Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Gertrude Cramer Pape's Stammbuch

I'm going to use this post to address a Fearless Female blog prompt from earlier this Woman's History month:

Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.

One of the items my cousin Bill found in Great Aunt Martha Pape Bleidt's papers was a 48-page booklet that belonged to our great-grandmother Gertrude Cramer Pape when she was 18 and attending a boarding school in Paderborn, Germany. It's a little autograph or memory book that she passed around to many people who wrote passages and signed and dated them.

Such an autograph book, called a Stammbuch or Album Amicorum (book of friends), was quite common among young German women especially in the late 1800s. The title page of Gertrude's book, pictured above left, is Zum Andenken v. Therese, which roughly translates to "The souvenir (or memory or memento or keepsake) from Therese." This would probably be Therese Weither or Weitler whose entry is first in the booklet, signed in Paderborn and dated January 29, 1877, shortly after Gertrude turned 18.

One of the pages (at right) has this intricately detailed title, Wohin? which translates to "Where?" Most of the entries in the book appear to be written in old-style German Gothic handwriting, which makes them difficult to read.

There are two pages with beautiful glued-on German scraps or die-cuts which are known as Oblaten or Lackbilder. The one at
left, Zur Erinnerung, translates to "For Remembrance," and the one below right, Gedenke mein, translates to "Remember Me."

There are 31 entries and signatures in the Stammbuch, most done in Paderborn in February and March, 1877. One of the signatures (below) appears to be that of a Pape - I can't tell if the first name is Amelie or Emilie or Ottilie. I've learned that Pape is a rather common last name in Germany, and that Gertrude's future husband John Pape had only brothers, but perhaps this is one of his cousins - maybe she had something to do with John and Gertrude meeting?

Even more interesting are two entries near the middle of the book. Both were signed in Boedefeld, which is the hometown of John Pape. The first (below right) was signed by Maria Gierse on April 6, 1883, and the second (below left) by Florentine Gierse on May 4, 1888.

John Pape's mother was Maria Elisabeth Gierse, and he had an aunt named Maria Florentine (and three other aunts with the first name of Maria as well). Gertrude emigrated to the United States in either 1888 or 1885. Perhaps her Stammbuch was signed by some of John's cousins, or maybe her (future?) in-laws shortly before she married John (which supposedly happened in 1888), or during a later visit home.

If anyone out there can translate the writing on these two pages (click on their pictures to view an enlargement), I would love to know what they say!

© Amanda Pape - 2010

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