Kircher Family Papers

Dates: 1879-1958
Size: .5 linear feet, 34 photographs, 5 oversize folders
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: Archives_KIR
Provenance: The Kircher Collection was a gift to the Chicago Public Library from the Kalamazoo Public Museum in 1974.
Access: No restrictions
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Kircher Family Papers [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.
Processed by: Galen R. Wilson, December 22, 1988.

Biographical Note

The two men central to this collection are Kircher (pronounced KEER-kur) brothers Johannes Gerhard (1857-1915) and Julius (1859-1940). Both born near Vincennes, Indiana, they migrated to Chicago and became pastors of the (German) Evangelical Synod of North America. This denomination continued to hold services in German during and after the first World War. Eventually, it merged with two similar denominations and is today known as the United Church of Christ.

As a recent seminary graduate, Johannes Kircher founded the Bethlehem Evangelical Church in December 1883, in what was then the town of Lake View. He remained pastor of Bethlehem until his death in 1915. The first organist of the young congregation was his brother Julius, then a student at Elmhurst College. Julius was succeeded by Miss Louise C. Niemann who eventually married Rev. Johannes. In 1884-85, a Church building was erected at the southwest corner of Diversey and Magnolia Avenue, an opulent testimony to the upper-middle-class lifestyle of the Lake View German population.

Johannes and Louise Kircher became the parents of two children, both documented in this collection: Paul (1890-1927) and Elsa Louise (1895-1967). Mrs. Kircher survived her husband by 28 years and remained active in the work of Bethlehem Church. She died in 1943 and was buried beside her husband in Eden Cemetery, Schiller Park.

Julius Kircher graduated from Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois, and from Eden Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. In 1889, he married Emma Bandow (1867-1910) and was installed as pastor of Trinity Evangelical Church at 22nd Place and Damen Avenue, in the Lower West Side neighborhood. He spent a 50-year pastoral career at Trinity, continuing after official retirement in conducting a monthly service in German.

Julius and Emma Kircher were parents of three sons, all of whom fought in World War I. Edward (d. 1958) became a professor at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Helmut (1893-1973) married his cousin Elsa and moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Armin (1894-1951) remained in the Chicago area. After the death of Emma Kircher, Julius married in 1913 her younger sister Lovesta, who died ten years later. After that, Julius made his home in Oak Park with his sisters Emma Kircher and Amalia, widow of Rev. William Grotefeld who founded Bethany Evangelical Church at Cullom and Paulina Streets in the Lake View neighborhood. Julius died in 1940 and was buried with his wives in Eden Cemetery.

For a Kircher Family tree, please see the front of box 1.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of an initial accession and one supplement. Its strengths lie in church history (Evangelical Synod of North America) and family history. It consists of manuscript material, oversize materials and photographs.

Supplement 1

This supplement consists of one Church bulletin from Bethany Evangelical, which was pastored by Amalia Kircher's husband, William Grotefeld, and copies of three books authored by Julius Kircher, which have been added to the book catalog for Special Collections.

Separation Record

Chicago City-Wide Collection Box 41 Folder 26 Chicago. View book, 14 pp., no publisher, undated [circa 1893]
Chicago City-Wide Collection Box 41 Folder 10 Chicago. View book, 13 pp. First view has in lower right corner, “Ward Brothers Ph.-V. Columbus, Ohio, U. S. A. 1893”
Chicago City-Wide Collection Box 41 Folder 9 The New Chicago Album. View book, 12 pp. Chicago: L. Schick, 1892
Photograph “A Yard of the National Game,” photo-poster of Chicago Cubs baseball team. Chicago: Collection E.T. Johnson & Co., 1908. 14.5” x 48”
World's Columbian Exposition Photographs Photograph 2.65, 2.66 Two stereoscope pictures, World's Columbian Exposition


Report of the Commissioners and a History of Lincoln Park. Chicago: Published by the Commissioners, 1899. F548.65.L7A1 1899
The Story of Chicago Told in Pictures: From the Log Cabin to the World’s Fair. Chicago: F. P. Kenkel, 1893. Bound with: A Week in Chicago. Chicago: Rand McNally & Co.1893. F548.3.S8 FOLIO
Kircher, Julius, Emma. Chicago: Julius Kircher, 1911. PS3521 .I637 E4 1911
Kircher, Julius, Evening Echoes, a Volume of Lyrics. Chicago: 1930. PS3521 .I637 E8 1930
Kircher, Julius. Stille Stunden. Chicago: 1914. PS3521 .I637 S7 1914


The papers and photographs are arranged into the following series: Series 1. Biographical, Series 2. Business Establishments, Series 3. Religious Institutions, Series 4. Miscellaneous, Series 5. Portraits, and Series 6. Schools.

Related materials

Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection
Lower West Side Community Collection

Container List

Series 1: Biographical

Box 1 Folder 1 Bismarck, Otto von (1815-1898), memorial service program, Chicago, 1898
Box 1 Folder 2 Kircher, Elsa Louise (1895-1967), diary, 1913
Box 1 Folder 3 Kircher, Johannes Gerhard (1857-1915), autograph album, 1879-1883
Box 1 Folder 4 Kircher, Johannes Gerhard (1857-1915), funeral program, 1915
Box 1 Folder 5 Kircher, Julius (1859-1940), newspaper sketch, 1939
Box 1 Folder 6 Kircher, Louise C. Nieman (1864-1943), choir ribbons, undated
Oversize 1 Kircher, Helmuth Julius, baptismal certificate, Chicago, Ill., 1893 March 21
Oversize 2 Kircher, Helmuth Julius, confirmation certificate, Trinity Evangelical Church, Chicago, Ill., 1907 March 24
Oversize 3 Kircher, Johannes Gerhard, confirmation certificate. Bethel Church, Freelandsville, Knox Co., Indiana, 1873 April 6
Oversize 4 Kircher, Johannes Gerhard, photograph as member of Chicago Vice Commission. The Chicago Daily Tribune, 1910 March 16, p. 17 (first page of section 2).

Series 2: Businesses

Box 1 Folder 7 Eden Cemetery (Schiller Park), advertisement, program, rule book, 1939-1941, undated

Series 3: Religious Institutions

Box 1 Folder 8 Bethlehem Evangelical, 50th Anniversary booklet, 1933
Box 1 Folder 9 Bethlehem Evangelical, 65th Anniversary booklet, 1948
Box 1 Folder 10 Bethlehem United Church of Christ, 75th Anniversary booklet, 1958
Box 1 Folder 11 Bethlehem Evangelical, memorabilia: ribbon, 1903; tray, 1906
Oversize 5 Bethany Church, Chicago, Ill. Cullom Avenue and Paulina Street. Engraving by Max Miller, 1945. 16” x 12.75”

Series 6: Schools

Box 18 Folder 12 Francis W. Parker School, The Recorder, vol. 8, no. 5, 1912


Box 1 Folder 13 Bethany Evangelical Church, bulletin, 1914
Box 1 Folder 14 Kircher, Julius, Emma, 1911 (2 copies)
Box 1 Folder 15 Kircher, Julius, Evening Echoes, 1930 and Stille Stunden, 1925
Box 1 Folder 16 Block, E.F., ALS (in German) to Julius Kircher, Sidney, Ill, 1892 October 24


Series 2: Businesses

Photograph 1.1
Oversize Map Case
Berkshire Papers Inc., 1946

Series 3: Religious Institutions

Photograph 1.2
Oversize Box 1
Bethlehem Evangelical Church, interior, 1905
Photograph 1.3
Oversize Box 1
Bethlehem Evangelical Church, interior, 1905
Photograph 1.4
Oversize Box 1
Bethlehem Evangelical Church, interior, 1905 (2 copies)

Series 4: Miscellaneous

Photograph 1.5 Mettmann, Germany, street scene, 1910

Series 5: Portraits

Photograph 1.6 Bandow, Mr. and Mrs., circa 1875
Photograph 1.7 Bandow, Helen E., undated
Photograph 1.8
Oversize Box 1
Fife, Robert and Joan, 1933
Photograph 1.9 Kircher family, 1897
Photograph 1.10 Kircher, Helmuth Julius, 1911
Photograph 1.11 Kircher, Joanne Louise, 1919
Photograph 1.12 Kircher, Joanne Louise, circa 1922-1923
Photograph 1.13 Kircher, Joanne Louise, circa 1922-1923
Photograph 1.14 Kircher, Joanne Louise, circa 1922-1923
Photograph 1.15 Kircher, Joanne Louise, circa 1922-1923
Photograph 1.16 Kircher, Joanne Louise, circa 1922-1923
Photograph 1.17
Oversize Box 1
Kircher, Joanne Louise, circa 1922-1923
Photograph 1.18 Kircher, Joanne Louise, pencil drawing, 1931
Photograph 1.19
Oversize Box 1
Kircher, Johannes Gerhard, undated
Photograph 1.20 Kircher, Johannes Gerhard, circa 1880
Photograph 1.21
Oversize Box 1
Kircher, Johannes, Gerhard, 1905
Photograph 1.22 Kircher, Johannes Gerhard and Louise Niemann, circa 1910
Photograph 1.23 Kircher, Julius, circa 1906
Photograph 1.24 Kircher, Julius, undated
Photograph 1.25 Kircher, Julius, undated
Photograph 1.26
Oversize Box 1
Kircher, Julius, undated
Photograph 1.27
Oversize Box 1
Kircher, Julius, 1935
Photograph 1.28
Oversize Box 1
Kircher, Julius, 1935
Photograph 1.29
Oversize Box 1
Kircher, Julius; Emma Bandow; Edward Kircher; Helmuth Julius Kircher, Armin Kircher, undated
Photograph 1.30
Oversize Map Case
Kircher, Louise Christine Niemann, circa 1874
Photograph 1.31
Oversize Box 1
Kircher, Louise Christine Niemann with 12 children [Sunday School?], undated (2 copies)
Photograph 1.32 Kircher, Naomi Jane, 1939
Photograph 1.33 Kircher, Naomi Jane and Charlotte, circa 1920
Photograph 1.34
Oversize Box 2
Kircher, Paul Sr., 1926
Photograph 1.35
Oversize Box 2
Kircher, Paul Sr. and family, 1924-1925
Photograph 1.36
Oversize Box 2
Kircher, Paul Jr., Joanne and Robert E., 1928
Photograph 1.37 Kircher, Robert Emerson, 1921
Photograph 1.38 Kircher, Robert Emerson, 1939
Photograph 1.39
Oversize Box 2
Grotefeld, William and Amalia and family, circa 1912
Photograph 1.40
Oversize Box 2
Grotefeld family, circa 1912
Photograph 1.41 Kircher, [?], undated
Photograph 1.42
Oversize Box 2
Kircher family [?], undated
Photograph 1.43
Oversize Box 2
Kircher family [?] Johannes G. Kircher (identifiable), undated
Photograph 1.44
Oversize Box 2
Kircher family [?], undated
Photograph 1.45 Unidentified man, undated
Photograph 1.46 Unidentified man, undated
Photograph 1.47 Unidentified man, undated
Photograph 1.48 Unidentified women, undated
Photograph 1.49 Unidentified women, undated
Photograph 1.50 Kircher, Elsa Louise, undated
Photograph 1.51 Kircher, Elsa Louise, undated
Photograph 1.52
Oversize Box 2
Unidentified elderly couple, undated
Photograph 1.53 Molinari, Grace Radtke, undated
Photograph 1.54 Niemann, Cord Henry, 1912
Photograph 1.55
Oversize Box 2
Niemann, Cord Henry and Elizabeth, 1913
Photograph 1.56
Oversize Box 2
Niemann, Cord Henry and Elizabeth, 1913

Series 6: Schools

Photograph 1.57 Francis W. Parker School, students in grounds, undated
Photograph 1.58 University of Illinois [fraternity?], undated
Photograph 1.59
Oversize Box 2
Unidentified athletic team, wearing “C” on jerseys, 1911
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