Edition of the letters of Johann Ernst Bergmann (1755–1824)

Transcription and translation of the letters of the last Lutheran pastor sent from Halle to Georgia, Johann Ernst Bergmann (1755–1824)

Letter from Johann Ernst Bergmann

In a joint project of the Francke Foundations with the Georgia Salzburger Society, Savannah (Georgia), and Prof. Russel Kleckley, Minneapolis (Minnesota), the letters of Johann Ernst Bergmann (1755–1824), the last Lutheran pastor sent from Halle to Georgia, kept at the Archive of the Francke Foundations were prepared for an English-language edition. In 1786, ten years after the secession of the United States from Great Britain, Bergmann was appointed by the community of Salzburg emigrants which Ebenezer had established in 1734. Due to the impact of the War of Independence and the conflicts of his predecessors, Bergmann found the settlement to be in a desolate condition. From the perspective of a German Lutheran pastor Bergmann vividly describes the problems of the young democracy, which he viewed critically, as well as the political, economic, social and religious difficulties and contradictions which constantly come up during personal encounters and experiences.

The edition includes sixty letters. They were first transcribed in the Foundations’ Archive and then translated into English and commented upon in the United States. The correspondence spans the period from Bergmann’s departure in 1786 until 1822, two years before his death. It is supplemented by two letters from Bergmann’s son, Christoph Friedrich (1793–1832), dated from 1828 and 1829.

The edition was published in 2022 by Brill, Leiden and Boston. A German-language edition, which will be published by the Francke Foundations in 2024, is in preparation.

The Letters of Johann Ernst Bergmann, Ebenezer, Georgia, 1786–1824. Religion, Community, and the New Republic. Ed. by Russell C. Kleckley in cooperation with Jürgen Gröschl. Leiden/Boston 2022.

Project members: Dr. Jürgen Gröschl (Halle), Dr. Erika Pabst (Halle), Dr. Russell Kleckley (Minneapolis)
Project beginning: January 2014