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Concord Group minute book


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

Organized 23 December 1937, the Concord Group was a small club of prominent professional men active in the German-American community in Philadelphia. The club evidently aimed to combine interest in German-American heritage with general cultural concerns and civic responsibility in the wider American society. The club solicited new members by sending out invitations, and members then were elected. The minutes suggest that in total it probably did not have many more than 50 members. In October 1940 the group decided to designate several meeting dates each season when female family members would attend.

Upon its formation the club was called the German American Group; the name Concord Group was decided upon at the meeting of 21 February 1938. (The name is possibly an allusion to the ship Concord on which the first German settlers arrived in Philadelphia in 1683, but no rationale is given in the group's minutes.)

The first officers were elected at the meeting of 16 May 1938. H. Eugene Heine, who had presided at the club's first meeting was elected as president. The other officers elected were: Eugene A. Stopper, vice president; Gustave W. Dickel, treasurer; Karl Rugart, secretary; and Captain Louis Schmidt, director.

The terms of the club's presidents were: H. Eugene Heine, 1938-1940; Eugene A. Stopper, 1941; E. E. Braendle, 1942; A. Raymond Raff, 1943-1944; and Walter C. Koenig, 1945. Of the other officers, Karl Rugart and Gustave W. Dickel were the longest serving, holding the positions of secretary and treasurer, respectively, for the entire period from the founding through 1945.

At the club's first meeting it adopted a plan to award a medal to a German-American citizen of metropolitan Philadelphia for outstanding service to the community. An award committee was appointed, as well as a committee to design a medal. It is unclear when the first award was given. In spring 1939 the club prepared a testimonial dinner for one of its members, Captain G. M. Baum, upon his retirement from active duty in the Navy. In spring 1940 it sent a letter of congratulations to journalist Max Heinrici on the anniversary of his 50th year of association with the Philadelphia Gazette. However, no service award appears to have been made on these occasions. If the project languished it was definitely revived in spring 1944. The minutes of 13 March report plans to honor the club's president, A. Raymond Raff, at a dinner celebrating his 69th birthday, with presentation of the "Concord Group Service Medal" (minute book, p. 137).

The club mainly carried on a program of lectures and discussions combined with social gatherings, especially luncheon and dinner meetings, as well as special outings, including a visit to Adam Scheidt Brewing Company in Norristown, as guests of the brewmaster, and to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, as the guests of Captain Baum; and a trip to the New York World's Fair.

Two of the leading members of the Concord Group, Captain Louis H. Schmidt (Third Infantry Regiment of the Pennsylvania National Guard) and architect Eugene A. Stopper, were successive presidents of the German Society of Pennsylvania during this period (Schmidt from 1923 to 1942; Stopper from 1943 to 1946). Other club members included the sculptor J. Otto Schweizer; jewelry businessman Franz Zirnkilton (Jr.); choral director Leopold J. Syre; German professor Harry W. Pfund; A. Raymond Raff, the Collector of Customs at the port of Philadelphia; and Lutheran pastor Kurt E. B. Molzahn.

Topics of talks cited in the minutes often pertain to the arts, and business and industry, frequently given by members or prospective members concerning their areas of expertise or interest (e.g. Schweizer on art; Stopper on architecture; Zirnkilton on jewelry; Karl Rugart, an engineer, on the heating industry).

On 29 April 1940 Wilbur K. Thomas, secretary of the Carl Schurz Memorial Foundation attended a meeting and talked about the Foundation's aims, but the Concord members' intentions to develop further contact do not appear to have come to fruition.

In spring 1943 a topic of concern was the campaign to support the Red Cross War Fund, in which several of the members, including Stopper, Dickel, Schmidt, and Raff, were simultaneously active, as leaders of the German Associated Nationality Group. Gustave Dickel, who was treasurer of both groups, spoke on that topic.

At the meeting of 24 August 1942, around the time that Pastor Molzahn was convicted on charges brought under the Espionage Act of 1917, the members of the Concord Group rescinded his membership. He had been duly elected in July 1938; however, the members concluded that he had never been a bona fide member, on the grounds that (as they now realized) he had not been an American citizen at the time of his election. The decision was based on an interpretation of one of the club's by-laws, which called upon members "as American citizens to assist in contributing to Philadelphia, to Pennsylvania and to the Nation" (minute book, p. 125).

The Concord Group did not have a dedicated meeting place. It typically held meetings at restaurants or clubs, often going back to the same place for a period of time. The first meeting was held at the International Restaurant. Other meeting places included the Hoffman House; the Penn AC; the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel; the Poor Richard Club; Kugler's Restaurant; the Arcadia Restaurant; and Schmidt's Hofbrau.

The collection comprises the minutes of the Concord Group, a small German-American social club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from its first meeting, on 23 December 1937, until 20 November 1945, mostly in the hand of secretary Karl Rugart and contained in a single notebook. The club mainly carried on a program of lectures and discussions combined with social gatherings and special excursions. The minutes briefly report on these activities, and on elections of members and officers, and occasionally mention financial information related to dues, funds on hand, or expenditures or donations to be made.

The minutes are generally spare. Topics of talks that were given at meetings are frequently cited, often with a brief positive comment, but no significant details.

Occasionally the minutes give glimpses into the club's aims, or make reference to the by-laws.

One of the lengthier entries in the minutes concerns the Lutheran pastor Kurt E. B. Molzahn, whose membership the group rescinded at the meeting of 24 August 1942.

These minutes provide the sole source of information about the Concord Group, since no copy of any formal documents like a constitution or by-laws, nor any other records could be found.

German Society of Pennsylvania: Joseph P. Horner Memorial Library
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Violet Lutz
Finding Aid Date
The processing of 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.

Collection Inventory

Minute book, 23 December 1937 - 20 November 1945. 1 volume, 151 pages (+ many blank pages at back). Spiral notebook of lined paper (on front: Records). Front cover detached. Title page reads: Minutes, meetings of German American Group. Minutes are mostly in the hand of secretary Karl F. Rugart; one entry is by Eugene A. Stopper (p. 135) and one by assistant secretary Robert H. Wilhelm (p. 141).
Folder of loose items that were laid in: Secretary's report for 1944, dated 22 January 1945; and clipping of obituary for John B. Ludy ( Evening Bulletin, Philadelphia, 12 September 1944). Acid-free photocopies included.

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