Migrant Connections

News: A Virtual Family Reunion

September 16, 2020

Philadelphia, September 16, 2020

One goal of German Heritage in Letters’s digital orientation is to make primary sources available in new ways to citizen scholars and academic researchers. Another goal is to bring scattered sources together by taking advantage of the unique features of a digital interface. An example of this is clear today as we begin adding letters from the Eugen Klee Papers, held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, to our website.

Eugen Klee (1869–1929), who immigrated to the United States in 1893, was an important choral conductor and an active member of the German-American musical community in both Philadelphia and New York from the 1890s to the 1920s. After his death, a substantial portion of his papers eventually became part of the archives of the Joseph M. Horner Memorial Library at the German Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. This collection, the Eugen and Emma Klee Letters, was the very first group of correspondence added to the project. In addition to records of Klee’s musical career, the Horner Library’s collection includes over a hundred letters sent to Eugen Klee by relatives in his hometown of Otterberg (Rhineland) and other communities in Germany, dating from 1901 to 1928.

Meanwhile, through circumstances that are no longer clear, another group of Klee papers were accessioned to the manuscript collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (or HSP), just two miles away from the German Society, under the title of the Eugen Klee Papers. We are adding the Klee family letters found at the HSP, dating from the 1890s to the early 1910s, to German Heritage in Letters as a separate project collection named the Eugen Klee Papers (HSP)

We are tremendously excited that we are now able to combine the two collections again through our website. These additional letters will enable us to trace family relationships across many decades, since several of Eugen Klee’s correspondents wrote letters included in both collections, including his nephew Eugen Haas and his cousin Magdalena Cherdron. The HSP collection also includes several letters from Amalia Klee Haas, Eugen Klee’s sister, that will add to our ability to trace sibling relationships across the transatlantic divide. We look forward to the help of citizen scholars in transcribing these original letters and learning what their contents reveal.

Our thanks to Wunderbar Together for providing the resources that have enabled us to bring these two family collections together again for the first time in decades!

Closeup of Eugen Klee, news clipping, c. 1910s
Closeup of a photograph of Eugen Klee, c. 1910s, as director of the Philadelphia Männerchor, news clipping in Klee family scrapbook, German Society of Pennsylvania

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