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Dietrich Henry Steffens (1866-1944) Papers, 1939-1944.

  • Collection Number: M-0111
  • Collection Size: 3 folders

Biographical Sketch

Dietrich H. Steffens was born on 12 August 1866 in Whitestone, New York. He attended the Milwaukee college of the Missouri Synod and graduated from the Springfield seminary in 1888. From 1889 to 1899 he served parishes in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. In 1900 he was called to Martini church in Baltimore, Maryland, where he served for eighteen years.

Steffens was prominent in expanding the Missouri Synod’s activity in English. He was the first English-speaking synodical pastor in Detroit and was active in preparing the first English liturgy of the Missouri Synod and an English children’s hymnal (Sunday-School Hymnal [Pittsburgh, 1901]). In 1917 Steffens published the first English-language biography of C.F.W. Walther, Dr. Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther (Philadelphia, 1917).

From 1917 to 1920 Steffens served as the synod’s Washington representative to the War Department and to the Federal Council of Churches, which oversaw the military chaplaincy. He served three parishes from 1918 until his retirement in 1938: Charlotte Hall, Maryland (1918-1920), West Henrietta, New York (1920-1927) and Cumberland, Maryland (1927-1938). Steffens died on 8 July 1944 in Bryantown, Maryland.

Steffens married Mary Adelheid Huhn (b. 2 Apr. 1866) in 1889, who survived him. They had seven children: Louis Henry, Gertrude Elizabeth (Cochran), Mildred, Ethel, Edith, Ruth (Cochran), and Marie Henrietta.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains correspondence, an essay and notebooks and clippings from the years 1939 through 1944.

The first folder contains letters that Steffens wrote to the Rev. Arthur C. Repp between February 1939 and April 1943. In them Steffens discusses his own experiences and his interests in American Lutheran history. (See also the Arthur C. Repp Collection)

The second folder contains a manuscript essay written by Steffens titled “Grabauism: Its Spirit and Aims.” This essay is mentioned in the letter of 24 Feb. 1939.

The third folder contains clippings of newspaper articles on Steffens, a 1944 photograph of him and two notebooks with notes on revivalism, Maryland church history and other subjects.

Folder List

f.1 Correspondence with A.C. Repp, 1939-1943
f.2 Essay: “Grabauism: Its Spirit and Aims,” post 1927.
f.3 Notebooks, clippings and photos

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