $902 for the relief of Austrian prisoners of war just then returning home from Siberia. In later years the aims of the Society turned toward general charitable purposes; it provided employment assistance and aid to the sick and needy in Philadelphia, and offered English classes and instruction in citizenship for immigrants. It customarily sponsored an annual Grand Charity Ball until at least 1927. It also had a women's auxiliary.
Records of the Austro-American Relief Society of Philadelphia, Pa., mainly documenting its charitable work from 1916 to 1941, with financial records that detail donors, contributions, and the recipients of aid. Among the records are membership lists (1918-1927); inventories of property (1917-1919); an undated listing of books of a small library; a small amount of correspondence (1917-1926); and several newspaper clippings (1920-1921). One set of clippings were used to create a poster, dated 1920, which highlights the donors to the Society's Siberian prisoners relief fund, the amount collected, and the conveyance of the money raised to the Swedish Consulate of Philadelphia. Also included are several items of printed ephemera: an election ballot (1919); invitations related to the annual Grand Charity Ball (1925, 1927); a souvenir program (1927), which lists officers for the women's auxiliary (Frauenzweig); and special tax stamps for retail dealers in fermented malt liquors (issued 1934-1942). Officers of long tenure who sign some of the records include William Indicher (president); Charles Baumgartner (treasurer); and John Walter (secretary). Adolph Timm ran the Society's English and citizenship classes for immigrants in the 1930s; included is a pamphlet from him on German language instruction, from 1934.
A sheet tipped in on the front flyleaf of the first volume of records, "Contributions" (Box 1), mainly pertaining to abbreviations used in the records, is helpful for the overview it gives of the Society's recordkeeping. Eight recordkeeping books are listed, and these correspond to eight of the nine bound volumes in the present collection; the only volume that is not listed here is the most recent one, containing membership and financial records from 1923 to 1941 (Box 3). The names of the books are given in both English and German:
Aiding = Unterstützungsbuch [see Box 2]
Cash Ledger = Kassen-Hauptbuch [see Box 4]
Contributions = Geld-Spendenbuch [see Box 1]
Inventory = Einrichtungsbuch [see Box 4]
Membership-dues = Mitglieds-Beitragbuch [see Box 1]
Merchandise = Waren-Spendenbuch [see Box 2]
Office Supplies = Kanzleimaterial- und Portobuch [see Box 3]
Record & Ledger = Hauptbuch-Register [see "Cash Book," Box 3]
Festival account = Fest-Abrechnungsbuch [see Box 3]
The same sheet also contains abbreviations for noting languages of members, and a note that, if indicated, correspondence with that member should be carried out either in his mother tongue, or in English; the languages listed are German, German-Austrian, German-Hungarian, English, Italian, Croatian, Polish, Rumanian, Ruthene/Ukranian, Slovak, and Hungarian. Only occasionally, however, is there any note about language next to a member's name.
- German Society of Pennsylvania: Joseph P. Horner Memorial Library
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Violet Lutz
- Finding Aid Date
- The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from the Max Kade Foundation, as part of the grant project "Retrieval and Cataloging of the German-American Experience, 1918-1960."
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the German Society of Pennsylvania with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.
Bound volume. Membership lists with addresses, and charitable contributions. Note on inside front cover reads: "Dieses Buch enthält alle eingezahlten Beiträge der beitragender Mitglieder, so wie die Beiträge beim Fin. Sec. eingelaufen sind. Die montatlichen Endsummen erscheinen im Haupt- Kassa-Buch beeinnahmt. Das Buch wurde mit 152 Blattheilen in Gebrauch genommen. Philadelphia, Pa. February 1918." Signed by Karl Baumgartner Schatzmeister, Frederick Kuhn Finanz-Sekretär, and William Indicher Präsident. Note: Laid in were five Special Tax Stamp, 1934-1942 -- see Folder 5, below
Bound volume. Lists members' names and addresses, and dues paid. Only leaves 1-29 are used (of 152)
Bound volume. Note inside front cover: "Dieses Buch enthält alle ausgaben die vom Unterstützungs- Ausschuss an Nothleidende und Hilfsbedürftige ausgegeben werden. Die monatlichen Endsummen erscheinen im Haupt-Kassa-Buch beausgabt. Dieses Buch wurde mit 152 Blattheilen im Gebrauch genommen. Philadelphia, Pa., February 1918." Signed by Karl Baumgartner, Schatzmeister; Frederick Kuhn, Finanz-Sekretär; and William Indicher Präsident. Stamp of Austro-Hungarian American Relief Society ("Viribus unitis"). 72 pages are used
Bound volume. Apparently records contributions of merchandise; name and address of donor are given
1 folder, two items: 1) Final report for Austro- Hungarian Charity Ball, May 1916; and 2) Year-end report for 1916, dated 19 January 1917
Bound volume. Includes library inventory of 82 books (f. 13-15). The majority of the books are in English, some in German, one in French
Bound volume. Note on inside front cover: "Dieses Buch enthält alle Office Supply ausgaben, Porto ausgaben und Post Office Box Rent. Die monatlichen Endsummen erscheinen im Haupt-Kassa-Buch beausgabt. Das Buch wurde mit 152 Blattheilen in Gebrauch genommen. Philadelphia, Pa. Februar 1918." Signed by Karl Baumgartner, Schatzmeister; Frederick Kuhn, Finanz-Sekretär; and William Indicher Präsident. Stamp of Austro-Hungarian American Relief Society ("Viribus unitis"). 62 pages are used
Bound volume. Includes list of names and addresses of German-American organizations (Vereine). Laid in was an Election Ballot, A. & H. A. Relief Society, March 28th 1920, listing a ballot of officers and directors (all male)
Bound volume. First leaf has a long note of instructions pasted in, which begins: "Instruktion / Das vorliegende Inventar wurde mit 75 (Siebzigfünf) nummerierten Doppelseiten in Gebrauch genommen / Die Führung des Inventars und die Kontrolle der Inventargegenstände obliegt dem Haus-Komitee, und ist dasselbe für die Vollzähligkeit aller Gegenstände verantwortlich...." Only the first 7 leaves of the book are used
Bound volume. Note on inside front cover: "This book contains all incomes and expenditures of the Austro-Hungarian American Relief Society which are derived from all the auxiliary books. Said auxiliary books are balanced monthly, and the result thereof entered into this cash ledger every month. This book was taking [sic] in use with 148 numbered pages or 74 single leaves, Philadelphia, Pa. February 1918." Signed by Schatzmeister Charles Baumgartner, Finanz-Sekretär Frederick Kuhn, and Präsident William Indicher. Laid in : Geschäftsbericht October 1921 (1 leaf)
Bound volume, with "Day" on front cover. Includes names, addresses and contributions of donors, and distributions made. Aid was given directly to families in the form of food or coal, as well as to organizations, including Drexel Home and Lankenau Hospital. Laid in: Financial accounts for December 1941 handwritten on verso of letter to the membership. The letterhead includes a photograph of the headquarters, and a list of the aims of the Society. Heading: Austro-American Relief Society, Deutsche der früheren Oesterr.-Ung. Länder. Home, 921 N. 8th Street, Philadelphia. Founded 1914
Includes brochures sent to the German Society from Adolph Timm, related to the Austro-American Society's educational programs: "A series of Lessons to teach the German language, with an explanation of the fundamentals of the grammar easy to understand" addressed generally "An die deutschsprachige Presse und Lehrerschaft," 1934; "A Series of Lessons to Teach American History ... in three parts," No. 1 (2 copies), January 1935
Include 4 items: 1. Invitation to the Grand Austrian- American Charity Ball, Monday March 2, 1925; 2. Invitation to the Grand Austrian Charity Ball and 11th Anniversary of the Austrian-American Relief Society of Philadelphia, Monday January 24, 1927; 3. Einladung zum Grossen Oesterreichischen Wohltätigkeits-Ball verbunden mit dem 11. Stiftungsfest der Oesterreich-Amer. Hilfs-Gesellschaft von Philadelphia, Pa., Montag Abend, den 24. Januar 1927 4. Drawing on tracing paper, undated (1920s?): female Red Cross person in long dress, cape, hat, with children
Note: original GSP call no. AE 187
These items were originally laid in the Contributions book, 1918-1927 (see Box 1). The certificates are for "Retail dealer in fermented malt liquors" with the typed name and address of the society: Austro- American Relief Society, 921 N. 8th Street, Phila., PA (same in all cases); each states "This stamp expires ..." with the issue dates in mid 1934, 1935 (2 items), 1936, and 1942 (good till June in next year)
1 item. Newspaper clipping, Philadelphia, 18 July 1920, with list of donors who contributed to the Society's Siberian prisoners relief fund, to aid Austrian prisoners of war returning home. Fashioned into a poster with handwritten headings: "Donation-Liste für den Österr. Ung. Kriegsgefangenen in Sibirien. / Namen und Beiträge wurden durch die Freundlichkeit der Philadelphia Gazette veröffentlicht. / Der Gesamtbetrag von $902.16 wurde dem hiesigen Schwedischen Consulat für die Kriegsgefangenen durch den Schatzmeister Karl Baumgartner überwiesen / Das obige Committee spricht hiermit allen edlen Spendern den innigsten Dank aus." If completely unfolded would measure 40 x 14." Condition note: damage at folds. (1 folder in GAC Oversize Box 2)