Max Kade Institute

 FRIENDS NEWSLETTER
NEWSLETTER OF THE FRIENDS OF THE MAX KADE INSTITUTE. VOL. 10 NO. 1 SPRING 2001

 

Table of Contents:
"Languages in a Virtual World"
Annual Friends Dinner
Genealogy Workshop Scheduled
Preston to Speak on Midwestern English

Book Review
Breaking Bread - Bridging Cultures
Friends Profile: William Thiel
Calendar of Events

Elvehjem Exhibits Günter Grass's Artwork
Brumder Publishing Company

Friends of MKI Board of Directors
New Library Acquisitions


Wagener Speaks on "Languages in a Virtual World"

by Steve Geiger

On January 31 the Max Kade Institute proudly hosted a lecture by Peter Wagener, guest professor from the Institut für deutsche Sprache (IDS) in Mannheim. His talk, entitled "Languages in a Virtual World," presented the past and future of the IDS's German Language Archive (Deutschers Spracharchiv), and its future connections with the developing sound archive at MKI.

Wagener first discussed the archive, including the current holdings of 15,000 hours of recorded speech in various dialects of German around the world, split into different corpora based on who recorded them. These recordings are being digitized and prepared for publication on the Internet, where recordings will be linked with a Standard German text transcription, allowing users to search for different words or phrases in all their contexts in the archive's holdings. With these searchable text/recording associations, it will be possible to call up the corresponding sound file so that the researcher can hear the sample as it sounds in real life.

In order to accomplish this goal, the IDS has implemented a network of computers linked to a set of hard drives that store and back up the digitized recordings. IDS researchers are then able to access the data from different workstations on the network, allowing them to work with the data by preparing transcriptions and burning CDs.

Quite possibly the most exciting feature is the availability of this archive via the Internet. Within the next few weeks (perhaps even before the ink is dry on this newsletter), the IDS plans to "go on-line" with the recordings that have been digitized and transcribed up to this point. The number of available recordings will include 4,600 hours of the eventual 15,000 records. This development will allow visitors from around the world to access this information by searching for specific dialect or context and retrieve information about the speaker and a text transcription of the recording while listening to the recording itself. This will be an invaluable tool for linguists, as well as a service to all those who are interested in dialects.

After an off-line preview of web functionality, Wagener emphasized the lack of data from German-speaking Americans. This is where MKI comes in. For the last few years, MKI has been working on the digital preservation of sound recordings as well. Wagener believes that the connection being established between the IDS and the MKI will allow for parallel preparation of materials, facilitating a seamless connection between the two institutes' websites and filling this data gap.

IDS's website can be found at www.ids-mannheim.de/dsav. The Institute will continue to digitize its holdings and hopes to have the current 15,000 records available for search within the next five years.

 

Wagener's Mission at Wisconsin: Record German Speakers Today

Where there is a speaker of a German dialect in Wisconsin, you will be sure to find Peter Wagener with microphone and recorder, getting as much as possible on tape. Recently in rural Dane County, Wagener had the good fortune to rerecord a speaker of Kölsch, a dialect spoken by only a handful of fourth to fifth generation speakers. The same individual had been recorded over fifty years earlier by Smoky Siefert. Wagener hopes to use this and the other recordings that he has made here to study German-American dialects and trace the evolution of language attrition in the Midwest.

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Gurda Slated for Annual Friends' Dinner

by Mary Devitt

Milwaukee's changing German neighborhoods will be the topic of John Gurda's talk at Madison's Pyle Center on Thursday, May 10. Gurda's presentation will cover various neighborhoods, religious patterns, Socialist politics, the cataclysm of World War I and the continuing German influence on the community's character even today.

Gurda is a Milwaukee-born writer and historian who has been studying his hometown for more than twenty-five years. He writes a local-history column for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and is the author of thirteen books, including histories of the Milwaukee area's ethnic neighborhoods, churches and industries.

The Making of Milwaukee, his latest work, is the first in-depth history of Milwaukee since 1948. It chronicles all aspects of the "German Athens" from the city's strong German heritage to its most recent immigrants; from Pabst Blue Ribbon to Harley-Davidson; from the Socialists who made Milwaukee one of the best run cities in America to the railroad promoter who managed to bribe the entire state legislature.

Gurda has received many honors for his work on Wisconsin history including winning the State Historical Society's Award of Merit seven times and being placed on the Wisconsin Writers Hall of Fame last year.

Gurda's talk will cap off the annual Friends' event, which begins with a business meeting in the Pyle Center at 4:00 p.m., followed by a cocktail hour from 5:30-6:30, then the dinner and evening talk, also at the Pyle Center.

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Genealogy Workshop Scheduled

Saturday, May 5, 2001
9:00 a.m._2:00 p.m.

The Friends of MKI are pleased to offer a one-day workshop on German Genealogy in conjunction with the Wisconsin Alumni Association's Rhine and Mosel River tour of Germany, exploring German-American heritage, September 9-19, 2001.

In order to provide participants in the WAA program and members of the Friends with the tools needed to make a trip to Germany conducive to exploring genealogy, this workshop will cover topics such as what steps to take before getting to Germany, how to find a family's place of origin, what information can be found in German archives and a lesson in transcribing nineteenth-century German script--the handwriting that often holds the key to many genealogy-related questions.

The cost of the workshop, which includes a box lunch, is $60 and is limited to twenty-five participants. Please contact MKI for more information.

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Preston to Speak on Midwestern American English

by Eric Platt

Dennis Preston will be speaking on Midwestern American English, a dialect even more familiar to most Friends of MKI than German, on Friday, April 6, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. at the Humanities Building, Room 1111.

The lecture, entitled "The Greatest Language in the World: Midwestern U.S. English," promises to help everyone in attendance learn more about their region's speech patterns in easy-to-follow, nontechnical language.

A top scholar of American English, Preston is uniquely qualified to give this presentation. According to Richard Young, professor of English, he knows the topic better than perhaps anyone else in the field today.

Preston, a professor of linguistics at Michigan State University, is no stranger to UW. He received his Ph.D. in linguistics here from the great Fred Cassidy, chief editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English, during the 1960s.

Preston's lecture is cosponsored by MKI and the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures.

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The History of U.S. Language Policy and the German Language in America

On the occasion of: At War with Diversity: U.S. Language Policy in an Age of Anxiety, by James Crawford. 2000. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters. (Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, vol. 25.) 143 pp.

By Joseph Salmons

0. Introduction. Whether you look to Wisconsin, Texas, Pennsylvania, the Great Plains or the prairies of western Canada, the story of the German language in North America provides an interesting case study of immigrant bilingualism in myriad ways.1 James Crawford's latest book on American language policy and bilingualism provides a good opportunity to place that history into a broader context.

1. The lack of a national language policy. Perhaps the most prominent thesis of this book is that the standard language policy in this country has been to have "no policy on language, explicitly defined and national in scope" (p. 1, emphasis in original). We certainly see that clearly reflected in reactions to the German language over centuries of American history. It shows up, in fact, in both positive and negative ways, but the mechanism of enforcement is consistently local or informal (i.e., not national policy at all) and typically without lasting impact. On the one hand, Crawford quotes some of the infamous tirades of Benjamin Franklin against the German language and its speakers in colonial Pennsylvania (p. 11):

Why should the Palatine Boors be suffered to swarm into our Settlements, and by herding together, establish their Language and Manners, to the Exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion?

The survival of Pennsylvania German as a mother tongue today shows that Franklin's attitudes have had little impact on the German language in Pennsylvania.

On the other hand, by 1900, perhaps as many as one million American children were attending German-language schools, public or parochial, often with local and state financing, across much of the country (see section 4, below). That very significant and widespread support for the German language not only did little for the retention of German in this country, but it also seems to be largely forgotten. I wonder, for example, how many citizens of Cleveland, Ohio, today know that their city supported a very large German-speaking educational system in the early twentieth century.

2. Repression/suppression of languages other than English. Crawford's first chapters treat efforts to create a national language policy: "The Anatomy of the English-only Movement" and "Boom to Bust: Official English in the 1990s." Along with revealing the roots of Official English and related movements (including some very unsavory connections), the early chapters review some notable examples of language conflict in this country. Such examples are typically efforts by English-speaking Americans to restrict language use or other cultural practices among immigrant groups. The history of German speakers in this country exemplifies these tensions and movements at several points. Such movements typically arise at times of crisis, and German was of course the subject of such unwanted attention at the time of World War I. But the consequences of that attention have been greatly exaggerated by some. For example, Don Heinrich Tolzmann has written of the "persecution and victimization of German-Americans [sic]" in this era (1995:ix), and that "[t]he Anti-German Hysteria certainly ranks as one of the most brutal inquisitions in American history" (1995:1073). While this view echoes a long fileopietistic tradition, most people realize that almost every group of people in this country — indigenous or immigrant — has faced far harder times indeed than the German-American community, whether outright genocide, slavery, or pervasive and ongoing vigilante violence.2 So too it is with language: There exists a fairly large scholarly literature treating the "repression," "suppression," and "uprooting" of German in the World War I era as a low point in American language policy. Crawford reminds us, though, that European immigrant languages have almost always been shown considerably more tolerance than indigenous languages or languages of racial minorities. Surely no reasonable person would dare to compare the sporadic, local or state efforts over a few years to restrict the German-language press with the federal policy of Boarding Schools. That institution was used systematically for half a century to destroy Native American cultures and languages by taking children away from their families and cutting off virtually all contact with their communities.

Crawford formulates one classic myth about immigrants in this way: "Today's immigrants refuse to learn English, unlike the good old immigrants of yesterday, and are discouraged from doing so by government-sponsored bilingual programs" (p. 6). I have heard this opinion in Wisconsin, from grandchildren of German immigrants, people who presumably had no idea that their forebears in many parts of this state read their daily newspapers and state government documents in German, attended public or parochial schools and a variety of religious services in German, worked jobs in German-speaking environments as members of German-speaking unions, spent their leisure time in German-speaking social clubs of every sort, and so on. Just as Greeks in Lowell, Massachusetts, led English-only efforts as a reaction to Hispanic and Asian immigration (pp. 26-27), in the Midwest Americans of German-speaking ancestry, often one generation removed from bilingualism themselves, unfortunately express resentment over the presumed unwillingness of newcomers to learn English. Understanding the history of their own families and communities might increase the tolerance such people show toward contemporary immigrants.

In fact, Crawford shows — and a broad body of evidence from many sources supports the conclusion — that today's immigrants eagerly learn English as quickly as they can, and that their children are switching overwhelmingly and rapidly to English. Even the numbers of Spanish speakers in this country are kept high solely by new immigration. Contrast this with the many German dialects still spoken today, five or six generations after immigration to those communities effectively ended. Mark Louden has argued that "Dutchified English" in Pennsylvania today results from parts of some (non-Anabaptist) communities having remained overwhelmingly Pennsylvania-German dominant or even monolingual well into the twentieth century, for over 200 years.

3. Language shift. Crawford devotes two chapters to questions of language shift, "Endangered Native American Languages: What's to Be Done and Why?" and "Seven Hypotheses on Language Loss." He reviews the bleak picture now familiar well beyond the field of linguistics, like the projection that 90% of the world's languages will die or become severely threatened in the next century. This includes every single indigenous language of the United States, even Navajo and Choctaw, which still have relatively large numbers of speakers. Crawford rightly puts qualifications on the notions of language death as "suicide" or "murder" (except, obviously, in cases where the speakers of a language are literally killed). Even extreme coercion has not been as powerful as other factors in the epidemic of language death. Crawford writes (pp. 58-59) that:

. . . linguistic assimilation seems to have proceeded more efficiently on a laissez-faire basis than it did through coercion. The more parents encounter the dominant culture, the more they tend to raise their children mostly or entirely in English, the language of access to that culture. Thus every step toward modernization — and away from tradition — puts the indigenous tongue at a greater disadvantage.

This fits well with an emerging theory of language shift that several of us in this Institute have spoken about in the last year or so. This view holds that the forces driving language shift were and are almost entirely external to and independent of minority-language-speaking communities. Early in this century, control of key community structures and institutions passed from the hands of local German-speaking community members and into the hands of national and regional organizations. Those non-local and more bureaucratic units enforced a transition to English in key contexts, which triggered a slow chain of shift down to the level of the family and individual. Under these circumstances, as Wisconsin's Norwegian-English bilingual politician, Nils P. Haugen, put it long ago: "Time takes care of the question of language" (History of Wisconsin, III:322).

4. Bilingual education and government support. The final two chapters, "The Paradox of Bilingual Education" (actually a pattern of paradoxes) and "The Proposition 227 Campaign: A Postmortem," both deal with a topic many Americans with roots in the German-speaking world may not think of as closely connected to their own ancestors' experience: bilingual education and public support for what we now call "limited English proficiency" populations. But 100 years ago German was in a situation strikingly like that of many newer immigrant languages today. At that time, between 600,000 and 1,000,000 elementary school children were being taught partly or entirely in German, many of them in public schools supported with taxpayer funds.3 As Crawford points out (pp. 100, 103), this 4-7% of the entire elementary population is "probably larger than the proportion of children in all bilingual classrooms today." Of course, German was only one of dozens of languages of education in 1900, so that the total population of children in bilingual or monolingual-but-not-English-speaking schools was vast by comparison to today.

Crawford takes aim at other nagging myths: He describes how English-only advocates, concerned about possible waste of federal dollars on foreign language publications, reviewed what official documents were being printed in languages other than English. Alas, 99.94% of Government Printing Office publications were in English in 1995, with the remainder coming largely in areas like health and safety or tourism, where almost everyone agrees that "English-only" policies would be dangerous or nonsensical. Compare this to Dwyer's 1992 study of Wisconsin before the Civil War, where government documents were regularly translated into German and various other languages, with broad and powerful political support.

5. A few comments on other matters. Naturally, this book does have its glitches and shortcomings. Let me note two examples. Crawford actually makes at least one significant error of fact: He repeats an old claim (p. 66) that all languages other than English in the U.S. "would gradually die out in this country," save for "the replenishing effects of immigration." Certainly, as pointed out above already, all Native American languages and virtually all immigrant languages (yes, even Spanish) are not being consistently and securely transmitted from one generation to another in the U.S. as native tongues. Still, there are two glaring counterexamples: Pennsylvania German may be dying out in most of its traditional territory, but Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite children continue to learn it as a first language across the U.S. Likewise, we may think of Yiddish as a dying language, but in some Orthodox and Ultraorthodox circles, it is being learned by children as a first language. Both communities are, in fact, growing in number rapidly, so that these languages are increasing in number of speakers without any new immigration. On other points, there are questions of interpretation. Some historians would, for example, argue that Crawford makes outdated, stereotyped assumptions about the impact of World War I on the German-speaking community in the U.S. (p. 21). He relies mostly on Kloss, Wittke and others who wrote in an era when ethnic history was often difficult to distinguish from ethnic advocacy. (The more recent literature he consults follows closely in these traditional footsteps.) Today, a more nuanced reading of the German-American situation would be welcome. Perhaps, though, this just underscores the need for a reliable and comprehensive treatment of the history of German in this country.

6. Conclusion. In spite of the just-mentioned problems, Crawford's book is a fine contribution to the subject of language policy in the U.S.; it offers a readable and informative introduction to questions of language policy, and it is written in an extremely clear and accessible way. Perhaps more importantly, this book might give readers a chance to think about the linguistic histories of their own communities in new ways with vital connections to the present and future.

References

Dyer, Carolyn Stewart. 1992. Political Patronage of the German-American Press in Antebellum Wisconsin: A Case Study in Political Assimilation. The German-American Press, ed. by Henry Geitz. Madison: Max Kade Institute. 227-241.

Kloss, Heinz. 1977. The American Bilingual Tradition. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House. (Reprinted by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics, 1998.)

Tolzmann, Don Heinrich, ed. 1995. Vol. I: The Anti-German Hysteria of World War I; vol. II: The World War on [sic] Experience. München: K.G. Saur.

Wittke, Carl. 1936. German-Americans and the World War. Columbus: Ohio State Archæological and Historical Society. (Reprinted by Ozor, 1974.)


1. I owe thanks to Mark Louden, Monica Macaulay and Antje Petty for comments on earlier versions of this paper and discussions on this topic. Needless to say, all views and errors in this essay are mine.

2. To give a simple example, the murder of one German-American preacher, Robert Paul Prager in Illinois, during a period of anti-German sentiments hardly compares to the countless murders across the country of people because of their race or ethnicity.

3. Crawford follows here earlier estimates made by Kloss (1977), with the lower number a very conservative estimate and the higher the more likely. These numbers strike me as eminently plausible.

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Breaking Bread - Bridging Cultures: Max Kade Institute Participates in UW-Madison On The Road

by Antje Petty

Together with the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures (CSUMC), the Max Kade Institute participated in the UW-Madison On The Road program at the Milwaukee Public Museum on February 19, 2001. At this event UW-faculty and staff brought their research and a host of interesting educational activities to children of all ages.

MKI's and CSUMC's exhibit and hands-on presentation, "Breaking Bread - Bridging Cultures," held in the Streets of Old Milwaukee, was received enthusiastically. The exhibit focused on Wisconsin's richest resource: its people. Children and adults alike learned about the many different ethnic groups that live in Wisconsin by comparing one of the most fundamental elements of cultural identity: food — and more specifically — bread.

On exhibit walls, in text and in pictures, the presentation focused on cultural identity through geography (where different ethnic groups live in Wisconsin) and time (how cultural traditions of one ethnic group—in this case German-Americans—changed as various immigrant groups settled in Wisconsin).

Many Americans know that Germans love and bake all kinds of bread. However, looking at examples from nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German-American cookbooks, children could see how the bread traditions of German immigrants changed over the years as they were increasingly integrated into American society. Everyone was fascinated to learn about nineteenth century recipes and uses of bread that have completely vanished, such as "bread water" for medicinal purposes. They were equally intrigued to find out that pretzels, an all-American snack food, were brought to this country by immigrants from a relatively small region in southern Germany.

Looking at regions in Wisconsin with a high concentration of a specific ethnic group, the exhibit showed representative pictures of bakeries and the many different breads baked locally today. Through these pictures children learned how something as simple as bread could reveal a lot about cultural heritage in daily life, celebrations and religion.

In addition to pictures — and most popular with the children — the presentation included a large selection of real breads. From German Schwarzbrot and Brötchen to Norwegian lefse, Irish soda bread and Mexican tortillas, children could see, touch and smell slices of Wisconsin culture they had never seen before. Because of this fact, "Breaking Bread-Bridging Cultures" turned out to be a unique experience of ethnic diversity for many a visitor.

Irish soda bread was one of the breads displayed at MKI's exhibit. Irish immigrants to Wisconsin first settled in the southwest part of the state. Today, many people of Irish ancestry make soda bread to celebrate their Irish heritage. Photo by Maureen Egan, MATC.

 

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Friends Profile: William Thiel

By Eric Platt

Bill Thiel may be an attorney, but his heart clearly belongs to the study of Wisconsin's German-American heritage.

Thiel traces his interest in the subject to an early age. "I've been avidly interested in history my entire life," he says. "I've been interested in my German heritage for as long as I can remember too. I remember as a young boy being intrigued by the concept that my grandmother spoke High German and my grandfather spoke Low German."

In 1982, Thiel merged his two passions for the first time and began studying the history of his paternal family, research that culminated in the publication of his first book, Die Familie Thiel, in 1986. Since then, he has worked on several other projects, including a translation of Rudolph Puchner's Memories of the First Years of the Settlement of New Holstein and a companion history of New Holstein, which he is just finishing.

According to Mary Devitt, assistant director of the Max Kade Institute, Thiel's research has done much to further the study of German-American history. "Bill is emblematic of the engaged local historian who begins the journey exploring one's family history and then is compelled to look deeper into the history of emigration and acculturation," she says. "He has honed the skills necessary to research this particular story objectively, and his research adds to what we know about German immigration to the Midwest."

Joseph Salmons, director of MKI, agrees. He says that he is especially looking forward to the publication of Thiel's latest book.

Thiel does not just write about history, he also teaches it. He frequently teams up with Johannes Strohschänk, associate professor of German, to teach a course on German immigration to Wisconsin at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The two have worked together on several research projects as well.

Of course Thiel is also very active with MKI, serving as a member of the Friends Board. He traces his ties with MKI back to the early 1980s.

Salmons praises Thiel's involvement with the Institute. "Bill Thiel plays a key role on our Board of Directors," he says. "His kind of community outreach and scholarly research is what our Institute is all about."

Devitt agrees. "Bill has been a good friend of the Institute in many ways and for a very long time," she says.

According to Thiel, the admiration is mutual. "I've always been impressed with the openness, enthusiasm and resources available at MKI," he says. "The Institute not only produces quality academic work, it also has a great outreach program to the community. It provides an invaluable service on a very limited budget."

When Thiel is not researching, writing or teaching about the German experience in Wisconsin, he works as an attorney specializing in school, real estate and contract law in Eau Claire. He also serves on the board of ARC of Eau Claire and the Ellie Philips Development Centers. In what little free time he has, he likes to read, walk, bike and garden. His favorite reading material? Histories and biographies, of course!

In fact, Thiel believes that everyone should spend more time reading a good history book. "I really think that history is a reflection of ourselves_our past, present and future," he says. "It gives us a better understanding of who we are and where we are going."

Thiel's study of Wisconsin's German heritage has most definitely done all three.

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Calendar of Events
Spring 2001

Friday, April 6: Dennis Preston. "The Greatest Language in the World: Midwestern US English." (Humanities, Room 1111) 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 5: Genealogy Workshop (Unitarian Meeting House & Max Kade Institute) 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 10: Friends Annual Dinner (Alumni Lounge, Pyle Center) 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 12: "MKI Mini-conference on German dialects in the Midwest." 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

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Elvehjem exhibits Günter Grass's Artwork

From now through April 15, 2001, the Elvehjem Museum of Art will present artwork by Nobel Prize-winning German author Günter Grass in Mayer Gallery.

As important as writing is to Grass, he has always needed other media to express himself. Grass, although known for his disturbing and evocative novels, has created prints and sculpture throughout his career. This first U.S. tour of Günter Grass's works on paper features drawings, watercolors, lithographs and etching plates that he created between 1972 and 1997; they are drawn from two German collections: the Ludwig Forum in Aachen and the Museum Wurth in Kunzelsau.

The work includes several cycles of prints related to Grass's books The Tin Drum (1959), From the Diary of a Snail (1972), The Flounder (1977), The Rat (1986), The Call of the Toad (1992), and A Broad Field (1995), among others. Regarding the relationship between forms of expression in his work, Grass has commented that on occasion the pictorial idea would come first and that the writing process and the visual-art process would fertilize one another.

Grass was born in 1927 in Danzig, Germany (now Gdansk, Poland), the setting for several novels. In the 1930s, he joined the Hitler Youth, was drafted into the army at age 16 and wounded in battle in 1945, then imprisoned in Marienbad, Czechoslovakia. After he was freed, Grass worked on farms, in a potash mine and as a stonemason's apprentice. In 1948, he enrolled as a student of painting and sculpture at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art and from 1953 to 1955 studied in West Berlin at the State Academy of Fine Arts. During the 1950s, he traveled in Italy, France and Spain.

His first novel, The Tin Drum, published in 1959, created a furor because of its depiction of the Nazis. It is the story of a child who refuses to grow in protest to the cruelties of German history and communicates only through his toy drum. Grass became the literary spokesman for the German generation that grew up under the Nazis. He continued with his trilogy set in Danzig focusing on war crimes and the postwar acceptability of former Nazis and followed it with another trilogy set in Berlin. Grass then became active in politics, working as a speechwriter for Social Democrat Willy Brandt. In the 1970s and 1980s, Grass took on issues other than German history such as feminism and the art of cooking.

This exhibition was organized by the Robert Hull Fleming Museum, from the collection of the Ludwig Forum, Aachen, Germany. The exhibition was made possible by the Ludwig Foundation for Arts and International Understanding and the Goethe Institute, Boston. Presentation at the Elvehjem has been generously funded in part by the Hilldale Fund and the Anonymous Fund.

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The George Brumder Publishing Company:
A German-American Legacy

By Heidi Marzen, MKI Librarian

With the recent publication of a new bibliography, our attention is drawn to the publishing empire of George Brumder and its historical significance for the German-American community. Based in Milwaukee, Brumder's company served the German-American population of the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Last year the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee published A Bibliography and List of Library Holdings of Milwaukee Publisher George Brumder (1839-1910), which was compiled by Gerhardt Becker and includes a foreword by Frederick J. Olson (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Golda Meir Library, 2000). As the most comprehensive bibliography of its kind, this resource is of great value to the Institute, as our collection of Brumder materials can be seen within the larger scope of all known publications.

George Brumder left for the United States from his Alsatian village of Breuschwickersheim in 1839 at the age of 18. In 1864, he and his new wife bought a small bookstore on Water Street in Milwaukee. Later that year Brumder added a small printing department and began publishing books for the Lutheran Church.

In the 1870s, he expanded into the newspaper business, gradually reaching beyond Milwaukee to other cities in the Midwest. In the 1890s Brumder built his famous office building in downtown Milwaukee, known as the Germania Building, and later the Brumder Building (135 W. Wells St., at the intersection of N. 2nd St. and N. Plankton Ave.). By the time of his death in 1910, after 53 years in Milwaukee, George Brumder had built his business into the nation's largest and most influential German-language publishing company.

The Brumder publishing company covered an extremely wide range of topics in its publications, including farming, medicine, cooking, nature and wildlife, religious themes, Bibles, children's literature, historical literature and fiction. The illustrations shown here are only a few examples of the artwork found in many Brumder books, such as the cover from the children's literature series, Blüthen und Früchte. The drawing of the bird is taken from a general reader entitled Das zweite Milwaukeer Lesebuch nebst praktischen Sprach- und Übersetzungs-Übungen, copyrighted in 1880. Brumder's Populäres Handbuch des Grasbaus, Futterpflanzenbaus, und der Milchwirtschaft by Hans Buschbauer (1883) includes many illustrations of plants, livestock and farming implements, such as the hay tedder shown here.

The Max Kade Institute owns over 180 Brumder publications. Any of these items, or the bibliography, can be viewed here. Please call Heidi Marzen at 262-7546 for an appointment.

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The Friends of the Max Kade Institute Board of Directors are:

Robert Bolz, Madison
Dennis Boyer, Dodgeville
Mary Devitt (ex-officio), Cross Plains
Max Gaebler, Madison
Edward Langer (President), Hales Corners
Fran Luebke (Secretary, Treasurer), Brookfield
Trudy Paradis, Cedarburg
Karyl Rommelfanger, Manitowoc
Joseph Salmons (ex-officio), Madison
Kent Salomon, Appleton
Sue Stoddard, Wausau
William Thiel, Eau Claire
Hermann Viets, Milwaukee

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New Library Acquisitions

by Heidi Marzen, MKI Librarian

The MKI library has received several private donations in the last few months that have proven to be valuable additions to our collection. Most of these items fit into our collection of German-language items published in the United States in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Please contact the Institute if you are interested in viewing any of these materials.

Andreae, F. Hundertfältig. Blumen und Sterne, Heft 39. Reutlingen: Ensslin & Laiblins, n.d.

Durch Urwald und Steppe: Zwei Erzählungen aus dem amerikanischen Leben der Vergangenheit. Milwaukee: Rundschau, 1904.

Ein Weg zur Gesundheit. New York: L. Heumann, n.d.

Erstes Lesebüchlein für Sonntagsschulen nach der Lautiermethode Bearbeitet. Revidierte Ausgabe ed. Cleveland: Deutsche Baptisten Nord-Amerikas, 1916.

Kirchen-Gesangbuch für Evangelisch-Lutherische Gemeinden ungeänderter Ausburgischer Confession, darin des sel. Dr. Martin Luthers und anderer geistreichen Lehrer gebräuchlichste Kirchen-Lieder enthaltend sind. St. Louis: Concordia, 1899.

Kunz, J.G. Liederbuch für christliche Schulen. Eine Sammlung weltlicher und geistlicher Lieder, zwei- und dreistimmig gesetzt, vorzugsweise für Oberklassen. Nebst einem Anhang von vierzehn dreistimmigen Chorälen nach Lanriz. St. Louis: Volkening, 1873.

Lewinnek, Walter. An Autobiography in...Rhymes and Other Poems. s.l.: s.n., [2000].

Linden, John. Lehrbuch der Exanthematischen Heilmethode, auch bekannt unter dem Namen Baunscheidtismus. Nebst einem Anhange: Das Auge und das Ohr, deren Krankheiten und Heilung durch die Exanthematische Heilmethode. 15. Auflage. Cleveland: Evangelical Association, 1889.

Steen, Anna. Evangeline. Eine Erzählung aus der Nordamerikanischen Sklavenzeit. Frei nach dem Englischen aus "Onkel Toms Hütte." 8. Auflage. Jugendheim, 6. Kassel: J.G. Oncken, n.d.

Vergissmeinnicht : Oder Christliches Gedenkbuch. Bibelsprüche und Liederverse, auch Historische Gedenktage, auf jeden Tag des Jahres. Dritte verbesserte Auflage. Reading, Pa.: Pilger, n.d.

Wise, Isaac M. The Divine Service of American Israelites for the New Year. Cincinnati: Bloch & Co., 1866.

We are grateful for the generous donations that have been made to the Institute's library. Please visit our library catalog online and search our growing collection!

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