Otto Welden literary manuscripts
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
Otto Welden was the pseudonym of P. J. (Peter Joseph) Reuss. He was born in Fulda, in Hesse, Germany (at that time the Landgraviate Hesse-Kassel), on 3 September 1824. He studied medicine in Berlin, Basel, and Marburg, earning a medical degree. He emigrated to the United States in 1851, arriving in Baltimore on 20 September 1851. He settled at first in New York City, and later resided in Washington, DC. He was a military physician in the Civil War serving from 1861 to 1864 in the 29th New York Infantry Regiment, a mostly German regiment. Apparently he returned to Germany at the time of the Franco-Prussian War; under the name P. J. Reuss, he published sketches of his experiences as a physician in that war. Known for literary works under his pseudonym Otto Welden, he was the author of poems, dramas, and novels. He may have been best known for his plays, which were performed in German-language theaters in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore; three plays were published in book form. He died in New York City on 2 April 1902.
 When using his actual name, Welden typically signs "P. J. Reuss."
 Interessante Skizzen und Erfahrungen eines deutschamerikanischen Arztes in dem grossen deutsch-französischen Kriege 1870-1871 (Leipzig: Sackmann, 1875).
 Tragödien (Aachen: J. Stercken, 1871). None of the plays in the book is represented here.
 "Deaths reported," New York Times, 24 April 1902, p. 9. Report of death of Dr. P. J. Reuss.
Rattermann, H. A., ed. Deutsch-Amerikanisches Magazin, vol. 1. Cincinnati, Ohio: S. Rosenthal, 1886-1887. 318-326. Excerpts from Welden's play Tippo Saib.
Ward, Robert E. A Bio-bibliography of German-American Writers, 1670-1970. White Plains, NY: Kraus International Publications, 1985. 237. Biographical entry.
Zimmermann, G. A. Deutsch in Amerika : Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutsch-amerikanischen Literatur: 1. Episch-lyrische Poesie. Chicago : Ackermann & Eyller, 1892 (publication of Germania Männerchor in Chicago). xxxix, 102. Commentary and biographical entry. The second edition (1894) also includes three poems by Welden (p. 53-54).
The collection contains handwritten manuscripts of works by Otto Welden (pseudonym of P. J. Reuss), including three dramas, two novels, and two volumes of poetry, with some material in his own hand. The manuscripts are for the most part copies made by others at Welden's direction, and usually are signed by him on the inside front cover (with address sometimes noted), and contain notes in his hand. One of the manuscripts (the novel 1776) is accompanied by a letter by the author to the scholar and school official G. A. Zimmerman, written in 1896. Zimmerman was the author of a survey of German-American literature, Deutsch in Amerika, first published in 1892, which includes a biographical entry on Welden; the second edition of the book, published 1894, also includes poems by Welden. The letter reveals that Welden had this copy of his novel made in order to send it to Zimmerman in Chicago.
None of the works included here was ever published in book form, but at least two of the plays were performed in German-American theaters, and at least one of the novels was published in German-American periodicals, as well as in a German periodical. Welden's own notes in two of the manuscripts record information about performances (in the case of the play König Gambrinus) or publication (in the case of the novel Robert Morris). The presence of such notes by him is indicated under the relevant items in the inventory list.(3) It is possible that some of the works were never published at all; and if so, the manuscript copy in this collection could be the only extant copy. Another repository for papers of Otto Welden/P. J. Reuss could not be located during the preparation of this finding aid.
A particularly German-American dimension is evident in the subject matter of the novels, which both in some way concern the American Revolution. One of the volumes of poetry ( Kleine Blühten der Lyrik), contains poems that allude to the author's life as a German immigrant, with poems dating as early as 1852, shortly after his arrival in the United States. The play King Gambrinus appears to be set in the United States and may have German-American elements.
 See folder in box 4 of the collection.
 See references (above). Zimmermann mentions Welden's novel 1776 in the first edition of his book, indicating that the date of composition was several years earlier than the production of the copy represented here.
 Welden's play Tippo Saib was also performed, according to the Cambridge History of English and American Literature (New York: Putnam, 1907-1921, vol. 18, ch. xxxi, section 15; accessed online through Bartelby.com).
The collection is divided into three series, according to genre: I. Poetry, II. Drama, and III. Novels. Within each series the manuscripts are listed alphabetically by title. The inventory list also records the original call number of the item, reflecting how they were cataloged at the time of acquisition by the German Society of Pennsylvania. The individual items are still labeled with that call number.
Donated to the National Carl Schurz Association (NCSA), and subsequently donated by NCSA to the German Society of Pennsylvania. Original donor unknown.
- German Society of Pennsylvania: Joseph P. Horner Memorial Library
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Violet Lutz
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- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research.
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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.
153 p. Signed by author, inside front cover. Table of contents (p. 4) and note at end (p. 153) are also in his hand
169 p. Contains 129 numbered poems. Signed by author (inside front cover), with a note indicating that this manuscript is an excerpt from a larger collection of 363 poems. Table of contents and the last few poems (p. 167-169) are in Welden's hand. Of the dates associated with the poems, the earliest is 1852 (p. 18) and the latest 1893 (p. 169). The main part of the manuscript may have been copied in 1891 (title page). The poetry contains American references, including place names (Baltimore, Brooklyn, Washington, D.C.); and poem titles ("Amerikanische Nächte," p. 6; "In America," p. 50)
160 p. Signed by the author (inside front cover) and notes in his hand (inside front cover, front flyleaf, last page). One note reports that the play was performed in Philadelphia in 1860, and later at the Stadttheater in New York City under the direction of Otto Hoym; and another conveys a quotation from a review of the play. The King Gambrinus of the title refers to the legendary inventor of beer. Gambrinus and Alcohol are part of the prelude and epilogue. The play proper is set in a northern city, probably in the United States (reference is made to the dollar as currency, p. 82-83), during a 15-year span in the 19th century
Signed by author (inside front cover); and a note in his hand gives the dates of composition as 30 April to 7 May 1874 (p. 100). The play is set in a large city in Germany in the 19th century
158 p. Signed by the author (inside front cover), and several notes in his hand (inside front cover and front flyleaf), one of which mentions H. A. Rattermann. The play is set in Seringapatam, East India, and English camp, in 1798 and 1799, during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War
Copy in at least two different hands, made at Welden's direction, accompanied by a letter to G. A. Zimmerman (see below). Each volume begins with a table of contents. The novel is set at the court of the Landgraviate Hesse-Kassel, and concerns at least in part the decision of Landgrave Friedrich II to send Hessian soldiers to support the British in the American Revolution (vol. 2, ch. 1: Menschenhandel) The executioner (Scharfrichter, Henker) of Fulda is named in two chapter titles (vol. 3, ch. 10; vol. 4, ch. 3)