A 'Swenglish' journey through family photos, notes and postcards from the early 20th century.


Otto L. Schmidt, Gerda’s employer in Chigaco 1910

Googling the name of Gerda’s employer back in 1910 in Chicago, physician Otto L. Schmidt, I find that he was prominent enough to be one of 25 citizens to have his names engraved on The Illinois State Archives building in 1938: 


Schmidt was born in Chicago and became a prominent physician. He was a promoter of historical studies and served as president of the Chicago Historical Society and the Illinois State Historical Society. He was also the chairman of the Illinois Centennial Commission.

The Illinois State Archives building was completed in 1938 with the last names of 25 people engraved around the top. The twenty-three men and two women represent individuals who were related to Illinois in some manner and who made contributions to the cultural, social, educational, political and economic development of both the state and nation. They were chosen by the State Board of Art Advisors who in 1936 acted in an advisory capacity to the State Department of Public Works and Buildings. All of the honorees were deceased before the building opened. The names of 31 men and one woman had already been inscribed on the Centennial (Howlett) Building before the Archives was constructed.



Another website tells me that a substantial collection (17 boxes) of Otto L. Schmidt papers is kept at the Chicago History Museum, Research Center.

Biographical/Historical note:

Otto Leopold Schmidt, prominent Chicago physician, historian, and leader in the Illinois German American community, was born in Chicago on March 21, 1863. He was the son of Dr. Ernst Schmidt (1830-1900) and Theresa (Weikhardt) Schmidt. Dr. Ernst Schmidt was likewise a respected physician and German American leader, a friend and supporter of Abraham Lincoln and the young Republican Party, who in his later years worked for the pardon of the Haymarket Affair anarchists. Otto Schmidt's three brothers were Frederick R. Schmidt, a druggist; Richard E. Schmidt, an architect; and Louis E. Schmidt, a urologist.

Otto L. Schmidt attended the Chicago public schools (graduated from Haven School in 1877) and entered the Chicago Medical College in 1880 (which later became part of Northwestern University), where he received his M.D. degree in 1883. He then spent two years as an intern at the Cook County Infirmary and then at the Alexian Brothers Hospital. From 1885 to 1887, Schmidt continued his medical studies in Wurzburg, Germany, and Vienna, Austria, after which he joined the staff of the Alexian Brothers Hospital. For many years he also was a consulting physician at Grant Hospital and Michael Reese Hospital and, from 1889 to 1892, served as a medical instructor at Northwestern University.

Dr. Schmidt devoted his practice to internal medicine and gained considerable stature in his field. He was the first physician to use X-rays in Chicago and was sued in the late 1890s by a patient who had suffered burns from the procedure. Dr. Schmidt lost the case.

Dr. Schmidt was deeply interested in preserving the history of Illinois and that of the German American community, and he participated in numerous historical and cultural organizations. From 1914 to 1935, he was president of the Illinois State Historical Society and, from 1923 to 1935, president of the Illinois State Historical Library, having been appointed a trustee by Governor Deneen in 1909. He served as a trustee of the Chicago Historical Society between 1899 and 1932, and was president of its board of trustees from 1923 to 1927. He also served as president of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association from 1926 to 1927 and, from 1916 to 1919, was chairman of the Illinois Centennial Commission, which directed the one-hundredth anniversary celebrations of Illinois statehood.

Dr. Schmidt was also awarded two honorary degrees in his later years, the Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1922 and the J.D. from Loyola University in 1930. He was appointed to the Chicago Board of Education in 1927, but resigned the following year. He also was a member of the Union League Club, the Chicago Athletic Club, the Chicago Literary Club, the Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, and numerous medical, literary, bibliographical, civic, and philanthropic organizations.

Schmidt's main recreational activity was yachting, to which he devoted his administrative skills by serving as commodore of the Lake Geneva Yacht Club and as president of the Inland Lakes Yachting Association.

In 1891 Dr. Schmidt married Emma Seipp, the daughter of Conrad Seipp, a Chicago brewer. To them were born three children, Ernest C. Schmidt, Alma Petersen (Mrs. William F. Petersen), and Clara Reese (Mrs. Hans H. Reese). They survived him upon his death, which occurred in Chicago on August 20, 1935, after a long struggle with heart disease and cancer.


Sammanfattning på svenska

Otto L. Schmidt, Gerdas arbetsgivare 1910

När jag googlar namnet på läkaren Gerda arbetade för i Chicago vid tiden för den amerikanska folkräkningen 1910, Otto L. Schmidt, finner jag att han var en så framstående medborgare, att hans namn är ett av de 25 ingraverade på staten Illinois arkivbyggnad från 1938. 17 lådor med hans efterlämnade papper finns också bevarade på Chicagos historiska museum.

Otto L. Schmidt (1863-1935) var inte bara en respekterad läkare utan även styrelsemedlem resp. ordförande i flera historiska sällskap. Som läkare var han den förste i Chicago att använda röntgen - och blev på 1890-talet stämd av en patient som fått skador av experimenten. Senare i sin karriär fick han hedersutnämningar från flera universitet.

Han gifte sig 1891 med Emma Seipp, dotter till en bryggeriägare. De fick tre barn, Ernest, Alma och Clara. (Namnen stämmer med folkräkningslistan 1910.) Han dog 1935 efter en lång kamp med hjärtsjukdom och cancer.


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