Migrant Connections

New Exhibit: “Invitation to Indiana”

Washington, D.C., July 29, 2020

• Washington, July 29, 2020 •

This week we are excited to share a new exhibit based on one of our collections of historic correspondence. “Invitation to Indiana: John Weinhardt's Story” begins in 1923, when a fifteen-year-old then known as Hans Weinhardt, from the small town of Schwabach, in Bavaria, sent a letter to the United States hoping to make contact with the descendants of a distant relative who had immigrated to the United States. He received a friendly response from William Weinhardt, a former sheriff of Tippecanoe County, Indiana, who was eager to strike up a correspondence and soon extended an invitation to Hans to immigrate to the United States with his support.

In winter 1925, Hans arrived in Lafayette, Indiana, to live with William and his wife, Carrie. Over the next five years he exchanged a series of letters with his family that sheds light on both the Weinhardts' struggles in post-World War I Germany and on Hans' adjustment to a new country in the years up to his naturalization in 1930, when he became known as John V. Weinhardt. The new exhibit is based on a selection of the dozens of Weinhardt family letters shared with German Heritage in Letters and features both family photographs and other illustrations.

Photograph of Hans (later John) Weinhardt, 1924
Photograph of William W. Weinhardt

The full collection of the Weinhardt Family Letters can be browsed by visiting this link. We owe a great debt of thanks to William G. Weinhardt, Sandra Weinhardt, and John G. Weinhardt for sharing their family's collection of letters and their research into this fascinating story of reconnecting family roots and forging new ties.

Photograph of William J. Weinhardt and his wife, Sandra, holding a photograph of himself as a boy with his father, John V. Weinhardt, and mother Eleanor Bauer Weinhardt Photograph of John J. Weinhardt, nephew of John V. Weinhardt, who translated the family's letters.
John V. Weinhardt's son William J. Weinhardt, with his wife, Sandra, holding a photograph of himself as a boy with his parents.
John G. Weinhardt, nephew of John V. Weinhardt, shows some of the letters in the Weinhardt family collection which he translated and provided to the project.

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