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Giessen Emigration Society boarding the Medora at Bremen in July 1834
Giessen Emigration Society boarding the Medora at Bremen in July 1834

Can you identify? Does anyone have a similar picture of the Medora or the Giessen Emigration Society?

Writer, Rolf Schmidt, of Bremen Germany found this lithograph in September 2010 in a regional chronicle in the Archives of Altenburg (Thuringia). Schmidt, who is a member of the Traveling Summer Republic and one of the authors of the new book from the University of Chicago Press, Utopia, Revisiting a German State in America, said that there was no explanation in the collection of documents or the history of Altenburg. Presumably it was drawn as a farewell to Runkwitz and the members of the Giessen  Society. Runckwitz was a bookbinder. Perhaps the artist was a friend or relative, or perhaps a colleague (maybe a fellow book binder or artist?). He must have been in Bremerhaven during the departure, for he has very exact informations about the ship MEDORA (the length, breadth, deepness, ballast, rescue-boat, 200 passengers – “mostly from Altenburg and Coburg” – 25 sailors and officers, Griffiths name, 2 canons, 4 anchors, etc etc.).

We believe the picture shows Runkwitz and his wife and two little daughters embarking on a row boat.  Next to them is a man and his wife (he is putting his hand round her neck and on her shoulder) with a little girl. This could be Friedrich and Luise Münch with their 7 year old daughter Pauline. The man is dressed in a robe, with a very broad girdle, which reminds Schmidt of the old pictures of clergymen.

Carl Runckwitz was a close friend of  carpenter Jonathan Kunze. Also in Altenberg are Runkwitz’ and Kunze’s  application for emigration, to the government, and the permission granted for emigration for both men. Another good friend to Runkwitz was Cornelius Schubert. Drinking buddies on Harriersand, they traveled and lodged together in Baltimore, according to Cornelius Schuberts diary.

In the spring of 1834, nearly five hundred Germans board two ships headed for America, all led by the idea of Freedom and Democracy! The Giessen Emigration Society crossed the Atlantic Ocean in hopes of founding a model democratic German State in the U.S., a Utopian colony in Missouri. The Society’s founders Friedrich Muench and Paul Follenius plan failed. However, because of their strong beliefs and leadership, with the right conditions, it soon led others to take up their brave idea.  Traces of their influence can still be found today.

These fellow students from the University of Giessen created the largest organized emigration society to ever come to Missouri. This politically motivated group came from various cities and villages, from all occupations and religions, united in their search for freedom.

This new book Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America shares a nearly forgotten piece of Missouri history, in both Germany and the United States, and is being shared by an International group of writers, historians and photographers. Full color and illustrations, this 352 page book was first released in Giessen, Germany with the Exhibition by the same name, on November 1, 2013 by the publication firm Edition Falkenberg. This beautifully illustrated story of the Giessen Emigration Society told by Ludwig Brake, Dorris Keeven-Franke, Walter D. Kamphoefner, Rolf Schmidt, Kilian Spiethoff and others; photographs by Folker Winkelmann. The book is now available in the U.S. through the Missouri History Museum and the University of Chicago Press.

ORDER HERE from the University of Chicago Press $27.50 & $5.00 S&H

Book Details:

Available in the U.S. through The University of Chicago Press



1-800-621-2736 (US & Canada)     Email:  custserv@press.uchicago.edu

Price: $27.50 USD & 5.00 S&H

Paperback: 352 pages / 233 color plates and halftones

Publisher: Edition Falkenberg (November 1, 2013 Germany)

Edited by the Traveling Summer Republic and the City Archives of Giessen.

Language: English/German    ISBN-13: 978-3954945955

Product Dimensions: 10.25 x 8.25 x 1.5 inches

Shipping Weight: 3 pounds



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