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John Christopher Schwab family papers

Call Number: MS 434

Scope and Contents

The John C. Schwab Family Papers consist of correspondence, papers, albums, notebooks, diaries, scrapbooks and other material documenting the professional career and personal life of John C. Schwab and his family. The papers are arranged in twenty-one boxes and total ten and one-quarter (10.25) linear feet. Span dates for the material are 1767-1925, and bulk dates range from 1880-1890. The papers were donated to Yale University by Norman Schwab in 1943.

The papers are arranted in two series: I. CORRESPONDENCE AND PAPERS, 1755-1915; II. VOLUMES AND MISCELLANEA, 1767-1925.

SERIES I contains correspondence between family members in Germany and the United States. These letters include exchanges between Gustav Friedrich Schwab, his wife Eliza Catherine Von Post Schwab, and their son John Christopher Schwab. A portion of this correspondence relates to Gustav Friedrich Schwab's presidency of the New York firm of Oelrichs and Company.

SERIES II contains the personal papers and manuscripts of several family members. Albums, diaries, and manuscripts of Gustav Friedrich Schwab include a diary of his travels and an essay on the opening excursion of the Northern Pacific Railroad (1883). A small quantity of material relating to the poet Gustav Benjamin Schwab is also included in this series. Materials relating to John Christopher Schwab include personal diaries, student notebooks, scrapbooks, and photograph albums.


  • 1767-1925


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were donated by Norman Schwab, 1943.


Aranged in two series: I. Correspondence and Papers, 1775-1915. II. Volumes and Miscellanea, 1767-1925.


10.25 Linear Feet (21 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The papers include correspondence, diaries, notebooks, writings, wills, scrapbooks, albums, genealogical records and memorabilia of several generations of the Schwab family. Principal figures are Gustav Friedrich Schwab; his wife, Eliza Catherine Von Post Schwab; and their son, John Christopher Schwab. The papers of Gustav Friedrich Schwab include business correspondence during his presidency of the firm of Oelrichs & Co. in New York and travel diaries (1843-1846). An additional diary (1883) records his travels during the opening excursion of the Northern Pacific Railroad. The papers of his wife contain an autograph album and diaries (1847-1877). The papers also include material of the German poet Gustav Benjamin Schwab, who was the grandfather of John C. Schwab. The papers of John C. Schwab include his student notebooks both in the United States and in Germany, with half of one notebook (1887-1888) devoted to the lectures of the historian Heinrich von Treitschke.

Biographical / Historical


Born April 1,1865, in New York City

Died January 12, 1916, in New Haven, Conn.

John Christopher Schwab, son of Gustav Schwab, of the firm of Oelrichs & Company, was born April 1, 1865, in New York City, being named for his great-grandfather, a privy counsellor of Stuttgart, Germany. His paternal grandparents were Gustav Schwab, a German poet of note, and Sophie (Gmelin) Schwab. His mother was Catherine Elizabeth, daughter of Laurence Henry and Henrietta Margaretta (Meier) Von Post. Through her, he was descended from Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg, the chief founder of the Lutheran Church in America.

He was fitted for Yale under private tutors and at Gibbons' and Beach's School in New York City. He received several prizes in English and Latin composition, High Oration appointments, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa in college. As a Sophomore, he sang on his Class Glee Club, and the next year he was a member of the Second Glee Club. He was an editor of the Courant in his Senior year.

He remained at Yale for a year of post-graduate study in political economy after taking the degree of BA, in 1886, and during this period was also an instructor in German at the Hopkins Grammar School. In July, 1887, he went to Europe, and after spending the summer in travel, entered the University of Berlin. His studies for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy were completed at the University of Göttingen in 1889, and he then returned to the United States and spent some time in historical research in the libraries of New York City. He had received an M.A. in course at Yale in 1888. In the fall of 1890, he took up his work as lecturer in political economy at the University, being made an instructor in that department in the following year. He was promoted to an assistant professorship in 1893, and to a full professorship five years afterwards.

In 1905, after seven years of service in that capacity, Professor Schwab was chosen University librarian, and the remainder of his life was devoted to the upbuilding of the Library. A member of the University Council since his appointment as librarian, he had served for some years on the Council's Committee on Publications, in connection with the work of the University Press. In 1901, he supervised the arrangements for the Yale Bicentennial as chairman of the committee in charge of the celebration. He was a frequent contributor to historical journals and magazines, and at one time was editor of the Yale Review. "The Finances of the Confederate States of America," published by Professor Schwab in 1901, is considered a valuable addition in the field of economic history. He was elected Secretary of the Yale Class of 1886 in 1905, and held that office until his death. To the work of civic betterment in New Haven, professor Schwab gave much of his attention, and at the time of his death he was serving as secretary and treasurer of the social settlement known as Lowell House. He was also president of the Model Housing Association of New Haven. He was on the board of trustees of the New Haven Public Library and a member of St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church, of whose Sunday school he was at one time superintendent, and for several years served in Company F, Second Regiment, Connecticut National Guard. He was a trustee of Mount Holyoke College, and in 1913 was on the committee which arranged the pageant held in celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of its founding. He was a member of the American and British Economic associations, the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Library Association, and of the Century Club of New York. In 1911, he received from Mühlenberg College the honorary degree of LL.D.

Professor Schwab's death occurred unexpectedly at his home in New Haven, January 12, 1916, after a brief illness from pneumonia. He was buried in Grove Street Cemetery in that city.

On October 5, 1893, he was married in New Haven to Edith Aurelia, daughter of Samuel Sparks Fisher, upon whom Yale conferred an honorary degree in 1851, and Aurelia Safford (Crossette) Fisher. She survives him with their two children: Katharine Fisher, a student at Vassar, and Norman Von Post. He leaves also two brothers and three sisters, one of the latter being the widow of Henry Charles White (B.A 1881, LL.B. 1883, M.L. 1884). Another brother, Laurence Henry, graduated from the College in 1878. Gustav Schwab (B.A. 1902) and Laurence Von Post Schwab (B.A. 1913) are nephews.

(Taken from the Yale Obituary Record.)

Guide to the John Christopher Schwab Family Papers
Under Revision
compiled by William E. Brown, Jr. and John Espy
September 1985
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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