Liberty Loan Committee of Americans of German Birth or Descent 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
Following the entry of the United States into the First World War in April 1917, one of the methods used to finance the war effort was the issue of bonds by the United States Treasury under the Emergency Loan Act. A total of four loans, called 'Liberty Loans' were issued in the course of the war, the fourth in September 1918. The bonds that were purchased were referred to as 'Liberty Bonds.' A fifth loan, issued after the war, in April 1919, was known as the Victory Liberty Loan. The loans amounted to over 21 billion dollars. The bonds of the various issues were long-term bonds paying interest rates of between 3.5 and 4.75%.
The purchase of Liberty Bonds was understood as a demonstration of patriotism, and was vigorously promoted by community leaders and specially formed committees throughout the country. All of the loans were oversubscribed.
German Americans and Liberty Bonds
In some instances the pressure to support the war effort by conforming to an ideal of American unity, or 'superpatriotism,' developed hand in hand with an intolerance for any expressions of ethnic particularity, especially in the case of German Americans, since their homeland was now at war with the United States (Luebke 218-220, 225-265). An atmosphere of intolerance toward any kind of German-American distinctiveness had already taken root back in 1915, before the entry of the country into the war, upon the sinking of the British ocean liner Lusitania by a German submarine in May 1915, with the death of over a thousand people, including 128 Americans (Pfleger 40).
In the face of intensifying intolerance or outright hostility toward German culture and language in American life, many German-American organizations across the country disbanded or experienced a sharp decline in membership during the war. Those that continued in existence were eager to confirm their American identity and loyalties by emphasizing explicitly patriotic activities such as the support of Liberty Bond drives (Luebke 270, 284). German-American support was not particularly strong for the first Liberty Loan but gained momentum in response to the second Liberty Loan issue in October 1917 (Luebke 273). The concerted efforts on the part of leaders and spokespersons of German-American newspapers, organizations, and churches to stress patriotic attitudes and activities had the effect of dampening, although not completely diffusing hostility toward German Americans by the summer of 1918 (Luebke 286).
The Liberty Loan Committee of Americans of German Birth or Descent
In the Philadelphia area, the Liberty Loan Committee of Americans of German Birth or Descent took part in the third and fourth Liberty Loan campaigns. The treasurer and secretary of the Committee, Louis H. Schmidt (b. 1868) and Franz Ehrlich, Jr. (b. 1878), respectively, were active members in the German Society of Pennsylvania. Ehrlich was vice president of the Society at the time (he served from 1916 to 1920). Louis Schmidt, who held the rank of captain in the Pennsylvania National Guard, had served on the Society's committee responsible for social events (Vergnügungsausschuss) since 1913; later, he was president of the Society, from 1923 to 1942.
This German-American Liberty Loan committee was part of the Foreign Language Division of the Liberty Loan Organization of the Third Federal Reserve District. The division included committees for 19 different nationalities, with German Americans, Italian Americans, and Polish Americans accounting for the largest shares of purchases.
In its final report for the Fourth Liberty Loan, the Foreign Language Division of the Third Federal Reserve District describes its work as aiming to "promote the Fourth Liberty Loan among the people of foreign birth and descent and to cultivate a friendly relationship between the older Americans and the newer immigrants by bringing them into common play and work for the same cause of the country" (p. 36)
Fourth Liberty Loan, Foreign Language Division, Third Federal Reserve District: Report of C. A. Sienkiewicz, Executive Secretary. Philadephia, October 1918. Typewritten. (See Folder 8.)
Luebke, Frederick C. Bonds of loyalty: German Americans and World War I. Dekalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois University Press, c1974.
Pfleger, Birte. Ethnicity matters: a history of the German Society of Pennsylvania. Washington, D.C.: German Historical Institute, 2006.
The collection contains the records of the Liberty Loan Committee of Americans of German Birth or Descent, a committee that coordinated the campaign for the purchase of Liberty Bonds among German Americans in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1918, during the First World War. Liberty Bonds were issued by the United States government to finance the American war effort. These records were kept by Louis H. Schmidt, treasurer of the Committee, and pertain mainly to the Third and Fourth Liberty Loans, with inclusion of a few subscription lists related to the fifth loan, issued in 1919 and known as the Victory Liberty Loan.
The collection contains correspondence, subscription forms, lists of subscribers, reports, clippings, and ephemera, including Liberty Loan volunteer buttons and six posters promoting the purchase of Liberty Bonds. Also included is a copy of the report issued for the Fourth Liberty Loan, Foreign Language Division, Third Federal Reserve District.
A miscellaneous item found with the records is related to the Philadelphia Turngemeinde (Philadelphia Turners), a prominent German-American gymnastics organization. The item is a broadside entitled "Philadelphia Turngemeinde Honor Roll, World War, 1917-1918," giving a list of approximately 330 names.
Third Liberty Loan
G. A. Bisler, and G.A. Bisler, Inc.
Brentmore Knitting Mills
Cambria Silk Hosiery Co.
Carmel German Presbyterian Church
C. F. Rummp & Sons
Ehrlich family (Franz Ehrlich, Antonie Ehrlich, and Henrietta Ehrlich, with various designations)
Emanuels' Evangelical Church / Rev. C. E. Bast
E. Michellbach & Sons
Evangelical Salem's Gemeinde First German Baptist Church / Hermann Kaaz, pastor
German Club and Technical Society [=Deutscher Klub und Technischer Verein]
German Lutheran Kreuzkirche / Rev. E. C. Metzenthin
German Presbyterian Church of Peace
Henry Rohner, and Henry Rohner Co.
Homestead Farms Kreuznacher Sängerbund / Jacob Weiss, secretary
Ladies Aid of the German Society of Pennsylvania [=Women's Auxiliary of the German Society of Pennsylvania]
Living Water Mission / Rev. Christian Klenk
St. John's Evangelical Church / Rev. E. M. Glasow
St. Markus (St. Mark's) Evangelical Reformed Church / George A. Scheer, pastor
St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church
St. Paulus Gemeinde, Evangelisch-Reformed / Rev. Paul Sommerlatte, pastor
Second German Baptist Church / S. A. Kose, pastor
Fourth Liberty Loan
Arion Singing Society
G. A. Bissler, and G. A. Bisler, Inc.
C. F. Rumpp & Sons
Louis Walther Manufacturing Co.
William H. Ritter, and his companies: P. J. Ritter Co.; Ritter Loan & Specialty Co.; Owensboro Conservation Co.
Anthony J. Zeits
Victory Loan (1919)
Bridesburg Lodge, No. 37, Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) / Ernest Pommer, secretary
William C. Munch
Philadelphia Quartett Club
Henry Rohner, and Henry Rohner Co.
Subscription lists/reports with loan issue unidentified
Joseph Drucker & Co.
Steph. Lippert (firm)
Gift of Louis H. Schmidt.
- 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.
In English. 6 items. Correspondence to and from Louis H. Schmidt, treasurer, and Franz Ehrlich, secretary, mostly with the following officers of the Liberty Loan Committee Foreign Language Division: Joseph Buffington, chair, and Casimir A. Sienkiewicz, executive secretary. One item is a circular letter of the National Woman's Liberty Loan Committee. Also included is the original folder cover of the collection file, labeled: "Liberty Loans Subscriptions for U.S.A. Bonds! 3d and 4te [sic] / Louis H. Schmidt Treasurer, 1231 Market St., Philadelphia, Pa."
Includes lists, forms or correspondence from 24 organizations, companies, or individuals
Includes lists, forms or correspondence from 8 organizations, companies, or individuals
Includes lists, forms, or correspondence from 7 organizations, companies, or individuals
Includes lists or correspondence from 4 organizations, companies, or individuals
This series contains 6 Liberty Bond posters. The first one ("Buy Liberty Bonds"), depicting Abraham Lincoln, does not refer to a specific issue of bond. The other five posters (arranged alphabetically by title) specifically refer to the Third Liberty Loan, which was issued in April 1918 and superceded by the Fourth Liberty Loan in September 1918.