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Collection Overview

Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Princeton University Library Collection of Mucker Materials
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.25 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box L-000020
Portuguese German


This is an open collection consisting of materials, such as personal letters and religious and commercial records, related to the 19th century Mucker community of southern Brazil. Also included are military records of the war that led to the community's purge in 1874, and a bound manuscript containing theological and everyday reflections of the German-born Georg Klein, who immigrated to southern Brazil in 1853.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of letters, military memos, invoices of loans, civil and religious registries of families who later joined the Mucker religious-therapeutic community. Among the earliest letters are those sent by German protestant families in the 1850s to their kin who immigrated to southern Brazil (later deemed by neighbors as "false saints" Mucker). These letters detail quotidian life on both sides of the Atlantic.

Schnell family letters, mainly authored by Carlos Jacob Schnell, a German-Brazilian soldier fighting in the war against Paraguay (1864-1868), make up the majority of correspondence. Schnell writes in the German-Brazilian dialect, Hunsrückisch, to his parents, who later joined the meetings around the trances of Jacobina Mentz Maurer and the herbal treatments of her husband, the healer João Jorge Maurer. The letters detail personal travails and military campaigns (a rarity as most of the Brazilian soldiers were illiterate at the time).

Other documents consist of letters from the Sehn family and letters drafted by the Mucker leadership, including a lengthy report on the movement by João Jorge Klein in Hunsrückisch and in Portuguese. There exists a one-of-a-kind hand-written hymnal, containing the favorite hymns sung by the Mucker in their religious meetings. Military reports and memos detail the attack against the community, known as the Mucker War. On July 19, 1874, provincial and imperial troops, supported by locals, attacked the Maurers' house and set it on fire. Dozens of Mucker followers died in the attack. Jacobina escaped with her newborn child and hid in the nearby woods with remaining devotees. Two weeks later, local colonists and soldiers found and killed the group.

Also included is a bound manuscript (circa 1850s-1870s) titled Vom Katechismus consisting of 274 pages written in Gothic German and in a local Hunsrükisch German dialect spoken in southern Brazil. It contains theological and everyday reflections of the German-born Georg Klein, who immigrated to southern Brazil in 1853, and was later imprisoned in the early 1870s as a supposed leader of the Mucker "false saints" religious movement.

Collection History


Purchase, 2017 (AM 2017-151).

Princeton Anthropology Professor João Biehl and Postdoctoral Fellow Miqueias H. Mugge located collection materials preserved by Elma Sant'Ana and, with the help of the Librarian for Latin American Studies, Fernando Acosta-Rodriguez, mediated its acquisition.

Gift of Mrs. Luisa Friedrich, 2018 (AM 2019-101).

Custodial History

Materials from accession AM 2017-151 were originally part of family archives, kept for over a century in German-Brazilian households of Mucker descendants. Throughout the 20th century, the Argentinian psychiatrist and private collector Juan Kern de Elissondo, who resided in Porto Alegre, amassed these materials. In 2003, after the passing of Kern de Elissondo, his family bequeathed the documents to the local historian and folklorist Elma Sant'Ana, who did not alter this combined set. These family archives kept by Kern de Elissondo and later by Sant'Ana were purchased from Sant'Ana by Princeton University.

Georg Klein's manuscript Vom Katechismus (AM 2019-101) was donated by Mrs. Luisa Friedrich, who inherited the book from her father, Leopoldo Petry, a local historian.


No materials were separated during the 2017 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Elvia Arroyo-Ramirez with the assistance of John English and Matthew Oakland in September 2017. Finding aid written by Elvia Arroyo-Ramirez in September 2017.

Finding aid updated by Faith Charlton in 2018.

Finding aid updated by Armando Suárez in April 2019.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Princeton University Library Collection of Mucker Materials; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
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Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
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Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box L-000020