Henkel Family Papers, 1783-1916

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Summary Information

Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University
Henkel Family
Henkel Family Papers
Collection No.:
SC 0099
3 boxes, 2.44 Cubic Feet
Language of the Material:
The Henkel Family Papers consists of two Hollinger boxes and one oversize box, and spans a period from 1783 to 1916. The bulk of the collection consists of letters, religious documents, and newspapers and advertisements published by the Henkel Press of New Market, Virginia. Also included are some Henkel family history materials and business documents, and miscellaneous secular materials.

Preferred Citation

[identification of item], [box #, folder #], Henkel Family Papers, SC 0099, Special Collections, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

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Bio/Historical Note

The Henkel Press began as a crude printing press in the living room of Paul Henkel's house in New Market, Virginia, in 1806. Eventually, it published more Lutheran material than any other press in the country, and earned fame for its excellent children's books. Although the press began printing in German for the large Shenandoah Valley German community, it also published in English at an early date.

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Scope and Content

The Henkel Collection consists of two Hollinger boxes and one flat box, and spans a period from 1783 to 1916. The bulk of the collection consists of letters, religious documents, and newspapers and advertisements published by the Henkel Press. Also included are some Henkel family history materials and business documents, and miscellaneous secular materials.

Many of the older letters in the Letters Series are in German while later ones are primarily in English. They demonstrate the dedication of the Henkel family to their faith as well as their activities within the Synod.

Also in the collection (Secular Documents Series) are several handwritten school books, some with fraktur.

The Henkel Press Publications Series (including the Oversize Series) contains a large part of the collection, and includes handwritten drafts for advertisements to be printed, pamphlets, issues of Virginische Volksberichterand Westliche Correspondenz, and a formula for the ink used in printing.

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Partial organization by a previous researcher was maintained. The collection is arranged in six series:

  1. 1. Correspondence, 1806-1892
  2. 2 Religious Documents, 1783-1897
  3. 3. Secular Documents, 1790-1910
  4. 4. Family History
  5. 5. Henkel Press Publications, 1806-1891
  6. 6 Oversize, 1809-1916

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).

Acquisition Information

Placed on deposit at Carrier Library through the November 1985 contract with the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society.

Alternate Formats

EXCERPTS of this collection have been digitized and are made available here:

  1. Poem about slavery, written by a slave - Unknown Author, undated (English) Full transcript and translation available here.
  2. Report of the Transactions of the Second Evangelical Lutheran Conference held in Zion's Church, Sulivan County Tennessee, October 22, 1821 (English) [Browse images] Full transcript available here.
  3. Henkel manuscript: Woodstock Virginia, January 26, 1829 (English) [Browse images] Full transcript available here.
  4. Henkel Press Song Book, undated (German) [Browse images] Full audio transcript available here.
  5. Minutes of the Proceedings of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of the State of Virginia, 1833 (English) [Browse images] Full transcript available here.
  6. Short Excerpt of the Transactions of the Synod of the Lutheran Ministry, held in the state of North Carolina in the year of our Lord, 1817 (German) [Browse images] Full German transcript available here. Full English transcript available here.

Processing Information

A schoolbook on mathematics was withdrawn by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society on May 16, 2000. In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in the spring of 2017. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 2065.


Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

880 Madison DriveMSC 1704Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807library-special@jmu.eduURL: https://www.lib.jmu.edu/special/

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Edmonds, Albert Sydney. "The Henkels, Early Printers in New Market, Virginia," William and Mary Quarterly, 2nd series, v. 18, 1938.

Scheer, George F. "First Printing Press in the Valley of Virginia," Publishers' Weekly. Vol. 150, November 23, 1946.

Finck, Rev. William J. A Chronological Life of Paul Henkel. New Market, 1937. Photocopy of original typescript made by Richard R. Renalds, Timberville, VA., 1986.

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Collection Inventory

Series 1: Correspondence, 1806-1892

Title/Description Instances
Correspondence, 1804-1820

Mostly to Paul, Ambrose, and Socrates Henkel in German. Includes 1816 German diary with reference to Pt. Pleasant.

box 1 folder 1
Correspondence, 1821-1892

German & English. Numerous letters from North Carolina

box 1 folder 2
Correspondence, undated box 1 folder 3
Correspondence - Salyards, 1846-1891, undated

Notes by J. Salyards; 1846 brochure on The New-Market Academy; unsigned poem; 2 copies 1875 Henkel pub. of review of "Idothea;" several items relating to Salyards Memorial Association

box 1 folder 4

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Series 2: Religious Documents, 1783-1897

Title/Description Instances
Service literature, undated

Prayers, organization of service, responsive readings

box 1 folder 5
Sermons, 1841-1897

Most are titled and dated. Several in German. Includes Henkel list of subscribers for preaching, 1841-1852.

box 1 folder 6
Music, 1829, undated

Fragments of religious songbooks, some with notations

box 1 folder 7
Religious issues, 1783-1889

Writings from Bible; writings on religious ideas; treatise to Solomon from David Henkle, Lincolnton, NC, 1826

box 1 folder 8
Religious issues, undated box 1 folder 9
Marriage licenses, 1825-1856

Rockingham County licenses, some with notes that Ambrose or other Henkels performed ceremony

box 1 folder 10
Miscellaneous church papers, 1813-1892, undated

Includes book of misc. accounts with members of Whitehaven congregation, 1813; mss. on worship services by 4 Valley Lutheran churches, called by Rev. Nischmucker in Woodstock Jan. 1828; minutes of church meeting, 1855; printed proceedings of extra session, Luth. Tennessee Synod, 1864

box 1 folder 11

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Series 3: Secular Documents, 1790-1910

Title/Description Instances
Prose and poetry, 1864, undated box 1 folder 12
Speeches, undated

Four texts, one addressed to "Fellow Citizens of Shenandoah." Subjects are political & social concerns, include intemperance

box 1 folder 13
Business documents, 1790-1910

Promises to pay, subscription orders, receipts, post office oath, a ledger book

box 2 folder 1
Spelling book identified as "Solon P.C. Henkel 1832,", 1832 box 2 folder 2
Schoolbook - surveying, undated box 2 folder 3
Schoolbook - navigation, undated box 2 folder 4
Schoolbook - word problems, with fraktur, Tobias McGaughey, undated box 2 folder 5

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Series 4: Family History

Title/Description Instances
Family hitsory, undated box 2 folder 6

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Series 5: Henkel Press publications, 1806-1891

Title/Description Instances
Henkel Press - Miscellaneous printing drafts, 1811-1817

Handwritten horse advertisements, announcements of tannery shops; German and English

box 2 folder 7
Henkel Press - Publications, Pamphlets, 1806-1891

St. Martin Luther's kleiner Katechismus. . . 1829 (58 cop.). Verhandlungen, Bericht der Verrichtungen, Auszug, or Report. . . evangelical Luthern Conference (North Carolina). . . 1812; 1814; 1816; 1817 (2 cop.). Verrichtung der Special-Conferenze der Evang. Luth. . . in Virginia. . . 1806; 1807; 1808; 1809; 1815; 1831. Kurze Nachricht, Report, Bericht, or Minutes. . . Evang. Luth. Tennessee Synod. . . 1820, 1821, 1828, 1830, 1833, 1891

box 2 folder 8

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Series 6: Oversize, 1809-1916

Title/Description Instances
Rolled list of subscribers, undated box OV 1
Wool carding advertisements, 1809-1816

Handwritten drafts and printed advertisements

box OV 1 folder 1
Miscellaneous announcements, 1809-1858, 1879, undated

Includes sales and school notices, incl. one for S. Henkel's New Market Female Seminary; broadside advertising a "living quanacos;" price-setting resolution of Shenandoah Cty. carpenters, 1816; church raffle tickets

box OV 1 folder 2
Music, 1868, undated

Words to songs; includes ballad about St. Clair's defeat by Indians. Some probably not printed by Henkel Press

box OV 1 folder 3
Virginische Volksberichter und Neumarketer Wochenshrift, 1807-1808

December 23, 30, 1807; January 6, 20, 27; February 3, 17; March 2, 9, 16, 30, 1808

box OV 1 folder 4
Virginische Volksberichter und Neumarketer Wochenshrift, 1808

April 6, 13, 27 (partial copy); May 4, 11, 18, 25; June 8, 15, 22, 29; July 6, 13, 20, 27; August 10 (partial copy), 17, 31, 1808

box OV 1 folder 5
Virginische Volksberichter und Neumarketer Wochenshrift, 1808

September 7; October 5 (1 1/2 copies), 12 (1 1/2 copies), 19 (partial copy), 26; November 2, 16 (2 copies), 23, 30; December 7, 14, 1808

box OV 1 folder 6
Virginische Volksberichter und Neumarketer Wochenshrift, 1809

January 4, 11, 18 (partial); February 1, 8 (partial), 15, 22 (2 copies); March 1, 15, 22; April 12, 19, 26; May 10, 24, 31; June 14, 1809

box OV 1 folder 7
Westliche Correspondenz, 1806-1822

April 12, 1806 (partial copy); February 6, 1808; September 19, 1812; June 28, August 2, 1822

box OV 1 folder 8
Miscellaneous publications, 1782-1824, undated

Contains Rooster and Lion Henkel sheets, as well the following non-Henkel publications: 16 July 1782 issue of Philadelphische Correspondenz; unidentified sheet from 16 July 1808 German newspaper; 17 Jan. 1815 issue of Der Volksfreund (Lancaster PA); an 1824 election broadside in German; & 1889 pamphlet Die Vekehrung (Allentown, PA)

box OV 1 folder 9
Miscellaneous, 1904-1916, undated box OV 1 folder 10
Grocery list, 1843 box OV 1 folder 11

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