Learned collection on German-language theater
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
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German-Language Theater in Philadelphia: A Historical Sketch
In the period between 1830 and 1930, 5.9 million German immigrants arrived in the United States, comprising 15.7% of all immigrants arriving. One might, further, speak of a "mid-nineteenth century character" of this German immigration: about one-third of German immigrants over those one hundred years arrived between 1850 and 1869, during which time German immigrants constituted fully 35% of the total number of immigrants arriving. On the other hand, more German immigrants arrived in the 1880s––about 1.4 million––than during any other decade. The highest peaks of annual German immigration during the period were reached in 1854 and 1882.
German emigration to the United States famously began in Pennsylvania, with Francis Daniel Pastorius leading a group of German Mennonites and Quakers in the founding of Germantown, near Philadelphia, in 1683. The Middle Atlantic region in general, and particularly Pennsylvania, remained a favored destination of German settlement in the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century, the focus of German settlement shifted westward and broadened significantly, with areas of settlement expanding into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, as well as Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas. There were also significant settlements in Louisiana, Texas, Colorado, California, and Washington. But even with this shift, in 1880, Philadelphia, which was at that time the second largest city in the United States, had a German-born population of 55,769––considerably larger, in absolute terms, than the German-born populations of either Cincinnati or Milwaukee, and slightly larger than that of St. Louis. Only New York and Chicago had larger populations of German-born immigrants. German-born Philadelphians made up 6.6% of the city's total population. Considering the German-born in combination with those who were the children of German immigrants, one can speak of Philadelphians of 'German stock' as amounting to 16.2% of the city's population in 1880. (Only the Irish made up a larger immigrant group in Philadelphia at that time.)
Faced with the dilemmas of assimilation, German Americans in the second half of the nineteenth century debated the future of the 'German element' in American culture. Love of the arts, especially music and theater, had long been a strong aspect of German social life, and so it was often through the expression of these cultural interests that German-American life distinguished itself. In the––perhaps filio-pietistic––formulation of the eminent German-American scholar Albert Bernhardt Faust: "The social influence of the German element in the United States consists in the emphasis laid upon the cultivation of those arts and habits which divert from the narrow path of selfish interest or material gain, and which elevate, ennoble, and increase the joy of living." As was the case for other immigrant groups in the nineteenth century, and for American life in general, German-American life was much bound up with participation in voluntary associations, known in German as Vereine. Philadelphia was by some measures in the forefront of German cultural expression in this regard. The first German-American singing society in the country, the Männerchor, was founded in Philadelphia on 15 December 1835. The Turngemeinde Philadelphia, formally organized on 15 May 1849, was the fourth in a succession of such Turnvereine, or gymnastic associations, that had begun to form in the United States in 1848. Both types of Vereine were reminiscent of traditional communal life in Germany.
The support of German-language theater on a long-term basis was an often elusive goal for enterprising German-American community members in the mid to late nineteenth century. A German theater director and immigrant from Hamburg, Heinrich Börnstein, when undertaking to establish a German theater in St. Louis in 1858––what eventually opened the following fall as the St. Louis Opernhaus––tried to kindle enthusiasm for the new project among his compatriots by reminding them that, back in Germany, even a city with a population of only 12-15,000 inhabitants would usually have a theater of above-average quality, and that cities of 30-50,000 would, as a matter of course, boast a good, well-established theater presenting both operas and plays. Speculating that there were some 60,000 German-speaking residents of St. Louis, Börnstein asserted that one should be able to reckon at least 5%, or 3,000, of them as regular once-a-week theater-goers––and, if such were the case, then a good German theater was a realizable goal: "wir haben von Anfang an das feste Vertrauen gehabt, dass die deutsche Bevölkerung von St. Louis ihr eigenes deutsches Theater haben und erhalten könne, und in diesem Vertrauen haben wir gehandelt" (we were convinced from the beginning that the German population of St. Louis could have and maintain its own German theater, and we have acted in this conviction).
By 1880, if not before, Philadelphia presumably had the critical mass of culturally engaged German speakers that Börnstein was talking about. Early efforts to provide some kind of ongoing German-language theatrical performances in Philadelphia were the work of Vereine who joined together to strive for this goal. German plays had been performed on American stages in English translation beginning as early as 1795, with a production of Lessing's Minna von Barnhelm in Charleston, South Carolina, and Schiller's Die Räuber, in New York, followed up by "a veritable flood of German plays descending upon the American stage" by the popular German playwright August von Kotzebue. But 1830 is the landmark year in which the first documented performances were given in the German language––in the Washington Theater on Old York Road, in Philadelphia, by a company of actors calling themselves the German Amateur Theatrical Society.
A fairly continuous history of German-language performances in Philadelphia begins in 1840, with the formation of the Deutsche Unterhaltungsverein, which set as its mission the "Pflege der dramatischen Kunst" (the fostering of the dramatic arts), and gave several performances over the next year or two. In May 1848, another amateur troop, under the direction of W. Herrmann and W. Deetz, gave performances that were evidently of good quality but poorly attended, judging by the lament in the pages of the Philadelphia newspaper Freie Presse, on 31 May. The writer conveys a sense of a strong German cultural life in Philadelphia in that era, while expressing disappointment that the degree of interest shown in the fledgling theater falls so far short of high-minded expectations brought from the German homeland:
Hier, wo das deutsche Leben mehr überwiegend als vielleicht in irgend einer Stadt vorherrscht, sollte man meinen, könnte nichts erwünschter kommen, als die schönen Abendunterhaltungen eines guten Theaters, das man in Deutschland in der kleinsten Provinzial-Stadt für eine gewisse Zeit im Jahre ganz bestimmt findet. Die Schauspieler spielen im allgemeinen gut und einige davon leisten wirklich Auszergewöhnliches. Wenn solch eine Gesellschaft vor leeren Bänken spielen muss, dann muss man an dem allgemeinen Sinn für gediegene Unterhaltung unter den Deutschen verzweifeln.
(Here, where German life predominates perhaps more than in any other city, one would think that nothing could be as desirable as the fine evening entertainment provided by a good theater, something that one finds without fail in even the smallest provincial city in Germany for a certain period in the year. The actors generally give a good performance, and a few of them can really be credited with extraordinary achievements. When a company like this has to play to empty seats, then one must begin to despair of the basic sense for quality entertainment among the Germans.)
Around this time, various amateur theater associations (Liebhaber-Theater) performed sporadically, with greater or lesser success, at several venues in Philadelphia, including Franklin-Halle, on Sixth Street between Arch and Race, and the Arch Street Hall, near the Arch Street Theater (at Sixth Street). The lack of a suitable building was a hindrance. The repertoire sometimes left much to be desired, with the comedies of Kotzebue predominating at first.
In C. F. Huch's account of German theater in Philadelphia, he views as welcome progress the opening in August 1855 of a "proper German theater with daily performances," under the competent direction of Wilhelm Böttner. That troop performed at first in the Melodeon, on Chestnut Street above Sixth, and later Böttner arranged to rent the City Museum, on Callowhill Street below Fifth, a church that had been renovated for use as a theater. In the 1856-1857 season, Böttner and Bruno Berndt were joint directors, and in summer to fall 1857, Böttner and Serges. After Böttner left Philadelphia for New Orleans at the end of 1857, the German theater was reopened for another season in August 1858, under the joint direction of Meaubert and Josue. The City Museum was proving inadequate as a venue, and there was a plan at the beginning of 1859 to have a proper theater built, but the current performances were so unprofitable that the plan was dropped. Performances continued to be given in the same venue in 1859, under Josue's direction.
Huch reports that plays performed in the years from 1855 to 1859 included the following authors and titles: Raimund (Der Verschwender; Der Alpenkönig), Nestroy (Till Eulenspiegel; Einen Jux will er sich machen; Der böse Geist Lumpazivavagabundus; Zu ebener Erde und erster Stock), Kleist (Käthchen von Heilbronn), Charlotte Birch-Pfeiffer (Der Glöckner von Notre Dame; Hinko), Louis Schneider (Kean; Die eiserne Maske), August von Kotzebue (Der Wirrwarr; Menschenhass und Reue), Roderich Benedix (Die drei Junggesellen), Gustav Freytag (Die Journalisten), Friedrich Adami (Königin Margot und die Hugenotten), Pius Alexander Wolff (Preciosa), August Weirauch (Wenn Leute Geld haben), Carl Elmar (Unter der Erde), and Friedrich Kaiser (Stadt und Land). Every season's program included a number of plays from Schiller (Wilhelm Tell; Die Räuber; Maria Stuart; Kabale und Liebe; Die Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua), and one or more plays (in translation) from Shakespeare (Hamlet; Othello; Viel Lärm um Nichts). A total of 177 plays were performed in the years 1855 and 1856 together, and 121 in 1859 alone.
In 1859, the 100th anniversary of Schiller's birth, on 10 November, was celebrated by offering performances of his plays Kabale und Liebe and Wilhelm Tell, on the 10th and the 11th. (The performance of plays by Schiller in November in honor of his birthday was a recurring custom in the German-language theater in Philadelphia throughout the coming decades.) Attendance was good for those performances but so poor for the rest of the year that the theater was closed down by the management in January 1860, only to re-open again some days later at the initiative of the actors. The actors valiantly carried on with performances but suffered under the same hindrances that German theater companies had battled for years: "lack of competent direction, of a well suited building, and of sufficient financial means to maintain the theater."
In 1858 the Turngemeinde Philadelphia purchased a building on N. Third Street and then, in 1860, the adjacent property and, beginning in June of that year, theatrical performances alternating with concerts were offered in what was known as Turner-Halle, for two periods during the year, as a summer and a winter theater.
With the battle of Fort Sumter in April 1861––the beginning of the American Civil War––the German theater entered another period of uncertainty. Actors were also among those who joined the military. During the Civil War era, modest undertakings provided for performances at various venues, including Turner-Halle; Hermann-Halle, on Coates Street (later known as Fairmount Avenue) above Second Street; Vollmer and Born's Aktien-Bierhalle, on Third Street; and, in summer, Engel and Wolf's Farm. Notable success was achieved by Gustav Ostermann, the son-in-law of Wilhelm Böttner, who directed a theater troop in Hermann-Halle, from November 1862 to March 1863, under the name Odeon. After that, Ostermann joined his efforts with those of A. Scherzer, who had been leading a different troop at the Melodeon on Callowhill Street, and they continued productions at the latter venue through the summer.
The Callowhill Street Theater opened in August 1863 under the direction of August W. Rabe and Nettelbladt, who decided not long afterwards that they lacked enough support to succeed. By the end of September, G. Töpfer and Th. Hanel had taken over the management and, under the name Stadttheater, performances continued to be given at that venue until spring 1864. (The Callowhill Street Theater later burned down, in 1868, and Concordia-Halle, also a venue for theatrical performances and concerts, was built on the same site.)
In April 1864, a German-language performance of Hamlet was given at the Academy of Music in honor of the three-hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare's birth. Opera companies from Germany also made periodic guest appearances at either the Academy of Music or at the Chestnut Street Theater in 1863 to 1865, 1867, and 1869.
In fall 1864 previous venues for German theater were put to use again under new rubrics: the Volkstheater, co-directed by Serges and Reicher, operated in Hermann-Halle, from September to October; and the Vestvali-Lund-Theater, under the direction of Ivan C. Michels, opened in September at the former Stadttheater, or Melodeon (Callowhill Street), and continued to give performances through April 1865. With the close of that season, there was no stable venue offering German theater for some months.
In 1866 German-language plays were offered in Klumpp's Turner-Halle and in Heinrich Hornung's Kensington-Halle (the latter located at the corner of Second Street and Germantown Avenue), but the productions were apparently of modest aim and middling quality. Higher standards were met in guest performances at the Callowhill Street Theater by acting troops visiting from German theaters in New York, in 1866 and 1867. An open air theater opened in summer 1867 under the name Kensington-Volksgarten-Theater (at Third Street and Germantown Avenue), run by C. Klein and under the direction of J. Riedel.
At the beginning of 1868, Hornung also took over management of Turner-Halle, and for a period of months presided over productions at the two venues, before deciding to consolidate his efforts in more challenging productions at Turner-Halle, where in August 1868 productions began with William Gerlach as superintendent, Martin Hagemann as director, and Theodor Schaumberg as music director. (German-language performances continued to be offered in Turner-Halle under various rubrics throughout the 1870s.)
At this time, focused efforts were again made to develop a plan for securing a building as a permanent home for a German theater. A stock company with that aim had been chartered back in 1859, but for whatever reasons did not accomplish its goal. In 1867, at the meeting of an honorary committee related to the tenth annual Sängerfest (singing festival), a special committee was formed whose aim, again, was to found a stock company, for the purpose of financing not only the acquisition of a property for the theater but also the steady engagement of an acting troop and the ongoing costs. Such a stock company was indeed incorporated, under the name "The German Theater of Philadelphia," on 18 March 1868, with Theodore A. Demmé as president and Charles Borm as treasurer. In 1870, the stock company purchased three houses on the northwest corner of Seventh Street and Vine. However, the financial arrangements did not go as planned, and the ultimate outcome was that after several years the houses had to be sold far below the purchase price, and the shareholders lost all of their investment.
In the interim when the dealings of the stock company were still being worked out, attempts were made to establish a provisional German theater offering performances on a steady basis. From November 1869 to February 1870, a troop of actors performed at a location on the northeast corner of Franklin and Coates Street (the latter later known as Fairmount Avenue; the site, several years later, of Robert Tagg's Maennerchor Hall). The artistic director was Karl von Jendersky, the director (Regisseur) Heinrich Döbelin, and the music director Heinrich Greim. After financial failure, a new attempt, and then a fire, performances were moved to Concordia-Halle (the new building at the site of the former Callowhill Street Theater). During the summer of 1870, Scherzer undertook improvements to the stage in Concordia-Halle and, in the fall, opened the hall as the Philadelphia Stadt-Theater, with Eduard Härting directing plays and Theodor Schaumberg as Kapellmeister. Since that venue was also rented for balls, German-language plays were offered with some interruptions.
After only occasional performances there in 1871, German-language plays were again performed in Concordia-Halle for significant stretches in 1872 to 1874, sometimes under the rubric of Stadt-Theater. Heinrich Maret directed productions there in February and in April 1872; in March he had moved his troop to a theater that he had rented on N. Seventh Street. In December 1872, the Stadt-Theater in Concordia-Halle opened under the general direction of Rudolf Beckier, with J.W. Jost as music director. The Stadt-Theater continued in the fall of 1873 with Moritz Hahn as both general director and director of plays (Regisseur), and Simon Hassler as music director. In the early months of 1874 there was a series of Sunday performances.
From early 1871 until January 1874, German-language plays were also performed in Turner-Halle on a regular basis, under the directorship of Georg Brandt. The plays included: Wallensteins Lager and Wilhelm Tell, by Schiller; Othello, by Shakespeare; Nacht und Morgen, by Birch-Pfeiffer; Die Karlsschüler and Unser Prinz Friedrich, by Heinrich Laube; Inspektor Bräsig, by Theodor Gassmann and J. Krüger; Der Meineidbauer, by Ludwig Anzengruber; Die Schöppenstädter, by Rudolf Kneisel; Washington, der Befreier Nordamerikas, by Georg Schönfeldt; and Die Spitzenkönigin, by Hugo Müller and Adolph L'Arronge. After Brandt's departure, the Turngemeinde undertook its own productions of German-language plays in Turner-Halle, from April to August 1874, with L. Holfelder and Alexander Varena serving as directors, and F. Losse conducting the orchestra.
In September 1874, the management of Turner-Halle was assumed by Henry Oberkirsch and Gottlob Hammer, with L. Holfelder continuing in the capacity of director and Theodor Schaumberg becoming music director once again (as he had been earlier). Oberkirsch and Hammer led the productions in Turner-Halle until 1877, when Holfelder and August Schmidt took over.
The further path on which Hammer and Oberkirsch embarked proved to be a kind of watershed in the history of German-language theater in Philadelphia. In August 1877 they leased Ladner's Military Hall, at 528-532 N. Third Street (near the intersection with Spring Garden), and began to produce performances there under the name Germania Theater. A theater newspaper, Die Bühne, containing the Germania's official program, began to appear on 19 April 1878. Around April 1881, the hall underwent a major renovation and was rebuilt as a proper theater. It reopened in its new garb in September 1881. At what became its permanent site, Germania Theater remained in existence for over 17 years, until early 1895.
Gottlob Hammer served as the first general director of the theater. Aside from his role in the theater, Hammer was a businessman dealing in Rhine wines. He was from Reutlingen, in the state of Württemberg, Germany, and had emigrated to the United States in 1865. His partner in the founding of Germania Theater, Henry Oberkirsch, served as the music director. Oberkirsch was also a music teacher and freelance conductor. Heinrich Maret served as the first director of plays (Regisseur). Hammer and Oberkirsch jointly led the theater until spring 1882.
Germania Theater employed a resident troop of actors and actresses for each season, and there would also be a number of guest appearances by additional actors and actresses during the season. Performances were held nearly every day of the week. An advertisement that Hammer ran in the Philadelphia Tageblatt pithily conveyed the theater's raison d'être: "Jeden Abend deutsche Theater-Vorstellung von einem guten Künstler-Personal" (A German theatrical performance every evening, by a fine staff of artists). As had been the custom earlier, Sunday performances were often billed under the rubric "Sacred Concert," in a nod to conservative or nativist sentiment that frowned upon the operation of the theater on the Christian Sabbath. However, in some years, laws passed in Philadelphia kept the theater closed on Sundays.
Throughout the years of its existence Germania Theater continued to publish its own newspaper, as the official theater program. At first (as mentioned above) titled Die Bühne, it was called Germania Theater Zeitung for a number of years from 1882 on; after 1890 the masthead simply displayed the name of the theater. The newspaper was usually a four-sided publication issued several times a week, carrying numerous advertisements of local businesses. In addition to the theater's program of plays, operas, and operettas, the paper included announcements about lectures, club meetings, balls, and festivals. In its first incarnation as Die Bühne, it also had a varied content beyond these basics, including news items (often theater-related news in the widest sense), anecdotes, jokes, and poems. Initially, in 1878, the paper was printed in batches of 3,000 copies, and it was handed out to patrons at performances, between acts. According to a message in the first issue from the editors/publishers, Oberkirsch and Wolf, the paper was also mailed free of charge to subscribers. They aspired for it to be viewed as an "Unterhaltungsblatt" (entertainment publication) that readers would save for a while, rather than just toss aside––a cut above "gewöhnliche Anzeigezettel" (ordinary announcement flyers). Although the paper was otherwise in German, it carried, in the publisher's box, the English-language boast: "The best Advertising Medium in the City and Suburbs." Later on, in fall 1882, under the editorship of Adolph Stein, an English-language message with a different slant began to appear in the publisher's box: "Guaranteed circulation 30,000 copies per month."
After the tenure of Hammer and Oberkirsch, Alexander Kost took the helm of the theater. A comic actor who had previously performed in Chicago, Kost joined Germania's cast in 1878, and in the 1879-1880 season was responsible for directing farces and operettas (with another director responsible for dramas and comedies). In 1881 and early 1882, he was director at the newly opened Concordia Operetten-Theater, run by Robert Tagg. Kost directed Germania Theater from late 1882 until spring 1885, and then moved to Concordia-Halle, where he headed a troop under the name Thalia Theater, which seems to have been run on a model comparable to the Germania, for the season from fall 1885 to spring 1886.
Meanwhile Alexander Wurster had taken over the directorship of Germania Theater in fall 1885, and he led the theater until spring 1891. Wurster had wide experience in German theater in the United States. He had previously directed the New Chicago Theater (in Chicago), which closed in 1878; and had also been active in St. Louis, directing Sunday performances for one season at the Olympic Theater, in 1876 to 1877; and for a regular season at the Apollo Theater in 1881 to 1882. As the new director, Wurster addressed a message to the theater's "Freunde und Gönner" (friends and patrons) in the 24 October 1885 issue of Germania Theater Zeitung. While expressing his gratitude for what he optimistically characterizes as attendance increasing with each day ("den von Tag zu Tag sich steigernden Besuch"), he dubs his new post a 'difficult undertaking' ("schwierigen Unternehmen"), and is concerned to elicit continuing support. He introduces himself as a director with an artistic mission––"fortwährend bestrebt, dem geehrten kunstsinnigen Deutschthum dieser Stadt nur wirklich gediegene Vorstellungen zu bieten, kurz in dem Germania-Theater eine Bühne zu schaffen, würdig der deutschen Kunst und dem Deutschthum Philadelphia's zur Ehre und zum Vergnügen" (constantly striving to offer the venerable, art-loving German public of this city only sterling-quality performances, in short to create in Germania Theater a stage worthy of German art and of Philadelphia's German constituency, to its honor and for its amusement).
That week the theater was offering performances every day from Monday through Saturday, with three plays featured: Die Anna-Lise, by Hermann Hersch, a drama (Schauspiel); and two comedies (Lustspiele), Die Anti-Xantippe, oder: Krieg der Frauen, by Rudolf Kneisel, and Das Stiftungsfest, by Gustav von Moser. The program is fairly representative: Die Anna-Lise was something of a perennial favorite; and Kneisel and Moser were two of the most consistently represented authors on the theater's program over the years.
Huch characterizes Wurster's tenure in glowing terms as "in künstlerischer Beziehung höchst erfolgreich" (highly successful in an artistic sense). A souvenir program issued by Germania Theater in April 1890, commemorating five seasons, 1885-1890, under Wurster's management, records that a total of 1,000 performances were given, averaging about 200 performances of 69 different plays each year, during a theater season that ran from September to April. The repertoire during those years included a total of 257 plays by 108 different authors. The genres most represented were: Posse, Lustspiel, Schauspiel, Volksstück, and Schwank. Farces (Possen) and comedies (Lustspiele) typically accounted for nearly half of the repertoire. The authors with the greatest representation of works were Gustav von Moser (17 titles) and Wilhelm Mannstädt (16 titles). Other authors with considerable representation (from 8 to 13 titles) were: Eduard Jacobson, Rudolph Kneisel, Franz von Schönthan, Adolph L'Arronge, Heinrich Wilken, Leon Treptow, and Friedrich Schiller.
Following Wurster's departure in 1891, the Germania had several directors in quick succession––Georg Heinemann, Adolf Binkert, and Jos. E. Metzger––and descended increasingly into financial difficulties and managerial disarray, until it finally closed around March 1895. The last extant theater newspaper, dated for the week beginning 28 February 1895, advertises performances for Tuesday 5 March through Saturday 9 March. For that week the featured plays were Hermann Sudermann's Die Ehre, and Schiller's Die Räuber.
Despite the relatively long life of Germania Theater, and its embodiment of impressive energies and talent, as with all things that eventually pass away, it was vulnerable to being viewed in retrospect as having fallen short. Writing in 1926, the Lutheran pastor Georg von Bosse, who had emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1889, recalled the nineteenth-century history of German theater in Philadelphia as little more than a blank page strewn with ineffectual marks: "Das deutsche Theater ist wie in anderen Städten so auch in Philadelphia stets ein Schmerzenskind gewesen. Manche Anläufe zu einem ständigen deutschen Theater sind gemacht und keiner war erfolgreich" (As in other cities, German theater in Philadelphia has always been a child of misery. Some attempts at a permanent German theater have been made, but none was successful).
By the time that Bosse was writing, yet another substantial enterprise had come and gone. Following the demise of Germania Theater, performances of German-language plays in Philadelphia were again held at various venues, such as Maennerchor Hall or the Arch Street Theater. The wish to have a more permanent venue once again resurfaced and money was raised to purchase a building at Franklin Street and Girard Avenue, which was then rebuilt, and opened in 1905 as the Deutsche Theater, or German Theatre, under the directorship of Max Hanisch, a German-speaking immigrant from St. Petersburg via Germany. Ushered into life, as Bosse notes, with "schönen Hoffnungen" (fine hopes), that new German theater remained in existence for only about five or six years. In 1911 it was replaced by a Yiddish theater called the American; and after 1921 it was known as the Astor––a moving picture house.
A Biographical Sketch of Theodor Bloch
(born Prussia, November 1832; died after 1900)
Most of the theater rehearsal materials contained in Series I of the Learned Collection comprise items that belonged to Theodor Bloch, a German immigrant who was active in German-language theater in Philadelphia from approximately the mid 1860s until at least 1895. Bloch appears as an actor in the casts of some plays in the period from 1873 to 1879. Later, he continued to be closely associated with the theater company of Germania Theater. Various souvenir programs of Germania Theater reflecting the theater seasons from fall 1885 to spring 1891 indicate that during this time Bloch served steadily as prompter (Souffleur) through four theater seasons: 1887-1888, 1888-1889, 1889-1890 and 1890-1891. On 28 April 1887, a special extra performance ("Große Extra-Vorstellung") of the play Der Bucklige, oder: Die Macht der Arbeit, by C. A. Paul, at Germania Theater, is advertised on a playbill as having been arranged by Bloch in celebration of his 25th anniversary in the theater ("arrangirt von Theodor Bloch zur Feier seiner 25jährigen Bühnenwirksamkeit"). Further insight about Bloch's contributions to the theater is provided by the souvenir program produced in commemoration of Germania Theater's seasons from fall 1885 to spring 1890. Bloch is credited as having compiled the cumulative information about the theater's repertoire contained in the program, and is said to have been keeping detailed records about the theater for 25 years.
Many items in Series I, including published copies of plays that have been annotated as prompt books, as well as role books (actors' scripts), are labeled as the property of Theodor Bloch. Evidence from some of the files indicates that Bloch began systematically assembling theater rehearsal materials, and taking responsibility for them, with a view to later use, as early as 1873. By fall 1880 he had organized his collection of materials into a formal theater lending library, and began to advertise his operation in the theater newspaper of Germania Theater. Bloch's advertisement for his library appears regularly in the newspaper from that time on, and it appears in the last extant issue of the newspaper, in February 1895. The Learned Collection contains a catalog for Bloch's library, dated by him 1886, which provides a detailed inventory and describes lending conditions.
Bloch's home and business address was 442 N. Fourth Street, Philadelphia, more or less around the block from Germania Theater, at 528-532 N. Third Street. Aside from his involvement in the theater, Bloch was a businessman who ran a gold and silver refining business. Advertisements for his business––in which he seeks to purchase old gold and silver––can be found in the newspapers of Germania Theater from the first issue on.
Records about Theodor Bloch's household at 442 N. Fourth Street were found in the United States census of 1870, 1880, and 1900. His birthplace is given as Prussia. In the 1880 census the birthplace of both his mother and his father is said to be Prussia as well. The census of 1900 gives his date of birth as November 1832, and the year of his emigration as 1861. The passenger lists at Castle Garden show that a "Theo. Block," aged 29, arrived on the ship Bremen on 20 August 1861. (In the census of 1900, the last name is also spelled "Block.") His occupation is given as merchant, and his last place of residence Berlin. A date of death could not be found.
According to the census records, Bloch was married to Marie (or Mary) Bloch, who was born in September 1840 in Austria, and emigrated to the United States in 1855. She and Theodor married around 1865 (at the census of 1900, they had been married 35 years).
Based on the census records, it appears that Theodor and Marie Bloch did not have any children of their own but may have, in some capacity, raised and cared for Henry Frank and Matilda Frank, who both also participated in the German theater. In the census of 1870, two children, Henry and Matilda, aged 15 and 10, respectively, are listed as part of the Bloch household, with no other family name given. However, in the census of 1880, the two young people are listed as Henry Frank and Matilda Frank, aged 24 and 19, respectively, as part of a separate household headed by Henry Frank, at the same house number as Bloch, 442 N. Fourth Street. In that census an Emma Frank, aged 21, is also listed as part of the Frank household. Henry (or Heinrich) Frank appears in casts of plays beginning around 1873, and Mathilda ("Tilly") Frank beginning in 1878. Henry Frank edited the newspaper of Germania Theater from 1885 to 1892, and was also an editor and publisher in a more general capacity in Philadelphia, with a branch office in Sea Isle City, N.J. He was the author of the book Das heutige Philadelphia, published in 1885.
It is possible that Theodor Bloch made a trip back to Germany around or preceding the summer of 1873, and that he may have taken the opportunity then to acquire plays for use in the theater in Philadelphia. The summer of 1873 is a date of seeming significance in the context of the theater rehearsal materials of Series I. The earliest documentation of specific performances in Philadelphia is provided by some clippings of newspaper advertisements for performances of plays in Turner-Halle from 1873 to 1875. The earliest of such clippings, which are found pasted to the inside front covers of some published copies of plays, is dated 13 August 1873. One might juxtapose this circumstance with some evidence from within the collection that Bloch may have traveled back to Germany after his original emigration. First, a playbill from the Residenz-Theater in Berlin, dated 2 June 1873, advertising a performance of Die alten Junggesellen, a German translation of the French play Les vieux garçons, by Victorien Sardou, was found pasted to the inside front cover of a published copy of Die Tage der Erkenntniss––a German version, by Forster, of the same play by Sardou––which was labeled on its cover as the property of Bloch (the title is also listed in the 1886 catalog of Bloch's theater lending library). It is possible that Bloch himself attended the performance of the play in Berlin and saved the playbill. Second, the name Theodor Bloch is recorded on a form contained in a published copy of Arthur Müller's Die Hexe von Leonberg, documenting that Bloch paid a fee of 15 Thaler for purchase of the book, which is an edition sold especially for the stages, with the publication date 1870 (the form itself is not dated). It is interesting that one finds an immigration record at Castle Garden in 1873 that fits Bloch's profile: a Theodor Bloch, merchant, aged 41, arrived on the ship Silesia on 10 July 1873, with his origin given as "USA," indicating that he was an immigrant already established in the United States.
The circumstantial evidence suggesting that Bloch may have made a trip back to Germany around 1873 remains inconclusive. However, it can be said that, for whatever reason, his activities in producing and/or saving rehearsal materials for further use, as documented within the collection, appear to begin in earnest around August 1873.
After the closing of Germania Theater, around March 1895, there is no direct evidence of Bloch's possible continuing activities in connection with German-language theater. However, theater rehearsal materials from his lending library were evidently used to prepare performances of two plays at Harmonie Hall in December 1897.
A Biographical Note on Marion Dexter Learned (1857-1917)
Marion Dexter Learned was born near Dover, Delaware, of parents of English and Welsh heritage. After graduating from Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, he served for four years as the chair of ancient and modern languages at Dickinson Seminary in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He went on to pursue graduate work in German at Johns Hopkins University, and in the course of his studies visited Germany for the first time in 1885, when he studied for several months at the University of Leipzig. He received a Ph.D. in German from Johns Hopkins in 1887, and subsequently taught there, eventually reaching the rank of associate professor of German. In 1895, Learned moved to the University of Pennsylvania, where he became professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures and also served as the department's first chair. German-American cultural intersections were a major area of Learned's scholarly interest. His publications included, for example, The Pennsylvania German Dialect (1889), "Anfänge der deutschen Kultur in Amerika" (1893), The German American Turner Lyric (1897), and The Life of Francis Daniel Pastorius (1908). He gave academic addresses on such topics such as "German Influence in America" (Baltimore, 1892-1893), "German as a Culture Element in American Education" (Cincinnati, 1898) and "The Turner as Champions of American Liberty" (Allegheny, Pa., circa 1900). Learned was the founder, in 1897, of the monograph series Americana Germanica, and later, of the related German American Annals, both devoted to the comparative study of the historical, literary, linguistic, and other cultural relations of Germany and America. Among his many other accomplishments and honors, Learned was the organizer of the Association of Teachers of German in Pennsylvania; served as president of the National German-American Teachers Alliance (Nationaler Deutsch-Amerikanischer Lehrerbund), from 1899 to 1901; and helped to found the German-American Historical Society, in 1901.
It is not known whether Professor Learned was personally acquainted with Theodor Bloch, or exactly how he came to acquire the items that today comprise the Learned Collection on German-Language Theater. It is interesting to note that Learned arrived in Philadelphia at just around the time that Germania Theater finally closed. Given Learned's scholarly interests, it seems likely that he would have had personal contact with some members of the German theater milieu in Philadelphia.
 Frederick C. Luebke, "Patterns of German Settlement in the U.S. and Brazil," in Germans in the New World. Essays in the History of Immigration (Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1990), by Luebke, 95, Table 1. Luebke's data are derived from: U. S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 (Washington, DC, 1975), 106. These statistics do not include German-speaking immigrants from nations other than Germany.
 John A. Hawgood, The Tragedy of German-America. The Germans in the United States of America during the Nineteenth Century––and After (New York: Putnam's, 1940), 58.
 Luebke, 95, Table 1. In the 1880s, Germans constituted 27.5% of total immigration.
 The peaks were 215,009 and 250,630, respectively. U. S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics, 106.
 Günter Moltmann, "The Pattern of German Emigration to the United States in the Nineteenth Century," in America and the Germans. An Assessment of a Three-Hundred-Year History, ed. Frank Trommler and Joseph McVeigh (Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1985), 21.
 In 1880, the German-born populations of Cincinnati and Milwaukee numbered 46,157 and 31,483; that of St. Louis, 54,901; and those of New York and Chicago, 163,482 and 75,205, respectively. (The figure for New York does not include Brooklyn, which at that time had not yet been incorporated into Greater New York and, as the third largest American city, had a German-born population comparable to that of Philadelphia, at 55,339.) U.S. Census Office, Tenth Census of the United States, June 1, 1880, Volume 1: Statistics of the Population at the Tenth Census (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1883), 538-539.
 Immigrants of Irish stock made up 27% of the city's population. Russell A. Kazal, "Becoming 'Old Stock': The Waning of German-American Identity in Philadelphia, 1900-1930" (Ph. D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1998), 99, Table 1.1. Kazal's source for the table is, in turn: Theodore Hershberg, Alan N. Burstein, Eugene P. Ericksen, Stephanie W. Greenberg and William L. Yancey, "A Tale of Three Cities: Blacks, Immigrants, and Opportunity in Philadelphia, 1850-1880, 1930, 1970," in Philadelphia. Work, Space, Family, and Group Experience in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Theodore Hershberg (New York: Oxford UP, 1981), 465, Table 1. Kazal published an abridged version of his dissertation as: Becoming Old Stock: The Paradox of German-American Identity (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2004).
 Kathleen Neils Conzen, "German-Americans and the Invention of Ethnicity," in America and the Germans, 133-135. Conzen argues that by "reacting to the assimilation norms held out to them by American society" and striving for a sense of group cohesiveness, German Americans "helped also to invent ethnicity itself as a category within American society" (133).
 Albert Bernhardt Faust, The German Element in the United States (New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1969; reprint of the revised edition published by the Steuben Society, 1927), Volume 2, 250-251.
 Kazal, 60-61.
 Lesley Ann Kawaguchi, The Making of Philadelphia's German-America: Ethnic Group and Community Development, 1830-1883 (Ph. D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 1983), 270, 277. The very first Turnverein was founded in Cincinnati.
 Anzeiger des Westens, August 28, 1858. Qtd. in Alfred Henry Nolle, The German Drama on the St. Louis Stage (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1917; Americana Germanica No. 32), 26-27. Börnstein was at that time the editor of the Anzeiger, a St. Louis newspaper. All translations from the German are my own.
 Hermann E. Rothfuss, "The Beginnings of the German-American Stage," German Quarterly 24.2 (March 1951): 94.
 C. F. Huch, "Das deutsche Theater in Philadelphia vor dem Bürgerkriege," Mitteilungen des Deutschen Pionier-Vereins von Philadelphia 6 (1907): 13-27; here: 13. The article was the first in a three-part series by Huch in Mitteilungen, followed by: "Das deutsche Theater in Philadelphia während des Bürgerkrieges," 7 (1908): 10-20; and "Das deutsche Theater in Philadelphia seit dem Bürgerkriege," 8 (1908): 14-29. My narrative from this point will closely follow Huch, with citations using the author's last name and the abbreviated titles: "Vor dem Bürgerkriege," "Während des Bürgerkrieges," and "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," respectively.
 Qtd. in Huch, "Vor dem Bürgerkriege." 13-14.
 Huch, "Vor dem Bürgerkriege," 15-18.
 Huch, "Vor dem Bürgerkriege," 19. On the two venues, see Irvin R. Glazer, Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z. A Comprehensive, Descriptive Record of 813 Theatres Constructed Since 1724 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986): the Melodeon, 167; and City Museum, 86-87.
 Huch, "Vor dem Bürgerkriege," 19-22.
 Huch, "Vor dem Bürgerkriege," 19-23. Huch does not specify the total number of plays for 1858. The works listed are just a sampling from those named by Huch as performed more than twice, or as noteworthy productions. In many cases, Huch gives only the titles.
 Huch, "Vor dem Bürgerkriege," 23.
 Huch, "Vor dem Bürgerkriege," 24. Huch identifies the building originally bought by the Turngemeinde as "Marshalls-Institut." According to playbills and clippings of newspaper advertisements for Turner-Halle held in the Learned Collection (dated 1873-1881), the address was 444 & 446 N. Third Street. (See, for instance, playbills 1875-1879, folder 688.)
 Huch, "Vor dem Bürgerkriege," 24.
 Huch, "Während des Bürgerkrieges," 13-15. One notes in Huch's account that the Melodeon––previously mentioned as a venue on Chestnut above Sixth––at this point is being used as a name for a venue on Callowhill Street; see note 25, below.
 Huch, "Während des Bürgerkrieges," 15.
 Huch, "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 22. The "Callowhill-Straszen-Theater" to which Huch makes repeated reference is apparently a rubric for performances being held at the site originally called the City Museum, located (as mentioned above) on Callowhill Street 'below Fifth.' The address of the successor venue, Concordia-Halle, was 417-427 Callowhill Street (see playbill of 1874, folder 676); that is also the address given for Concordia Operetten-Theater, which opened there in 1881 (see librettos, box 33). Glazer's account of City Museum confirms this assumption: "When [the site] reopened after the 1868 fire, it offered plays, vaudeville and German Drama. Its new name was the Concordia" (86-87). One of the alternate names that Glazer gives for the site is "Melodeon"; his compendium makes no reference to the name "Callowhill Street Theater."
 Huch, "Während des Bürgerkrieges," 16-17; "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 15.
 Huch, "Während des Bürgerkrieges," 18-19; "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 14.
 Huch, "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 14.
 Huch, "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 16.
 Huch, "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 16. Musical scores authored by Theodor Schaumberg can be found in the Learned Collection––folders 655 (for the play Bruder Liederlich) and 662-664 (for Die Afrikanerin)––as well as handwritten role books (actors' scripts) and handwritten transcriptions of plays that are stamped with his name. In the latter category is a handwritten copy of Roderich Benedix's one-act comedy Nein, signed and dated by Schaumberg 21 February 1868 (folder 44).
 Huch, "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 18-19.
 Huch, "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 20-21.
 Huch, "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 21-23.
 Huch, "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 24-25.
 Huch, "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 25-26. Concerning German-language theater in Turner Halle during this period, a number of performances are documented by newspaper clippings in the Learned Collection (with titles in addition to the ones named by Huch); see Appendix 2: List of Newspaper Advertisements for Performances in Turner-Halle, 1873-1875, following the last series of the collection inventory of this register.
 Huch, "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 27. Concerning the history of the German theater from 1877 on, Huch gives only a brief overview, while referring the reader to an article ("eine Geschichte der hiesigen deutschen Bühne") published on 2 July 1905 in the Philadelphia newspaper Die Neue Welt, by Siegfried Remak, who served for many years as the ticket agent of Germania Theater. I was unfortunately unable to consult that article before completing the writing of this register. My narrative about Germania Theater is based to a great extent on the holdings of the Learned Collection.
 Huch, "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 27. See also the entry for "Germania Theatre," in Glazer, 125. Huch does not give a street address for the site. Glazer gives the street number as "520-530." Playbills and theater newspapers held in the Learned Collection all give the address as 528-532 N. Third Street. Earlier items, in 1878 to 1880, also describe the building as "früher Ladner's Military Hall." (See, for instance, theater newspapers for 1878, folder 690.)
 See folder 690 for the newspaper's first issue.
 Huch, "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 27. Huch states the theater closed for reconstruction in "April 1880." Extant issues of theater newspapers suggest the closing was likely in April 1881.
 The details about Gottlob Hammer's origins and emigration can be gleaned from a biographical sketch of his son, also named Gottlob Hammer, found in Hervorragende und fortschrittliche Deutsch-Amerikaner von Philadelphia Pennsylvania und Umgegend (Philadelphia: German Daily Gazette Publishing Co., 1906; unpaginated). The professional activities of Oberkirsch are reflected in the advertisements that he ran in the Germania's newspaper, Die Bühne, beginning with the first issue. The paper also carries advertisements for Hammer's wine business. (See folder 690.)
 18 December 1877.
 The theater was forced to close on Sundays during the season 1887-1888 for the first time in 15 years ("seit 15 Jahren das erste Mal"), according to a souvenir program for that season. In the souvenir program for the season 1890-1891, it is again noted that the theater had remained closed on Sundays, and that this had been the case for four years ("wie bereits seit 4 Jahren"), that is, throughout the intervening period. The souvenir programs are held at the German Society of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, call numbers AG 720.2 and AG 720.4, respectively.
 For an overview of the Learned Collection's holdings of the newspapers of Germania Theater, see the Index to Theater Newspapers in the indices at the end of this register.
 Stated in an advertisement for the theater in Philadelphia Tageblatt, 30 April 1878.
 The Thalia Theater also issued its own newspaper carrying the program (folder 711).
 Nolle, 53, 56. See also a small news item about Wurster and the closing of the Chicago theater in the Germania's newspaper, 19 April 1878, under "Theater-Neuigkeiten" (folder 690).
 See folder 704.
 Huch, "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 27. In 1893 to 1896, Wurster led another German theater in St. Louis, which, despite his evident talent as a director, faltered financially; Nolle, 65.
 Germania Theater, souvenir program, 1885-1890, held at the German Society of Pennsylvania, call number AG 720.3.
 Hoch, "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 27. For the theater newspaper, see folder 710. Hoch states that the theater closed on the 1 February 1895––evidently the closing was later than that. Rehearsal materials for Die Ehre bear names of cast members as advertised in the newspaper (see folders 573-578). The performances of that play were scheduled for 5 and 6 March.
 Georg von Bosse, Philadelphia und sein Deutschtum. Ein Gedenkblatt von Ausstellungsjahr 1926 (Philadelphia: Graf & Breuninger, 1926), 130. Bosse initially settled in Egg Harbor City, N.J. After several moves, he arrived in Philadelphia in 1905.
 The holdings at the German Society of Pennsylvania related to the Deutsche Theater at Franklin Street and Girard Avenue include a commemorative booklet issued in March 1909, in honor of Hanisch's 25th anniversary in his career as an actor (call number AG 715.4), and a collection of theater programs.
 Bosse, 130. Glazer, entry on the German Theatre, 125; and on the Astor Theatre, 62.
 Huch notes Bloch's name among the members of a theater troop in summer 1866; "Seit dem Bürgerkriege," 15. Huch speculates that Bloch was a prompter at that time.
 See, for instance, the cast listing in a clipping of a newspaper advertisement for a performance of Carl Elmar's Ein jüdischer Dienstbote in August 1873, pasted to inside front cover of the published copy (folder 100); and a playbill for a performance of Arthur Müller's Die Hexe von Leonberg in September 1879 (folder 678).
 The compiler is given as: "Theodor Bloch, der sich seit 25 Jahren mit der Statistik des hiesigen Deutschen Theaters eingehend beschäftigt"; Germania Theater, souvenir program, 1885-1890, held at the German Society of Pennsylvania, call number AG 720.3. Three other souvenir programs held at the German Society are for seasons 1886-1887, 1887-1888, and 1890-1891 (call numbers AG 720.1, AG 720.2, and AG 720.4, respectively). Bloch is also credited as the compiler of the 1890-1891 program. For the playbill of 1887, see Learned Collection, folder 683. On Bloch as prompter, see also an item of uncertain date that appears to be a draft of a speech about the prompter Bloch, apparently recited by one of the actors before or after a performance (miscellaneous unidentified items, folder 629).
 The advertisement, which retains a similar form over the years, recommends the theater lending library (Theater-Leihbibliothek) to theater directors, amateur theaters, and associations (Vereinen), boasting an extensive selection of "Possen, Schau- und Lustspielen mit den dazu gehörigen Rollen, unter den billigsten Bedingungen" (farces, dramas and comedies, with accompanying role books, under the cheapest terms). See the first advertisements, in folder 692, and the last in folder 710.
 See Series III, box 34.
 Cast lists usually only give "Herr Frank" and "Fräulein Frank"; their full names appear when benefit performances are dedicated to them––for Heinrich Frank in July 1878 (newspaper, folder 690) and for Mathilde, or Tilly, Frank in January and June 1879 (playbills, folder 678).
 An advertisement for the book is found in the newspaper for Thalia Theater, which was also edited by Frank; see the issue for the week ending 6 March 1886, folder 711.
 See Appendix 2: List of Newspaper Advertisements for Performances in Turner Halle, 1873-1875, following the last series of the collection inventory in this register.
 For the playbill, which has been restored, see folder 722. It is missing one fragment, which remains pasted to the inside front cover of Bloch's copy of Die Tage der Erkenntnis. The book was among the ones separated from the manuscript collection for cataloging in Rare Books.
 See folder 347. The materials in the file were evidently used for a performance in Philadelphia in July 1875 (documented by a playbill, folder 688).
 In the summary data accessible in the online database at www.castlegarden.org (as accessed 9 June 2007), the first name Theodor is (mis)spelled as "Thodor."
 See the files for Hugo Müller's Im Wartesalon erster Klasse (folders 370-371), and Feodor Wehl's Ein modernes Verhängniss (folders 595-596); and the theater newspaper of Harmonie Hall advertising the performances (folder 699).
The Learned Collection on German-Language Theater comprises material relating to the production and performance of German-language plays in Philadelphia, primarily in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The collection might be thought of in terms of two broad categories: materials directly used by theater companies for rehearsal and performance of works; and printed materials designed for the benefit of audiences and to promote performances.
The core of the materials in the first category are to be found in Series I, Theater Rehearsal Materials, including the following types of items: published copies of plays (or, occasionally, handwritten transcriptions) that have been annotated as prompt books; handwritten scenarios; handwritten role books (actors' scripts); and, in scattered instances, props (limited to written items––letters, written orders, statements––that were called for in the script). The materials of Series I date from approximately 1832 to 1897. They represent a total of 168 titles of German plays by 100 authors (including three authors who appear only as co-authors; one work was published anonymously). In some cases the collection includes musical scores associated with that work (Series IV). The extant musical scores are usually handwritten; in a few instances, a published booklet of music is included. Eleven composers are represented (and one unidentified composer), including two composers (Theodor Schaumberg and C. Harry Lauer) who were active in the local Philadelphia milieu as music directors.
The majority of the materials in Series I are associated with performances in Philadelphia from around 1873 to 1895, predominantly (although not exclusively) at Germania Theater, at 528-532 N. Third Street, which operated from August 1877 until around March 1895. By far most of the items comprise the surviving inventory of the theater lending library of Theodor Bloch, a German immigrant to Philadelphia who was active in German-language theater in the city during this period. The use of the materials for performances can usually be inferred from the evidence of annotations. In some cases the materials can be correlated to specific performances that are documented by playbills and theater newspapers in the collection. In other cases, the time period when they were most likely used has been inferred through consideration of the cast(s) reflected in annotations (the names of cast members are often written on the role books and/or noted on the page listing characters in the published copy). In a few instances, contemporary participants in German-language theater actually signed and dated materials that they produced or used. Performances were generally able to be confirmed only from the 1870s on. However, it is possible that in some cases handwritten items originated even earlier, and original cast-member names are either no longer in evidence or could not be dated.
The majority of the titles found in Series I are by authors who were popular on nineteenth-century German stages but whose works today are mostly forgotten, or who would primarily be studied under the rubric of 'popular' or 'commercial' theater. The five authors represented by the most titles are Gustav von Moser, Emil Pohl, Hermann Salingré, Louis Schneider, and Friedrich Kaiser (each with between 7 and 9 titles). Rudolf Kneisel, Arthur Müller, Julius Rosen, and Feodor Wehl are represented by four titles each. Five women authors are included: Charlotte Birch-Pfeiffer; Hedwig Dohm; Amalie, Princess of Saxony; Therese von Megerle; and Betty Young. (Only Birch-Pfeiffer is represented by more than one title.) The collection contains materials for some titles that are so obscure today that copies of the text are difficult to find, and in a few instances the title (whether it is represented by a published copy of the play, a handwritten transcription, or perhaps only role books) might be unique in the realm of cataloged items.
A significant number of the titles are translations and/or adaptations from works in other languages, especially French, but a few in other languages. In the German-American context, Megerles's Onkel Tom, based on Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, is perhaps worthy of mention; playbills and a theater newspaper are included. In the context of a selection of authors in which there are only a handful with a claim to any kind of canonical status––Johann Nestroy, with Einen Jux will er sich machen, or Hermann Suderman, with Die Ehre––it is fascinating to find Friedrich Schiller represented here only as an adapter, with his fairy-tale drama Turandot, Prinzessin von China, based on the Italian play Turandot, by Carlo Gozzi. (As can be seen by a glance at the indices to the collection's playbills and theater newspapers, found at the end of this register, Schiller's standard and well-loved works, including Wilhelm Tell, Die Räuber, and Maria Stuart, were also produced regularly on the German-language stage in Philadelphia, although they are not represented in Series I.)
In the cataloging of these titles, the adapters have been regarded as the primary author, and every effort was made to trace both the author and the title of the original source (the complete information could not always be found). In two instances, the title constitutes an unattributed German translation of a French work, and since the translator could not be identified, the work has been placed under the name of the author of the French source (Bernard-Valville; Michel Carré). One work has been cataloged according to its title because the author could not be identified (Die lebendig todten Eheleute).
A significant aspect of the selection of plays represented in Series I is that 50 of the 168 titles are works designed to be performed with music. (Musical scores––not necessarily complete––are included for only 20 works.)
Considered by genre, the selection of works is weighted toward comic genres, with over one hundred works designated as Lustspiel (comedy), Posse (farce), Schwank (comical story), or Komödie (or: Comödie; comedy). Following is an overview of the distribution of titles according to genre:
11 Volksstück or Volks-Schauspiel
5 Charakterbild (Characterbild)
3 Oper / Operette
2 Dramatisches Gedicht
8 Miscellaneous genre designations (dramatisches Gemälde; Melodrama; Scene; dramatisches Spiel; Scherzspiel; Weihnachts-Komödie; Zeitgemälde; dramatische Anecdote)
While most of the theater rehearsal materials appear to come from Theodor Bloch's lending library, it is interesting to note that the extant items apparently represent only a fraction of the original library. The collection includes a catalog that Bloch compiled for his library in 1886 (the lone item constituting Series III). The catalog contains a 39-page long, mostly single-spaced, handwritten list of titles that Bloch held at that time––perhaps 1,000 titles or more.
One needs to consider that some published books (all containing one or more plays) have been separated from the Manuscript Collection in order to be cataloged as Rare Books. In all cases, the books in this category contained no significant annotations and were not associated with any theater rehearsal materials. The books that have been separated in this way during the present processing (others may have been separated from the collection at an earlier point) number approximately 75. Nearly half of those books are accounted for by a partial set of the collected plays of August von Kotzebue––34 of the 50 volumes contained in: Theater (Wien: Lechner, 1830-1833). A quick perusal indicates that the titles represented by these books are indeed listed in Bloch's catalog, although the catalog does not list every single title in the volumes that contain multiple plays. In addition, a number of the books are labeled as the property of Bloch. It seems a reasonable assumption that most, if not all, of the books belonged to him. With that in mind, it appears that Bloch may have listed many titles in his catalog even if he owned only a published copy of the play. Even if role books may have existed for these additional titles, the lack of annotations in the published copies suggests that the materials were never actually used to prepare a performance. Overall then, one might speculate that the extant items in Series I are more representative than it might at first appear. If they seem to represent perhaps only 15% of the original library, they might nevertheless represent a higher proportion of the items in the library that were actually connected with a performance in Bloch's milieu.
The materials of the second category mentioned at the outset of this discussion––namely, items designed for the benefit of audiences and to promote performances––include: librettos (Series II), playbills (Series V), oversized (poster-format) playbills (Series VII.C), and theater newspapers (Series VI), as well as a handful of newspaper clippings of advertisements for performances, from the general German-language press of Philadelphia. The materials in this category are mostly concentrated in the period 1878 to 1894, with scattered items dating to as early as 1873 and to as late as 1898. Almost all of these materials pertain specifically to Philadelphia, although a few items relate to performances in other cities in the United States (New York City; Newark, N.J.; Sea Isle City, N.J.; and Kansas City, Mo.); and one playbill is from Berlin, Germany. The few items that pertain to performances in cities other than Philadelphia all appear to have had some relationship to individuals who participated in German-language theater in Philadelphia. (For instance, a theater newspaper from Newark records performances by cast members who routinely performed in Philadelphia during the period; a playbill from New York City records a performance that was evidently prepared using items borrowed from Bloch's library; and the single playbill from Germany was possibly saved by Bloch during a visit to Germany––he, at any rate, pasted it to the inside front cover of the published copy of the play held in his library.)
The theater rehearsal materials of Series I include a small subset of materials––17 files––that deserve special mention, since they seem to share certain qualities that set them apart in the context of the collection on the whole. First, the works in question are, on the whole, significantly older, representing, in effect, an earlier generation of authors in comparison to the mid-to-late nineteenth century authors who predominate in the collection. The materials themselves are all written on a heavier-weight and higher quality paper that has an unusual look in comparison to most other handwritten items in the collection, and the style of German handwriting (Kurrentschrift) also tends to a more intricate look typical of older samples. These items appear to have been produced before 1870. The files consist entirely of handwritten items, without the inclusion of a published copy of the play as a prompt book, as is more commonly the case among the materials that can be directly related to Theodor Bloch's lending library. The items in any given file form a uniform set, seemingly written out in the same hand. Some of the files might be linked based on the handwriting. In some cases the items are accompanied by a paper sleeve, and sometimes the sleeve is secured with a red wax seal. Among the several files that include a seal with a discernible impression, four share a seal with an identical design, while a fifth file has a seal that seems to bear a coat of arms. It seems unlikely that the materials in these 17 files originated in the German-American theater milieu; rather, they may have been produced in a German-speaking milieu in Europe, perhaps on a noble estate where private performances were given. It should be noted that two of these titles are listed in Theodor Bloch's catalog: Karl Töpfer, Nehmt ein Exempel dran; and Oswald, Die Theaterprobe. On that basis, one might speculate that Bloch acquired the items fortuitously from a source outside of his usual milieu. There is no direct evidence to support this hypothesis. None of the items is marked by Bloch in any way, and the annotations on the items do not include any references that were able to be identified as linking them to the German theater milieu of Philadelphia.
Appendices and Indices
Following the last series in the collection inventory is a series of appendices and indices that gather together information about various materials in the collection.
Appendices 1 to 3, mentioned in the notes to the discussion above, give overviews, respectively, of the theater venues represented; of the handful of scattered newspaper clippings that document additional performances; and of a certain grouping of theater rehearsal materials judged to be possibly older and of a provenance different from the late-nineteenth-century German-American milieus generally represented in the collection.
The three indices that follow the appendices convey detailed information about the performances represented in the playbills and theater newspapers contained in the collection. The Index to Playbills and the Index to Theater Newspapers, organized according to theater name, and then chronologically, constitute a supplement to the general inventory list for Series V and VI; they provide an itemized listing of all the playbills and theater newspaper issues, respectively. Finally, the Author/Title Index to Playbills and Theater Newspapers has been compiled in order to enable the location of materials within the collection of playbills and theater newspapers related to specific authors and works of interest. This index also includes a separate section for composers known to have been responsible for the music accompanying plays represented in the collection (as advertised in the playbills and theater newspapers).
Endnotes (Scope and Contents)
 For an overview of the theaters represented in the collection, see Appendix 1: List of Theater Venues Represented in the Learned Collection, in the appendices following the last series in the collection inventory.
 See the "Biographical Sketch of Theodor Bloch," in the Biography/History note, above.
 Additional confirmation of specific performances could well be drawn from the general German-language press of the period. Theater advertisements were carried, for instance, in the Philadelphia Tageblatt, the Philadelphia Demokrat, Die Freie Presse, and Die Neue Welt. A scholarly work useful in this regard is the Ph.D. thesis of Orlando Faulkland Lewis, "Performances of German Drama in Philadelphia 1842-1898, as advertised in 'Philadelphia Demokrat'; 2,966 titles, 19,270 performances" (handwritten manuscript, University of Pennsylvania, 1900).
 Huch's series of articles on German theater in Philadelphia, cited above (in the "Historical Sketch on German-Language Theater in Philadelphia," in the Biography/History note) gives listings of actors and actresses from as early as the 1850s.
 There is no separate series for clippings. These clippings are almost exclusively found pasted to the inside covers of published copies of plays that belonged to Theodor Bloch's theater lending library, and so are found randomly throughout Series I. They document performances given in Turner Halle, Philadelphia, just prior to the period covered by the collection's playbills and theater newspapers. For an overview, see Appendix 2: List of Newspaper Advertisements for Performances in Turner Halle, 1873-1875, in the appendices following the last series in the collection inventory. A single stand-alone newspaper clipping from Philadelphia Tageblatt, dated 8 November 1878, has been integrated with the theater newspapers (Series VI).
 For a list of these files, see Appendix 3: List of Theater Rehearsal Materials of an Unknown Milieu, in the appendices following the last series in the collection inventory.
Gift of Marion Dexter Learned, 1917 [?]
For a complete list of the 168 plays and 10 librettos found in the collection, do the following title search in Franklin: Learned Collection on German-Language Theater.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Violet Lutz
- Finding Aid Date
- Use Restrictions
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