Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Dettenhamer Family Collection
Collection Number: 2013-74
Extent: 18 linear feet, 17 boxes, including approximately 70 photographs, 4 scrapbooks, and 4 photograph albums
History San Jose Research Library
San Jose, California 95110
Abstract: The Dettenhamer family owned an orchard business in San Jose, California. The collection is a compilation of their correspondence,
immigration papers, family photographs, and business ledgers, some in German.
Language of Material: English
Collection is open to the public for research by appointment with the Curator of Library and Archives.
The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions
of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a
photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used
for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy
or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution
reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation
of copyright law.
Dettenhamer Family Collection. History San Jose Research Library
Collection was received as a donation from the estate on December 4, 2013.
The Dettenhamer family consisted of Joseph and Ella Dettenhamer and their daughter Ella Marie. Joseph was a German immigrant
who came to the United States in 1904 via New York City. Ella was previously known as Gisela Banovitz, but changed her name
to Ella prior to meeting Joseph. She was a Hungarian immigrant who moved to the United States with her family in 1907. They
met in San Francisco while working at the same residence, married in 1910, and eventually settled in San Jose, California,
where they began their own orchard business on their property at 105 Bascom Avenue. They officially attained their citizenship
in 1937. Joseph’s brother, Frank Dettenhamer, also immigrated to the United States and lived in San Francisco. The brothers
wrote to each other regularly and on occasion Frank would help with the fruit harvests in San Jose. Ella Marie was born in
1914 and attended Burbank school, and eventually Notre Dame High School. After she graduated in 1932 she became one of the
first employees at Moffett Field, where she worked as a secretary in the supply department. Ella Marie never married and lived
at the family home taking care of her parents and uncle until their deaths. Ella Marie lived on the property until she sold
it in 1991 to a developer who built medical offices. Ella Marie died in 2007.
The Dettenhamer family kept notes and diaries about everything in their lives. Joseph saved materials relating to the orchard
business, and the women would keep diaries and take pictures of their property and garden. The family also kept scrapbooks
and photo albums of their life and family.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection documents the lives and activities of the Dettenhamer family. The details of their lives and business are explained
through a large collection of letters, postcards, photographs, and scrapbooks. They were detailed record-keepers and kept
track of their monetary spending, both business and personal, with receipts and ledgers of their expenses. Ella Marie Dettenhamer
kept many newspaper clippings that were of interest to her, including immigration in the United States, notable people in
San Jose, events in the Bay Area, local color articles in her local newspaper, and articles related to her friends and classmates.
The materials illuminate what life was like on an orchard in San Jose during the twentieth century. The correspondence expresses
personal opinions, and receipts and business ledgers document business transactions related to the orchard business. The family’s
personal documents contain important immigration papers and applications, as well as travel tickets used to get to the United
States. Family letters and postcards could explain a person’s transition from immigrant to United States citizen.