(Mss. 3624)


Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections

Special Collections, Hill Memorial Library

Louisiana State University Libraries

Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University

Reformatted 2003

Revised 2010


SUMMARY .................................................................................................................................... 3
BIOGRAPHICAL/HISTORICAL NOTE ...................................................................................... 4
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE ................................................................................................... 4
COLLECTION DESCRIPTION .................................................................................................... 5
CROSS REFERENCES ................................................................................................................ 10
CONTAINER LIST ...................................................................................................................... 13

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102 items.

Geographic locations.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Mexico; Europe

Inclusive dates.

1872; 1936-1986

Bulk dates.



German and English


Copies of letters from Franziska Heberle, a German immigrant, to family and friends in Germany, Burma, and Australia concerning family news and Baton Rouge social life.


Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access.

If microfilm is available, photocopies must be made from microfilm.

Related collections.

Franziska Heberle Oral History Interview, Mss. 4700.0146

Rudolf Heberle Papers, Mss. 1921, 2254, 2345, 2345


Copyright of the original materials is retained by descendants of the creators in accordance with U.S. copyright law.


Franziska Heberle Letters, Mss. 3624, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, La.

Stack location(s).



Franziska Heberle (1900-1997), a German immigrant and the daughter of Ferdinand Tönnies, studied social welfare and worked for the Louisiana State Public Welfare Administration. She was married to Louisiana State University professor of sociology, Rudolf Heberle, and had three children. Her sister Carola (to whom many letters are addressed) was married to Thomas Atkinson, who was employed in the Indian Civil Service in Burma.


Letters detail the family's experience adjusting to life in the United States, their attainment of American citizenship, their travels in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe, and her sister’s experiences living in Burma. Some letters discuss politics, government, and culture in Germany during and after World War II. Included are several letters mentioning Caroline Durieux, a graphic artist and educator of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


(Articles designated “no month” are titled “Weihnachtsbrief” and simply contain the year of composition)



May 13, 1872

Letter by Ferdinand Tönnies to his brother Johannes on occasion of the latter’s birthday. Ferdinand’s reasons for leaving Strassburg for Jena. [German]

Apr. 20, 1936

Letter of condolence to Mrs. Heberle on occasion of the death of her father Ferdinand Tönnies. [German]


Nov. 8, 1938

“Round Robin Letter No. 2.” [German]

Discusses: climate compared to Europe and Burma (where sister Carola lives); children at University Laboratory High School, compares school discipline between Germany and U.S. (makes connection between discipline and lawlessness); LSU Sociology Department faculty teaching, research duties, total 660 faculty at LSU; Newcomer’s Club cultural activities; Baton Rouge’s 60,000 inhabitants, social customs; Huey Long controversies regarding reasons for assassination; building of family home (detailed description of architecture, landscaping); Veteran’s Day Parade; a rodeo (import from the West).

Nov. 21, 1938

Letter to Mary and Alfred [Meusel], decision to immigrate influenced by:

1. education of children; Jürgen already had Nazi tendencies kids seem to go on the opposite direction from oneself.
2. Rudolf’s pay was discontinued by the Nazis (he was Privat-dozent); refusal to accept Rudolf into the Party, hence no chances for employment in Germany. [German]

(letter incomplete)

Dec., 1938

Christmas letter; description of getting tree from the woods; Antje’s play with white and black dolls; progress in learning English and adapting with the different children; fun to “learn anew,” progressing Americanization; description of LSU and its set-up compared to European universities, student population now 8,000. [German]

Dec. 1938

Fragment of a letter containing detailed accounts of various aspects of Americanization; family happy here better than in Europe; discussion of family maid, Lucinde; LSU Senate Club; discussion of Roosevelt’s Supreme Court policies; social and family life in the South; discussion of the Heberle children. [German]

Dec., 1938

Letter to “My Nono” (Carolina; sister living in Burma; with husband Thomas Atkinson, Irish, in British Foreign Service; and children Moya, Helga, and









Thomas), concerning personal matters; comparisons between U.S. and Europe; plans for building house in Baton Rouge; social problems in the South; new acquaintances: the Stevensons, Frau Schuler, Lynn Smith’s wife; Fränzi’s role in Christmas party of German Department at LSU. [German]

1 letter, Aug. 8, 1938, missing.

Mar. 1939

Letter to Nono discussing household routines; heat, garden work; spring winds tiring; and Nono’s baby, Helga. [German]

May 9, 1939

Letter to Nono; discusses worry about Janti’s leaving; Jürgen’s birthday and children’s parties; Bertrand Russell’s talk in Baton Rouge concerning U.S. role in war; compares development of school-age children in U.S. vs. Europe. [German]

May 19, 1939

Letter to Alfred; compares U.S.-European university systems; Fränzi’s studies in Public Welfare Administration; Alfred’s prediction on political course of Nazis based on deliberately false premises; Russia: dictatorship necessary to uphold the socialism which was brought about by the Revolution; Klaus Mann’s Mephisto (on Gründgens) disappointing; Thomas Mann U.S. citizen: his lecture at LSU cancelled because of high costs. [German]

May, 1939

Letter to Nono: describes positive effect of Fränzi’s studies; news from Germany distressing; new immigrant friends; children’s reading material (Münchhausen). [German]

July 1, 1939

Letter discussing hot Louisiana climate, learning ways to cope; children do especially well at it; measles. [German]

July 13, 1939

Letter to Cläre (a friend, Cathrin Candell): discusses the sale of the house in Germany, her sister Carola (from Burma) who is to go to Germany, Ireland, and U.S.; heat in Baton Rouge; children’s language and reading; LSU politics in which professors aim at more self-government which is understandable because LSU administration is in hands of politicians. [German]

Sept. 21, 1939

Letter discussing difficulty with mail; speculations on the war; specifics about possibilities for the Atkinsons coming to U.S.; Rudolf’s success in his career at LSU; listing of household expenses; worries about fate of properties in Germany. [German]

Oct. 23, 1939

Letter to Nono: no news from Carola, or from Germany since beginning of war; question of whether letters should be written in English to pass censor; case of LSU Gov. Professor Kendall (believes he is bright, but that envious colleagues want him out); notes on Fränzi’s studies in Social Welfare; children’s development and education. [German]

Nov. 4, 1939

Letter to Nono, sent via San Francisco, the enclosed letter from Aunt Lisabeth shows effects of Nazi propaganda; the beginning of new war is frightening; family finances in Germany hard to take care of now, especially with restrictions by Nazi government. [German]

Nov. 23, 1939

Letter to “my dear little sister” (written in English to prevent too many cuts by censor) discusses Rudolf’s appointment and tenure at LSU, their decision to stay and build a house; letters arrive from Germany; concern about boys at war.

Nov., 1939

Letter to Nono discussing role of women in U.S., whose husbands are out of the house all day which leaves women to socialize more than in Europe; children’s adjustment to lower learning level in their classes and the English language; testing system in U.S. different from Europe. [German]

Dec. 6, 1939

Letter to Carola discusses family and friends in Germany, the changes in their lives and occupations because of war; growth of Baton Rouge due to oil industry.


Dec. 19, 1939

Christmas letter to Nono discusses no signs of war here; Southerners protect against sun; children’s games of cops and robbers; Jürgen, 10, now wears long pants like local boys; Christmas dance at Faculty Club at LSU as if there were no war. Letter incomplete. [German]

Missing letters from: Mar. 14; June; Sept. 2; Oct. 18, 24; Dec., 1939

Jan. 31, 1940

Letter to Nono concerning babies; building plans for house as well as costs: $5,500.00 and down payment $1,500; Rudolf’s job security which is not as secure as in Europe; sparse Mississippi river traffic; her driver’s license and role as chauffer for family; severe winter of frozen water pipes, damage, and even snow. [German]

Mar. 1940

Letter to “my dear ones”: discusses the end to an unusually cold winter; Carola writes from Germany with news of war; tells that Carola writes in English and Fränzi in German; airmail takes 3 weeks to get to Europe and is very expensive; Fränzi’s studies are interesting, good professors, especially in social psychology, nutrition, and research methods; discussion of children. [German]

Mar. 1940

Letter to Nono: news of Nono’s pregnancy is one good thing in world of war; discusses housework and work for studies and clubs; reviews Barnes’ Society in Transition. [German]

Apr. 23, 1940

Letter to Nono: remarks on the war; one dreams of it, of being there by accident; discusses children; population of Baton Rouge growing because of oil, government,

and LSU; sending children’s things in small packages, in hopes that they will make it through; description of house; delighted with windows and comparing house to old home in Husum. [German]

Apr. 26, 1940

Letter to Tante Hedwig: tells that Carola is in the mountains of Taunggyi, is expecting baby in May; reports on children; tells that it is a blessing to be living in U.S. while Europe is worried again. [German]

June 13, 1940

Fragment of letter to Nono concerning birth of her son; building of Heberle’s house; questions of Russia’s role in war. [German]

July, 1940

Letter to Nono regarding her health and preparations to come to Baton Rouge; better doctors than in Europe (as Dr. Wexberg says); received Nono’s letter from Rangoon; positions of England, Russia, and Japan in war; family news; reads Lady Chatterly’s Lover; also Gösta Berling would like to write comment to Selma Lagerlöf; news of Rudolf’s position at LSU. [German]

Fall, 1940

Fragment of a letter description of house; Rudolf’s field work; children’s development, characters, etc.

Aug. 1940

Letter to “my dear Aunt Lisabeth” description of house; children’s development, learning of languages. [German]

Sept. 26, 1940

Letter to Nono: discusses move into new house; relation with workers who sometimes cheat; news from relatives and friends in Europe convey more and more anxiety; news from Sociology Department at LSU. [English]

Fall, 1940

Letter to Nono: complains that mail is too slow, letters to Europe caught in British ships and held for months; discusses first citizenship papers; desire to send money to Mr. Adorno to help his children in England; shock of news of air raids. [English]

Dec. 1940

Christmas newsletter: Children still speak German at home, but speak English better than parents; planting in yard; Carola not to come to U.S., but to stay in Australia. [German]

Missing letters from: May 31; June 4; Nov. 5; 1940.

Apr. 1941

Letter to Carola and Annemarie: she has begun to notice inner distance to Germany developed during inner and outer immigration; mentions that discussion of politics is difficult in letters, unless one is Alfred Meusel; discusses Rudolf in LSU Senate Club; social life very time-consuming; police jury meetings; discussion of faculty salaries. [German]

Apr. 2, 1941

Newsletter no. 5 to family and friends: descriptions of daily life; holidays; children’s activities; climate; living in new house; musical development. [German]

Letters in German, no description. June 29, July 31, Oct. 20, 1942

Aug. 3, 1942

Letter to Dorothy: discusses vacation plans; recovery of children from chickenpox and measles; news concerning children in family and of friends, including Carola’s husband working in Burma; news of treatment during the war; news regarding LSU. [English]

[no month], 1942

Letter to Dr. Otto Neurath: discusses memories of her father and his experience with the Nazis and updates on her family in Baton Rouge. [English]

[July 19, 1942]; Nov. 1, 1943, undated

Fragments of letters in German no description.


8 items: Correspondence

Letters in German no description. Dec, 1946; Jan. 25, Feb. 1, 8, 18, Apr. 20, July, Nov., 1947


6 items: Correspondence

Letters in German no description. Mar. 9, Aug. 5, Nov. 11, 30, no month, 1948, one with no date, presumed 1947-1948.


10 items: Correspondence

Letters in German no description. Jan. 25, Mar. 19, Dec., 1950; summer, Nov. 23, 1951; no month, 1952; Nov., 1953; no month, 1954; July, Oct., 1955.


10 items: Correspondence

Letters and fragments of letters in German no description. Jan. 1, 1956; Apr., 1957; Nov., 1958; no month, 1959; Nov., 1960; no month, 1961, 1962; Nov., 1963; no month, 1964, 1965.


17 items: Correspondence

Letters and fragments of letters in German no description. No month, 1966-1982; Dec. 1984; Advent, 1985; Dec., 1986.




Description of relevant documents

Architecture--Louisiana--Baton Rouge.


Building a typical Baton Rouge family home; architectural details; landscaping.

Adorno, Franz Cavelli.


Endangered by Nazi persecution; Heberle discusses ways to send money to aid his children exiled in England; fall, 1940.

Baton Rouge (La.)


Chronicles of the growth of the city, including spread of artistic enterprises.

Burns, Arthur F. (Arthur Frank), 1904-1987.


Visit with the Burns’ at their home, discussion of Burns’ research travel to Asia and Africa.

United States Customhouse (New Orleans, La.)


German immigrants’ household goods searched by customs officials; practice to illegally import items for sale; Aug. 8.

Durieux, Caroline, 1896-1989.

1947, 1959, 1974

Beginning of her friendship with the Heberles, 1947; living in Mexico, being visited there by Heberles, 1959; designs for the Heberles’ invitations for their 50th wedding anniversary.

Education--Louisiana--Baton Rouge.


Formal education of writer’s children in U.S. schools and colleges; observations on American teenagers; effects of co-education; comparative observations of U.S. and European systems; 1970: Great Books Program in Baton Rouge.

English language.


Some letters sent to Germany and Burma written in English in order to avoid cuts by censor; Nov. 23; Dec. 6; frequent comments on language learning by immigrants.

German language.


Accommodation of native language to the learning of the language in the adoptive country; advantages of bilingualism; education of children influenced by it.

Immigrants--United States.


Letters dealing with the reasons for, and the complexities entailed in immigrant life for Germans fleeing from Nazism; treatment of specific aspects in letters dated: May 19, 1939; 1940; June 29, Aug. 3, 1942; Dec. 1946; Mar. 19, 1950; 1952.



Description of relevant documents

Germany--Politics and government--1933-1945.

ca. 1933-1982

Reminiscences and analyses of German politics and culture, mainly during the Nazi regime and following World War II; Alfred Meusel’s theories on the causes for spread of Nazism, May 19, 1939;

Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978.


Former student of Rudolf Heberle; 38th Vice-President of the U.S.; his letter of congratulations on Heberle’s 80th birthday mentioned; July 3.

Heberle, Rudolph, 1896-1991.


Through letters of his wife, tracing of his career as LSU Boyd Professor of Sociology, through retirement activities.



German immigrant family maintains old-world customs, but mingles them with American customs; descriptions in year-end letters.

Race relations--Louisiana--Baton Rouge.


Comments on the law, and on specific incidents related to integration; interview with one of the first black teachers in public schools, 1939; first black student admitted to LSU Law School, Dec. 1950; separate train cars, summer, 1951; interest in Europe, 1957; CORE activities supported by Episcopal pastor, 1963; analysis of civic disturbances in Baton Rouge, 1972.

Jews--Louisiana--Baton Rouge.


Rudolf Heberle family apparently the only non-Jewish German refugees here, June 29.

Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College--Faculty.

1939-1942; 1948

Discussions of impact of “LSU scandals” on attitude and performance of faculty members; faculty demanding more self-government, July 13, Oct. 24, 1939; demand by faculty for resignation of Board of Supervisors, July, 1940; renewed loss of control over educational policy, Aug. 3, 1942; strong support of faculty from new President and Governor, Mar. 9, 1948.

Music--Louisiana--Baton Rouge.


Development of musical performances in the city and university yearly comments.

Louisiana. State Public Welfare Administration.


Organization and activities of the Department, comments by active member of 14 years.

Postal service--Foreign mail.


Poor service in early stages of World War II; interruption of service to Germany in 1941.



Description of relevant documents

Russell, Bertrand, 1872-1970.


In a speech given at LSU, discusses U.S. role in World War II; advocates establishment of post-war equivalent of League of Nations; May 9.

Tönnies, Ferdinand, 1855-1936.

1872; 1939-1982

Father of Franziska Heberle; leading modern social philosopher; letter to his brother Johannes, May 13, 1972; mention of his work, discussion of his life and thought all through correspondence; letter of reminiscences, July, 1955; Tönnies family reunion, 1964; Tönnies Symposium, University of Kiel, 1980.

Trapp Family Singers.


Antje Heberle attends Trapp Family Music Camp in Vermont; subsequent family visit at Heberle’s house in Baton Rouge.

Voyages and travels.


Letters recording numerous trips, for professional meetings and family reunions/vacations, within the U.S., Mexico, most European countries; comments on geography, climate, people, politics, cultural events.

Borcke, Heros von, 1835-1895.


C.S.A. officer, Colonel; J. E. B. Stuart’s Chief of Staff; on leave from Prince of Prussia to fight in American Civil War; his legendary sword on display in Richmond Museum where his niece, Regine Tönnies sees it.

World War, 1939-1945--Germany.


Letters record events in Germany beginning September, 1939, fates of relatives and friends; life in Baton Rouge as it becomes affected after 1941; no letters sent to Germany 1944-1945; reaction to devastation in Europe after 1945, attempts to send aid.

Wyoming--Description and travel.


Family work-vacation on a ranch; observation on ranchers’ work and lives.






Contents (with dates)




Franziska Heberle Letters (1872, 1936-1986)