Franklin and Marshall College has been designated the public repository for the research collection of the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association (JSHA) an organization dedicated to the history of "Hessian" soldiers from the German principalities of Hesse-Cassel, Hesse-Hanau, Waldeck, Brunswick, Anhalt-Zerbst, and Ansbach-Bayreuth who served as auxiliaries to the British crown during the American Revolution (1775-1783) and who became citizens of the new United States after the war. Available to interested researchers are family history materials, journals, monographs, and manuscripts documenting German-American families, history and culture. The collection does not have information concerning "Hessian" or German immigrants who came to North America outside of this context, either earlier in the 18th century or afterward, nor do we have original German military or church records.
(Please note that Franklin and Marshall College does not administer the JSHA certificate program, publish the JSHA's journal The Hessians: Journal of the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association, publish the website jsha.org or otherwise have responsibility for fulfilling the mission of the JSHA. All inquiries not related to the research collection as listed should be directed toward the JSHA)
Accessing the collection
Due to the heavy volume of requests and limitations on staff time, we can no longer answer genealogical inquiries or offer photocopying services of files or materials from this collection by email, phone, or mail - including vetting or describing available materials. All persons are welcome to schedule an appointment to visit the Archives and Special Collections to conduct in-person research using the collection (wherein photocopies can be made). However, since the collection is secondary in nature and there is limited information available on specific soldiers, it is not recommended that persons make a special trip from long distances just to use the collection, as they are likely to be disappointed. In general, the collection is more helpful to those beginning their Hessian soldier search and those seeking information on the soldier's life in North America than for those who already have a great deal of information or are looking for information on their ancestor's prior life in Germany. Persons unable to visit the collection in-person may choose to enlist the services of a local professional genealogist in researching your ancestor using this collection. A list of researchers is provided through the Association of Professional Genealogists. (We cannot/will not offer recommendations or endorsements of any particular researcher.)
Please note that in many cases the material that we do have on file does not contain much more than what is listed on the JSHA's online registry or in published profiles and articles in the JSHA's Journal. This is especially the case concerning a Hessian's German origins and antecedents in which we have very little information. When looking for a name (including those not listed in our inventory or in the JSHA registry/journal) standard sources that you should consult via your local library or interlibrary loan include:
Auerbach, Inge and Otto Froehlich. HETRINA (Hessische Truppen im Amerikanischen Unabhangigkeitskrieg = Hessian Troops in the American Revolution) 6 vols. Marburg : Archivschule Marburg, 1972-1987, a listing compiled from original German records of all who served from the principalities of Hesse-Cassel, Hesse-Hanau, and Waldeck. The HETRINA is now available as an online database at: http://lagis.online.uni-marburg.de/en/subjects/index/sn/hetrina
DeMarce, Virginia Easley. Mercenary troops from Anhalt-Zerbst, Germany, who served with the British forces during the American Revolution McNeal, Ariz. : Westland Publications, 1984.
DeMarce, Virginia Easley. The settlement of former German auxiliary troops in Canada after the American Revolution : a monograph Sparta, Wis. : J. Reisinger, c1984.
Merz, Johannes Helmut. Guide to help you find your Hessian soldier of the American revolution [Hamilton, Ont. : J.H. Merz, 2001]
Merz, Johannes Helmut. The Hessians of Upper Canada Hamilton, Ont. : German Canadian Historical Book Pub., c1997.
Merz, Johannes Helmut. Register of German military men who remained in Canada after the American Revolution Hamilton, ON, Canada : German Canadian Historical Book Pub., 1995, c1993.
Reuter, Claus. Brunswick troops in North America, 1776-1783 : index of all soldiers who remained in North America Bowie, Md. : Heritage Books, 1999.
Smith, Clifford Neal. Brunswick deserter-immigrants of the American Revolution Thomson, Ill. : Distributed by Heritage House, 1973.
Smith, Clifford Neal. Mercenaries from Ansbach and Bayreuth, Germany, who remained in America after the Revolution Thomson, Ill. : Distributed by Heritage House, 1974.
Smith, Clifford Neal. Mercenaries from Hessen-Hanau who remained in Canada and the United States after the American Revolution DeKalb, Ill. : Westland Publications, c1976.
Smith, Clifford Neal. Muster rolls and prisoner-of-war lists in American archival collections pertaining to the German mercenary troops who served with the British forces during the American Revolution DeKalb,, Ill. : Westland Publications, 1974-1976.
Staedtler, Erhard. Die Ansbach-Bayreuther Truppen im Amerikanischen Unabhängigkeitskrieg 1777-1783 Nürnberg : Kommissionsverlag Die Egge, 1956, listing those who served from the principality of Ansbach-Bayreuth and those who deserted.
Please understand that we cannot conduct research concerning specific soldiers, nor can we conduct searches for the name of an ancestor "thought to have been a Hessian".
To enlist the services of a professional genealogist in your area and/or locally in researching your ancestor, a list of researchers is provided through the Association of Professional Genealogists (We cannot/will not offer recommendations or endorsements of any particular researcher.)
For additional genealogical tips, please visit the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association's primer for genealogical research at:
You may also try the following sources for information on your ancestor:
The county or local historical society and/or library in the area where your ancestor settled may have local histories, genealogies, cemetery registers, obituaries, newspapers, etc. that document your ancestor.
Information on Hessian ancestors before they settled in North America may be available in German archives. Information concerning persons from the prinicipality of Hesse-Cassel (the area supplying the majority of troops known as "Hessians") may be found at the Hessisches Staatsarchiv in Marburg, Germany and perhaps related regional archives in Wiesbaden and Darmstadt. Information about Duchy of Braunschweig (Brunswick) soldiers may be found through the Niedersachsisches Landesarchiv in Hannover, Germany. Information on Ansbach-Bayreuth troops may be found through Die staatlichen Archive in Bayern.