Cohnstaedt Family

An Inventory of the Cohnstaedt Family Papers at the University of Manitoba

Inventory prepared by Orest Martynowych
University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections,
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Finding aid encoded by Orest Martynowych (2016)
Finding aid written in English.

Collection Summary

University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections,
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Cohnstaedt Family

Cohnstaedt Family fonds

c. 1850-2000

1.5 m of textual records and other material

English, German

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Biography of Cohnstaedt Family

The Cohnstaedt family acquired a degree of prominence as German journalists during the second half of the 19th and the early 20th centuries. Ludwig Cohnstaedt (1847-1934) and his son Wilhelm Cohnstaedt (1880-1937) were senior editors of the Frankfurter Zeitung, a prominent liberal newspaper founded in 1856. When Wilhelm refused to write an editorial welcoming Hitler to power and endorsing the new Nazi regime in 1933, the Cohnstaedts, who were Jewish middle class liberals, had to leave Germany. Wilhelm moved to Paris and then to New York, where he wrote for the press and worked on a book about the collapse of the German (Weimar) republic before taking his own life in 1937. His eldest son, Hans Jacob, immigrated to England and then to Chicago. His daughter Ruth, a communist, was arrested, fled to Italy, and after returning to Nazi Germany, also took her own life. Martin (1917-2002), Wilhelm’s youngest son, was sent to England by his mother Else (nee Goebel; 1881-1974), a non-Jew who taught French, English and Italian and had an interest in organic farming and vegetarianism. Martin completed his secondary education at Leighton Park, a Quaker Secondary School in Reading, and at Woodbrooke, a Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham. He immigrated to the United States in 1937, where he was joined by his mother. Martin’s pacifism and his belief in Quaker philosophy would guide him throughout his life.

In the United States Martin studied vocational agriculture at Rutgers University in New Jersey (BSc, 1937-41), agricultural resource economics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (MA, 1942-43), and rural sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1948-50), where he earned his PhD in 1954.

.In 1940, while at Rutgers Martin was nominated for membership in Alpha Zeta, a national agricultural fraternity but declined the offer because the fraternity excluded non-whites. A year later, in 1941, Martin refused to register for military service and was classified as a conscientious objector. His wartime service consisted of working as a milk tester in rural Virginia and in 1946 he participated in an UNRRA mission, shipping cows and horses from the United States to Poland. Because he had refused military service his application for American citizenship was denied after the war. Aided by the American Friends Service Committee and the American Civil Liberties Union, Martin appealed his case all the way to the American Supreme Court, where he won the right to citizenship in 1950.

Martin’s academic career and his community work took him and his family - he had married Rebecca Boone and they had two sons - to a number of American colleges and universities. In 1946-48, he taught economics and sociology at Sterling College in Kansas; from 1948 through 1952, he was a teaching assistant and lecturer at the University of Wisconsin and at Downer College in Milwaukee; in 1952-53 he was a visiting instructor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; in 1955-56, he was assistant professor at Wisconsin State College in Milwaukee; and from 1956 through 1966, he was an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. After Martin and Rebecca divorced in 1961, Martin increasingly combined his work as an academic with the practical application of his Quaker philosophical beliefs and social ideals. At Antioch College in Ohio, where he was a visiting associate professor of sociology in 1964-67, he became involved in the War on Poverty. He worked as an organizer with the Supporting Council of Preventative Effort (SCOPE) on the “Head Start” and the “Moving Ahead Together” (MAT) projects in Dayton, Ohio, helping local Blacks claim their rights to health care, education and food. .

In 1967 Martin took up a position as Professor of Sociology at the Regina Campus of the University of Saskatchewan (after 1974, the University of Regina). In addition to his teaching and administrative duties, he participated in the organization of community self-help groups (aboriginal and low-income single mothers), researched the impact of a potash mine on the small rural community of Lanigan, Saskatchewan, and studied small arctic communities along the western shore of Hudson Bay as part of the University of Saskatchewan Institute for Northern Studies. Soon after moving to Regina Martin met and married Joy Rowe, an art teacher who shared Martin’s commitment to pacifism and community development. They adopted two children and a daughter was born in 1971. By 1969, Martin’s non-academic work as a community organizer, and his efforts to bring sociology students into the departmental decision-making process, including curriculum and the hiring of faculty, caused tension with faculty and the university administration. Although an internal university review committee (the Zacaruk Report, 1969) concluded that criticism of Martin was unjustified, the administration relieved Martin of his administrative responsibilities as acting chair of the Sociology department. In 1971 a dispute concerning Martin’s teaching methods culminated in his suspension from teaching although a second external review committee (the Woods Report, 1972) concluded that Martin had been treated unfairly. Until he was forced to take early retirement in 1978, Martin focused on community development work with non-status Indian and Métis peoples in northern Saskatchewan, including helping them organize opposition to uranium mining. In response to his forced early retirement, Martin sued the University of Regina for wrongful dismissal. When the Supreme Court of Canada finally upheld his case and awarded him more than $200,000 plus costs in 1995, Martin Cohnstaedt was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He passed away in Toronto in November 2002.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The papers consist of: 1/Cohnstaedt family documents, including copies of birth, marriage and death certificates; fragments of family correspondence; a diary/photo album, ca. 1927; family trees; xerox copies of newspaper clippings on the family’s history; and a large number of German-language librettos and booklets on opera. 2/ Correspondence, grant applications, reading lists, research notes, newspaper issues and clippings, and a book manuscript produced by Wilhelm Cohnstaedt (1880-1937), senior editor of the Frankfurter Zeitung, during his final sojourn in the United States (1933-1937). And, above all, 3/ the personal documents, correspondence, student papers and doctoral dissertation, petition for naturalization, scholarly research papers and reports, and documents concerning community development work and disputes with the University of Regina produced by Martin Cohnstaedt (1917-2002), a professor of sociology at several colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

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Arrangement of the Papers

This collection is arranged into ten series:

  • 1. Cohnstaedt family history
  • 2. Wilhelm Cohnstaedt
  • 3. Martin Cohnstaedt – Personal/Biographical
  • 4. Martin Cohstaedt – University Studies
  • 5. Martin Cohnstaedt – Conscientious objection and Naturalization
  • 6. Martin Cohnstaedt – Academic career (USA)
  • 7. Martin Cohnstaedt – Academic career (Canada)
  • 8. Martin Cohnstaedt – General Correspondence
  • 9. Martin Cohnstaedt – Miscellaneous Material
  • 10.Cohnstaedt Family Opera and Music Books and Booklets

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Restrictions on Access

No restriction on access.

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Restrictions on Use

No restrictions on use.

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Custodial History

The accession was donated by Joy Cohnstaedt.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

Cohnstaedt Family History []
11 Cohnstaedt family documents (birth, marriage, death) 1850s-1974
2 Cohnstaedt family correspondence (originals and xerox copies) 1859, 1911-1914, 1931-1937, 1965
3 Cohnstaedt family tree
4 Cohnstaedt family biographical and family history (xerox copies of newspaper clippings) 1917-1994
5 Cohnstaedt family photo album/diary ca. 1927
6 Ruth Cohnstaedt’s English school notebooks

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Wilhelm Cohnstaedt
17 Biographical note and miscellaneous items ca. 1933-1937
8 Sample personal stationary 1933-1937
9 Correspondence 1933-1934
10 Correspondence 1936-1937
11 “Administrative redistricting in Germany since 1918,” interview with Wilhelm Cohnstaedt 1935
12 Paper, “Europe’s Political Laboratory” 1930s
13 Grant application to Social Science Research Council to write “The German Republic” 1935
14 Grant application to John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to write “The German Republic” 1936
15 New York Public Library research, books consulted (1) ca. 1935-1937
16 New York Public Library research, books consulted (2) ca. 1935-1937
21 “The German Republic,” Ms. (1), pp.1-185 1936
2 “The German Republic,” Ms. (2), pp.186-336 1936
3 Research notes on 1917-1918
4 Research notes, small format sheets, pp 1-81, 100-149
5 Research notes, larger format sheets, pp. 2-199
6 Research notes, larger format sheets, pp. 200-361
7 Research notes, larger format sheets, pp. 500-562
8 Research notes, larger format sheets, pp. 900-921
9 Miscellaneous notes and scraps of paper
10 German-language booklets and pamphlets by various authors 1842-1904
31 Copy of “Nachkriegs-Kapitalismus: eine Untersuchung der Handelsredaktion der Frankfurter Zeitung” 1931
2 “Frankfurter Zeitung,” 2 issues 1881
3 “Frankfurter Zeitung,” clippings 1894, 1911, 1922, 1930
4 50th anniversary (1856-1906) issues of “Frankfurter Zeitung,” 3 issues 1906
5 “Frankfurter Zeitung,” articles/clippings 1933-1934
6 “Frankfurter Zeitung,”clippings about Chicago 1934
7 “Das Mittagsblatt,” 2 issues 1922
8 “Neueste Zeitung,” 1 issue 1931
9 “Konigsberger Hartungsche Zeitung,” article/clipping 1931
10 Articles/clippings from various German-language newspapers 1934-
11 “Basler Nachrichten,” 7 issues 1935-1937
12 “New York Herald Tribune,” clippings, book reviews 1935
13 “New York Times Book Review” supplement, clippings, several issues 1935
14 “The Analyst,” 1 issue 1935
15 Miscellaneous newspaper clippings 1897-1937
16 “Twelve views of the Indianapolis Flood of March 1913,” foldout 1913
17 Blank French and Belgian post cards, 29 post cards ca. 1914-1918
18 Photos of Aba River, Nigeria, bungalow and bathing, 4 photos
19 Photos of unidentified rural home/mansion, 5 photos 2010
20 Photos of woman with infant, 2 photos
21 Postcards with text, 8 postcards ca. 1909-1928

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Martin Cohnstaedt – Personal/Biographical
41 Morris Wolfe, “Martin’s Room,” Toronto Life article 2000
2 Autobiographical notes 1946-1977
3 United Kingdom registration documents 1934-1937
4 International Driving Permit [ 1937 ]
5 British tourist brochures [ 1930s ]
6 Martin Cohnstaedt’s USA Immigrant ID card [ 1937 ]
7 Martin Cohnstaedt’s diary and address book [ 1937 ]
8 Personal stationary and visiting cards [ 1937-1967 ]
9 Quaker (Society of Friends) pamphlets [ 1941, 1969, 1979 ]
10 USA Passport [ 1965 ]
11 Canadian passport [ 1985 ]
12 Address lists
13 Miscellaneous German-language newspaper clippings [ 1950-1954, 1984 ]
14 2 School photos [ ca. 1920s/1930s ]
15 Photo of unidentified woman
16 Blank postcards (12), Worcestershire, England [ ca, 1930s ]
17 Blank postcards (3), Germany and Montana [ ca. 1960s/1970s ]
18 Image of painting of Martin Cohnstaedt by Robert Cohnstaedt

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Martin Cohnstaedt – University Studies
419 University transcripts, certificates and applications for scholarships 1937-1954
20 Student course papers 1937-1954
21 PhD Thesis: “A Comparative Analysis of Commuting and Noncommuting Families Residing in the Slaterville Springs-Brooktondale Area, Tompkins County, New York” (University of Wisconsin at Madison, Sociology" [ 1954 ]
22 Photo of unidentified Rutgers University male student group [ ca. 1940 ]

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Martin Cohnstaedt – Conscientious objection and Naturalization
51 Selective Service Registration cards 1940-1946
2 UNRRA Crew lists (US Navy vessels) 1946
3 Application for US naturalization 1946-1950
4 Petition for Naturalization to the Supreme Court of the State of Kansas (3 pamphlets) 1948
5 Petition for Naturalization to the Supreme Court of the United States (5 pamphlets) 1949
6 Correspondence concerning his Application for Naturalization 1947-1950
7 Newspaper clippings 1940-1950
8 Conscientious objection issues 1940-1950
9 Conscientious objection issues 1967-1991

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Martin Cohnstaedt – Academic career (USA)
510 Sterling College, Kansas, Church and Rural Life conferences 1947-1948
11 Research papers, reviews, abstracts [ 1950-1954 ]
12 Research papers and reports 1959-1962
13 Research papers and reports 1964-1965
14 Research papers and reports 1966-1967
15 Published articles by Martin Cohnstaedt 1962-1967
61 Academic society membership certificates 1960-1962
2 List of courses taught at the University of Wisconsin 1963
3 Consultant’s reports, Dayton Social Research and Development 1964-1967
4 Papers and reports concerning “Head Start Project,” Dayton OH 1965-1967
5 Newspaper clippings concerning “Head Start Project,” Dayton OH 1966
6 “Moving Ahead Together” (MAT) project, Dayton OH, articles of incorporation, newsletter, information 1966-1967
7 “Moving Ahead Together” (MAT) project, Dayton OH, newspaper clippings 1967
8 Newspaper clippings about Martin Cohnstaedt 1958-1966

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Opera and Music Books and Booklets
91 Box contains complete list of titles

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