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
The Deutschamerikanischer Zentralbund von Pennsylvanien (DAZB) was founded in Philadelphia, on April 16, 1899, as a statewide federation of German-American organizations. The English names by which it was known include, earlier on, "German-American Central Alliance of Pennsylvania," and, later, "German-American Federation of Pennsylvania." It was primarily an urban, middle- to upper-class organization, its delegates drawn from professions such as law, medicine, engineering, education, and business. In 1908, the federation encompassed 500 individual German-American organizations in Pennsylvania, representing a total of 60,000 members. Its meeting in 1910 was attended by 213 delegates representing 20 different local branches: the cities Altoona, Erie, Johnstown, Philadelphia, and Reading, and the following counties: Allegheny, Beaver, Blair, Bucks, Cambria, Dauphin, Lackawanna, LeHigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Lawrence, Schuylkill, Washington, and Westmoreland.
German Americans of the Philadelphia branch, including leaders of the German Society of Pennsylvania, provided the initial impetus for the founding of the DAZB, and, shortly later, of a comparable national organization, the National German-American Alliance.
The federation's aim was to foster fellowship and common endeavors among German Americans, to advocate on issues affecting German-American life, to support the preservation of German culture in the United States, and to seek recognition of the accomplishments of German Americans. It advocated for German-language instruction, as well as physical education (Turnunterricht) in public schools. In its early history it concerned itself with civic issues such as blue laws, which it saw as an encroachment upon personal liberty. It also sought to stimulate support for local German-language theater and newspapers, and German-American scholarly research. The constitution declared that the organization would not be affiliated with any political party or religious denomination. It urged that German immigrants should become United States citizens as soon as possible, exercise their right to vote, and participate actively in civic life.
As the Zentralbund was being founded its leaders already had the intention to try to form a national organization. They organized a meeting of representatives of organizations from several states (Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) that took place on June 19, 1900; and an executive committee formed at that meeting subsequently organized a larger meeting, which took place on October 6, 1901 (on the festive occasion of 'German Day'), at which the NGAA was officially founded. The constitution of the new national organization took that of the Pennsylvania federation as its model, integrating most of the same principles.
Charles J. Hexamer, an engineer of Philadelphia, was elected as the first president of the Pennsylvania federation — the "Zentral-Bund" (later spelled "Zentralbund") — and continued in office until 1915. Hans Weniger, the first treasurer, served until 1914; and Adolph Timm, the first secretary, held that post through 1922. All three men later filled the same roles for many years in the National German-American Alliance (NGAA), and all of them held leadership positions within the German Society of Pennsylvania (Hexamer and Weniger served as the president and treasurer of the GSP, respectively, for most or all of the time that they were holding those same posts in the DAZB and the NGAA; Timm joined the GSP in 1900 and was on its board of directors beginning in 1904).
John B. Mayer succeeded Hexamer as president in 1915. After the demise of the NGAA in 1918, the Pennsylvania federation also became inactive for a time, but Mayer initiated a revival of it by calling a meeting in Altoona, Pennsylvania, in February 1922. He died a short time later, in April 1922. (Mayer was simultaneously president of the German Society of Pennsylvania during this time, from 1917 until 1922.)
After Mayer's death, Pastor Georg von Bosse led the organization on a temporary basis, until Fred C. Gartner became president, in 1924. Gartner served until at least 1935, when he spoke as president at the state convention in Bethlehem. In 1939, Gartner was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, representing Pennsylvania's 5th congressional district, in north central Pennsylvania. By that time he had become an honorary president. He was apparently succeeded by pastor Siegmund von Bosse (son of Georg von Bosse), who is listed as president in the programs of the Philadelphia German Day celebrations of 1939 and 1940, both organized by the DAZB.
In the late 1930s the Philadelphia branch of the DAZB was active in organizing the annual German Day celebration, held in October, which in 1940 and 1941 began to be called "Pastorius Day," in reference to Francis Daniel Pastorius, the leader of the first German settlers who established Germantown. It is likely that the federation became inactive after 1941, in light of the entry of the United States into the Second World War.
Johnson, Charles Thomas (1999). Culture at twilight: The National German-American Alliance, 1901-1918. New York: Peter Lang.
Kazal, Russell A. (2004). Becoming old stock: The paradox of German-American identity. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
"Zum silber-Jubilaeum des Deutschamerikanischen Zentralbundes von Pennsylvanien" [historical sketch] in: Allgemeine Deutsche Pfingstfeier und 25. Jubilaeum des Zentralbund von Pennsylvanien. [25th anniversary Whitsuntide celebration, souvenir booklet], June 9, 1924. (Ms. Coll. 59, Folder 11).
This collection contains records of the Philadelphia branch of the Deutsch-Amerikanischer Zentralbund von Pennsylvanien (DAZB), also known as the German-American Central Alliance, or the German-American Federation, of Pennsylvania. The federation was founded in 1899 and helped to organize the National German-American Alliance, in 1901. After the national organization became defunct in 1918, the DAZB was inactive for a time but was revived in 1922 and remained active until 1941. The records found here mainly comprise materials related to activities of the School Committee, which promoted German language learning, and learning about German-American culture, among German-American youth. Included are minutes (with financial reports), correspondence, fliers, and educational materials, dated 1909 to 1933.
Among the School Committee materials are a series of educational cards for distribution in schools, promoting German-American culture. First produced in 1931, the cards were re-issued in 1933, in honor of the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the first German settlers, who founded Germantown. That project was sponsored by the Carl Schurz Memorial Foundation in 1931, and by the German Society of Pennsylvania in 1933.
Also included are fliers and programs related to the following events: the revival of the DAZB in 1922; its 25th anniversary, in 1924; a meeting organized in Chicago in 1931 in the interest of reviving a national organization; the fifth anniversary of the women's auxiliary, in 1932; the state convention in 1937; and German Day celebrations in 1940 and 1941.
Several fliers bear texts composed by Max Heinrici and Adolph Timm concerning the preservation of German-American culture.
Assembled by staff from various donations. Materials related to the School Committee in the 1920s likely donated by Hans Dedekind or family. Materials dated circa 1931 related to the School Committee and Organizations Committee, donated by Adolph Timm. Fliers pertaining to the Women's Auxiliary of the DAZB likely donated by Hedwig Bonnes-Epple, or family.
- 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.
2 copies. Text by Max Heinrici. 17-1/4 x 5-3/4" Copy 2 is stored flat in Oversize; see GAC Mss IV, Box 3
Encloses an English-language text for card no. 7, "Muehlenberg and Steuben at Yorktown," with request that Haussmann return a translation. Also included is a typescript marked "proof" for the English text, with handwritten emendations
Includes envelope. Tells of the printing of 1,000 of the Yorktown cards (no. 7), paid for by the German Society of Pennsylvania, to be sent to German schools; and contains a German-language text for card no. 8 (Nikolas Hercheimer bei Oriskany), with request that Haussmann provide the English translation. The latter card was especially requested by Germans in Troy, NY
2 items. In German and English. Event held at the clubhouse and park of the Philadelphia Rifle Club. One flier concerns an "automobile sightseeing route"
Letter from Adolph Timm to Mr. Schaefer, Philadelphia, April 20, 1933. Timm could not find for Schaefer a copy of the reports of the first Deutsch-Amerikanischer Congress, so he could not send him his article about the significance of the German language press in the USA. Timm mentions that if the archive or library has more copies of that publication, he would like to have one copy. Timm notices Schaefer he found two copies of forms for “hostile aliens” that he can leave to the archive. Attached to this letter are the two copies of the form “United States of America, Department of Justice. Registration Affidavit of Alien Enemy.”