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Overview and metadata sections
When the German Society of Pennsylvania was founded in 1764, the “Relief of Distressed Germans” was its main stated purpose. Initially, this support of the less fortunate members of the German community did not seem to require a separate organizational structure – mostly because the German Society interpreted its role as limited to recent immigrants who had been in the country for less than a year. As the 19th century progressed, more immigrants arrived who had spent all their resources on their passage, but had no work waiting for them once they were in the United States. At the same time, a greater number of those already in the country experienced difficulties and forced the German Society to re-evaluate its original mission of concentrating help on recent arrivals. Thus, by the middle of the century it had become apparent that it was no longer sufficient to handle the relief aspect of the Society’s work on an informal, volunteer basis. In 1847, the German Society decided to establish the Agentur – literally an agency devoted to coordinating its welfare efforts. It hired its first paid employee, the Agent, while keeping the previous structure of each of the six (volunteer) members of its Board of Directors serving twice a year for a month as the Guardian of the Poor ( Armenpfleger). The Agent’s role consisted of screening the applicants and recommending a course of action, while the Guardian of the Poor acted on that recommendation and recorded the monetary assistance. The first surviving record of this interplay of the Agent and the Guardian of the Poor dates to 1854, and it is a volume documenting the work of the latter and therefore less detailed than the records of the Agent himself. The first of the chronological logs of applicants kept by the Agent (hereafter referred to as Applicants’ Ledgers)  dates to 1869. No detailed biographical information on the applicants has survived for the first seven years of the history of the Agentur, and there is no record of the work of the first Agent, Lorenz Herbert, who held this position from 1847 to 1852.
Because the earliest Applicants’ Ledgers kept by the Agent from 1847 to 1869 are missing, we have to rely on a chronological ledger kept by the Guardians of the Poor ( Cash Book 1854-1872, Box 22) as our first record documenting the operation of the Agentur. Each Guardian of the Poor compiled as much or as little information for his month of service as he saw fit: at a minimum, the applicant’s name and assistance given, but the majority recorded more details, listing the reason why assistance was sought, age and/or marital status, number of children, what region or town the applicant came from, and how long he or she had been in the country. The bulk of the assistance did go to recent immigrants, but even at this early stage, the German Society also supported applicants who had been in the United States for years. Regarding those having arrived recently, the help given by the German Society very often consisted of covering transportation costs to New York or to a lesser extent Baltimore, reflecting the fact that Philadelphia was not set up as a gateway to the West as those cities were. There were also numerous instances of assistance with tickets to go further inland in Pennsylvania, or to cities like Columbus and Cleveland.
During the early years, the caseloads were still fairly small – there wasn’t an entry for every day the Agentur was open, and it was a rare occurrence for more than one applicant to be recorded on any given day. On the other hand, up to 1869 it is difficult to come up with comprehensive numbers because the Guardians of the Poor recorded only those cases where money was spent directly, whether as cash or for transportation purposes. It is obvious, whether from the minutes of the German Society or from the first surviving Agentur ledger of 1869, that in the period between 1854 and 1869, there were many more cases coming to the Agent than those listed in Cash Books 1854-1872 (Box 22): he tried to find jobs for those able to work, he sent people for medical treatment to the hospital or to doctors retained by the German Society, he recommended applicants to other charitable institutions, and he helped with clothing or other non-monetary needs. The funds available were the membership dues, with the understanding that each Guardian of the Poor had to help out with his own funds in case the dues money proved insufficient. But overall, it seems as if the dues covered the expenses: in 1866, assistance of $1,456.46 was covered by dues in the amount of $1,561.78; in 1867 the relationship was expenses of $1,277.14 vs. dues of $1,364.25.
This initial system of providing poor relief was expanded in 1884, when the Agent began providing vouchers for meals and overnight stays which the Society bought in bulk from places like the Wayfarers’ Lodge. This development has to be seen in the context of increased immigration from Germany in the 1880s and 1890s, combined with economic recessions in the United States, which caused the number of applicants to rise beyond what the German Society could afford in direct monetary assistance. It made sense to provide food and shelter to recent immigrants who were not yet established in Philadelphia, while cash payments were more helpful to local residents who had fallen on hard times.
Another change took place in 1885: an Employment Office (Arbeitsbureau), located at 441 N. 5th Street, was added to the Agentur. Its office hours were in the morning, whereas the Agentur was now open in the afternoon, and an assistant agent (Hilfsagent) was hired to handle the additional workload. The surviving records of the Employment Office are not as extensive as those of the Agentur, but they do allow for the basic reconstruction of a system where the assistant agent kept logs of job-seekers and employers, as well as of the efforts of bringing the two together. The Employment Office existed as a separate entity only until 1900. By then the Women’s Auxiliary ( Frauenhilfsverein) of the German Society had been founded, resulting in the decision that cash assistance for needy families would be shifted over to this part of the organization,  whereas the Agentur was increasingly left with the responsibility of supporting single men. Given this reduced workload, Dr. Joseph Bernt, the Agent since 1896, probably did not see the need for a separate organizational structure anymore and simply folded the efforts to find work for job-seekers back into the Agentur. Dr. Bernt did continue to keep a separate set of records for this part of his work, a practice that lived on for a few more years after his death in August 1916. The last set of records chronicling employment referrals ends in early 1922.
The German Society never officially closed the Agentur as a conduit of its support for people in need, but its efforts were gradually reduced first by the outbreak of World War I, which significantly diminished the number of immigrants still coming to the United States from Germany and thus ending the role of the Agentur as a place where recent immigrants turned for help. There were still plenty of needy people of German descent, but gradually, other institutions developed offering public welfare, while the circumstances of the German Society became more difficult as a result of the anti-German backlash after the American entry into the war in 1917.
Furthermore, Dr. Bernt had died mid-way through the war, and it is obvious from the records that his work was not continued at the same level of involvement. For example, the office hours of the Agentur were cut back from six days a week to two, and there were no more separate office hours for what was called by then the Arbeitsnachweisungs-Bureau (employment referral office). Only with the appointment of Henry Hoffmann in 1923 is there written evidence again that the German Society was serious about its welfare efforts, as much as there was still a demand for them. The caseloads continued to diminish through the 1920s, and the bulk of the welfare effort shifted to the Women’s Auxiliary, which by the end of the decade spent $3,000 on poor families, whereas the Business Office (Geschäftsstelle) accounted for only between $300 and $500. After 1929, the Great Depression obviously resulted in a greater need again, but it also marked the beginning of a number of developments that gradually eliminated the reason for the existence of the Agentur, mainly unemployment insurance and Social Security.
The last Applicants’ Ledger closes on December 24, 1938, and while the German Society and the Women’s Auxiliary continued to support needy families of German descent, this marks the end of any separate record-keeping for what had been the Agentur. The following year World War II broke out, and it was a very much changed and diminished organization that re-emerged after 1945. The German Society’s efforts to help the needy, as much as it could still afford them, shifted to supporting relief efforts in war-ravaged Germany, and with the growing affluence of post-war America and the continuing expansion of public welfare, combined with the shifting patterns of immigration away from Europe, there never again arose the need for the German Society, as it had a century earlier, to offer financial assistance based on ethnic background.
Agents of the German Society of Pennsylvania
1847-1852: Lorenz Herbert
1853-1856: F. J. Dreßler
1857-April 1864: Gottlieb Töpfer
April 1864 - March 1867: C.W. Widmaier
March 1867 - March 1870: Theodor Werlhof
March 1870 - 1873: Hermann Brandt
1873 – October 1884: William Robert Ackermann (he had to take a leave of absence due to illness and died in September 1885)
1885-1893: O. Richard Naumann (he was first hired on a temporary basis in October 1884 to fill in for W.R. Ackermann during his illness, but when it became clear at the beginning of 1885 that Ackermann would not be able to return, Naumann‘s employment became permanent)
1894: Ernst Kurtz
1895 - February 1896: C. A. Engler
February 1896 – July 1916: Dr. Joseph Bernt (died in August 1916)
July 1916 – June 1921: Henry (Hermann) Heyl, Treasurer of the German Society (on an interim basis)
1921 – February 1923: Arthur von Nostitz (became ill in January 1923 and died the next month)
July 1923 - 1925: Henry (Heinrich) Hoffmann
1925: Organizational change, Henry Hoffmann is now the Business Manager ( Geschäftsführer), and the Agentur becomes the Business Office ( Geschäftsstelle). Hoffmann then stays on as the Business Manager even beyond World War II, and all of the remaining records that can be associated with the Agentur up to 1947 bear his signature.
Assistant Agents ( Hilfs-Agenten), responsible for the Employment Office ( Arbeits-Bureau, Arbeits-Nachweisungs-Bureau, Arbeits-Nachweisungsstelle)
1885 – February 1888: Charles R. Martienssen
March 1888 – September 1893: Ernst Kurtz
October 1893 – December 1894: August(us) Hermann
February 1895 – March 1895: Theodor H. Wöhlert
April 1895 – August 1895: Albert Meyer
September 1895 – March 1897: Adam Köhler
April 1897 - May 1899: Robert F. Sigel
 See GSP Minutes, March 25, 1847, GAC AE 1.2. The Agentur was located on the premises of the German Society, first up to 1888 at 24 S. 7th Street and then in the basement of its current location at 611 Spring Garden Street.
 The German Society switched to a twelve-member Board of Directors in 1871, and from then on each director served as Guardian of the Poor once a year, from the first Tuesday after the last Monday of any given month to the last Monday of the following month.
 These volumes have customarily been called “ledgers” internally and in the secondary sources, and it seemed appropriate to keep the term even though, strictly speaking, they are logs containing the applicants’ identifying information, with the additional task of recording disbursements, the function most commonly associated with the term “ledger.”
 The policy of limiting assistance to immigrants in the country for less than a year had been officially rescinded at the end of 1854, see GSP Minutes, December 26, 1854, GAC, AE 1.2.
 See Oswald Seidensticker and Max Heinrici, Geschichte der Deutschen Gesellschaft von Penn-sylvanien, 1764-1917, Philadelphia PA: Neudruck von Graf & Breuninger, 1917, p.164 for an effort at compiling numbers for those early years. Apparently, the Agent made a large number of job-referrals which were not recorded anywhere until 1885, when the Employment Office was instituted.
 It also has to be noted that while the amounts of cash assistance given seem to be relatively small – mostly $1 or $2 – the membership dues ranged between $4 and $6, meaning that the average cash assistance equaled between a quarter and a third of each member’s contribution to the German Society.
 Prior to 1885, the number of applicants placed in jobs is consistently mentioned in the Annual Reports of the German Society, but no records have survived documenting this as a separate effort.
 The Minutes of the Women’s Auxiliary reflect some of this charitable work, and after 1901, separate reports for this part of the organization were published as an addendum to the Annual Reports of the German Society.
 See GSP, Jahresbericht … 1918 (Annual Report … 1918), GAC AE 50.
 In 1925, the designations “Agentur” and “Agent” were dropped, with Henry Hoffmann taking on the title of Business Manager ( Geschäftsführer), and what remained of the charitable activities was carried out by the Business Office ( Geschäftsstelle). See GSP, Jahresbericht … 1925 (Annual Report ... 1925), GAC AE 50; and GSP, Jahresbericht … 1928 (Annual Report … 1928), GAC Pamphlets AE 50.
 The last Financial Report still lists charitable expenses up to 1947, but without the biographical information that had been a characteristic of the Agentur.
Bernt, Joseph. “Die Agentur der Deutschen Gesellschaft und ihre Thätigkeit. Vortrag des Herrn Joseph Bernt, Agenten der Deutschen Gesellschaft, nebst Ansprache des Herrn Dr. C. J. Hexamer, Vorsitzers des Bibliothek-Committees der Deutschen Gesellschaft, gehalten Donnerstag, den 22. April 1897,” GAC. AE 22.5 (1897)
German Society of Pennsylvania (GSP). Minutes 1847-1865, GAC. AE 1.2 and 1.3
German Society of Pennsylvania (GSP). Jahresberichte der Deutschen Gesellschaft von Pennsylvanien (Annual Reports of the GSP) 1866-1940, GAC. AE 50
Pfleger, Birte. Ethnicity Matters: A History of the German Society of Pennsylvania. Washington DC: German Historical Institute, 2006.
Pfund, Harry. A History of the German Societyof Pennsylvania, Founded 1764. Philadelphia. PA: German Society of Pennsylvania. Printed by Poetry Publishers, 1944.
Seidensticker, Oswald and Max Henrici. Geschichte der Deutschen Gesellschaft von Pennsylvanien, 1764-1917. Philadelphia PA: Neudruck von Graf & Breuninger, 1917.
Zimmermann, Manfred. “Quellen zur deutschen Einwanderungsgeschichte in der Bibliothek der German Society of Pennsylvania.” Yearbook of German-American Studies 34 (1999): 133-140.
The Agentur records as a whole consist of 72 volumes of ledgers, indexes, logs, reports, and letter books spanning a hundred years from 1847 to 1947. The bulk of the collection pertains to the years between 1854 and 1938, with the most detailed information available for the decades between 1869 and 1900, reflecting the fact that this was also the period of the greatest number of German immigrants arriving in Philadelphia. At the same time, several economic recessions occurred over this period, adding needy residents to those who applied to the The Agentur for help with work, meals, shelter, small amounts of cash assistance, referrals to doctors or hospitals, medicine, or simply a piece of clothing. The records contain a huge amount of biographical data because the Agent noted not only basic information like names and addresses, but also age, marital status and number of children, place of origin, length of time in the United States, and even detailed reasons why assistance was sought: taken together, the entries often allow the reconstruction of immigrant experiences that are not easily captured otherwise, because their protagonists usually leave few traces in the historical record. In addition, a statistical analysis of the numbers of applicants and job-seekers would certainly reveal interesting insights into the composition of the German immigrant community. And whereas the records are not quite as extensive for the early years of the 20th century as they are for the second half of the 19th century, they will probably provide valuable information regarding the integration and assimilation of Philadelphia residents of German ancestry, and how the German Society dealt with the different challenges it faced after 1900.
It is regrettable that the earliest surviving records are undated indexes for which it is only possible to ascertain that they do cover the period between the establishment of the Agentur in 1847 and the first extant record kept by the Agent, which dates from 1869. As already mentioned above in the History of the Agentur, this gap is reduced by the existence of a Cash Book kept by the Guardians of the Poor, covering the years from 1854 to 1872, so that it is only for the seven years between 1847 and 1854 that we have no additional information other than their names about those applying to the German Society for help. There is one other aspect of the activities of the Agentur that remains unclear: it is frequently mentioned in connection with the Agentur that one of its goals was to find work for applicants, and the Minutes and the Annual Reports provide actual numbers for such placements, as well as containing repeated appeals to members who had businesses to think of the applicants coming to the Agentur when looking for workers, but no documentation could be located for these efforts up to 1885, when the Employ-ment Office was established. A separate set of records (Series II) pertaining to the work of the Employment Office runs from 1885 to 1900, when it was folded back into the Agentur, and continues to record employment referrals up to 1922.
For the details on the scope and content of the Agentur series and the Employment Office series, see their respective Scope and Contents notes that follow.
- Employment agencies
- German Americans
- German Americans--Biography--Sources
- German Americans--Societies, etc
- United States--Emigration and immigration--History--Sources
- German Society of Pennsylvania: Joseph P. Horner Memorial Library
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Maria Sturm
- Finding Aid Date
- This collection was processed under a generous grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The creation of the electronic guide was made possible through a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project. Finding aid entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
- 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.
The Agentur series consists of fifty-four volumes of ledgers, indexes, reports, and letter books, the bulk of them spanning the years from 1854 to 1938. There is one set of 14 chronological ledgers  recording the work of the Agent, dating from 1869 to 1938, with a corresponding set of 11 alphabetical indexes for the years up to 1908, when the Agent stopped compiling separate indexes and cross-referenced his work in the remaining two ledgers themselves. It appears as if three volumes from the early operation of the Agentur are missing: the first surviving ledger from 1869 bears the pencil notation “IIII”, and when comparing the names listed therein with the entries for “vol. IV” in the first index, which spans the years 1847 to 1875, they do indeed correspond. (This index also contains a complete list of references for the missing volumes I to III and will prove to be very valuable should they ever be found again.) Furthermore, there are other ledgers where the original numbering with Roman numerals is still preserved (in several cases even as contemporary lettering on the spine of the volume), thus making it possible to verify this assumption further. The system of recording applicants in ledgers and indexes stayed remarkably intact over almost four decades, until the number of applicants had dwindled to a point where such elaborate recordkeeping was no longer warranted, and allowed the German Society to keep track of huge numbers of applicants: there were many years with more than 4,000 applicants, and the record for a single month was set in February 1885 with 1,278 entries.
Theodor Werlhof was the Agent during the time period of the first surviving Applicants’ Ledger, which ran from September 28, 1869, to January 4, 1871 ( Applicants’ Ledger (vol . IV) 1869-1871, Box 1). By that time, there was a well-established system in place: on the left side of the ledger, Werlhof records each applicant by date and sequential number, then notes the name, address, age, marital status, occupation, original place of residence, amount of time in the United States, and the reason why assistance is sought. On the right side of the ledger, under the name of the Guardian of the Poor in charge for the month of service, Werlhof notes his actions: if he considers the applicant worthy of cash assistance, he notes “ Empfohlen” (recommended); otherwise, he records whether he sent them to a doctor or hospital, arranged for transportation, referred them to institutions like the House of Industry, where they could find accommodation and some basic job training, or denied the request. The “recommended” entries, as well as the ones where transportation is involved, will show up under the respective date in the Cash Book kept by the Guardian of the Poor, with the biographical information condensed to whatever the Guardian of the Poor thought appropriate. The Agent also included monthly summaries ( Recapitulationen) in his ledgers, compiling statistics regarding the number, age, and gender of applicants, how long they had been in the United States, and what region in Germany or German-speaking country they had come from.
From the beginning, the Agent noted whether an applicant had asked for assistance before, and in addition to cross-referencing applicants who showed up repeatedly over the time period of any given ledger, he also compiled indexes in order to keep track of applicants over time spans greater than any one ledger. Those indexes are organized alphabetically and refer to the original Roman numerals by which the ledgers were identified internally, and then the page number. Depending on the Agent, there are also pencil notations of the amount of cash assistance given, allowing for a quick judgment regarding the prior support awarded by the German Society in case this was deemed important information for any future course of action.
The next set of records are the Cash Books initially kept by the Guardians of the Poor. There are no separate indexes for those, but if you were looking for a specific person, you would search for their name in one of the Indexes and then locate them in the corresponding Applicants’ Ledger, thus attaching a date to the name with which you could go back to the Cash Book and find the person in this chronologically kept record. Between September 1869 and January 1875, the Cash Books of the Guardians of the Poor were the only place to find information about monetary assistance, whether as a direct disbursement or as payment for transportation. After January 1875, the Agent begins to note cash amounts in pencil in his own ledgers, and the Cash Books of the Guardians of the Poor become more and more redundant. Over the years, they develop into a system of double-entry bookkeeping, assuring that there were always sufficient funds available for the Agentur by keeping a running tally of its expenses, which by the 1890s included the salary for a janitor, postage, telephone, and other miscellaneous costs. The Cash Books are also the single instance where the system of assigning sequential numbers to applicants (corresponding to the month of service of the respective Guardian of the Poor) comes into play: it is the only identifying information aside from the applicant’s name listed in these records. By 1895, the transformation of the records of the Guardians of the Poor into an accounting tool is complete, and for the next twenty years, covering Dr. Joseph Bernt’s period in office, they do not contain any additional information aside from the double-entry bookkeeping. After World War I, these Financial Reports, in correspondence to the shifting of the German Society’s welfare efforts over to the Women’s Auxiliary, gradually develop into a more generalized accounting tool for the work of the Business Office, a transformation that is complete by the time of the last two ledgers in this series, though they still list Wohltätigkeit (Charity) and Armenpflege (Poor Relief) prominently on their respective title pages.
A third set of records are the Reports of the Agent. Initially, every Applicants’ Ledger included a recapitulation at the end of each month of service of the Guardian of the Poor, listing the number of applicants and the forms of assistance given. After 1866 these recapitulations formed the basis for the report on the activities of the Agentur published as part of the Annual Reports of the German Society. Starting in 1885, the Agent copied those monthly recapitulations in a separate record under the title Berichte des Agenten (Reports of the Agent) and added quarterly and annual reports. This practice continued until March 1893, when the monthly recapitulations were no longer included in the Applicants’ Ledger. Up until 1919, the Reports of the Agent contain detailed accounts not only of the number and gender of applicants, but also of their age, the region in Germany or German-speaking country they had emigrated from, and how long they already had been in the United States when they contacted the German Society.
Finally, there is a set of seven Letter Books, spanning the years from 1880 to 1911, consisting of copies of the Agent’s outgoing business correspondence. Many of the letters deal with efforts to retrieve lost luggage, to find out current addresses, or to settle minor grievances. They offer an interesting glimpse into the bilingual aspect of the work of the Agentur: while the records are otherwise overwhelmingly in German and leave the impression that the day-to-day operations of the Agentur were conducted in this language, the Letter Books show the Agent in his dealings with the world outside of the German Society, where the language had to be English.
Note on Agentur Recordkeeping
The basic recordkeeping principle behind the Agentur ledgers was always chronological, with alphabetical indexes added to keep track of applicants by name. As the sequential numbers assigned to applicants started over with each new month of service of a Guardian of the Poor, they were only used for reference purposes in the Cash Books, which were organized according to month of service, and not in the Indexes, where all the references are for page numbers. Because the organization initially limited its support to recent immigrants, the entries in the Applicants’ Ledger always included the amount of time spent in the United States, with this information being recorded even after eligibility was expanded at the end of 1854 to anybody of German ancestry. The fact that German immigrants could not claim a single nation-state as their birthplace is reflected in the fact that “place of origin” was recorded as the name of the German principality the immigrants came from, like Prussia or Württemberg, and that German speakers from the Austro-Hungarian Empire or Russia were included: language was the ultimate determining factor. The effort to focus help on needy families as opposed to single men is reflected in the recording of marital status and number of children. This original system of recordkeeping as established for Applicants’ Ledger (vol. IV) 1869-1871 (Box 1) remained virtually unchanged until 1893, when the monthly recapitulations end with March 1893 in Applicants’ Ledger (vol. XII) 1893-1895 (Box 13) and the biographical information is no longer repeated if the applicant was cross-referenced within the same volume. On April 30, 1895, the Agent, C.A. Engler, switched to a column system over two pages, with separate columns for sequential number, name, place of origin, age, how long in the country, marital status, number and age of children, address, papers, whether previously supported, remarks (this is where occupations were noted), and the amount of cash assistance given. These changes lasted less than a year: when Dr. Joseph Bernt took over as the Agent on February 25, 1896, he switched back to the system as described for Applicants’ Ledger (vol. IV) 1869-1871 (Box 1), though he continued to omit the biographical information if the applicant is cross-referenced within the same volume.
A major shift occurred after 1900, when the Womens’ Auxiliary increasingly took over the charitable efforts for families, and the Agentur was left with the responsibility for single men. This resulted in a reduced number of applicants, and Dr. Bernt also began to record entries in less detail, until by 1908 it was often only the applicants’ name and the Agent’s decision on assistance: cash, charity tickets for meals, help with transportation, or rejection. (1908 also marks the end of separate index volumes.) After Dr. Bernt’s period in office ended with his death in August 1916, there was no longer a set formula for the subsequent entries until July 1923, when a new Agent, Henry Hoffmann, returned to the basics of Dr. Bernt’s recordkeeping for the next fifteen years up to 1938.
The system of Cash Books was originally designed to reflect the dual aspects of the organizational structure of the Agentur, with the Agent recording the applicants and making recommendations as to their treatment, and the Guardians of the Poor being responsible for the actual disbursement of money, whether as cash or transportation. As the number of applicants grew in the 1880s, the Agent became more and more solely responsible for both aspects of the operation, and the Guardians of the Poor merely transferred the money from the German Society to the Agent and signed off on his bookkeeping. This transition is complete by February 1895, when C.A. Engler started keeping the Cash Books as standard double-entry bookkeeping ledgers. (Therefore, beginning with Cash Book 1897-1903, Box 25, each two facing pages recording income and expenses are counted as one, meaning a pagination of ‘200 pages’ refers to a ledger holding 400 pages if counted the usual way.) The next change occurred after World War I: starting in 1919, the Agent compiled financial statements for each month and each quarter and used those as the basis for his annual report, which was then be printed as part of the Annual Report of the German Society. These Financial Reports still recorded all the previous information regarding income and expenses, but no longer in double-entry book-keeping format, and they added the information about the applicants and the kind of support given that used to be in the Reports of the Agent which ended in 1919.
 It has been decided to keep the term “ledger”, even though this kind of chronological list could also be called a log, because these volumes were customarily referred to as ledgers internally and in the secondary sources. Furthermore, one of their main purposes was to keep track of expenses, a purpose commonly associated with the term “ledger.”
 The Index belonging to the missing first Applicants’ Ledger has actually survived, too, see Index 1847? (Box 39). There is no information in the records as to why the Agent would have compiled a cumulative Index for the five Applicants’ Ledgers from ca. 1847 to 1875.
 After Dr. Bernt took office in 1896, a detailed report on the activities of both the Agentur and the Employment Office was published as a separate section in the Annual Reports of the German Society.
This sub-series contains 25 volumes, of which 14 are Applicant’s Ledgers and 11 are Indexes. As the Indexes are all undated and include no independent information, they are not listed separately, but following their corresponding Applicants’ Ledger. The earliest Applicants’ Ledger dates from 1869, whereas the earliest Index is from 1847. This Index is useful in conjunction with the earliest Cash Book from 1854, reducing the gap in applicants’ biographical information to the period from 1847 to 1854.
This sub-series contains 9 volumes, and in addition to the financial information expected from cash books, also provides valuable biographical information on applicants for the years 1854 to 1869, when the corresponding Applicants’ Ledgers are missing. It is also the only place to find information on the actual amounts of monetary assistance for the years 1854 to 1875.
This sub-series contains 3 volumes and is especially important for its last volume, which is the only record of the remaining activities of the Agentur after 1938, the end date of the last Applicants’ Ledger.
This sub-series contains 9 volumes. It does not contain any independent information because the Reports are compiled from the Applicants’ Ledgers and Cash Books, but it allows for a quick comprehensive overview of the scope of the activities of the Agentur.
This sub-series contains 7 volumes with copies of outgoing correspondence which will be useful in adding detail to the scope of the Agent’s activities.
This sub-series contains 1 volume, an alphabetical index probably dating from 1847 but for which the corresponding Applicants’ Ledger is missing.
There are eighteen volumes that can be associated with the work of the Employment Office, first during the period of its official existence from 1885 to 1900, and then for the years up to 1922, when the Agent, Dr. Joseph Bernt, and later his interim successor, Herman Heyl, continued to keep separate records of their efforts to find work for job-seekers.
On the one hand, there were logs containing information about possible employers: individuals or companies who had contacted the German Society asking for workers. These logs were organized chronologically and listed names, addresses, the type of worker sought as well as the wages they could expect. Then there were logs with chronological listings of the names and qualifications of persons looking for work, and finally logs, sometimes titled ‘Reference’, in which the assistant agent kept track of his efforts to match employers and job-seekers.
The Employment Office was officially started on March 1, 1885, but only the monthly reports of the Hilfsagent (assistant agent) in charge of this aspect of the work of the Agentur are available to document the beginnings of its operations (see Employment Office Reports 1885-1898, Box 51). The first logs with chronological listings of job-seekers and employers start on July 1, 1886. (There might have been previous volumes, as the sequential numbers start with “1320” in Job-seekers’ Log 1886-1889, Box 40, and with “991” in Employers’ Log 1886-1892, Box 43.) Basically, the assistant agent kept two sets of records: one with chronological lists of employers looking for workers, the other with lists of people who had come to his office looking for employment. The employer logs listed names, addresses, type of worker sought, and if available, the wage the employer was offering to pay. The job-seeker logs followed the recording pattern already established in the Applicants’ Ledgers of the Agentur: always name, age, length of time already in the United States, and occupation; sometimes also current address and/or place of origin, and if applicable, marital status and number of children. If the assistant agent had been successful in finding work for a job-seeker, he would note the page number and sequential number of the employer at the end of the entry for the job-seeker and vice-versa: in the volume Job-seekers’ Log 1886-1889 (Box 40), p. 295, sequential number 288, under the date of March 24, 1889, you will find Georg Jordan, 33 years old, 6 months in the country, laborer, with the notation 182/113 at the end. In the volume Employers’ Log 1886-1892 (Box 43), p. 182, sequential number 113, you will find Karl Kaltenbach, who had contacted the office on that day looking for a laborer, with the notation 295/288 at the end, thereby allowing you to cross-reference this entry back to Georg Jordan.
Between 1886 and 1892, it took two volumes of logs to record the number of job-seekers over the same time period when one volume sufficed to record all employers contacting the German Society, reflecting a situation where there were often more job-seekers than prospective employers, though also the fact that the assistant agent collected more information about the former than the latter. With some adjustments, the system is repeated for the next time period: there is the Job-seekers’ Log 1893-1900 (Box 42), listing the job-seekers from December 1893 to June 1898, and the Employers’ Log 1892-1898 (Box 44), listing prospective employers from June 1892 to May 1898. In addition, one separate volume ( Job Placements 1895-1898, with Record of Job-Seekers’ Offenses 1891-1895, Box 48) has survived devoted to keeping track of the successful placements of job-seekers. It combines the respective employer/job-seeker logs by listing chronologically the job-seeker in one column, the employer in the next, plus the occupation where the job-seeker had been placed and the cross-references to the two sets of logs on which the tally was based. To put it another way, this volume allowed you to assess the work of the Employment Office in terms of how many workers were placed in jobs on any given day.
Already in 1894, female job-seekers had been flagged by inserting a W next to their entries, probably reflecting the fact that there was a consistently high demand for female servants and cooks. In October 1896, Adam Köhler, the assistant agent at the time, started to keep a separate record for female job-seekers and those prospective employers who were looking for domestic and restaurant workers ( Employment Referral for Female Job-seekers 1896-1898, Box 50). It is titled Help! and runs to November 25, 1898. Even though this single volume is the only one documenting the organizational separation of male and female job-seekers, it must be assumed that this approach was continued in subsequent years, as there are no more females listed in the subsequent job-seeker logs. (There is a category for servants ( Dienst-mädchen) in Occupational Index and Referral Log 1900-1912, Box 49.)
As in the case of the Agentur's Applicants’ Ledgers, the Employment Office also tried to make it possible to track job-seekers as well as employers by allowing you to look up individual names: Reference List Job-seekers 1890-1898 (Box 45) and the second half of Job-seekers’ Log 1893-1900 (Box 42) contain alphabetical listings of job-seekers up to the end of the official existence of the Employment Office. Furthermore, Reference List Employers 1890-1898 (Box 46) is an alphabetical list of employers covering the years from 1890 to 1898 which apparently served a similar purpose of tracking successful placements as Job Placements 1895-1898, with Record of Job-seekers’ Offenses 1891-1895 (Box 48). Employers are listed alphabetically for every year, followed by a page number. With this page number you could consult the employer log covering the year in question and find the original entry, plus the cross-reference to the job-seekers log where you would find the entry for the worker placed with this employer. (Example in Reference List Employers 1890-1898 (Box 46): 1892 – Albright, H.H. – 13. On p. 13 in Employers’ Log 1892-1898 (Box 44), under the date of July 23, 1892, you find the entry for Harry H. Albright, looking for a farmer, followed by the cross-reference 151/151. With this information you go to Job-seekers’ Log 1889-1893 (Box 41), and on p. 151, sequential number 151, there is the entry for John von Gross, 36, single, farmer, with the cross-reference 13/202, leading you back to Albright’s entry in Reference List Employers 1890-1898, Box 46.)
In addition to these logs keeping track of individual employers and job-seekers, there are three volumes with the monthly, quarterly, and annual Reports of the Employment Office. They allow for a quick overview of the activities of the Employment Office by listing the number of employers and job-seekers contacting the German Society for each month and each quarter, how many positions were filled, and the gender breakdown of the job-seekers. Furthermore, the assistant agent compiled numerical information about the professional qualifications of the job-seekers. Not surprisingly, the vast majority fell into the categories of farmers and unskilled workers (in 1886, of 1,502 referrals, 400 were for day laborers and 285 for farm workers; the next-biggest group consisted of waiters with 90 referrals). The number of female job-seekers was always comparatively small, and the only occupations listed for them were servant and cook. On the other hand, there was never a problem of placing them: just to give an example, 102 women came to the German Society looking for work in 1898, compared to 728 men, of which 80 were placed as servants and 22 as cooks, whereas only 616 of the men could be placed.
Occasionally, these reports are also useful for the additional information contained about the day-to-day operation of the Employment Office: complaints about the overwhelming number of job-seekers, the disconnect between the kind of work offered and the qualifications of the job-seekers, or the number of advertisements placed in local newspapers. Beginning in October 1893, the assistant agent at the time, Augustus Herrmann, tried to keep better track not just of the absolute number of referrals, but also of their success. He also incorporated the number of unsuccessful job-seekers remaining from the previous month, resulting in a more accurate picture of the total workload of the Employment Office. Frequent mentioning of the number of postcards written could be an indication that this was the way how job-seekers were called back if a referral seemed possible after the job-seeker had initially contacted the Employment Office.
There is a gradual decline in numbers of employers, job-seekers and referrals over the course of the 1890s, but that in itself does not seem sufficient in explaining why the Employment Office was scaled back in 1900. As mentioned before, the workload of the Agentur itself diminished after 1900, as welfare for needy families was shifted to the Women’s Auxiliary, thus allowing Dr. Bernt to handle job referrals himself. Another aspect was mentioned by Dr. Bernt in his annual report for 1900, when he pointed out that the ubiquity and affordability of newspaper ads reduced the need for a middleman like the German Society in order to find jobs. In addition, there was a shift in supply and demand – the longer the German immigrants were in the country, the less likely they were to be interested in low-paying work on farms or as day laborers. At the same time, recent immigrants were more likely to come with at least some skills from Germany, a country which at that time was comparatively more urban and industrialized, and less agricultural, than the United States.
As a result of the diminished importance of the Employment Office, the set of records covering the years after 1900 is less comprehensive. There are no more separate logs for employers and job-seekers. Instead, Dr. Bernt switched to a chronological system where he listed both employers and job-seekers under the date they contacted him, and then left space after each entry for future referrals, if any. At the same time, he kept an index-type log organized by professions and noted there, for example, which company was looking for a machinist, and which machinists were looking for work, allowing for easy cross-referencing on the same page. The last entries in this volume date from 1912. It is possible some of these logs have been lost, although by that time the number of referrals might have been so small that it no longer seemed necessary to keep detailed records. By 1916, the monthly number of employers contacting the German Society never surpassed 10 anymore, and the number of job-seekers never exceeded 20. The outbreak of World War I had effectively halted all new immigration after July 1914, and the gradual involvement of the United States in the war effort, even prior to its official entry into the war on the side of the Allies in April 1917, increased the demand for workers to a level where a middleman like the German Society was less and less necessary. Whatever the reasons, for the decade from 1912 to 1922 the volume with the monthly, quarterly and annual reports of the Employment Office is the only record available for the activities of the Agent in this regard. Some recordkeeping must have still taken place, though, because the Annual Reports of the German Society continue to mention the number of job-seekers and referrals for each year up to the time of the last published Report for 1940.
Note on Employment Office Recordkeeping
Because the employment office started operations almost forty years after the Agentur, it comes as no surprise that many aspects of its recordkeeping followed the model established by the Agentur. One important difference was the aspect of keeping track of successful job placements. The first effort at achieving this consisted of adding the name and address of the employer to whom the job-seeker had been referred to the original entry, a practice the assistant agent, Charles R. Martienssen, began in Job-Seekers’ Log 1886-1889 (Box 40) on October 8, 1886. By including the date when the employer had first contacted the German Society, Martienssen made it possible to cross-reference the employer back to the chronological list recorded in Employers’ Log 1886-1892 (Box 43).
But Martienssen used this system only for two months, leaving no information as to job placements for the subsequent period of his tenure. On February 28, 1888, Martienssen’s successor, Ernst Kurtz, introduced the method of cross-referencing that would basically stay in place until 1898: a combination of page number and sequential number from the Employers’ Logs, separated by a horizontal line. (At first glance, these cross-references can look like the entries in the Agentur Indexes, where the page number is separated by a horizontal line from the amount of cash assistance.)
The next changes occurred in 1894, when Augustus Hermann became assistant agent and started flagging the entries of female job-seekers by adding a ‘W’. He also increasingly noted whether a job-seeker knew any English. Otherwise, the system stayed the same for Job-seekers’ Log 1893-1900 (Box 42) until the beginning of 1895, when there was a rapid succession of assistant agents and interim agents leading up to September, when Adam Köhler took over. He discontinued the flagging of female job-seekers, and beginning June 6, 1896, he did not include women any longer at all. (See Employment Referral for Female Job-seekers 1896-1898, Box 50, for Köhler’s separate record-keeping of female job-seekers and employers looking for those.) For the remaining male job-seekers, marital status was included again, after having been omitted since October 1893, and language skills were described in more detail. On January 2, 1896, Köhler started a new running tally (in red pencil) designed to facilitate recalling job-seekers at a later date. At first, these numbers served his internal purposes only and did not connect in any way to the system of cross-referencing used simultaneously. This changed on June 23, 1896, when Köhler abandoned the monthly sequential numbers and only used his running tally, which had reached #4332 by the time the system was altered again on June 6, 1898. On this date, the new assistant agent, Robert F. Sigel, switched to an alphabetical index for the remaining time of the official operation of the employment office. A certain number of pages was devoted to each letter of the alphabet, and all job-seekers listed according to the first letters of their name. Otherwise, the information recorded for the job-seekers stayed the same, but instead of cross-referencing, Sigel noted each referral attempt at the end of the respective entry, and if he had this information, whether the attempt had been successful or not.
As for Employers’ Log 1886-1892 (Box 43), it mirrors the changes described for Job-seekers’ Log 1886-1889 (Box 40) and Job-seekers’ Log 1889-1893 (Box 41). Also, on January 2, 1896 (p. 374), Adam Köhler started the same new running tally in red pencil in Employers’ Log 1892-1898 (Box 44) as he had in Job-seekers’ Log 1893-1900 (Box 42), while continuing the previous system of cross-referencing by page number and sequential number until April 10, 1896. This date marks the beginning of a transitional period of using both systems of cross-referencing which ends on June 5, 1896, after which Köhler only relies on his running tally. In order to be able to locate an employer, Köhler compiled an alphabetical index associating employers with their sequential numbers and inserted it at the start of his new system, in front of p. 374. In addition to the efforts at cross-referencing between these two sets of logs, from 1890 to 1900 the assistant agents also kept alphabetical indexes of job-seekers and employers and cross-referenced those with the corresponding logs. Finally, Job Placements 1895-1898, with Record of Job-seekers’ Offenses 1891-1895 (Box 47), is one volume consolidating only the job referrals and omitting all the “unsuccessful” contacts by job-seekers and employers. For its span of almost two-and-a-half years, it allows for a comprehensive overview of the success rate of the employment office in connecting job-seekers with employers.
After 1900, when the employment office had been folded back into the Agentur under the leadership of Dr. Joseph Bernt, the recordkeeping system became considerably less elaborate, which in large part reflects the diminishing numbers involved. Until 1905, Dr. Bernt simply noted any referrals in space left after each entry ( Employment Referral Log 1900-1905, Box 48) and kept a separate alphabetical index ( Employment Referral Index, Box 49). After November 18, 1905, the only record of the remaining employment referral activities of the Agentur consists of the Occupational Index and Referral Log 1900-1912 (Box 49), in which the entries up to November 18, 1905 are cross-referenced with Employment Referral Log 1900-1905 (Box 48). Thereafter, Dr. Bernt still occasionally included some additional information about the job-seeker in the respective column, like age or address, and noted the type of worker sought in the employers’ column if available, but overall, the entries no longer follow a consistent pattern. For the last decade of recordkeeping, names can no longer be attached to the job referrals: in Employment Office Reports 1906-1922 (Box 51), it is only possible to learn about the number of job-seekers and referrals and their breakdown by occupation and gender between 1912 and 1922, but there is no biographical information available anymore.
 Robert F. Sigel resigned for medical reasons as assistant agent on May 31, 1899, and no replacement was hired.
 As in the Agentur series, the sequential numbers are assigned for the month of service of the Guardian of the Poor.
 When a position became available, the job-seeker with the lowest number thus assigned was called back first, see GSP, Jahresbericht … 1896 (Annual Report … 1896), GAC AE 50.
This sub-series contains 10 volumes and provides basic information regarding the work of the Employment Office during its official existence from 1885 to 1900. There are no records for the period between March 1, 1885 and July 1, 1886, but some of the information is available under II. C. Employment Office Reports, 1885-1922.
This sub-series contains 3 volumes recording the efforts to find work for job-seekers after the Employment Office had been folded back into the Agentur in 1900.
This sub-series contains 1 volume recording the efforts of the Employment Office to find work for female job-seekers.
This sub-series contains 3 volumes. It is the only place to find information on job-referral activities for the years 1912-1922.
This sub-series contains 1 volume, a list of German companies in Philadelphia, compiled in 1891.