|Author:||Scott A. Merriman|
|Title:||Persecution of the German Language in Cincinnati and the Ake Law in Ohio, 1917-1919|
|Publication info:||Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
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Persecution of the German Language in Cincinnati and the Ake Law in Ohio, 1917-1919
Scott A. Merriman
vol. 1, no. 2, November 1998
Persecution of the German Language in Cincinnati and the Ake Law in Ohio, 1917-1919
This article examines the anti-German sentiment that prevailed in Cincinnati during World War I. This case study reveals some of the mechanisms utilized for repression of the German language and illuminates the attitudes prevailing in the Queen City. The article determines that the teaching of German was not immediately banned, and the hysteria of this era was manifested in different ways than what is commonly thought. Thus, World War I on the home front is a much more complex picture than previously believed. The article also discusses the Ake Law, which banned the teaching of German below the eighth grade in Ohio in 1919, and demonstrates some of the anti-German efforts occurring across the country in this period. This effort combines an examination of Cincinnati Board of Education records with printed sources and newspapers.
This article aims to examine a portion of the controversy concerning the German language in Ohio during World War I. First, we will take a quick overview of how past historians have dealt with the issue, and define the parameters for this effort. Second, we will look at how the German language was restricted in Cincinnati. Third, we'll examine the Ake law in Ohio, passed in 1919, which banned the teaching of German in all schools below the eighth grade. Finally, this work will quickly sketch how the German language and Germanic influence was attacked across the nation. Eventually I hope to expand this effort to examine the treatment of the German language in all of Ohio in this period.
First, we need to look at what previous works have said about this issue. George W. Knepper's 1989 Ohio and Its People, the most recent history of the Buckeye State, only quickly brushes over this issue, and it does not provide any footnotes. It mentions the repression and the Ake law, but does not go into any great detail. He covers this issue in three pages, and does not present any details of what occurred in specific cities and areas. He also ignores the entire issue of whether or not cities banned the teaching of German before the Ake law.  One much older work which does discuss this more directly is Carl Wittke's 1936 German-Americans and the World War. It argues that the teaching of German in most schools was either restricted or banned, but it does not look at the process for its banning, nor at the reasons that different areas proceeded at different speeds. This work also suffers from using almost exclusively the German language press as its sources, and only spends a couple of pages on the issue of the banning of the language and the later Ake law.  The one work that largely examined what happened in Cincinnati was Don Heinrich Tolzmann's The Cincinnati Germans After the Great War. While this work does provide an excellent survey of the banning of the language, it does not explain why it took a full year to ban the language, and does not compare Cincinnati to other cities. In addition, he does not note any large use of the Cincinnati Board of Education records, which I will incorporate. However, this is an excellent study of his topic, which by its very nature focuses more on the post-war issue.  In this article, I intend to focus on the German language situation in Cincinnati, and discuss the Ake law.
.04. Historical Perspective
It has been argued that in most school systems across Ohio, and across the nation, German language instruction was banned or restricted, often with little or no debate. However, in Cincinnati the controversy dragged on for almost a year.  Cincinnati before World War I was nationally known for its bilingual system of education. This system had begun in 1840, and all forty-seven white Cincinnati Schools at the elementary and intermediate levels had German language instructional classes. Some 250 teachers and 17,000 students (out of some 47,000) participated in the program. Tolzmann adds that even one of the all-African American schools in the city had German instruction, which apparently was quite unusual. Not all of the school districts around the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area, however, had such a long tradition of the teaching of German. 
.05. Beginnings of the Controversy
The controversy in Cincinnati education started soon after the war began. As early as April 7, 1917, only five days after war was declared, young boys refused to sing German songs. However, the principal corrected the boys, the administration supported the teaching of German, the singing of such songs, and the value of German in general, and these moves by the Board of Education and school administration did not seem to attract any controversy. Around this same time, an accelerated curriculum was proposed for the Lafayette Bloom Junior High School, and this proposal included five hours of "Latin or First Year German" in the curriculum, and no real opposition was noted to this proposal.  Groups were quickly formed though which opposed the teaching of German. It should be noted here that, in spite of the general hatred of all things German, only the teaching of German in the grade schools, and not the overall teaching, was generally protested. The first effect of the war on Cincinnati education occurred on April 4, but it did not seem to have attracted much public attention. On that day, Frida Schmitzer Lamar, a German citizen, resigned from teaching German at Lincoln School. As her reason for resignation, she stated that "it is with a distinct feeling of regret that I sever my connections with the school system of Cincinnati, but I do not think it honorable either to continue teaching at such a time as this or to take out naturalization papers in order to protect my position." Randal J. Condon, Superintendent of Schools responded to this letter by writing, "I can not express to you how deeply I appreciate the fine spirit and high sense of honor which appear in your letter of the 4th, resigning your position as teacher in the Lincoln School and asking to be relieved of duty on April 6th." 
.06. The School Board
People also began to write letters to the school board about the teaching of German. One supporter of the teaching of the German language noted the feelings of the time and stated that that question should not be considered at this time, and closed by saying "As an American born, proud of his citizenship, a father, and a taxpayer, I ask the retention of German instruction in the Schools, and believe there are many of the same opinion who may not give expression to those views." An opposing letter argued that "the very reason why the German language should not be taught is because that part of our community which asks for it, is not American at heart and has never professed true and undivided love and allegiance to our country . . . Yes, the abominable infiltration of Germanism or Prussianism, call it as you please, the stupendous penetration of Germanism in all countries and the unlawful attempt to destroy that which is dearest to countries, every free loving, independent people, was the primary cause of this war." 
Unlike in some other school districts, Superintendent of Schools Condon moved to defend the German language. Throughout early 1917, Condon pointed out errors in opponents' arguments and fought moves to study the value of the teaching of German. The School Board was also generally divided, which hampered efforts to remove the language, and the board defeated a plan to study German by a vote of four to three. Even one of the members who voted to study German declared, "If the board should propose elimination of German from the curriculum without first investigating, I would vote against the proposal without hesitation." Throughout the spring of 1917, Condon crossed horns with those who wanted to remove the language. Proposals and letters were frequently heard from both sides of the question. One letter writer, Alexander Thomson, wrote opposing German, proposing a survey of all teachers not teaching German as to its worth and asking that all replies be kept anonymous. In his communiqué he claimed that the money spent teaching German ($150,000 he figured) could be better spent "in salaries among the American teachers, as well as for other beneficial purposes." This letter was received the same day that the School Board voted not to study German, but the Board also defeated a motion to table the issue. Public opinion at this point on the issue seems to have been divided. On May 28, 1917, at least seven different petitions were received by the Board, requesting action ranging from postponement of the issue (4 petitions) to continuing German (1) to banning it (1) to discussing the idea of studying German (1). Several other letters also arrived, but they were anonymous and so were not filed, as the formal policy of the Board was to ignore letters that were not signed. 
The whole question of German became embroiled in the school board elections, as groups vowed to only elect those who would eliminate German from the primary grades. However, the School Board ordered that all questions be taken to Superintendent Condon, and this seemed to settle the issue. In general throughout the summer of 1917, the school board seemed to take a "hands-off stand," even as the controversy raged. Letters urging a study of German as to determine its worth, and ones urging the continuation of German teaching were both filed without comment. The Board also battled internally over the issue. On June 11, a motion was made to study the qualifications of German teachers and to see if their qualifications were the same as for teachers of English. This motion was made by Annie Laws, and was voted down on a tie vote. On July 9, another letter was received arguing that German had no place in the first six grades. It wrote, quoting a Dr. Hall, "The heart of education as well as it phyletic root is the vernacular literature and language * * * one of the causes of deficiency in language is the excessive time given to other languages just at the psychological period of greatest linguistic plasticity and capacity for growth * * * It is a psychological impossibility to pass through the apprenticeship stage of learning foreign language, at the age when the vernacular is setting without crippling it." Another letter received the same day urged the retention of German, claiming that those who wanted to study it really wanted to ban it and were only hiding their intentions. It closed by arguing that most in Camp Washington, one neighborhood in the city, wanted to continue German. 
Petitions were also frequently filed with the Board. A petition signed by 250 people was received and filed on June 11, 1917. It stated: "whereas unwarranted and untimely attacks have been made upon the instruction in the German language in the elementary schools of Cincinnati, we, the undersigned taxpayers, citizens, parents and patrons of the public schools of Cincinnati, respectfully petition your honorable body not to abolish the aforesaid instruction." Three more petitions were received and filed on June 25. The first one noted that "Cincinnati is full of German people, loyal to the United States, that is seems only just and proper to continue German in the schools of Cincinnati." The second noted, thoughtfully, that "if it is worth while teaching German in the high schools and university, why not let the children get the foundation of it in the elementary schools." The final argued for a survey of German to determine its worth, even while criticizing the level that the recent discussion had fallen to. On September 10, a petition was presented which was signed by eight thousand, five hundred and fifty (8550) Cincinnati residents "petitioning the Board not to abolish the instruction in the German language." It read "Whereas, unwarranted and untimely attacks have been made upon the instruction in the German language in the elementary schools in Cincinnati; we, the undersigned taxpayers, citizens, parents and patrons of the Public Schools of Cincinnati, respectfully petition your honorable body not to abolish the aforesaid instruction." This was the most reported as signing petitions on either side. Thus, a large number were willing to go on record as supporting German instruction. 
Condon left the issue up to the parents to decide, and he said that he would take no effort to end the teaching of German. However, many students decided not to study German at the high school level and it was thought that the same level of "defections" might occur in the lower grades. The same night, a levy was requested, and a number of services were specified for either cuts or elimination if the tax levy did not pass. This information was passed out to the public in the form of a pamphlet called "Children First," urging the citizens to "Vote for the School Levy." One might think that German was one of the things that would be targeted for elimination if cuts had to be made, or that German would be used in some political way, but German is not mentioned anywhere in the debate.  Textbooks were however to be censored to eliminate "anything radically at variance to the principles and standards of Americanism," a committee was organized to this end, and this touched off a long battle over errors in texts, with several texts being removed. One complaint about one of the texts was that it claimed that the founder of Cincinnati was German, named "George Steitz," who later changed his name, and B.H. Stites wrote one week to note that this story, according to him, had no validity. 
Many parent's decisions to have their children stop studying German caused a sharp decline in the study, but did not end it. The final tally showed a decrease of around forty-five percent, but even after six months of the anti-German propaganda, almost 7500 students wished to study German in the fall of 1917 (or at least their parents wanted them to). Due to the rule that all classes had to have at least twenty students, many schools had to drop German, as some fifteen schools did not have enough students studying German, and in eleven others grades were combined to get enough students. Condon appears to have been attempting to tread a middle ground, as he argued that "German must and will stand or fall upon its own merits as an educational subject. It must not be kept alive by any artificial means, and least of all should it be killed by appeals to prejudice and passion. I have refused to consider the subject in any other light than an educational one, and have reached one, and have reached the conclusions which I am submitting for your consideration entirely from that point of view." 
Coming on the heels of this decision was the move to censor several more textbooks, and battles ensued, including one in which Edward Colston, member of the Citizens' League on Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools, told Dr. H. H. Fick, Assistant Superintendent of German Instruction in the Schools, and author of the text in question, "I do not think it decent or proper to teach the matter in German textbooks to American children. If it were not for the profanity of it I'd say teach them to hell with the Kaiser and Hohenzollerism." It should be noted though that two pastors of local churches did come out in defense of the texts. Six texts were eliminated, but two of those had to be restored due to a lack of texts which resulted from the ban. In several others heavy white paper covered objectionable parts. Some $3,000 was spent fixing other text books, which contained unpatriotic songs, and the pages were pasted together or covered with paper, and the Board wanted the unpatriotic songs covered with copies of "America the Beautiful" and the "Cincinnati Song," if the publishers would let them. 
.07. The Ending of German
However, those who wanted the total elimination of German were still not satisfied. They still gave speeches and pushed for the election of board members who favored their views and the removal of Condon. In the 1917 elections, it appeared that they had lost when Chris Erhardt was elected.  However, the issue soon seemed moot, as Condon surprisingly enough in February 1918 recommended the ending of German in the elementary schools, while keeping it in the high schools. This passed on a six to one vote, even though two of those voting for the motion still voiced support for worth of German. The selective hysteria of this period is quite interesting. Even while the groups were pushing for elimination of German and the removal of Dr. Condon, they allowed the "support" of "German" institutions. Without dissent or even noted comment, the Board invested $800,000 in two banks with the word German in their name, those being the Western German Bank and the German National Bank. 
Most teachers who had been working in German were transferred, as some seventy-five percent of them had certificates also to teach English, and efforts were made to re-assign the teachers. In fact, due to shortages of teachers in general, it was said that the German teachers would have good chances to qualify in other areas. Thus, not many at all lost their jobs, as at the end only four supervising assistants were demoted to teachers with a cut in pay, and eleven teachers and ten supervising assistants were fired. These figures are out of a total of 250 who were teaching German at the beginning of 1916. It is also interesting to note that no notice was ever made of any retribution against any teacher who transferred from German to English. 
The German language in the high schools feared little better. For the fall of 1918, no new classes were formed in German or Greek due to lack of interest, and a few letters were written in the papers favoring banning all German teaching. Finally, for the fall of 1919, all German instruction was banned, and almost all Greek. This was due to lack of interest on the part of the students. The reason for the lack of interest in the study of Greek is not apparent from the available records. It should be noted however that this elimination was after the war was over. Some went even further and wanted to end any influence of German teaching on schools, including wishing to end "German" discipline. Professor Albert Hall-Quest was quoted as saying, to a group of teachers, "We want no raising of hands, no asking for permission to move about the room . . . . That is the Prussian way of doing things. Pupils should move about freely, abiding by rules laid down by themselves in their student government organizations." It is not noted what the reaction was of the teachers to this new proposed type of discipline.  This whole continuing anti-German crusade is at variance with some views which seems to hold that the worst of the repression on the German language was over once the war ended. 
.08. A Teacher Lacking "Patriotism"?
There was one interesting case of a suspension of a teacher who was appearing not to be patriotic enough. In the winter of 1919, Miss Kathryn Kolker was also suspended for refusing to play the national anthem and later refused to stand for it when it was played, which both were in violation of a direct order. Two teachers did write notes defending her, and a full investigation was carried out at the request of Superintendent Condon. A special meeting was held by the Board, with Miss Kolker, the reporting teacher, and others giving testimony. At the end, the Board held that Miss Kolker's "physical condition" justified her not standing. (She had an attack of vertigo at the time). However, the teacher who filed the report on Miss Kolker was also justified, as "there was in force at the time of the occurrence in question a standing order requiring (the teacher) . . . to promptly report to the Superintendent through the Principal, any act, conduct or utterance upon the part of any teacher under her that might be interpreted as evidencing a lack of patriotism, or feeling of disloyalty . . . " and the suspension was also justified. Miss Kolker was paid though for the days she missed in her suspension. 
.09. Resumption of the Study of German
This seemed to end the whole controversy and the study of German in Cincinnati was not resumed until 1926. In that year, the district decided to offer the language again, and some four hundred enrolled, with little controversy and no notice in the School Board minutes. Cincinnati did not experience the hysteria that some locales did, as the Superintendent that welcomed back the language was the same Randal J. Condon, and so he obviously did not lose his job over the whole controversy. In fact, Condon's contract was renewed in 1919, and a resolution was passed praising him. The resolution specifically noted "that the Board of Education of the School District of Cincinnati hereby records its perfect confidence in the loyalty, patriotism, and thorough Americanism of said Randal J. Condon, and also its appreciation of his able and conscientious service to this Board and to the City of Cincinnati during the past seven years, as our Superintendent of Schools . . .". Thus, it took some seven years for the study of German to be returned to the schools of Cincinnati, but no protests were noted when it was restarted. 
.10. The Ake Law
Once the war was over, the whole question of German instruction did not go away on the state level either. On April 1, 1919, Governor Cox urged the Ohio Legislature to ban the teaching of German in all Ohio elementary schools, whether they be public, private and parochial. He claimed that this teaching was "a distinct menace to Americanism, and part of a plot formed by the German government to make the school children loyal to it." The Ake law was then passed which required all instruction below the eighth grade in to be in English and did not allow the study of German below the eighth grade in public school. One should notice though that this was only in the elementary schools. In 1923, however, the Supreme Court struck down those parts that applied to private and parochial schools.  The Governor of Kentucky, when he vetoed a similar law in 1918 which would have "prohibited the teaching of German in institutions maintained by public funds," was called a "traitor" and was said to have betrayed the people of Kentucky. 
.11. A National Perspective
On a national scale, during the war, there also was quite a bit of repression against the German language. Many different cities banned the teaching, or even the speaking, of German. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Newport, Kentucky, and Lafayette, Indiana all banned the teaching of German, and many areas, including Sioux City, Iowa, conducted burnings of German books.  Milford, Ohio even tried to ban the speaking of German, one phone company banned the speaking of German on its telephones, and English was demanded in courtrooms.  Many cities changed things which were in German, including Cincinnati, who changed twelve street names that were of German origin.  Many citizens who were of German origin changed their names, and most organizations with German names, who had the word German in their name, or who had German rituals changed them.  For example, the German National Bank in Cincinnati became the Lincoln National Bank.  In addition, a pastor with the Y.M.C.A. was not allowed to travel to France, as his name had a German sound.  Church services in German, meetings in German, and things printed in German changed mostly to English, even though a few did not.  A protest was even registered over a tax form printed in German, and over a speech which referred favorably to German playgrounds.  These are only some of the ways that the German language was publicly opposed. One teacher was even suspended from his job for being a member of a society under investigation, and, even if cleared, he would have been forced to resign from the society, as the report argued "for not only should there be no act of disloyalty on the part of teachers, but they must conduct themselves so as to avoid the 'appearance of evil.' Their associations, affiliations, and conservation must be above reproach." 
Another area in which the German language was repressed was through the banning of German language books from libraries. In Cincinnati, all German language books and magazines were removed.  At first only those books promoting German propaganda were to have been removed, but they were not removed fast enough, due to a lack of help. Then all the books were removed. However, this was not before an unidentified man could ask for a "pro-German volume," but he left before he could be arrested for requesting such a seditious publication.  This man was never caught, but the danger was removed, as all the books were stored in the library basement. German books were not fully returned to the library until 1921 and it was 1923 before German books were purchased again. 
However, this was not the only city with restrictions upon German books. Books on explosives were removed from all libraries, and "hundreds (if not thousands) of public librarians seemed to enjoy their role as censor." Some public libraries went so far as to destroy their "pro-German" books, more had ideas of it, and some even wanted to report those who checked out dangerous works. Among those books reported as "pro-German" were Boy Scout handbooks and the New Republic, and all German and Austrian music were removed from one music library. Detroit, Denver, St. Louis, Cleveland, New York, Portland and Washington, D.C. were among the cities whose public libraries restricted books. Thus, cities across the country censored the reading material, removing any book that had any tinge of "pro-Germanism" or "radicalism" in it, often destroying the work, and one of the bulwarks of free thought, the library, turned into the exact opposite in World War I. 
All across the nation, the anti-German hysteria raged. Anything German was open to attack. However, not all things German came under suspicion, and some things were allowed to exist. Cincinnati heard very few protests about its planned retention of German teaching in the high schools before it was removed in 1919 due to lack of interest. In addition, the school board took a whole year to remove the language. Even the noted Ake law only removed German teaching in the elementary schools. Finally, both the Ake law and the removal of German from Cincinnati high schools occurred in 1919, after the war was over, and this clashes with some portraits of the Red Scare as being aimed mostly against radicals, rather than also being against the German language. Thus, the picture of repression commonly contained in our history volumes needs to be refined and further investigated. That America repressed in this period is well known, but what is little known is exactly how we choose to repress and what we repressed, and that is an area worthy of further investigation.
1. George W. Knepper, Ohio and Its People. (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1989). See especially pages 343-346. This work does not have any notes, so the sources of this knowledge are unknown, but it does have a good bibliographic discussion on pages 474-484.
2. Carl Wittke, German-Americans and the World War: (With Special Emphasis on Ohio's German-Language Press). (Columbus, Ohio: The Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society, 1936).
3. Don Heinrich Tolzmann, The Cincinnati Germans After the Great War. (New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc., 1987), Volume 16 of Series 9, History of the American University Studies Series. See especially pages 12-13, 85-88, 178-182.
4. Wittke, German-Americans and the World War, 179-181; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 5, 1918, 19:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 9, 1918, 3:6; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 15, 1918, 1:5; David M. Kennedy, Over Here: The First World War and American Society. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), 54-55.
5. Tolzmann, The Cincinnati Germans After the Great War, 85; See, e.g. Kentucky Post, March 31, 1911, 5:4; Kentucky Post, February 1, 1913, 2:6; Kentucky Post, February 2, 1913, 2:5; Kentucky Post, February 26, 1913, 3:3.
6. The other things in the curriculum were Physical Training and Hygiene (5 hours), General Science (5), Mathematics (5), English (5), Music (.5), Penmanship (.5), Drawing (2) and 2 hours of Household Arts for girls, and 2 of Industrial Arts for Boys.Cincinnati Enquirer, April 7, 1917, 16:7; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 10, 1917, 11:7. Cincinnati School Board of Education Minutes, book 31, page 251, April 23, 1917. Filed at the Cincinnati Board of Education Treasurer's Office, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Hereafter referred to as Board Minutes).
7. Letters opposing and favoring the teaching of German were noted in the Board Minutes of May 14, 1917. Board Minutes, book 31, page 259, May 14, 1917; Cincinnati Enquirer, April 21, 1917, 9:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 1, 1917, 15:2; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 2, 1917, 8:7; Even the Ake law only dealt with teaching below the eighth grade, and the general defense, if one was noted, of the teaching of the German language in upper grades was that in high school "the language has the same status as other non-English tongues." (Cincinnati Enquirer, May 1, 1917, 7:2). The letter was approved by the Board later by the Committee of the Whole and made a part of the record. Board Minutes, book 31, pages 236-237, April 9, 1917.
8. Board Minutes, book 31, page 259, May 14, 1917; Cincinnati Enquirer, April 21, 1917, 9:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 1, 1917, 15:2; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 2, 1917, 8:7.
9. Board Minutes, book 31, pages 268-271, May 14, 1917; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 3, 1917, 10:2; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 13, 1917, 7:2; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 15, 1917, 16:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 16, 1917, 8:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 18, 1917, 5:8; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 21, 1917, 7:8; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 24, 1917, 3:5; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 25, 1917, 5:2; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 27, 1917, 2:8, Section 2; May 29, 1917, 3:1; Public opinion at this point on the issue seems to have been divided, e.g. see Cincinnati Enquirer, May 21, 1917, 4:4 and Cincinnati Enquirer, May 21, 1917, 4:2; On May 28 as well, Mr. Alexander Thomson's letter was officially filed with the board by Superintendent Condon. Board Minutes, book 31, pages 278-279, May 28, 1917.
10. Board Minutes, book 31, page 288, June 11, 1917. On the same day, two anonymous letters were received, but not filed, due to the Board's policy on such letters and a letter was received urging the continuation of German, but was not filed as the writer did not want his name made public. Board Minutes, book 31, page 291, June 11, 1917; Board Minutes, book 31, page 296, June 11, 1917; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 9, 1917, 5:1; Cincinnati Enquirer, July 4, 1917, 9:1; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 26, 1917, 8:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 10, 1917, 13:4, Section 1; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 12, 1917, 16:7; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 19, 1917, 5:1; Board Minutes, book 31, page 321, July 9, 1917; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 13, 1917, 7:7; Cincinnati Enquirer, July 20, 1917, 11:7.
11. Board Minutes, book 31, page 291, June 11, 1917; Board Minutes, book 31, pages 307-308, June 25, 1917; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 10, 1917, 13:4, Section 1; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 12, 1917, 16:7; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 19, 1917, 5:1; The original petitions are not extent though. Board Minutes, book 31, page 355, September 10, 1917.
12. Cincinnati Enquirer, September 5, 1917, 5:7, 16:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 1, 1917, 2:5; Cincinnati Enquirer, August 28, 1917, 14:3; Board Minutes, book 31, page 358-359, and insert, September 10, 1917.
13. Cincinnati Enquirer, September 6, 1917, 16:7; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 7, 1917, 14:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 9, 1917, 11:2; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 8, 1917, 5:7. Board Minutes, book 31, page 384, September 24, 1917.
14. The list of schools with fewer than enough students, as well as the percentage decreases, and the number decreased, as well as the actual questionnaire is contained in Cincinnati School Board of Education Minutes, book 31, page 372-374, and 2 page insert, which is found in the September 15, 1917 minutes. It should be noted that the grade with the most people studying German was the first grade. Amazingly enough, as far as the recommendations go, he appears to be telling the truth (I am not attempting to denigrate Superintendent Condon, but merely saying that the pronouncement is shocking in light of the times). Board Minutes, book 31, page 373, September 15, 1917.
15. The result of these efforts, to use "America the Beautiful" and the "Cincinnati Song," is unknown. New York Times, September 20, 1917, 13:6; Board Minutes, book 32, page 20, July 8, 1918; Cincinnati Enquirer, October 7, 1917, 14:5, Section 1; Cincinnati Enquirer, October 2, 1917, 8:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 11, 1917, 8:6; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 2, 1917, 5:7; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 25, 1917, 8:6; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 21, 1917, 15:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 12, 1917, 10:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 13, 1917, 8:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 14, 1917, 14:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 14, 1917, 16:7; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 20, 1917, 10:1; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 20, 1917, 10:6; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 19, 1917, 16:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 18, 1917, 8:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 16, 1917, 14:2; The recommendations, although not the original reports, are contained in the school board records as well. Board Minutes, book 31, page 406, October 8, 1917.
16. Board Minutes, book 31, page 481, January 14, 1918.
17. Condon noted that the number had dropped significantly in September and that few had wanted to transfer to keep pursuing the language, and argued that this was the best time to make the decision so as to plan best and adapt the teaching staff best. Board Minutes, book 31, page 512, February 11, 1918; Dr. Fisk, a long time supporter of German teaching, the writer of many of the texts used, and one of the leaders of the Cincinnati German community, was the only one to vote no. Board Minutes, book 31, page 514, February 11, 1918; Tolzmann, The Cincinnati Germans After the Great War, 29-35; Cincinnati Enquirer, February 12, 1918, 5:6; Cincinnati Enquirer, February 10, 1918, 9:3, Section 1; Cincinnati Enquirer, December 9, 1917, 26:6, Section 1; Cincinnati Enquirer, November 7, 1917, 9:6; Cincinnati Enquirer, October 9, 1917, 7:7; Perhaps German was not the only disliked language as a professor from Columbia University argued that no foreign languages should be taught in the elementary schools and that if the parochial schools did not agree they should be seized. He complained that 16, 000 of the recently drafted soldiers could not even understand English. Cincinnati Enquirer, February 24, 1918, 11:3, Section 1; The old textbooks were destroyed, although not publicly, and were sold for scrap paper. Cincinnati Enquirer, September 3, 1918, 12:7; The Board also allowed the "Cincinnati Home Guards" to drill in the schools. Board Minutes, book 31, page 488, January 14, 1918.
18. Once elementary German was ended, no more petitions were sent to the board asking for the ending of all German education. Board of Education records 1918-1919; The papers reported ten teachers, even though eleven are noted in the school board records. The reason for the discrepancy is unclear. The supervising assistants' salaries were cut from $1600 to $1300. Board Minutes, book 32, pages 14-15, July 8, 1918; Cincinnati Enquirer, August 28, 1917, 14:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, March 10, 1918, 14:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 9, 1918, 16:7; Cincinnati Enquirer, March 24, 1918, 14:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 9, 1918, 16:7; However, even in the Spring of 1918, a few calls were still being made for the study of German "as a means of national defense," as the U.S. needed to know German "in the spirit in which an explorer learns the idioms of the savage tribes where he is going to carry his civilization." (Cincinnati Enquirer, April 27, 1918, 3:5) Even with these calls, when Dr. Fisk resigned on May 13, 1918, a resolution praising his service was inserted into the school record praising his service and describing him as a loyal man, in spite of his authorship of the texts which were denigrated in the paragraphs above. Board Minutes, book 31, pages 585-586, May 13, 1918; The money saved was used to decrease the amount of money that was needed to be raised in the next levy. Board Minutes, book 31, page 606, May 27, 1918.
19. It should be noted though that no reports in the school board records were made of any petitions presented to end German, and only two in the papers. All Cincinnati School Board Records, 1918- February 1919, Cincinnati School Board of Education Minutes. Board Minutes, book 32, pages 228-229, 232-233, February 24, 1919; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 21, 1918, 7:7; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 20, 1918, 14:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, March 3, 1919, 12:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, April 25, 1919, 11:8; Some sixty at one high school, and fifty-four at another wanted to study the language in the fall of 1918, as compared to 486 studying French at one school alone. Cincinnati Enquirer, September 19, 1918, 14:5; Cincinnati Enquirer, August 28, 1918, 7:3.
20. Paul S. Boyer, et. al. The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People, Third Edition. (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1996), 752-767; Alan Brinkley's The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People, Second Edition, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997), 644-656. Brinkley and Boyer both present the anti-war hysteria as purely focusing on anti-radical and racial issues. In fact, some of the evidence from Kentucky, which shows schools still ending German, and anti-German activities going on until well into the Twenties clearly shows that the issue did not end with the end of World War I.
21. Board Minutes, book 32, pages 228-229, 232-233, February 24, 1919; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 21, 1918, 7:7; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 20, 1918, 14:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, March 3, 1919, 12:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, April 25, 1919, 11:8.
22. Cincinnati Enquirer, September 25, 1926, 20:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, April 30, 1934, 4:2; Condon in 1919 was re-appointed for a term of up to five years (and so he must have been again re-appointed to still be there in 1926). Thus, the controversy over German did not hurt their view of his loyalty. All seven members of the school board voted for his continuation. Board Minutes, book 32, pages 295-296, May 12, 1919; All Board Minutes, book 37, June 1926-end of October 1926; Tolzmann, The Cincinnati Germans After the Great War, 85-88.
23. Knepper, Ohio and Its People, 345; Wittke, German-Americans and the World War, 181-182.
24. Cincinnati Enquirer, April 4, 1918, 7:1; Kentucky Post, April 1, 1918, 1:5; Kentucky Post, April 17, 1918, 1:2.
25. Cincinnati in addition to doing all of the above, also required a loyalty oath of its teachers. The City Solicitor's office set up the oath, and volunteers helped to administer it, which apparently occurred without a hitch. Board Minutes, book 32, pages 420, 424, September 8, 1919; Cincinnati Enquirer, August 31, 1918, 13:4; Kentucky Post, September 11, 1917, 1:8; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 15, 1918, 1:5; Kentucky Post, January 18, 1918, 4:1; Kentucky Post, January 19, 1918, 1:1 & 2:2; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 18, 1918, 21:4, Section 1; Kentucky Post, January 9, 1918, 1:1; Cincinnati Enquirer, February 5, 1918, 10:7; Kentucky Post, January 30, 1918, 1:4; Kentucky Post, February 8, 1918, 1:6; Cincinnati Enquirer, February 5, 1918, 10:7; Cincinnati Enquirer, July 15, 1918, 12:5; Kentucky Post, January 16, 1920, 1:1; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 1, 1918, 7:2; Cincinnati Enquirer, July 22, 1918, 1:6; For a counter-example (not banned in those Chicago schools which modified courses, and no new courses formed), see Cincinnati Enquirer, September 4, 1918, 1:2; Some even at first declared that German would stay, and then decided to let it go. E.g. Kentucky Post, September 5, 1917, 1:2; Kentucky Post, February 8, 1918, 1:8.
26. Cincinnati Enquirer, May 3, 1918, 16:2; Cincinnati Enquirer, August 15, 1918, 1:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 3, 1918, 16:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 20, 1918, 14:4; Much debate ensued over the general elimination of German influence. See, e.g. Cincinnati Enquirer, July 1, 1918, 4:6; Cincinnati Enquirer, July 15, 1918, 5:7.
27. Cincinnati Enquirer, April 9, 1918, 11:6; Cincinnati Enquirer, April 10, 1918, 10:8. The street names have never been restored. However, in 1995, Cincinnati City Council passed a resolution to place plaques on those street corners which were changed and which will tell the original name of the street. These signs were actually established in 1996. Cincinnati Enquirer, July 19, 1995; Section B, 1:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, February 22, 1996, Section C, 1:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 14, 1995, Section B, 2:1; Cincinnati Enquirer, August 13, 1995, Section L, 2:1; Cincinnati Post, July 19, 1995, 5A:1; Cincinnati Post, September 12, 1995, 6A:1; Cincinnati Post, September 14, 1995, 8A:5. For names of other cities that changed their street names, see, e.g. Kentucky Post, February 28, 1918, 2:2.
28. Cincinnati Enquirer, September 17, 1918, 7:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, August 15, 1918, 4:8; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 5, 1918, 25:3, Section 1; Cincinnati Enquirer, August 17, 1918, 12:4; Kentucky Post, December 5, 1917, 1:2; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 20, 1918, 12:5; Kentucky Post, May 3, 1918, 1:2; Cincinnati Enquirer, June 16, 1918, 12:2, Section 1; Kentucky Post, September 25, 1918, 3:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, April 5, 1918, 9:3; Kentucky Post, December 13, 1918, 3:5; Cincinnati Enquirer, March 27, 1918, 4:4; Kentucky Post, November 13, 1917, 1:6; Cincinnati Enquirer, February 9, 1918, 16:8; Kentucky Post, March 8, 1920, 1:6; Kentucky Post, January 9, 1918, 1:2; Cincinnati Enquirer, August 12, 1917, 3:6; Section 1; Kentucky Post, March 8, 1920, 1:6; Kentucky Post, January 1, 1918, 1:4; Many of these organizations had been around the area for years. See Kentucky Post, October 23, 1906, 2:5; Kentucky Post, October 22, 1906, 8:2; Kentucky Post, June 17, 1905, 8:3; Kentucky Post, May 5, 1902, 3:6.
29. Cincinnati Enquirer, November 27, 1917, 16:4.
30. Cincinnati Enquirer, June 30, 1917, 9:6; Cincinnati Enquirer, August 3, 1917, 4:5; Many of these churches had been in these areas for a long time before World War I. See Kentucky Post, April 23, 1917, 1:3; Kentucky Post, May 11, 1917, 2:1.
31. Cincinnati Enquirer, May 5, 1918, 32:6, Section 1; Cincinnati Enquirer, April 27, 1918, 9:5; Cincinnati Enquirer, April 22, 1918, 6:8; Cincinnati Enquirer, April 28, 1918, 10:3, Section 1; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 5, 1918, 27:2, Section 1; For a counter example, see Cincinnati Enquirer, January 10, 1918, 5:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 13, 1918, 4:7; and Cincinnati Enquirer, September 20, 1918, 7:5.
32. Cincinnati Enquirer, July 3, 1917, 13:8; Board Minutes, book 31, page 543, March 25, 1918.
33. New York Times, October 2, 1918, 11:5; New York Times, December 6, 1917, 2:5; Board Minutes, book 31, pages 586-587, May 13, 1918; Cincinnati Enquirer, July 22, 1918, 9:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 13, 1918, 13:4; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 1, 1918, 7:2 & 7:3; Cincinnati Enquirer, August 30, 1918, 2:8; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 5, 1918, 7:7, Section 1; Kentucky Post, February 23, 1920, 1:1; Cincinnati Enquirer, September 19, 1918, 2:7; Board Minutes, book 31, page 562, April 22, 1918. Cincinnati Enquirer, July 10, 1917, 9:5; Kentucky Post, January 13, 1919, 1:6; Cincinnati Enquirer, April 9, 1918, 11:6; This hysteria extended quite a long way, with two men obtaining access to a house to "search for a supposed picture of the kaiser." The homeowner was too frightened to argue, and so allowed them in. Later, it was found that they were probably thieves. (No word on if there was anything missing). Kentucky Post, May 3, 1918, 1:1.
34. Cincinnati Enquirer, April 18, 1918, 4:8; New York Times, June 1, 1918, 20:3.
35. Cincinnati Enquirer, May 1, 1918, 14:5; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 2, 1918, 7:1; Cincinnati Enquirer, May 9, 1918, 10:5; Cincinnati Enquirer, April 18, 1918, 4:8.
36. Tolzmann, The Cincinnati Germans After the Great War, 182-184; Wayne A. Wiegand, "An Active Instrument for Propaganda": The American Public Library During World War I. (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989). Wiegand presents a good survey of the actions of public librarians in this period. He discusses the Cincinnati Public Library on pages 14, 15, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 103; Wittke, German-Americans and the World War; Knepper, Ohio and Its People, 345.
37. Wiegand,"An Active Instrument for Propaganda," Chapter 5. The quotation is on page 111; Kentucky Post, May 3, 1918, 1:6; Knepper, Ohio and Its People, 345; Wittke, German-Americans and the World War; Tolzmann, The Cincinnati Germans After the Great War, 16-17.
- Archival Records
- Cincinnati School Board of Education Minutes. Filed at the Cincinnati Board of Education Treasurer's Office, Cincinnati, Ohio.
- Cincinnati Enquirer
- Cincinnati Post
- Kentucky Post
- New York Times
Boyer, Paul S., et. al. The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People, Third Edition. (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1996).
Alan Brinkley, The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People, Second Edition, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997).
Kennedy, David M., Over Here: The First World War and American Society. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980).
Knepper, George W., Ohio and Its People. (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1989).
Tolzmann, Don Heinrich, The Cincinnati Germans After the Great War. (New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc., 1987), Volume 16 of Series 9, History of the American University Studies Series.
Wiegand, Wayne A., "An Active Instrument for Propaganda": The American Public Library During World War I. (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989).
Wittke, Carl, German-Americans and the World War: (With Special Emphasis on Ohio's German-Language Press). (Columbus, Ohio: The Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society, 1936).