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Wilhelm Sihler Collection, 1801-1937.

  • Collection Number: M-0019
  • 2.3 linear feet


Wilhelm Sihler was born on November 1801 in Bernstadt, Silesia, Germany. He entered the University of Berlin in 1826 after being discharged from the military, where he had obtained the rank of lieutenant at age 18. He graduated with a doctor of philosophy degree in 1829, strongly influenced by F. D. E. Schleiermacher, the founder of modern Protestant theology. Sihler became a tutor at a private college in Dresden. A rationalist till then, he crossed the paths of Lutheran theologians like Dr. Rudelbach and Professor J. G. Scheibel. Their influence caused him to rethink his religious position and to resign from his Dresden position. He then tutored in the Baltic area from 1838 to 1843.

F. C. D. Wyneken’s ―Notruf‖ (Appeal) about the distress of the German Lutherans in North America reached Sihler in 1842. With support from the Dresden Mission Society, Pastor Wilhelm Loehe and from others, Sihler emigrated to America. He arrived on 1 November 1843. His first call brought him to Pomeroy, Ohio where he was installed on 1 January 1844. In the spring of 1845 he received a call to become Wyneken’s successor as pastor at Fort Wayne. And though he had declined five calls in the previous year, he accepted this one in July 1845.

On 8 June 1846 Sihler married the former Susanna Kern. This union produced twelve children (six boys and six girls); their first son and their eleventh child, a daughter, died immediately after birth.

Sihler was instrumental in establishing the practical seminary in Fort Wayne in 1846 and served as its president from 1846 until 1861. Furthermore, he was the first vice- president of the newly established Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. In 1857 he founded, with others, a teachers’ seminary at the Fort Wayne college.

Sihler was also a prolific writer, and some of his works include: Gespräche zwischen zwei Lutheranern über den Methodismus; Predigten über die Sonn- und Festtags- Evangelien des Kirchenjahres; Zeit- und Gelegenheitspredigten; Predigten über die Sonn- und Festags-Episteln des Kirchenjahres; Lebenslauf von W. Sihler etc.

Sihler died on 27 October 1885 in the parsonage of St. Paul Lutheran Church on Barr Street in Fort Wayne, Indiana.


The Wilhelm Sihler Collection contains primarily materials created and collected by him. The collection has been arranged in alphabetical order by type of material. The correspondence and sermons comprise the largest part of this collection. Information

on the Sihler family and additional biographical materials were received in July 2008 from Susan Sihler. This was added to the Biographical section (f.1a–f.1d).
The correspondence is filed in chronological order and is almost fully transcribed into a typewritten format. The letters have not been translated.
The sermons are arranged by the books of the bible. Special occasion sermons appear at the end of this section.

Under the heading Various Writings are several folders of manuscripts. Sihler called them ―Gedankenspäne und Gedankenkeime‖ (shavings of thoughts and seeds of thoughts). The majority of these manuscripts are transcribed.

There is also a handwritten diary of Wilhelm Sihler (f.33). Due to its fragile condition, this diary has been photocopied (f.34). Please use the photocopy rather than the original.


f.1 Biographical
f.1a Sihler Family
f.1b Sihler Family Life in Fort Wayne
f.1c Wilhelm Sihler Autobiography (translation)
f.1d Wilhelm Sihler — Spitz Biography
f.2-32 Correspondence f.2 1844-1845
f.33 f.34
f.3 1846
f.4 1847
f.5 1848
f.6 1849
f.7 1850
f.8 1851
f.9 1852-1853
f.10 1854
f.11 1855-1856
f.12 1857
f.13 1858
f.14 1859
f.15 1860-1863
f.16 1864-1866
f.17 1867
f.18 1868
f.19 1869
f.20 1870-1872
f.21 1873-1874
f.22 1875
f.23 1876
f.24 1877
f.25 1878
f.26 1879
f.27 1880
f.28 1881-1882
f.29 1883
f.30 1884
f.31 1885-1886
f.32 undated
Diary, handwritten (fragile, please use f.34) Diary, photocopy
f.35 Fragment
f.36 Miscellaneous
f.37 Notes
f.38 Photos
f.39 Printed Material
f.40-79 Sermons
f.40 Books of Moses
f.41 Ruth
f.42 Job
f.43 Psalms
f.44 Proverbs
f.45 Isaiah
f.46 Jeremiah
f.47 Ezekiel
f.48 Joel
f.49 Amos
f.50 Micah
f.51 Zechariah
f.52 Matthew I
f.53 Matthew II
f.54 Matthew III
f.55 Matthew IV
f.56 Mark
f.57 Luke I
f.5 Luke II
f.59 Luke III
f.60 John I
f.61 John II
f.62 John III
f.63 Acts
f.64 Romans
f.65 1st & 2nd Corinthian
f.66 Galatians
f.67 Ephesians I
f.68 Ephesians II
f.69 Philippians
f.70 Colossians
f.72 1st & 2nd Thessalonians
f.73 1st & 2nd Timothy
f.74 Titus
f.75 1st & 2nd Peter
f.76 1st & 2nd John
f.77 Hebrew
f.78 Revelations
f.79 Special Sermons
f.80 Student Notes
f.81-87 Various Writings
f.82 Gedankenspäne & Gedankenkeime – I
f.83 Gedankenspäne & Gedankenkeime – II
f.84 Gedankenspäne & Gedankenkeime – III
f.85 Gedankenspäne & Gedankenkeime – IV
f.86 Gedankenspäne & Gedankenkeime -V
f.87 Gedankenspäne & Gedankenkeime (not transcribed)

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