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MS Thr 1656

Photograph and memorabilia albums of Bella Prince and Walter Neiss

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MS Thr 1656
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Prince, Bella
Creator: Neiss, Walter
Title: Photograph and memorabilia albums of Bella Prince and Walter Neiss
Date(s): circa 1890-1947
Quantity: .75 linear feet (1 box)
Language of materials: German

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

2018MT-2. Purchased with funds from the Rose and Marion Hannah Winter Fund and the John M. Kasdan Fund, 2017 July 10.

Preferred Citation:

Photograph and Memorabilia Albums of Bella Prince and Walter Neiss, circa 1890-1947 (MS Thr 1656). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Biographical / Historical

Bella Prince and her husband Walter Neiss were popular cabaret and circus performers during the Weimar Republic who fled Germany for the United States in the late 1930s. Bella Prince and her twin sister were cabaret performers known as the Schwestern Prinz or Prince Sisters. Born in the Balkans, likely from a prominent Jewish family in Bulgaria, they were based in Germany throughout their performing career. Walter Neiss was a high-wire aerialist from the Neiss Troupe, a German family of acrobatic aerialists dating back to the 1870s.
Following Walter's fall from a high wire of 60 feet at the Chicago Coliseum in 1931, and his lengthy recuperation, they performed a new act as "America's Famous Trampoline and Casting Act" around 1938 after Bella, Walter, and at least three other Neiss family members settled permanently in the United States to escape Nazi Germany. Subsequently billed as the Neiss Trio, the company toured continuously throughout the United States during World War II.

Content Description

Collection documents the life and travels of a troupe of cabaret and circus acrobats in Turkey, Eastern Europe, Germany, and the United States. Included are around 400 family and performance photographs in albums and loose prints, 100 publicity prints, postcards, clippings, handbills, and other ephemera.

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