Albert H. Gerberich diaries

Dr. Albert Horwell Gerberich (1898-1965) was an educator, foreign service diplomat, and genealogist. He was one of the foremost authorities on the Pennsylvania Germans, and was the author of several books and articles in this field. From 1911 until shortly before his death in 1965, he kept diarie...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Gerberich, Albert H. (Albert Horwell) 1898-1965 (Creator)
Collection:Albert H. Gerberich Diaries
Collection Number:3271
Format: Manuscript
Language:English
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Online Access:Link to finding aid
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Physical Description: 2.2 Linear feet ; 2 boxes, 13 volumes
Summary: Dr. Albert Horwell Gerberich (1898-1965) was an educator, foreign service diplomat, and genealogist. He was one of the foremost authorities on the Pennsylvania Germans, and was the author of several books and articles in this field. From 1911 until shortly before his death in 1965, he kept diaries in which he recorded his daily life and activities, and more importantly, his observations and opinions on politics, world events, and the changing cultural and moral values of his time. The diaries consist of thirteen ledger-sized volumes, with entries from a single line to several pages. They also include entries inserted from the diaries of his wife, Gisela Margit Gerberich (1898-1953). Ephemera inserted into the diaries have been removed and separated to boxes and folders.
The Albert H. Gerberich diaries are contained in thirteen ledger-sized bound volumes, covering a period from January 1, 1911, when Albert was twelve, until April 7, 1965, seven days before his death. The volumes are paginated, and individual dates are clearly marked, usually with the year noted as a header at each page. Since there are no other titles or sections marked, it is impossible to discern any theme or activity without at least a cursory reading of the text. The daily entries include observations of a sentence or two, up to several pages. In the early diaries there are frequent footnotes and annotations appended later. In addition to the entries themselves, Gerberich inserted material within the volumes. These ephemera have been gathered in Box 1 in files listed by volume number and in the order in which they were found in the volumes, regardless of chronology. Many volumes contained inserts dated outside the scope of the diary volume. Items removed include, among other things: correspondence, both personal and professional; lists of books read; concert and theater programs; academic grade reports; church service programs; newspaper clippings, some concerning Gerberich, others concerning world affairs or social commentary that he found interesting; travel brochures and miscellaneous items concerning personal finance. Often an item inserted will be referenced in the diary at or near the date of the item removed. Volume 1 contained several pages from his original Wanamaker Diary that he kept as a child, and subsequently transcribed into the present volumes. Three extended typewritten inserts include the article “Through Western Honduras on Muleback,” an account of his travels during June, 1921 (Volume 2); an undated account of Gerberich’s relationship with his first wife Nora, perhaps intended as a court deposition (Volume 4), and several confidential foreign service reports regarding cultural and political affairs in Costa Rica, undated, but probably prepared in 1942 (Volume 7 and 8). Several of his letters to his parents, especially those written during service abroad, are especially detailed and descriptive. There are almost no photographs of Gerberich or his family, but inserted in Volume 13 were two photographs of Albert with his wife. Also inserted in this volume was a newspaper article from April 28, 1962 that profiled his father , Albert Henry Gerberich, on his 98th birthday, including a photograph. An obituary of Albert’s wife, Gisela, was inserted in volume 11. Several letters pertaining to Gerberich’s foreign service throughout his career are in Spanish or German, not translated. The value of the diaries rests in the commentary and daily observation that Gerberich makes concerning his experiences growing up in small-town Pennsylvania, his strict Methodist upbringing, his intellectual and academic pursuits, his career in academia and the consular service, and his outspoken opinions concerning contemporary society, politics and world affairs. He is a voracious reader and consumer of culture: concerts, theater, opera. He is something of a writer himself from childhood on, and comments critically throughout his life on many of the works that he reads, inserting lists of books read each year, anywhere from 35 books in 1930, to 126 read in 1957. He also includes his own poetry, as well as short pieces of original music. His genealogical activities are recorded in the form of his accounts of travel and research conducted, especially in central Pennsylvania. There is little in the nature of genealogical source material, with the exception of several extended entries pertaining to American colonists in Central America, beginning on July 18, 1939 and continuing through August (Volume 6), followed by occasional research entries during his Central American travels.