Gertrude Traubel Papers

Collection ID: 
Record Group MSS LT 079
Date: 
1870-1979
Collecting Area: 

BIOGRAPHY


Gertrude Traubel (1892‑1983) was a singer, teacher, writer and speaker. She was born in Camden, New Jersey, but lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for many years where she studied at the Constantin von Sternberg School of Music. The daughter of Anne Montgomerie and Horace Traubel, Gertrude saved her family's papers. She annotated many items, adding notes to letters her parents received. The family had a habit of jotting notes on replies directly on the letter, thus an incoming letter may have information on the type of reply sent.


Gertrude had had a brother, Wallace, who died while very young (1893‑1898). She married, had a son Malcolm Aalholm (b.1918?) and was later divorced. She supported herself and Malcolm by writing, teaching music, singing and speaking; her mother lived with them in Camden and in Philadelphia. Gertrude taught in the School District of Philadelphia in 1934 and gave classes at the YWCA of Germantown.


Music was one of the common bonds in the Traubel family. Anne and Horace attended concerts and went to the theatre whenever and wherever they could. Gertrude taught music at the Germantown Academy where Malcolm went to school. She also gave private lessons. Gertrude presented annual holiday recitals at the end of December, specially designed to interest children. Horace Traubel wrote the words of a song, "To Our Comrade," with music by Detweiler. Gertrude also published some songs.


Writing was another common activity. With Hawley McLanahan and Will Price, Horace had edited The Artsman, 1903‑1907, published by the Rose Valley Association. He was also the editor of The Conservator, a monthly literary magazine. This was a family affair as Emile G. Traubel, Horace's brother (?), was advertising manager in 1900. Anne Montgomerie was the "Associate" by March 1895 and the Associate Editor by 1904. While still a teenager, Gertrude became the "Associate Worker" by the October 1906 issue. Letters to each member of the family include requests for information about The Conservator.


Gertrude saved the page proofs of some issues and uncut pages for several others. Three boxes contain drafts or copies of Gertrude's articles, stories, poems, music and her talks on music appreciation, Whitman, and Horace Traubel. Some of her writings were published under her pen name of "Janet Storm."  Anne's writings include A Little Book of Nature Thoughts: Walt Whitman, published by Thomas B. Mosher (1906).


The family also prepared the materials for the six volume series, With Walt Whitman in Camden. The young Horace had visited the older poet in his rooms during his final days in Camden; he took notes of their conversations and transcribed his notes after he returned home. He edited the first three volumes and prepared the manuscript for the fourth volume before he died in 1919. Anne saw the fourth volume through publication and Gertrude edited the fifth from her father's notes. The sixth was prepared with the assistance of William White as Gertrude was too ill to complete the task herself.


Gertrude collected postcards, most of which her parents sent her. Horace traveled a great deal as a speaker and in his capacity as one of Walt Whitman's three literary executors (the other two were Richard Maurice Bucke and Thomas B. Harned, Horace's brother‑in‑law). Occasionally Anne and Gertrude would join Horace during his trips.


The Traubel family worked to preserve the memory of Walt Whitman. The Whitman family had known Horace's family as neighbors in Camden. Anne and Horace had been married in Walt's rooms in Camden in 1891. All three of the Traubels‑‑Anne, Horace, and Gertrude‑‑spoke publicly about Whitman. The anniversary of his birth‑‑May 31‑‑was the date of the Walt Whitman Fellowship: International meetings and a time for informal meetings as well. Letters in the Gertrude Traubel collection include correspondence from international, national, and local Whitman readers and scholars, from Japan, Canada, England, and Camden.


In 1893, the three literary executors edited In Re Walt Whitman, published by George S. Ferguson Company of Philadelphia. The preceeding year Horace had written At The Graveside of Walt Whitman; this was published by Billstein and Son, also of Philadelphia. Horace also compiled The Book of Heavenly Death by Walt Whitman, from the poet's Leaves of Grass. This, and a facsimile edition of the 1855 Leaves of Grass, were published by Thomas Bird Mosher, Portland, Maine, in 1907 and 1919.


The Papers of Gertrude Traubel were the gift in 1980 to Temple University jointly by Gertrude Traubel and Charles E. Feinberg, through William Homer. Following the removal from the Germantown house of archival materials by the Library of Congress in its relationship with Mr. Feinberg, Temple cleared the house of remaining items. Gertrude's Papers at Temple do reflect all aspects of her life and do include some material, personal and professional, of her parents. Non‑archival gifts (prints, theater programs, etc.) have been absorbed in other collections of the Library.


Typing of this Register in June and July 1987 was performed by Rosa Grier; additional processing help with Collection was given by Deepak Pradhan.

Stephanie Morris
Compiler, July 1987

(Indexing 1998 by Asli Tunc).