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Archiv des Vereins zum Schutz deutscher Einwanderer in Texas

Call Number: WA MSS S-1291

Scope and Contents

The Archiv des Vereins zum Schutz deutscher Einwanderer in Texas contains substantial bodies of correspondence by the principals of the Verein, including Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, and of its successors, as well as by the Adelsverein's agents in Washington, New Orleans, Houston, and Galveston. The largest portion of the archives documents the organization and administration of the Adelsverein's business. The records contain contracts of appointment, minutes of meetings, reports, and "instructions" from and to the Adelsverein's representatives in Texas and elsewhere, documentation of legal and financial transactions, and papers relating to promoting the Adelsverein, securing prospective emigrants, and providing for their transport to Texas. The archives also contain a major collection of printed material relating to the Adelsverein in particular and European colonization in the Americas in general. They are supplemented by scores of contemporary newspapers and periodicals which contain articles about or advertisements for the Adelsverein. The material spans the years 1840 to 1957, with the bulk falling between 1845 and 1855.

The papers are housed in forty-six boxes and are divided into six series. The present arrangement is consistent with the order in which the papers arrived at Beinecke Library. Whether this order was imposed upon the papers during their stay at the Braunfels archives sometime after their deposit there in 1893, or in 1960 when they were inventoried at the Staatsarchiv in Marburg, is unknown. What is known is that at some point German archivists divided the collection into five basic archival series and assigned file numbers. Practically every folder in the collection bears one of these numbers. The scheme is as follows:

CA 4 a 1 Nos. 1-16
............2 Nos. 1-10
............3 Nos. 1-17
............4 Nos. 1-12
............5 Nos. 1-17
............6 Nos. 1-5

CA 4 b 1 Nos. 1-7
............2 Nos. 1-10
............3 Nos. 1-7
............4 Nos. 1-7
............5 Nos. 1-16
............6 Nos. 1-28

CA 4 c 1 Nos. 1-40
............2 Nos. 1-19
............3 Nos. 1-18
............4 Nos. 1-12
............5 Nos. 1-21

CA 4 d 1 Nos. 1-5
............2 Nos. 1-5
............3 Nos. 1-4
............4 Nos. 1-7
............5 Nos. 1-10
............6 No. 1

CA 4 e 1 Nos. 1-2
............2 Nos. 1-9
............3 Nos. 1-10

The "CA 4" characters of each number most likely served to distinguish the Adelsverein papers from other archives stored in the same location. The true breakdown of the collection starts with a, b, c, d, and e. These groupings fall rather roughly into the general categories of Correspondence, Business Records, Legal and Financial Records, Banking Records, and Printed Materials.

A sixth series, Other Papers, has been created to contain materials which were added to the collection primarily after the Adelsverein ceased to function as a going concern. A copy of the finding aid prepared by the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz in 1960 is found in Box 1, folder 1.

The "CA 4" file number scheme replaced an earlier coding scheme employed by the creators of the records. The original breakdown divided the collection into twelve divisions:

  1. Tit. I Verhandlungen der Herren Actionnaire
  2. Tit. II Verwaltung überhaupt
  3. Tit. III Agenturen des Vereins
  4. Tit. IV Schiffs-Rhederey
  5. Tit. V Verhandlungen mit den Zollvereins-Staaten
  6. Tit. VI Merkantilische Angelegenheiten
  7. Tit. VII Genie und Militaria
  8. Tit. VIII Medicinalwesen der Colonie
  9. Tit. IX Original-Contracte und Urkunden
  10. Tit. X Miscellania
  11. Tit. XI Rechnungswesen
  12. Tit. XII Geographische und statistische Nachrichten

Under this scheme, each title (indicated by Roman numerals) was divided into sections (indicated by lowercase letters), which were further broken up into numbers (indicated by Arabic numerals). For instance a typical folder might bear the file number "Reportorium: / Tit. I. / Sect. d. / Nro. 1." (written vertically). Examples of this previous file number scheme may be found on white folders bearing the imprint "Acta der Central Verwaltung des Vereins zum Schutz deutscher Einwanderer in Texas." The guide to this system, prepared by the original record keepers of the Adelsverein archives, is in Box 1, folder 2. It is not known why the system established and employed by the creators of the collection was abandoned. There appears to be no direct correlation between the two numbering systems.

Practically all of the documents in the collection reflect in some way the business nature of the Adelsverein. The bulk of the collection consists of handwritten documents in old German script. Most of the scribal hands are readily legible; some of the private hands, however, approach illegibility and must be laboriously deciphered. Scattered throughout the collection are documents in French and English. The collection also contains printed broadsides, circulars, newspapers, contracts, stock and bond certificates, and the like. Many of the files are bound, with some approaching two and one half inches in width. In these cases the file folder precedes the actual file in the box. Affixed to each of these thick bound files is a small white sticker bearing the correct file folder number. Most files, however, were never bound. Oversize material is placed at the end of the collection.

Series I, Correspondence , which consists of eleven boxes, is primarily composed of correspondence of principals and of immigrants. Of the twenty-five German noblemen who were the principals, or original backers, of the Adelsverein, most are represented in this series, particularly Alexander, Prince of Solms-Braunfels, Carl, Prince of Solms-Braunfels, Friedrich, Prince of Prussia, Adolph, Duke of Nassau, protector of the society, and Hermann, Prince of Wied. Correspondence of immigrants consists of forty-five folders arranged by letter. The front of each folder contains a list of correspondents in more or less alphabetical order with each name bearing its respective number in the file. The file for the letter "S" is missing.

Housed in Boxes 12-22 is Series II, Business Records . This series consists of minutes of general meetings and various committee meetings, bulletins, and reports. There is considerable correspondence with commissioners general and particularly with agents and other representatives both in Germany and Texas. In folders 103-107 and 111-114 are applications and inquiries from potential emigrants.

Series III, Legal and Financial Records , which consists of twelve boxes, contains contracts, proceedings and reports, financial records, deeds, loan documentation, and the like. In addition, this series includes files on plans for medical care for the colonists (folders 156, 173, 174, and 194), religious matters (folder 155), the contracting of engineers (folders 170 and 176), the procurement of machinery and tools (folder 185), mercantile opportunities (folder 164), and dealings with various German states (folders 165-168). This series also contains numerous files concerning transactions between the Adelsverein and financiers Philipp Nikolaus Schmidt and L. H. Flersheim, both of Frankfurt am Main. These two banking houses were the major lenders to the society.

Boxes 35-40 contain Series IV, Banking Records , and are composed primarily of accounts current, journals, correspondence concerning loans, committee reports, cash reports, receipts, and statistics. This series is very much concerned with the issues of indebtedness and indemnification and contains numerous files pertaining to the banking houses of Schmidt and Flersheim.

Series V, Printed Materials , which consists of two boxes, contains samples of stocks and bonds, or priority obligations, printed statements concerning debt information and legal decisions on the society's debt, and newspaper issues and clippings. An interesting aspect of this series is that it provides the names of many of the major bondholders and the extent of their financial involvement with the society.

Other Papers, Series VI, includes two boxes and was created to house materials which came with the purchase of the collection but were not listed in the 1960 inventory. The series consists of four sections. Additional Verein Records are materials which appear to belong to the collection but which do not carry a file number. Wied Archives Records are materials which bear the blue label of the "Fürstlich Wiedisches Archiv" and relate to the Texas-Verein vis-à-vis the banking houses of Schimdt and Flersheim. Printed Works contains newspaper clippings and magazine articles relating to New Braunfels during its first hundred years. Seals houses three official seals of the Adelsverein.

Oversize , which consists of two boxes, contains two journals from Series II and newspapers from Series V.


  • 1840-1957


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Archiv des Vereins zum Schutz Deutscher Einwanderer in Texas is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased in 1985 on the Arthur Corbitt Hoskins, Walter McClintock, and Frederick W. & Carrie S. Beinecke funds.


21.5 Linear Feet (46 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The Archiv des Verein zum Schutz deutscher Einwanderer in Texas, contains correspondence, contracts of appointment, minutes of meetings, reports, and instructions from and to the Adelverein's representatives in Texas and elsewhere; documentation of legal and financial transactions; and papers relating to promoting the Adelsverein, securing prospective emigrants, and providing for their transport to Texas.
The archive also contains a major collection of printed material relating to the Adelsverein and European colonization in the Americas. They are supplemented by scores of contemporary newspapers and periodicals which contain articles about or advertisements for the Adelsverein.

Archiv des Vereins zum Schutz deutscher Einwanderer in Texas

The Verein zum Schutz deutscher Einwanderer in Texas (Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas), commonly known as the Adelsverein, was organized by German noblemen in 1842 for the purpose of acquiring land in Texas and encouraging emigration of German nationals to that land. Early efforts to secure lands were unsuccessful, and the Adelsverein was reconstituted in 1844. Later that year Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels traveled to Texas and acquired for the Adelsverein the famous Fisher-Miller grant of some 3,878,000 acres on the Colorado River, along with two leagues of land in the present location of New Braunfels.

The first immigrants arrived in Galveston in December 1844 and settled the New Braunfels site in March 1845. By 1850 the settlement had become the fourth largest town in Texas. During its most active years, the Adelsverein was responsible for the settlement of thousands of new residents in Texas, the establishment of new towns and communities, and the fostering of one of the most important and well-defined ethnic communities in the southwestern United States. From the beginning, however, problems of distance and finance plagued the venture. The Adelsverein entered provisional bankruptcy in 1847 but continued to function into the next decade.

Meetings of the noblemen were frequently held in Wiesbaden, the seat of government of Nassau, since Duke Adolf of Nassau was the protector of the society. The office of central administration for the Adelsverein, however, was located across the Rhine in Mainz. The records remained more or less intact and active until all bonds sold to pay off the society's debts reached maturity. In 1891 the society's financial advisor died. The new director, who was from Braunfels, asked for permission to store the records of the society with the Braunfels archives, and on January 8, 1893, they were moved. In 1894 the remaining stock certificates that had been redeemed were burned, and the society became inactive. A few items, such as newspapers and clippings, were added to the collection throughout the years, but essentially the archives remained intact.

In 1929-31 the collection was taken to Berlin and some 17,000 of the approximately 45,000 pages were photostated for the Library of Congress under the direction of Georg Smolka. An inventory of the collection was made at this time. In 1960 the Staatsarchiv in Marburg undertook another inventory.

In 1965 a request to sell the archives to interested parties in the United States was received and submitted to the federal minister of the interior. He placed the question before a committee of experts to determine if the sale would violate legislation designed to protect German cultural heritage against exportation. The committee decided that the papers were not an integral part of the Braunfels archives and would be of more value for research in the United States. The proviso was added that before the collection could be sold it had to be microfilmed. Copies of the film were subsequently made for the Staatsarchiv in Marburg and the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz. The collection was then sold to Harry T. Zucker of New York, who in turn sold the archives to Knoedler's Art Galleries of New York. Knoedler later sold the collection to William Reese Company of New Haven, which in August 1985 sold the archives to The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

When the archives were inventoried in 1960, the Staatsarchiv noted that certain files were missing when compared against the 1930 inventory. Furthermore, additional files disappeared between 1960 and 1985. A list of all missing files together with an indication of when the discovery was made is found on pages 45-48. Approximately forty percent of these missing files may be found in the Friedrich Armand Strubberg Collection (WA MSS S-1316).

Processing Information

Concerning the adjectival phrase "zum Schutz": Based on common usage of the German language during the 1840s, the expected ending for a monosyllabic masculine dative singular noun would be e, i.e. one would expect the phrase to be "zum Schutze" instead of "zum Schutz." The official spelling, however, is "zum Schutz," in spite of the fact that the form "zum Schutze" occurs much more frequently in writing throughout the collection. For examples of the official spelling, see: Box 1, folder 2 - "Reportorium der Registratur des Vereins zum Schutz deutscher Einwanderer in Texas," Box 1, folder 2, "Texasarchiv: Archiv des Vereins zum Schutz deutscher Einwanderer in Texas," Box 44, folders 329-331 - three official seals of the society, and original white file folders scattered throughout the collection bearing the imprint "Acta der Central Verwaltung des Vereins zum Schutz deutscher Einwanderer in Texas." It is not known why the society chose this somewhat unusual variant spelling.

Guide to the Archiv Des Vereins Zum Schutz Deutscher Einwanderer in Texas
Under Revision
by T. Michael Womack
August 1987
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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