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MC 581

Dreyer family. Papers of the Dreyer family, 1778-1928: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

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Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 581
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Dreyer family
Title: Papers of the Dreyer family, 1778-1928
Date(s): 1778-1928
Quantity: 6.05 linear feet (14 + 1/2 file boxes)
Language of materials: Most of the collection in German, some materials in English
Abstract: Correspondence and other papers of members of the Dreier family, mostly merchants and pastors in northern Germany and businessmen in the United States and their wives.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession number: 86-M9
The papers of the Dreier family were given to the Schlesinger Library by John C. Dreier in 1986.

Processing Information:

Processed: February 2009
By: Christof Strauß

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by members of the Dreier family and related families is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Dreyer family Papers, 1778-1928; item description, dates. MC 581, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

HISTORY

When Johann Caspar Dreier (formerly Dreyer, born 1758) married Dorothea Adelheid Uhthoff (born 1774) in 1797 the Dreiers were a relatively wealthy merchant family from Bremen in northern Germany. The couple had four sons and a daughter who died at the age of eleven.
The eldest son Gustav Theodor Dreier (born 1803), married to Thaddea Henriette Schacht (born 1806), was also a merchant in Bremen but got into financial troubles during the the 1850s. The second son, Julius Alexander Dreier (born 1805), worked as a pastor in Mittelsbueren and Grambke (today part of the state Bremen), and married first Metta Lucie Wilhelmine Noltenius (born 1800) who died five years after the marriage and then Margaretha (Meta) Catharina Lampe (born 1813). The third son, August Ferdinand Dreier (born 1808), who became a merchant in Bremen also married twice: Sophie Friederike Elisabeth (Betty) Focke (born 1808) in 1837 and 32 years later Margaretha (Meta) Thibetha Meinertzhagen (born 1814). The youngest son, Heinrich Eduard Dreier (born 1811), became a pastor but had some problems in securing an appropriate rectorate. After working in Lehe, at the House of Emigrants (Auswandererhaus) in Bremerhaven and Blumenthal he finally succeded in getting a post in Neuenkirchen near Farge (today part of the state Bremen), where he lived until his death with his wife Margaretha (Meta) Thibetha Hotzen (born 1817).
Gustav Theodor Dreier (born 1803) and his wife Thaddea Henriette Dreier (née Schacht, born 1806) had seven children. Three daughters died as children as did a son at the age of 19. Their eldest child, Johann Caspar Theodor Dreier (born 1828), became a merchant and emigrated to the United States at the end of the 1840s. There he worked for the steel distributor Naylor & Co. in New York, where he became a quite wealthy businessman. In 1864 he married his cousin, Dorothea Adelheid Dreier (born 1840), the daughter of his uncle Heinrich Eduard Dreier and his wife Margaretha (Meta) Thibetha Dreier, and took her with him to the United States where the couple lived mainly in Brooklyn. His sister, Dorothea Henriette Christine Dreier (born 1829), never married and stayed with her father in Bremen. After being ill and partly bedridden for several years she died at the age of 41. Her brother, Karl Wilhelm Dreier (born 1836), was sent to the boarding school Rauhes Haus in Hamburg. After several years as seaman (finally as officer on a steamship) he became a farmer in Iowa. He married Bertha Obermann (born 1846) in 1869, and after her death eight years later, Marie Adelheid Kant (born 1857). The brother of Gustav Theodor Dreier (born 1803), Julius Alexander Dreier (born 1805), and his two wives had ten children, his brother August Ferdinand Dreier (born 1808) and his first wife, four. The youngest of the four brothers, Heinrich Eduard Dreier (born 1811) and his wife Margaretha (Meta) Thibetha Dreier (born 1817) had three children. The eldest daughter Margaretha (Meta) Dreier (born 1839) married pharmacist Friedrich Heinrich Wilhelm Knoch (born 1826), who had pharmacies in Blumenthal, Bad Pyrmont, Giessen and Krefeld. The second child, Dorothea Adelheid Dreier (born 1840), married, as already mentioned, her cousin and moved to the United States. Her brother, Johann Caspar Ludwig Dreier (born 1843), never married. He followed his sister and his cousin to the United States during the 1860s where he worked for Naylor & Co. and an insurance company. His attempt to establish his own enterprise failed after a short time. He later returned to Germany.
Johann Caspar Theodor Dreier (born 1828) and his wife (and cousin) Dorothea Adelheid Dreier (born 1840) had seven children. Their daughters, Marie (Mary) Elisabeth Dreier (born 1875) and Katherine Sophie Dreier (born 1877), became quite well known, the first as a social reformer (her papers can also be found at the Schlesinger Library, MC 309), the second as an artist and a patron of the arts.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in six series:

SCOPE AND CONTENT

This collection includes correspondence between single members of the Dreier family and correspondence with related families and other persons. Furthermore it contains additional materials such as the private papers of single family members and handwritten poems -- most written on the occasion of family celebrations. The collection offers an excellent insight into the life of a relatively wealthy north German family of merchants and pastors: its economic conditions and social life, the relationship among spouses, siblings, parents and their children, the intellectual background of single family members, the handling of diseases and cases of death (foremost of children), education, schooling and, not least, into contemporary politics. Due to the fact that one couple (two cousins) and two further family members went to the United States (with quite different economic success) in the middle of the 19th century, the collection is also an excellent source for the history of emigration from Germany to America. Particularly interesting for the history of women in the 19th century is the correspondence of women of the third and fourth generation with their mothers or daughters, where, for example, pregnancy, birth, or the loss of children and their education play an important role. The correspondence is in the German cursive writing of the 19th century and is extremely difficult to read without training.
Series I, FIRST GENERATION: CORRESPONDENCE, 1802-1816, n.d. (#1.1-1.2), contains letters of Mr. and Mrs. Helmerich Uhthoff, parents of Dorothea Adelheid Dreier (née Uhthoff, born 1774) to their daughter and to grandson Gustav Theodor Dreier (born 1803).
Series II, SECOND GENERATION: CORRESPONDENCE, 1784-1862, n.d. (#1.3-1.14, 2.3, 3.5), contains letters from or to Johann Caspar Dreier (formerly Dreyer, born 1758) and Dorothea Adelheid Dreier (née Uhthoff, born 1774), as well as correspondence of single members of the Uhthoff and the Hotzen family and of Pastor Mueller who had quite a close relationship to several family members.
Series III, THIRD GENERATION: CORRESPONDENCE, 1817-1881, n.d. (#1.15-6.7), contains correspondence of the four sons of Johann Caspar Dreier (formerly Dreyer, born 1758) and Dorothea Adelheid Dreier (née Uhthoff, born 1774) and their spouses.
Subseries A, Gustav Theodor Dreier (born 1803) and Thaddea Henriette Dreier (née Schacht, born 1806), 1817-1873, n.d. (#1.15-2.2, 2.4-2.5, 5.6-5.17), contains correspondence with the two spouses.
Subseries B, Julius Alexander Dreier (born 1805) and his second wife Margaretha (Meta) Catharina Dreier (née Lampe, born 1813), 1817-1875, n.d., (#2.6-2.9, 6.1-6.3), contains correspondence with the two spouses.
Subseries C, August Ferdinand Dreier (born 1808), 1830-1879, (#2.10-2.13), contains his letters to other family members. Letters from his two wives are not found in this collection.
Subseries D, Heinrich Eduard Dreier (born 1811) and Margaretha (Meta) Thibetha Dreier (née Hotzen, born 1817), 1829-1881, n.d., (#2.14-3.4, 3.6-5.5, 6.4-6.7), contains correspondence with the two spouses.
Series IV, FOURTH GENERATION: CORRESPONDENCE, 1837-1893, n.d., (#6.8-14.3), contains correspondence of the children of the four sons of Johann Caspar Dreier (formerly Dreyer, born 1758) and Dorothea Adelheid Dreier (née Uhthoff, born 1774) and their spouses.
Subseries A, Children of Gustav Theodor Dreier (born 1803) and Thaddea Henriette Dreier (née Schacht, born 1806) and their spouses, 1837-1881, n.d., (#6.8-11.11, 13.9), contains correspondence of Johann Caspar Theodor Dreier (born 1828), Dorothea Henriette Christine Dreier (born 1829), Karl Wilhelm Dreier (born 1836), his first wife Bertha Dreier (née Obermann, born 1846) and Julius Alexander Dreier (born 1838). The correspondence of the wife (and at the same time cousin) of Johann Caspar Theodor Dreier (born 1828) can be found in Subseries D.
Subseries B, Children of Julius Alexander Dreier (born 1805) and his first wife Metta Lucie Wilhelmine Dreier (née Noltenius, born 1800) and his second wife Margaretha (Meta) Catharina Dreier (née Lampe, born 1813), 1860-1869, (#11.12-11.15), contains a few letters of Johannes Caspar Heinrich Dreier (born 1833), Cornelius Heinrich Dreier (born 1838), Dorothea (Doris) Hermanna Dreier (born 1841) and Magdalene Henriette Wilhelmine Dreier (born 1842).
Subseries C, Children of August Ferdinand Dreier (born 1808) and his first wife Sophie Friederike Elisabeth (Betty) Dreier (née Focke, born 1808), 1863-1870, n.d., (#11.16-11.17, 12.21), contains a few letters of Christine Emma Elisabeth Pferdmenges (née Dreier, born 1842) (?) and Johannes Theodor Ernst Dreier (born 1844).
Subseries D, Children of Heinrich Eduard Dreier (born 1811) and Margaretha (Meta) Thibetha Dreier (née Hotzen, born 1817) and their spouses, 1848-1893, n.d., (#11.18-12.20, 12.22-13.8, 13.10-14.3), contains correspondence of Margaretha (Meta) Knoch (neé Dreier, born 1839), her husband Friedrich Heinrich Wilhelm Knoch (born 1826), Dorothea Adelheid Dreier (née Dreier, born 1840), Johann Caspar Ludwig Dreier (born 1843) and Carl Radatz, a former foster child of the couple. The correspondence of the husband (and at the same time cousin) of Dorothea Adelheid Dreier (née Dreier, born 1840) can be found in Subseries A.
Series V, FIFTH GENERATION: CORRESPONDENCE, 1872-1917, n.d., (#14.4-14.17), contains correspondence of the grandchildren of the four sons of Johann Caspar Dreier (formerly Dreyer, born 1758) and Dorothea Adelheid Dreier (née Uhthoff, born 1774)
Series VI, UNIDENTIFIABLE LETTERS AND OTHER PAPERS, 1778-1928, n.d., (#14.18-15.4), contains unidentifiable letters and private papers of different members of the Dreier family, mostly bills, notebooks and handwritten poems (mostly religious or on the occasion of family celebrations).

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Childbirth
Children--Conduct of life
Children--Death
Children--Health and hygiene
Clergy--Germany--Prussia
Families of clergy--Germany--Prussia
Farm life--Iowa
Franco-Prussian War, 1870-1871
Germans--United States
Health resorts--Europe
Household employees--Germany--Prussia
Iowa--Rural conditions
Love-letters
Marriage--Germany--Prussia
Marriage--United States
Mothers and daughters
Orphans--Germany--Prussia
Parent and child
Poems
Pregnancy
Prenuptial agreements--Germany--Prussia
Prussia (Germany)--Politics and government--1848-1866
Prussia (Germany)--Politics and government--1870-1947
Prussia (Germany)--Religious life and customs
Prussia (Germany)--Social life and customs--19th century
United States--Emigration and immigration
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives
Voyages and travels
Women--Religious life--Germany--Prussia
Dreier, Katherine Sophie, 1877-1952
Dreier, Mary E. (Mary Elisabeth), 1875-1963

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