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Wissen Sie?: A Perspective on Emma Schwabenland Haynes (1907 - 1984)

Spomer, Roy W. "Wissen Sie?: A Perspective on Emma Schwabenland Haynes (1907-1984)." California District Council Report, Spring 2004, 6.


This is the current installment in a series of articles contributed by Roy Spomer that have extended over almost the whole output of the CDC Report. Roy lives in Madera, California.

Did you know that Emma Schwabenland Haynes (1907 - 198?) is known to be the most prolific contributor of German-Russian history to the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia? And did you know that she produced the first Germans-from-Russia history published in the English language? Did you know that she contributed over 160 items to our AHSGR archives in Lincoln? Did you know she donated over one hundred books from her personal collection to the Central California Chapter Library?

It isn't any wonder she received the respect of our early AHSGR administrators and of the worldwide scholars who came to know her. Our library in Lincoln, Nebraska is named the "Emma S. Haynes Library" in her honor. Emma Haynes served as a translator at the military
tribunal at Nuremberg after World War II. She was also involved in the planning stages of our historical society and served on the first board of directors.

In reviewing all these activities, one could wonder how Emma Haynes could accomplish so much in one lifetime. For instance, how could she, as a graduate student, absorb so much information and research so many books that were written in German or Russian? If you have not read Emma's Thesis: the German Russians on the Volga and in the United States, I would
encourage you to do so. It is well written and easy to read. The publication is as complete on early life on the Volga as we have in our archives. It is available for purchase from the Central California Chapter Library. Later, she penned the book, The History of the Volga Relief Society, which chronicles this Portland Oregon organization's life-saving activities in 1921 and 1922, during the great famine in Russia. It is available from AHSGR.

Emma was born to Reverend and Mrs. John C. Schwabenland in Portland, Oregon in 1907. Her father's people came from the Wiesenseite Volga village of Straub (Skatovka); her mother's people, the Biers, from the nearby village of Warenburg (Privalnoye). Emma graduated in 1924 from Windsor High School in Colorado as the valedictorian, and then from the University of Colorado, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in both German and in History. She earned a Masters Degree in History from the same institution, in 1929. Later, she attended university in Breslau, Germany (Silesia). She remained in Germany after World War II and continued her
German-Russian research. While she lived in Germany, she became associated with Dr. Karl Stumpp, and eventually she traveled with him through the western United States, in an effort to establish chapters of AHSGR. Still later, when she lived in Arlington, Virginia, she spent much
time in the Library of Congress for the benefit of our society, researching and then publishing numerous articles and essays for our publications.

We have a special feeling of "kinship" with Emma Haynes, because part of her roots are here in Central California: her father served as pastor of churches in Dinuba, Biola and Lodi, from 1915 to 1920. Her brother, Ray Schwabenland, was our first Central California Chapter president from 1971 to 1974.

Roy closes with a personal comment: "I offer this article in the belief that most AHSGR members do not remember Emma Schwabenland Haynes, and many may not even have heard of her. It is my fear that she will be forgotten."

Our appreciation is extended to the editor of the California District Council Report for permission to use this article.

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