The Art and Madeline Slicer Turnvereine Stein Collection

By Meg Meiman | Spring 2016
Photography by Charles Abel

What do German beer steins and gymnastics have in common? Quite a lot, actually. Although beer steins have been around for several hundred years and represent a range of subjects, the steins in this collection depict a unique time period in history: the development of sporting clubs in nineteenth-century Germany.

This extensive collection of more than 100 steins, glasses, and other drinking vessels (and related memorabilia) were all created by or represent German sporting organizations called Turnvereine, known in the United States as the Turners.  

Begun by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn in 1811 in Berlin, these clubs eventually shaped the direction of the YMCA and ultimately, Springfield College. The historical period represented in this collection ranges from the mid-nineteenth century through 1942, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1880 to 1934. (Note: the collection’s donor made a conscious decision not to collect any Turnvereine produced in Germany during Nazi Germany or World War II.)

The collection was donated to Springfield College Archives and Special Collections in March 2015 by Art ’59 and Madeline (Razza) ’58 Slicer.

See the collection at steins.omeka.net.

The Springfield College Archives and Special Collections is located in the lower level of Judd Gymnasia and the official repository for Springfield College records having permanent historical, legal, fiscal, or administrative value. The primary mission of the College archives is to appraise, collect, organize, describe, preserve, and make available records documenting the history of Springfield College. In addition, Archives and Special Collections collects primary source material that supports the research interests and Humanics philosophy of the College. Subject areas of long-term interest to the College include physical education, sport and recreation, camping, youth/community work, and the YMCA.