Houston Saengerbund Records, 1874-1985
The Houston Saengerbund (Singing Society) was founded on Oct. 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 which held biennial meetings and Saengerfeste (Singing Festivals) in various Texas cities.
The Houston Saengerbund swelled to over one thousand members before World War One, 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.
This collection contains the records of the Houston Saengerbund from the years 1874 to 1985. The minutes, financial notes, correspondence, and other documents for each year or several years are collected together in a bound notebook or loose-leaf binder, and the notebooks and binders are arranged chronologically. Some of the notebooks contain programs, newspaper clippings, and similar items. The earliest records are written in German, the later ones in English.
Box 9 contains some miscellaneous records and six songbooks.
Open for research.
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Received from Rodney Koenig, Summer 1989.
Julie Grob, 1996