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A Strong Mind in a Strong Body

Libraries in the German-American Turner Movement


Dolores J. Hoyt

Much of the library literature pertaining to early American library development ignores or minimizes library development and support for libraries within ethnic groups. The records of such groups are often not in English, frequently handwritten, and generally not accessible. The archives of the American Turners and some of the individual Turner groups provide a unique opportunity to study primary materials related to an influential and large German-American organization. The American Turners have always supported a combination of cultural and physical fitness programs. They were also considered a politically radical group in their earlier years because the members strongly and vocally supported liberal causes such as anti-slavery platforms. The German immigrants sought to pursue their ideals in their adopted homeland since the German Turners' political aspirations were suppressed after the failed Revolution of 1848 in Germany. A close examination of the role of libraries in the American Turners provided an important case study for the role of libraries and reading in ethnic groups during a period of major immigration to the United States, 1850 to 1918.