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Register of the Records of the


7.5 ft.

MSS 17


The Swiss American Historical Society was founded in 1927.  Membership is open to Swiss immigrants and American citizens of Swiss descent.  The purposes of the Society are "to institute, conduct and encourage historical research; to collect and preserve the data and materials of history; to record the achievements of Swiss-American citizens of Swiss extraction and their influence upon the progress and development of governmental institutions, and of industry, science and education in the United States of America, and to publish and distribute information and data concerning the same."

The original headquarters of the Society were in Chicago, in 1940 they were moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and in 1964 the Society incorporated in the District of Columbia.

In the late 1950s the activity of the Society declined.  It was reorganized and reactivated in 1964 with a membership composed mainly of university faculty and Swiss business people in the United States.  A newsletter was started in 1965 to publish scholarly articles on Swiss-American history and business and financial reports of the organization.  A complete set is available in the library.


The first accession of records from the Swiss American Historical Society includes minutes, 1927-1952 and 1964-1969, reports, financial statements, and correspondence.  Arrangement is chronological within each folder.  Most publications of the Society are available in the library, and some of the original manuscripts are included in the collection.

The second accession of records, made during 1986, includes the files of three presidents of the reactivated society.  These are Dr. Heinz K. Meier (president, 1965-1966 and 1969-1974; files, 1963-1976), Dr. Leo Schelbert (president, 1975-1979; files, 1968-1985), and Dr. Marianna Burkhard (president, 1980-1986; files, 1977-1985).

The files of these three officers represent the substantial records of the society for this period, since the president functions as the nerve center for coordinating activities and projects among people throughout the U.S. and, to some extent, Switzerland.  The broad geographical distribution of officers and members requires extensive correspondence on virtually every aspect of the society's endeavors.  This situation is reflected by the preponderance of correspondence in all files and the regular publication of reports and other communications to the membership in the Society's Newsletter.

The extensive correspondence contains detailed information on the reactivation of the society and its ongoing activities, including annual meetings, special meetings, publication projects, and exhibitions.  There are also genealogical requests and letters of inquiry from interested individuals throughout the U.S.  One large and well documented project was the Hall of History in New Glarus, Wisconsin.  There are also a number of project files containing information on specific projects such as CH 91 and some publication projects.  Membership applications, newsclippings, ephemera, and photographs have been placed in separate files.

Since the S.A.H.S. has no paid staff or central office in which its "official records" accumulate, the files of the officers and other active members of the organization become the records.  Therefore, the records reflect, to some extent, the activities and priorities of their creators.  In order to retain this important aspect the files of each president have been kept together as separate series rather than inter-filed.  Correspondence in one series can act as a index to that of other series.  Within the series, correspondence and other materials are arranged chronologically.

The box list of the register of the records of the Swiss American Historical Society is eight page long.