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Papers of Elise Claassen

Identifier: MPEC

Scope and Contents

The Papers of Elise Claassen consists of documents dated 1881 to 2013, with the bulk falling from 1997 to 2005. The collection consists of genealogical materials for the Claassen, Sudermann, Jantzen, and Thierstein families. Also included in the collection are written family histories, family photographs, and of note are Gerhard and Elise Claassen's journals from the late 1880s to the early 1920s. Her journals describe her life and family in Kansas, and are written in Old Gothic German script.


  • Creation: 1881-2013
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1997-2005


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


Elise Jantzen was born on November 1, 1860, in Orihiv, South Russia to Johann Jantzen and Elisabeth (Sudermann) Jantzen. Her mother died in child birth, and Elise went to live with her great aunt and uncle, Rev. Leonhard and Maria Sudermann in Berdjans'k, South Russia. The Sudermann's, along with Elise, immigrated to the United States in 1876.

Elise married Gerhard Claassen on April 1, 1880, in Whitewater, Kansas. Gerhard was born in Heubuden, West Prussia in 1857. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1874. Elise and Gerhard had seven children, John, Ella Regier, Gerhard, Leonhard, Marie Toevs, and one son and one daughter who died in childhood. In 1904, Gerhard and a group of men from the Mennonite community traveled to Canada to see about purchasing cheaper land than what was available in the United States. During this trip Gerhard died of pneumonia on May 16, 1904. Elise remained in Whitewater until she moved to Newton, Kansas in 1930. Elise Claassen died on March 10, 1931.


2 linear feet (1 record carton, 2 document cases, 1 flat folder)

Language of Materials




Elise Claassen was a German Russian who immigrated with her family to Kansas in 1876. The collection includes family histories, photographs, genealogical research on the Claassen, Sudermann, Jantzen, and Thierstein families, and handwritten journals of Elise Claassen.


The collection consists of 4 series in 1 record carton, 2 document cases, and 1 flat folder:

Series 1: Journals of Elise Claassen, 1881-1923 and undated

Series 2: Genealogical research, 1979-2011 and undated

Series 3: Family histories and photographs, 1910-2013 and undated

Series 4: Miscellany, 1951-2005 and undated


The Papers of Elise Claassen was donated by Gerry Thierstein in May 2014.

Online Materials

Elise Claassen's journals have been scanned or digitally photographed and are available through the Colorado State University Digital Repository. In the electronic version of this document, direct links appear in context.

Related Collections

Collection on Germans from Russia, Manuscripts, Colorado State University


Processing was completed in September 2015. Materials were rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes. Journals 1 and 5 were moldy upon donation and were cleaned. Published books on Germans from Russia and Mennonites were removed from the collection and cataloged as part of Special Collections.

Guide to the Papers of Elise Claassen
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Karen Spilman
Copyright 2015
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA