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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


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 photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

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

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (scamss): Box L-000020