This collection contains event programs, letters, songbooks, newsletters, ledgers, treasury reports, legal case files, and many other materials relating to the activities and administration of the Houston Saengerbund from the years 1874 to 2013. The collection is divided into eight series: Events, Administrative Records, Board of Directors and Committees, Correspondence, Financial Records, Legal Documents, Songbooks, and Publications. Many of the records from the 1950s and earlier are in German, and a scattering of later records as well. Folders within each series or subseries are arranged as close to chronologically as possible.
Open for research.
Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish from copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian. Reproduction decisions will be made by Special Collections staff on a case-by-case basis.
11.00 Linear Feet
The Houston Saengerbund (Singing Society) was founded on October 6, 1883, as an organization through which German immigrants in Houston could join with their countrymen to sing songs in the German language. The Houston Saengerbund was one of a number of all-male singing organizations which formed in the German communities of Texas during the last half of the 19th century. These local groups were united under Der Deutsch-Texanische Saengerbund (the German-Texan Singers' League, or DTSB), a regional organization that held biennial meetings and Saengerfeste (Singing Festivals) in various Texas cities.
The Houston Saengerbund swelled to over one thousand members before World War I, and in 1913 Houston played host to a particularly elaborate DTSB Saengerfest which featured a full orchestra and world-class opera singers. But during the war years membership fell as Germans became reluctant to draw attention to their nationality.
After the war, membership increased and the group flourished. The Saengerbund bought their first in a series of clubhouses, and introduced new activities such as dancing, children's plays, and beach excursions. The club officially began admitting women as members in 1937 with the formation of the Ladies Auxiliary and the Damenchor (Women's Chorus).
With the onset of World War II, the Saengerbund members changed the name of the group to "The Houston Singing Society," quit their primary activity of singing German songs, and began keeping minutes in English due to their concern about arousing anti-German sentiment. After the war, the club members restored both their singing and their name, but membership declined, partly owing to a drop in German immigration.
The Houston Saengerbund is still in existence more than one hundred years after its founding, and the Saengerbund and Damenchor continue to perform at the Saengerfeste of the DTSB, the International Festival, Lights in the Heights, and other public events.
Digital archival materials can be accessed in the Special Collections Reading Room. Contact curator Mary Manning (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Donated by Rodney Koenig, member of the Houston Saengerbund. Additional materials were acquired in 2013 from the Board of Directors of the Houston Saengerbund, as part of ongoing donations.
Houston Saengerbund Records digital collection
Processed by Julie Grob, 1996. Re-processed by Stacey Lavender, 2014.
Part of the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections Repository