Guide to the San Diego Turners Records MS 194

Finding aid prepared by Lauren Rasmussen
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.
San Diego History Center Document Collection
1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101
April 11, 2012

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The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials.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


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
Concordia Hall (San Diego, Calif.)
San Diego (Calif.)
Turner Hall (San Diego, Calif.)

Box-folder 1:1

History (some in German), 1907–1974

Box-folder 1:2

"Verfassung des C.T.V" ("Constitution of the C.T.V. [the Concordia Turnverein]") (ledger) (German), 1897 June 30

Box-folder 1:3

"Verfassung des Concordia Turnvereins" ("Constitution of the Concordia Turnvereins") (ledger) (German), 1910 November 2

Box-folder 1:4

Articles of Incorporation, 1910 June 23

Box-folder 1:5

Bylaws and statues, 1934-1972

Box-folder 1:6

"Board of Directors Meeting Minutes" (ledger), 1955 April 25–1969 February 28

Box-folder 1:7

"Board of Directors Meeting Minutes" (ledger), 1957 April 22–1970 June 15

Box-folder 2:1

“Regular Meeting Minutes” (ledger), 1965 August 4–1976 February 9

Box-folder 2:2

Technical Committee, 1941 March 30–1970 October 17


Meeting minutes and correspondence regarding the club’s programming
Box-folder 6:1

Dues and membership ledger, 1911-1941

Box-folder 2:3

Dues and membership ledger, 1922

Box-folder 2:4

Dues and membership ledger, 1945-1970

Box-folder 2:5

Shareholder ledger, 1905 March 1–1956 June 20

Box-folder 3:1

Finances: account statements and certificates, 1965 January 22–1974 January 14 and undated

Box-folder 3:2

Finances: cancelled checks, 1950 January 4–1970 April 20 and undated

Box-folder 3:3

Finances: invoices, contracts, receipts, and notes (some in German), 1918 August 1–1970 February 16 and undated

Box-folder 3:4

Finances: taxes, 1946 July 23–1974 April 22 and undated

Box-folder 7:1

Accounts Ledger, 1910-1914

Box-folder 3:5

Financial ledger, 1947–1970

Box-folder 3:6

Disbursement ledger, 1945-1951

Box-folder 3:7

Turner Hall construction, 1905 July 15–1969 February 25 and undated

Box-folder 3:8

Turner Hall liquidation, 1969 April 28–1971 March 11


Correspondence and materials related to the sale of Turner Hall, including notification to shareholders of the Turners’ intent to sell
Box-folder 4:1

Concordia Hall activities directory (some in German), 1932 February 14

Box-folder 4:2

"Baren Riege" ("Bear Team") ledger (German), 1910


List of “Baren Riege” (“Bear Team”) members
Box-folder 4:3

Correspondence: administrative (some in German), 1948 October 15–1977 December 9

Box-folder 4:4

Correspondence: membership, 1970 October 18–1976 June 15 and undated

Box-folder 4:5

Correspondence: American Turners, 1970 November 25–1975 October 13 and undated

Box-folder 4:6

Correspondence: German-American Society (some in German), 1972 January 16–1977 February 9

Box-folder 4:7

Correspondence: miscellanea, 1971 March 17–1978 October 20


Correspondence regarding the Turners’ support of the 1976 and 1980 Olympic teams and the trial of the United States v. Angela Davis
Box-folder 4:8

American Turners National Council, 1970 October 23–1974 September 29


Meeting minutes of the American Turners’ annual council meetings
Box-folder 4:9

American Turners National Convention, 1970 January–1974 August 4


Meeting minutes and reports of the American Turners National Convention, which the San Diego Turners’ attended yearly
Box-folder 5:1

American Turners National Championships, 1970–1973 and undated


Rules for both men and women’s compulsory gymnastic routines
Box-folder 5:2

American Turners newsletters, 1971 May–1976 June

Box-folder 5:3

Miscellanea (some in German), 1959 August 16-1970 July 10 and undated


Lyrics of German Christmas songs
Trophy catalogs
Commemorative Olympic donation plaque
Minutes of the National Bowling Committee