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Eugen and Emma Klee papers

Ms. Coll. 45

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the German Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

German Society of Pennsylvania: Joseph P. Horner Memorial Library
Klee, Emma, b. 1881
Klee, Eugen, 1869-1929
Eugen and Emma Klee papers
Date [bulk]:
Date [inclusive]:
Call Number:
Ms. Coll. 45
2.4 Linear feet (8 boxes + 1 oversize folder)
Language of Materials note:
Primarily in German with some scattered English.
This collection documents the activities of the accomplished German-American music director Eugen Klee and his wife Emma. Eugen Klee was an award-winning music director in Philadelphia from 1894 to 1913, and in New York City from 1914 until 1929. The collection includes correspondence from family, colleagues, friends, and acquaintances, mostly in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, plus newspaper clippings and ephemera. There is one file of correspondence from the Matthes family who are related to Emma Klee's mother. Also included are five scrapbooks, four of which include many newspaper clippings, music programs, correspondence, travel brochures, leaflets, and photographs related to both Eugen and Emma Klee, and the fifth is Emma Klee's scrapbook containing primarily correspondence from the year 1930.
Cite as:
Eugen and Emma Klee papers, Joseph P. Horner Memorial Library, German Society of Pennsylvania
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Eugen Klee (1869-1929)

Eugen Klee was born in Otterberg, Germany, near Kaiserslautern, on December 15, 1869, the fourth of four children, to Jakob Klee (born 1819, died May 7, 1896), an orchestra leader in Otterberg who was one of Eugen's music teachers, and Margaretha Klee, née Zimmer (born 1832, died May 22, 1893). He had three sisters, Katherina (born 1851, died 1870), who was married to Mr. Cherdron; Anna (born 1852, died 1863); and Amalia (born 1864, died 1900), who was married to Heinrich Haas. Eugen Klee married Emma Caroline Weidner of 1126 North 8th Street, Philadelphia, on April 16, 1913.

Klee first went to college at the Humanistic College, then to the preparatory school for teachers in Kaiserslautern, graduating in 1888. He spent a short time teaching and afterward went on to complete his military service. He then went on to study music at the conservatories at Karlsruhe and Munich and studied under some very prominent music teachers. He studied violin, piano, organ, and leadership for church choir, orchestra and German opera.

In 1893, Eugen Klee immigrated to the United States, settling in Philadelphia. In 1894 he became director of the Kreuznacher Saengerbund and won first prize at the National Singing Festival in New York City in that year. He was elected Vice Musical Director of the United Singers of Philadelphia in 1895 and won first prize in the local singing festival. In the same year he became musical director of six other singing societies, including Singing Society Humor, Teutonia Sängerbund, Singing Society Arion, Pfälzer Casino, Fairmount Liedertafel, and Columbia Singing Society. Klee was elected in 1897 to be one of the musical directors for the National Singing Festival that was held in Philadelphia in that year. In 1898 he was elected to be the first musical director of the United Singers. With the Columbia Singing Society in 1900, he won first prize in the first class at the National Singing Festival held that year in Brooklyn, New York. In 1903, he became musical director of the Singing Society Harmonie and in 1906 won with Harmonie first prize at the National Singing Festival in Newark, New Jersey. He became Musical Director of the Junger Männerchor in 1910, and in 1912 performed with that group in front of twenty thousand people, including President Taft, at the National Singing Festival in Philadelphia. It was at this festival that Klee and the Junger Männerchor won the Kaiser Prize. In March 1914 Klee directed a performance of the Junger Männerchor with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski. He also collaborated with Frederick Stock of the Chicago Symphany Orchestra, in June 1914, in a concert at Willow Grove Park, outside of Philadelphia.

In November 1914 Klee became musical director of the Arion Singing Society in Brooklyn, New York. At the 24th National Saengerfest of the Northeastern Saengerbund, in June 1915, Arion won the Kaiser's Prize. Arion Brooklyn made a recording circa 1916 of the song Schwertlied (Du Schwert an meiner Linken) that appeared on phonograph record.

Besides being a music director Klee established Eugen Klee's Music Institute at 1714 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, and taught voice culture, artistic singing, coaching, piano, violin and theory. On October 1, 1901, he became choirmaster at the Memorial Church of the Advocate located at 1801 W. Diamond Street and served until 1914.

In 1902 Klee was living at 1621 N. Marshall St. in Philadelphia. By the time he married Emma Weidner in 1913 he was living at 6013 Chestnut Street, an address they maintained until 1916, even after he and his wife moved to New York City. The Klees were living at the Hotel St. George in Brooklyn Heights, New York, in 1918, and in 1919 they lived briefly at 100 Northern Avenue in New York City before moving to 851 W. 181st Street. In 1920 they lived at 2055 Davidson Avenue in the Bronx, in New York City. By 1924 they were living at the Prince George Hotel at 14 E. 28th Street.

The Klees spent many of their summers traveling in Europe. In 1921 they spent the summer there. They sailed aboard the steamship Bremen in April 1923 to Bremen, Germany, and then traveled to Bad Kissingen, Wurzburg, Otterberg, Kaiserslautern, Freudenstadt, and Stuttgart. In 1924 they traveled from Stuttgart to Sicily, Italy, and back to Munich on a 25-day trip that included Switzerland. In 1927 they traveled to Niagra Falls, and in June 1928 they travelled again to Europe.

Klee died on December 18, 1929 at the age of 60 and is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery outside Philadelphia.

Emma Klee (b. 1881)

Emma Klee was born Emma Caroline Weidner in Philadelphia in the year 1881 to Gustav A. and Caroline (Karolina) Weidner (née Matthes). Her father was a retired builder, member of Common Council and School Director of the 19th Ward who died on February 7, 1912. Her mother was born in Philadelphia on November 2, 1855 and died January 13, 1914. Emma married the choirmaster and music director Eugen Klee at the Memorial Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia on April 16, 1913. They lived together at his home at 6013 Chestnut Street until 1914, when they moved to New York City.

In New York City, Emma and Eugen Klee lived at several addresses, including the Prince George Hotel, 14 E. 28th Street, for many years, until Eugen's death in December 1929, after which Emma lived for a time at the Walnut Park Plaza Hotel in Philadelphia.

Emma Klee died sometime after 1930 and is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery outside Philadelphia.

The Matthes Family

The Matthes were the family of Emma Klee's mother, Karolina Weidner, née Matthes, who was born in Philadelphia on November 2, 1855. Karolina's parents were Heinrich Matthes (born in Dorflas, district Wundsiedel, Bavaria, February 14, 1824; died in Philadelphia, March 10, 1897) and Johanna Matthes, née Hoffmann (born in Arzberg, district Wunsiedel, Bavaria, September 13, 1832; died January 1, 1917). Other children of Heinrich and Johanna were John (born in Davenport, Iowa, December 20, 1858), Henry (born in Philadelphia, December 20, 1861), Luisa (born in Philadelphia, July 29, 1864), and one other child (born in Philadelphia, September 7, 1868).

Scope and Contents

Eugen Klee was a German immigrant who came to the United States in 1893 and became an award-winning music conductor in Philadelphia and New York City. In 1913 he married Emma C. Weidner. This collection comprises correspondence, clippings, biographical information, photographs, concert programs, ephemera, and five scrapbooks that span their lives.

The correspondence (Series I) is mostly from Eugen's family members and colleagues in Germany. A significant number of letters and photographs (1909-1929) are from Klee's nephew Eugen Haas, who was a teacher in Knittelsheim.

The collection also includes some older items, dated 1852-1904 (Series II), of Johanna and Henry Matthes, Emma Klee's maternal grandparents, who were from the Wundsiedel district of Bavaria and settled in Philadelphia. Included are several of letters written from Davenport, Iowa; and a knitting book of Johanna, begun in 1852, with information about her family inscribed at the back.

The scrapbooks (Series IV) include newspaper clippings, music programs, correspondence, photographs, and travel-related items. Many of the newspaper clippings are about singing societies and events, and Eugen Klee's accomplishments as a music conductor. Scrapbook volume 2 contains correspondence from Leopold Stokowski of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Items such as brochures, tickets, and itineraries, from the Klees' travels to Europe and around the East Coast of the U.S. are also included. Volume 5 of the scrapbooks was put together by Emma Klee after Eugen's death, and includes only a few letters over several pages.

Arrangement note

This collection has been arranged in four series. Series I includes correspondence with family, friends and colleagues, as well as enclosed photographs and clippings. Series II includes correspondence and memorabilia of the Matthes family (Emma Klee's maternal grandparents). Series III includes clippings and ephemera such as business cards, leaflets, travel-related items, and items pertaining to the Klees' investments in the stock market. Series IV includes five scrapbooks filled with newspaper clippings, music programs, correspondence, photographs and travel-related items.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

German Society of Pennsylvania: Joseph P. Horner Memorial Library,  2014.01

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Brett Tobias


The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from the Max Kade Foundation, as part of the grant project "Retrieval and Cataloging of the German-American Experience, 1918-1960."

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the German Society of Pennsylvania with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.

Provenance note

Originally donated to the National Carl Schurz Association; subsequently transferred with other holdings of the Association to the German Society of Pennsylvania.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

Related archival materials can be found in the Eugen Klee papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (part of the Balch Institute manuscript collection).

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)
  • Arion. (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Junger Männerchor. (Philadelphia, Pa.)
  • Nordöstlicher Sängerbund.
Family Name(s)
  • Haas family
  • Matthes family
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Greeting cards
  • Photographs
  • Postcards
  • Printed ephemera
  • Programs (documents)
  • Scrapbooks
Geographic Name(s)
  • Germany
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)
  • Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany)
  • Choral societies
  • Conductors (Music) -- Biography
  • German Americans--Music
  • Music festivals

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Collection Inventory

I.  Eugen and Emma Klee Correspondence, 1901-1929, undated.

A.  Family Correspondence.

Box Folder

Berdel, Fritz and Lenchen, 1919-1922. Contains 8 letters. Lenchen Berdel, née Cherdron, signs as a cousin of Eugen Klee; she was the daughter of Lenchen Cherdron.

1 1

Cherdron, Lenchen, 1912-1922. Contains 6 letters, 2 notes/cards, 1 newspaper clipping. Cherdron signs as a cousin of Eugen Klee; she was the mother of Lenchen Berdel, née Cherdron. Included is a death notice for her grandson, Karl Berdel, the 18-year-old son of Lenchen and Fritz Berdel.

1 2

Haas, Eugen and Lisbeth, 1909-1919. Contains 13 letters, 1 postcard and an engagement announcement for Eugen Haas (nephew of Eugen Klee) and Lisbeth Rasp. The couple were married around January 1916, and Eugen Haas became a teacher in Knittelsheim (Rheinland-Palatinate). Included are 7 photographs, 4 newspaper clippings, a Pfingsten card and a baggage reclaim ticket for the Norddeutscher Lloyd, Bremen shipping company.

1 3

Haas, Eugen and Lisbeth, 1920-1924. Contains 18 letters and includes 23 newspaper clippings.

1 4

Haas, Eugen and Lisbeth, 1925-1926. Contains 18 letters. Includes 1 letter writtten by Eugen Klee, 1 postcard, 4 newspaper clippings, 1 drawing, 19 photographs, and 1 watercolor by daughter Helene Haas.

1 5

Haas, Eugen and Lisbeth, 1927-1929, undated. Contains 18 letters and 1 postcard. Includes 2 letters written by Eugen Klee, 12 photographs, 1 leaflet, and an English lesson and a writing exercise (Schriftprobe) from Helene Haas.

1 6

Haas, Heinrich, 1901-1921, undated. Contains 12 letters. Haas was the brother-in-law of Eugen Klee, and the father of Eugen Haas .

1 7

Rettig, Mathilde and Heinrich, 1916-1921. Contains 11 letters and a leaflet for a music event. Mathilde Rettig, née Cherdron, signs as a cousin of Eugen Klee. See the Hoffmann family file for Mathilde Rettig's death notice.

1 8

Röllmann, O., 1921. Contains one letter. Röllmann and his wife were brother-in-law/sister-in-law to the Klees' nephew Eugen Haas.

1 9

Weidner, Caroline, undated. Contains one letter written by Emma Klee's mother, addressed to a neighbor family named Klenk.

1 10

B.  Colleagues of Eugen Klee Correspondence.


This subseries contains correspondence from individuals who were presumably fellow students of Klee at the teacher training college he attended in Kaiserslautern, from which he graduated in 1888. Their names are found in a list headed "Collegen von 1888" (colleagues of 1888), which is included at the beginning of the subseries.

Box Folder

List of Colleagues of 1888, undated. Contains 2 items, a handwritten list of names and related notes.

2 11

Dauber, Otto, 1929. Contains 3 letters.

2 12

Decker, Adam, 1928. Contains 1 letter and 1 New Year's card.

2 13

Hoffmann Families, 1921-1929. Contains letters and a postcard from two families: Oscar and Anna Hoffmann, and their son Walter; and Theo. Hoffmann and his wife. Only Oscar is on the list of colleagues of 1888. Both Oscar and Theo. knew the Rettig family. A letter from Theo. Hoffmann includes a newspaper clipping of the death of Mathilde Rettig.

2 14

Keiper, Heinrich, 1928. Contains 1 letter and a New Year's card.

2 15

Klein, Julius, 1928. Contains 1 letter .

2 16

Stelzenmüller, Heinrich, 1922-1923. Contains 2 letters and a copy of the Speierer Zeitung.

2 17

C.  Other Correspondence.

Box Folder

Altvater, Frau Heinrich, 1929. Contains 2 letters. Writes from Otterberg.

2 18

Conrad, M., 1926-1927. Contains 4 letters. Conrad was the head waiter (Oberkellner) at the Hotel Schwan, Kaiserslautern.

2 19

Hemmer, Artur, 1928-1929. Contains 6 letters. Hemmer was the mayor (Bürgermeister) of Otterberg.

2 20

Hollinger, Wilhelm, 1921. Contains 2 letters. Writes from Kaiserslautern.

2 21

Kirchner, Reverend Philipp, 1920-1921. Contains 3 letters. Writes from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Reading, Pa.

2 22

Stahl, Otto, 1928-1929. Contains 3 letters, 1 postcard, 1 concert program, and 3 newspaper clippings. Writes from Stuttgart.

2 23

Vossley, Richard, 1929. Contains 2 letters and membership list. Vossley was a musical director and composer in Hoboken, N.J., and secretary of the Verband Deutscher Chordirigenten von Amerika (United Choral-Conductors of America). Included is a printed membership list of the Verband, dated 1927, with Vossley's handwritten emendations.

2 24

Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1903-1929. 14 letters, 2 postcards, 2 New Year's cards, song lyrics and 1 photograph of Siegfried Wagner. Names include Bertha Blumenröder, W. Brauer, Karl Deichmann, Dr. Emerich, Jesse A. Foltz, Frank Gross, Carl Kern, Walter Kuron, Geo. Loewe, J. Orth, Bruno Plonka, Hildegard Plonka, and Professor Römer (Bayreuth).

2 25

II.  Matthes Family, 1852-1904, undated.


This series contains correspondence and memorabilia related to Johanna and Henry Matthes, the maternal grandparents of Emma Klee.

Box Folder

Correspondence, 1854, 1876-1904. Contains 11 letters, including letters from Christian, Emma, and George M. Matthes in Davenport, Iowa; a letter from Christoph Matthes in Dorflas, Bavaria; a letter from Henry and Johanna in Philadelphia to niece Babet; a letter from Fritz (Hoffmann?), in Selb, Germany, to sister (Johanna?); a letter to Johanna from an unidentified correspondent; and a letter from Dr. Sack of South Bend, Indiana, addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Hilpert, with greetings to Mr. and Mrs. Matthes. See also Oversize; see also volume 2 of the scrapbooks for a letter from Johanna Matthes to Karolina Weidner dated 1888.

2 26

Knitting book (Strickbüchlein) of Johanna Matthes, née Hoffmann, circa 1852-1868. Inscribed on front cover: Johanna Hoffmann, Arzberg, March 17, 1852. Includes Matthes family information, dating as late as 1868.

2 27

Guidebook to Luisenburg in Wunsiedel, Germany, undated. Inscribed on inside front cover with name ending Hilpert.

2 27

Oversize correspondence, 1853, 1865. Contains two letters addressed to Johanna and Henry Matthes, one dated October 15, 1853, from father Hoffmann (father of Johanna), in Arzberg, Germany, and the other dated July 28, 1865, from Sophie Mauchmeier, sister of Johanna, in Wunsiedel, Germany.

GAC Mss IV (flat files) Box 3

III.  Clippings, Ephemera and Miscellaneous Materials, 1907-1930, undated.

Box Folder

Miscellaneous Ephemera, 1907-1927, undated. Includes a souvenir circular related to Eugen Klee's conducting of the Junger Männerchor in a concert with the Philadephia Orchestra in 1914. Other items include one photograph, business cards, one postcard, an eye glasses prescription, a contract, a leaflet for the University Lodge No. 610 F.&A.M., a 1907 leaflet from Harmonie Philadelphia, a 1925 wine list from Wiesbaden Germany, a death notice for Paul Weber, and a travel brochure from Bad Nauheim, Germany .

2 28

Newspaper Clippings, 1922-1930, undated. Contains 4 clippings including one on the death of Cosima Wagner.

2 29

Stock Market - United Corporation, 1929. Contains letters sent to stockholders and newspaper clippings related to United Corporation.

2 30

Stock Market - Miscellaneous, 1926-1929, undated. Contains notes, tabulations, orders, quotations, memorandum and newspaper clippings related to the stockmarket.

2 31

IV.  Scrapbooks, 1865-1930.


Loose items from the scrapbooks have been separately housed in folders, labeled according to the volume from which they came, and are found at the end of the series.


Volume 1, 1913-1915. Includes clippings, leaflets, and programs about the marriage between Eugen Klee and Emma C.Weidner, Saengerfest, concert, singing societies, recitals, and orchestras. Many mention Eugen Klee. Also included are letters and postcards, and a Saengerfest ribbon.


Volume 2, 1865-1924. Contains clippings, correspondence, music programs, travel brochures, pamphlets, leaflets, obituaries, Christmas cards, birthday cards, photographs. Clippings include Frau Eugen Klee; Director of the Schwäbische Liedertruppe Karl Kromer; Engelbert Humperdinck; music conductor Arthur Nikisch; Franz Schubert; Kaiser Wilhelm II. Includes newsletters from the Verband Deutscher Chordirigenten von Amerika. Correspondence is included from Leopold Stokowski of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Henry Pfeiffer of the Vereinte Deutsche Gesellschaften der Stadt New York, Liedertafel-Cäcilien-Verein Speyer, A. Howard Thomas of the Masonic Temple of Philadelphia, an 1880 letter from F. William List to Friedrich Weidner, Harmonie Philadelphia to Gustav Weidner. Includes passenger list, menus and other items for the ship Bremen in April/May 1923. Includes brochures, correspondence, receipts, clippings, and leaflets from Bad Kissingen, Wurzburg, and Stuttgart, from a 1923 trip to Germany. Includes brochures, correspondence, itineraries, receipts, maps, menus, travel documents and a postcard from a 1924 trip to Italy and Switzerland. Includes a 1903 Hamburg-American Line travel folder with documents inside and a passenger list. Also includes a 1884 invitation from Emma Klee's father to an event in Philadelphia and Emma Klee's membership card to the Liederkranz Damen-Verein. Photographs include Eugen and Emma Klee aboard the ship Bremen, Richard Vossley, Emil Osländer, Mr. and Mrs. William Lohr. Includes a certificate from the Gen'l D.B. Birney Post No. 63 to G.A. Weidner. Also includes a recipe for making beer.


Volume 3, 1926. Labeled on spine "1926." Contains clippings, music programs, correspondence, travel brochures, pamphlets, leaflets, obituaries, Christmas cards, birthday cards, and 1 photo. Clipping subjects include German-American history, politics, singing groups, religion, the 26th National Saengerfest in Philadelphia, and Franz Schubert. Travel brochures include the Klees' February 1926 trip from Hamburg to New York aboard the S.S. Deutschland. Obituaries include a Klee family memorium, businessman Leopold Schepp, diplomat Oscar S. Straus, and music teacher Maurits Leefson. Correspondence includes Ferdinand Klumpp. Music events include the Sesquicentennial concert at Willow Grove Park near Philadelphia, and the Metropolitan Male Chorus. There is one photo of Eugen and Emma Klee.


Volume 4, 1925-1928. Labeled on spine "1927." Contains clippings, music programs, correspondence, postcards, travel brochures, ticket stubs, photos, birthday cards, and Christmas cards. Correspondence includes a copy of a letter to Sigfried Wagner by Eugen Klee, and letters from Karl Feilke, Victor Schwarz, and Walter Hoffmann, among others. Clippings include photos of Mary Lewis, several presidents wives, the crew of the Bremen, the Metropolitan Opera House, Charles Lindburgh, Historic Heartbreakers, Niagara Falls, photo of Danzig, Johann Jacob Astor, tenor Walter Kirchhoff, Ruth Elder, Paul von Hindenburg, and Baron von Steuben. Travel brochures include Niagara Falls and the Delaware Water Gap. Music programs include Franz Schubert Maennerchor, the Century Theatre, and the Town Hall (New York City). Photos include Eugen and Emma Klee, and Oscar Hoffmann and son Walter. Postcards include the Prince George Hotel, Gertner's Dining Room and bakery in New York City, Hotel Traymore in Atlantic City in New Jersey. There is a Lehigh Valley Railroad timetable and a badge of Major James F. Fitzmaurice and one for the Trans-Atlantic Heroes .


Volume 5, 1929-1930. Scrapbook of Emma Klee. Includes letters addressed to Emma Klee, all dated 1930; and one letter to Eugen Klee from Oscar Hoffmann, in March 1929 .


Volume 2 - Loose Items, 1872-1929. Includes: correspondence 1872-1929, ephemera 1924-1925, and newspaper clippings 1921-1929. Correspondence includes a letter dated 1872 from Thomas May Pierce of Pierce's Union Business College, a 1915 letter to Eugen Haas, a letter and postcard to Eugen Klee. Ephemera includes wine lists, information booklet from Hotel Württemberger Hof Nürnberg, two hand-painted postcards, music score written by Eugen Klee.

8 32

Volume 3 - Loose Items, 1925-1926. Includes ephemera and newspaper clippings. Ephemera includes several concert programs from 1925.

8 33

Volume 4 - Loose Items, 1927-1928, undated. Includes: correspondence 1927-1928, ephemera and newspaper clippings. Correspondence includes a 1928 letter from Theo. Hoffmann to Eugen Klee and two letters from 1927 and 1928 from Victor W. Schwarz to Eugen Klee. Ephemera includes a Prince George Hotel postcard and a 1928 pamphlet for the Town Hall (New York City).

8 34

Volume 5 - Loose Items, 1925, 1930. Includes a postcard to Emma Klee from George Borst dated 1930 and a concert program from Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1925.

8 35