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German American correspondence before 1940 was largely written in Kurrent (the old German script). Letters in the Sternberger and Anna Seifert collections have been transcribed by the Max Kade Institute Kurrent Transcription Group. They are organized by letter date, or in the case of undated letters, by the date of postal stamps if available. For a few letters, English translations are available.
To access individual letters, browse the collection, and click on one of the links under "Available Contents." After selecting a letter, go to the "Format" selection in the task bar. To view a scan, click on the picture icon; to view a transcription, click on the letter icon.
Jakob Sternberger (1822–1889) came from a prominent family in Kaaden, Bohemia (Kadaň, Czech Republic). He had been a student at Charles University in Prague, where he was involved in the revolutionary movement that spread across Central Europe. Disillusioned by the failed revolutions of 1848/49, Sternberger emigrated to the United States in 1850 and purchased a farm near Portage, Columbia County, Wisconsin. More information on the Sternberger family can be found on the Max Kade Institute website.
Between 1932 and 1942, Anna (nee Jagow) Seifert (1876–1958) wrote regularly from the family farm near Juneau, Dodge County, Wisconsin her son, Lester W. J. "Smoky" Seifert (1915–1996), who was a student at Northwestern College in Watertown, Wisconsin, attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison for a master's degree, pursued doctoral studies at Brown University in Rhode Island, and conducted fieldwork recording the Pennsylvania Dutch language in rural southeastern Pennsylvania. Anna and Lester were German heritage speakers in the second and third generation, respectively. Lester later became a prominent professor of Germanic linguistics at UW–Madison and a pioneer in research on German-related heritage language varieties in North America. You can find more information on the Seifert family, people and locations, as well as Lester Seifert's research, on the Max Kade Institute's webpage Anna Seifert: Letters from a Wisconsin Farm.
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