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Fahrländer family letters

Call Number: RH MS 1517


This collection consists of original letters and typed translations, with contextual notes, from Fahrländer family members and friends in both Germany and the United States to Hermann or Herman Fahrländer, who moved to the United States in the 1880s.


  • Creation: 1881 - 1959


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Hermann Fahrländer

Hermann Fahrländer was born on May 20, 1863 to Franz-Anton and Viktoria (Hummel) Fahrländer in Sigelau, Baden (now Baden-Württemberg), Germany. He was one of four children, the others including brother Franz-Anton and sisters Rosa (who married a Joseph Kury) and Maryanna. After Viktoria died in 1873, Franz-Anton, Sr. married Theresia, Viktoria's sister.

In 1880, Hermann Fahrländer immigrated to the United States, arriving in New York in September. He remained there until the summer of 1883 and then moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa. Hermann Fahrlaender became a naturalized United States citizen on October 20, 1888. He married Mary Elizabeth Gosch on October 20, 1890. Mary had been born May 14, 1871 in Oak, Iowa, the daugther of Detlaf Friedrich Christian and Maria Dorothea Hinz Green Gosch.

Herman and Mary had several children, including Emil Henry, Marie Victoria, Edwin Hermann, Arnold Carl, Raymond Frank, Elmer John, and Helen Lorene.

Hermann and Mary Fahrlander moved their family to Union, Nebraska in 1913. The Fahrlanders then moved to Brule, Nebraska in 1934. Hermann died on January 23, 1944 and his wife Mary died on November 22, 1947.

Hermann's brother Franz-Anton Fahrländer, born in 1866, married Teresia Hummel, and they also had several children. Their son Vitus, born in 1903, continued corresponding with his uncle Hermann and family in the United States. Vitus, a master mechanic who operated his own shop in Haltingen, Germany after WWII, married Luisa and had one child, Hans-Rudolf (also known as Hans-Rudi), who also corresponded with his American family. Vitus Fahrländer died in June 1966.

[Information pulled from The Fahrlander (Fahrländer) Family website,, and from for Hermann Farhlander.]


.5 Linear Feet (1 document case)

Language of Materials



Scope and Contents

Helen (Fahrlander) Ramsey, a daughter of Hermann and Marie Fahrländer, spent a great deal of time organizing the translation of the letters sent to her father. As part of these translations, she provided contextual information about national and international events happening at the time the letters were written, information about German culture, and about family members and events referenced in the letters. Both original letters and these translations with notes are included in the collection. In some instances, there are translations without the originals being apparent in the collection.

The bulk of the letters are directed to Hermann; a very small number from 1947 and otherwise after Herman's death are directed to his wife Marie or the rest of his family. Those to Marie in 1947 are in English; the rest are in German. There is also one letter from Hermann's brother Franz-Anton to a cousin, Frank Anton Resch, also residing in the U.S. The few letters dating from after 1942 and 1947 that are directed to Hermann's and Marie's children Emil, Helen, and families, are from Vitus or Hans-Rudi Fahrländer.

Correspondents include Hermann's father Franz-Anton; Christian Rieder (German friend?; he refers to Hermann as his child's godfather); Maria Hummel; Adolph Ihringer (a friend in New York?); Hermann's sister, Rosa; C.A. or Chs. Aug. Santo [Charles August or Augustus?], a friend; Hermann's brother Franz-Anton, sometimes with his wife Theresia; Mrs. Elizabeth Weber (wife to Hermann's former teacher in Waldkirch); [Franz Joseph] Burger, a cousin; John Young; C. Better (formerly Xaver Peter, who changed his name when moving to Iowa); Nick Koch, a relative on Marie (Gosch) Fahrländer's side; Vitus Fahrländer, Hermann's nephew; and Hansrudi Fahrländer, Vitus' son. The bulk of the letters are from Hermann's father, brother, and nephew.

Topics include individuals' health, family news and information about mutual acquaintances (including others who had traveled through or immigrated to the United States), farming, hunting, legal and estate matters in Germany and in the U.S., the weather, daily events, religious holidays and festivals, the effects of World War I and II and the rise of Adolf Hitler's Nazi party in Germany, etc. The bulk of the letters come from the first decade after Fahrländer immigrated to the United States, and his family members frequently refer to missing him or thanking God that he is safe and well in the U.S. Hermann visited Germany once or twice in the 1890s and 1900s.

Over the years and across the different continents, the family name has been spelled variously as Fahrländer, Fahrlaender, and Fahrlander. Additionally, Hermann's name was also sometimes spelled Herrman or Herman. These variations in spelling are reflected in this finding aid.


The collection is organized chronologically. The later typed translations of letters in German are at the back of the collection; originals are at the front.

Physical Location

RH MS 1517

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Ginny Ramsey, 2016.

Existence and Location of Copies

Copies of the typed translations, along with several photographic images of various Fahrländer family members, are available at The website includes a few more translations for letters than are available in this collection.



Guide to the Fahrländer Family Collection
Fahrländer family letters
Finding aid prepared by mwh. Finding aid encoded by mwh.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Fahrländer family letters, RH MS 1517, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States