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Guide to the San Diego Turners Records MS 194
MS 194  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Processing Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biographical / Historical Notes
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

  • Title: San Diego Turners Records
    Identifier/Call Number: MS 194
    Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 4.25 Linear feet (6 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1897-1978
    Abstract: The collection contains the records of the San Diego Turnevereins or ‘Turners,’ a German athletic organization.
    Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English and German.
    creator: San Diego Turners.

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Lauren Rasmussen on April 11, 2012.
    Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

    Preferred Citation

    San Diego Turners Records, MS 194, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

    Biographical / Historical Notes

    The San Diego Turner movement began in 1873, when a group of German-Americans formed the first ‘turnverein,’ or gymnastics club. In the 19th century, these fitness clubs were popular across the United States, and provided a place for Americans of German descent to gather to celebrate their heritage and participate in athletic events. The first San Diego Turner club, the ‘Teutonia,’ only lasted 2 years and was disbanded in 1875 for unknown reasons. In 1884, the Turnverein was re-established by J.A. Cohn. The new club, called the ‘Eintracht,’ began with 80 members, but soon grew to 120 participants. The first Turner Hall was built on the corner of 8th and G Streets in downtown San Diego. Shortly after, the San Diego economic boom ended, the Turners fell on hard financial times, resulting in the loss of both their meeting hall and many of their members.
    By 1889, a rival Turnverein, the ‘Phoeniz,’ was present in San Diego. In February 1890, the two struggling Turnvereins met and joined their organizations into a singular, united club. The new Concordia Turnverein had close to 200 members. A new Turner Hall was built on 9th and G Streets, close to the location of the original Hall. Construction was completed in February of 1907. The new Concordia Hall contained a gym, facilities for men and women, meeting rooms, a lodge, a bar, and an auditorium. The Concordia Turners flourished until World War I, a period which saw a sharp drop in membership and participation. The Turners recuperated shortly after the end of WWI until the onset of WWII, when the organization saw a repeat of the previous wartime struggles.
    In February of 1945, Concordia Hall was destroyed by a large fire. The club saw a period of near dormancy as the members tried to regroup after both the loss of WWII and the loss of their hall. In 1947, the president of the National American Turners, Carl Weidman, visited San Diego and encouraged the Concordia members to persevere. The Concordia Turnverein changed their name to the San Diego Turners and dedicated a new Turner Hall on March 3, 1951. Though popular in the community, the Turners had a hard time competing with public funded athletic clubs like the YMCA and the YWCA. The club relied only on dues to maintain their finances. In March of 1969 the Turners were forced to sell Turner Hall to prevent themselves from failing financially. After the loss of their third Hall, the San Diego Turners attempted to maintain their activities and participation by meeting in the clubhouse of the Oneira Women’s Club, but they were never able to recover. The San Diego Turners were officially disbanded in 1985, just over 100 years after the original San Diego Turner movement began.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of documents in English and German related to the history, administration, finances, activities, and partnerships of the San Diego Turners between 1897 and 1978. The collection includes both loose leaf documents and bound ledgers. Administrative materials include constitution ledgers, bylaws pamphlets, meeting minutes, and membership ledgers. The San Diego Turners’ financial records are also heavily represented. These materials contain banking correspondence, bills, invoices, and tax documents. Materials related to the construction (and eventual sale) of Turner Hall are also present. A large part of the collection consists of correspondence, which includes topics related to administrative duties and membership, as well as letters to other groups, such as the San Diego Turners’ parent organization, the American Turners. The collection ends 7 years before the group was formally disbanded.

    Arrangement

    Items in the collection are arranged by subject.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Accession numbers 840628A and 850125A.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    American Turners (Organization).
    Cohn, J. A.
    Concordia Turners.
    Concordia Turnverein Society.
    Fritz, Louis
    German Turnverein Society.
    German-American Society.
    Heibron, F.
    Oneira Women's Club.
    San Diego Turners.
    Weidman, Carl
    Wiedeman, F.
    Athletic clubs
    Athletics
    Clubs
    Concordia Hall (San Diego, Calif.)
    Gymnastics
    San Diego (Calif.)
    Societies
    Turner Hall (San Diego, Calif.)