Recovering Anna Nitschmann: A Vision for a New Biography

“Recovering Anna Nitschmann: A Vision for a New Biography”

Katherine Faull, Bucknell University

Visiting Scholar, Centre for Moravian Studies Spring 2017

Thank you for the invitation to talk tonight about one of the best known figures in Moravian history, Anna Nitschmann. As we all know, she and her father were among the founders of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 275 years ago. However, although her position as a leader among women in the Moravian Church of the 18th century is often cited, little has actually been written about her that is based on archival sources in her own hand. Scholar after scholar who has attempted to write her biography, such as Peter Zimmerling, Lucinda Martin, Adelaide Fries, and even Dietrich Meyer, have come up against two major problems when working on Anna Nitschmann.

One is what we might call, the “Anna Nitschmann legend” according to which, even during her lifetime, she became the paradigmatic Single Sister, elevated through poetry, song, verse, and art to an icon. The other problem is the almost complete lack of a scholarly biography of her, due not least to the deliberate purging of her personal correspondence, diaries, and papers after her death in 1760. Thus, when scholars have undertaken to write about her, they have relied heavily on Anna’s own memoir, written in 1737 when she was 22 and which ends therefore before her emigration out of Saxony with the Zinzendorf entourage and, importantly for this lecture, before her departure for America. Furthermore, this precious memoir (Lebenslauf) did not appear in print in German until 84 years after her death (and then in extracts) and the only translation into English is 139 years old, appearing in the Messenger in 1878, again in abstracts.

In my work on Moravian Women’s Lives for the last 20 years or more, Anna Nitschmann has come up again and again. As a role model, as a leader, as a pioneering female missionary to the Native Americans of Pennsylvania and New York, as the composer of hymns, as a woman who not only valued the agency of women but who worked with single women throughout most of her life to ensure that they saw their own strength and salvific value to the redemption of the world. In my volume of Moravian women’s memoirs, Anna Nitschmann’s name comes up repeatedly in the memoirs of other women: whether Anna Johanna Piesch Seidel with whom she worked closely on the formation and guidance of the Single Sisters Choirs; or Margarethe Jungmann, née Bechtel, whom she met in Philadelphia and with whom she and Benigna Zinzendorf founded the Girls school that would later become Moravian College; or in conjunction with Anna Rosel Anders, another one the leaders of the Single SIsters Choir. She worked in close conjunction with brothers and sisters and, I would argue, moved easily in and out of mixed groups in terms of gender and race. She was an intrepid explorer, a gifted poet, an inspirational leader. But so little is written about her!

And so, when just over a year ago I was asked to write an entry on Anna Nitschmann for the Pietismus Handbuch, edited by Wolfgang Breul at the University of Mainz, I accepted the challenge to write about a life that has been simultaneously mythologized and erased by forces both within and without the Moravian Church.

What I am going to present today is the beginning of what I hope will turn into a book-length project on Anna Nitschmann, that will explore the archives and libraries and bring in the lives of other Moravian women of the 18th century to try to build up a full picture of this remarkable woman. Indeed, my research so far has taken me to the archives in Herrnhut, London, and here in Bethlehem, where I have begun to piece together textual evidence of Anna Nitschmann’s life. I have found letters embedded within other letters, accounts of her travels attached to others’ accounts; I have found that even her autobiography has been neglected as an important source document that tells not only what happened in her life to the age of 22 but also looks at how she chose to describe that life in the context of the larger generic conventions of the Moravian memoir. I have gone through uncatalogued packages of papers in the London archives that revealed, quite by surprise, that someone else wanted to write a biography of her in the 19th century to celebrate the Single Sisters Festival. And that ministers in small British Moravian congregations are remarkably helpful when they discover what I am trying to do.

So, despite the ravages of post-Zinzendorfian archival culling and the 1940s London Blitz there is hope!

So here we have the image of Anna Nitschmann as a direct mediator between Christ and the other Single Sisters’ Choirs. And in other scholarship we find these terms used to describe AN in extant printed scholarship:

Hero (A. Fries)

“Handmaiden of the Lamb” (Atnip)

“Pietist and Leader of the Diakonie”

“One of 37 women who changed their world”

A pioneer of the Moravian Church


A Moravian Foremother

A women of courage and valor

Preacher, Priest and maybe even Bishop

These labels certainly work to promote the first part of the conundrum I outlined above: namely, Anna Nitschmann as legend and icon for female leadership and piety within both the Moravian Church and also in the context of the 18th century. Respected scholars, such as Beverly Smaby, Peter Vogt, Martin Jung, Peter Zimmerling and Lucinda Martin have all seen in Anna Nitschmann a figure that deconstructs the traditional notion of women’s agency in the 18th century. Not a passive heroine, who allows things to happen to her, Anna is a doer, truly a mover and shaker, which is probably why her papers were all destroyed. At a time when to be a single woman in society meant either destitution, servitude, or cloistering, Anna Nitschmann refused marriage multiple times so that she could follow what she felt called to do; namely, provide spiritual guidance to women, especially young women. And her efficacy in this calling can be measured by, as Beverly Smaby has pointed out, the success of the Single Sisters Choir in the mission congregations, especially here in Bethlehem. Originally there was not supposed to be a large Single Sisters Choir here, as the Sisters who came from Europe were to be married in order to work in the mission field. However, Anna’s success in attracting single women from the colonies meant that there had to be Single SIsters Choir here.

.So let us start by looking at Anna’s life as she depicted it herself, in her much-cited memoir. Most biographies that have been published on her, draw heavily on this document and reading it through, several few questions immediately come to mind. First, why would she write her memoir at this point? 1737 is the year in which she is part of the Zinzendorf family entourage which has been exiled from Saxony and is experiencing the challenges of the Ronneburg. Also, according to tradition, this is the year in which Zinzendorf asked Anna’s father to adopt him so that he and Anna could travel together as brother and sister without incurring gossip. (Not that it helped much…)

The memoir is a 26 page manuscript (long for a woman author in the Moravian Lebenslauf tradition) and is interspersed with poetry and hymns. In fact, reading it through, I think of the Moravian tradition of the Singstunde, where thoughts are expressed in musical form to be shared by all present. There are 10 instances in the document where Anna expresses her emotions through verse. Her memoir begins in an almost pastoral mode, describing her early years where she would be sent into the fields to tend sheep and would sing hymns to herself. Hymns are of course a form in which the individual and the communal come together in the expression of a commonly felt emotion. And to me this is a significant indication of Anna’s expressive lyrical style, that manifests itself in her success as a hymn writer and is repeated in her recently discovered sermons to the Single Sisters. Her personal experiences of doubt, faith, joy, are expressed in a form that others can participate in.

From her memoir we know that she was born on November 24, 1715 near Kunewald, Moravia, the daughter of David and Anna Nitschmann (née Schneider).

She speaks in her memoir of visiting her father, David Nitschmann in prison when she was only 8 years old and singing hymns to him and her brother for fortitude. Her family’s escape to Herrnhut was the stuff of movies–her imprisoned father miraculously escaped his cell when he found the locks on the door open, the guards miraculously blinded to his escape.

Although she writes of herself in the time before 1730 (as a young teenager) as lost, in her own “bedenkliche Jahre” it is hearing her brother Melchior pray at night that awakens in her the desire to “win souls for the Saviour”. It is at this point that she describes herself as gathering the other young girls together; she is also elected to the office of “Eldress of the Congregation”. She writes (my translation), “In this year, I moved away from my parents, something I could never have decided to do out of respect for them. But I realized that it was most fitting for my office, and thus did so with their permission. So, on January 26, 1733, I moved into the so-called Virgins’ House (Jungfern Haus) with 13 single sisters. There I was very content. We lived cordially amongst ourselves and many nights were spent in prayer.” Although things start out well, soon there are problems in the Single Sisters House. “Initially we lived in a shared community of goods. Later though certain things began to happen. Some of them became suspicious, and so love and unity were destroyed.” It seems as though several of the sisters were against Anna Nitschmann and she can only express her predicament to the Saviour.

Despite these problems, Anna’s commitment to the leadership of the Single Sisters choir is proven by her repeated refusal to enter into marriage. In 1733, due to the death of the Chief Elder and the absence of his newly elected replacement, Leonhard Dober, Anna assumed the position of Chief Elder for the year. She was 18. According to Zinzendorf, Anna’s activities that year included guiding the spiritual affairs of the Brethren as well as the Sisters, concerning herself with questions of doctrine, casting deciding votes in conferences, and instructing those assuming office. She also had to confirm candidates for communion, give a parting blessing to the dying, and perform much of the pastoral work of a minister (FRIES 1924, 130).

In 1734, Anna Nitschmann became the companion to Benigna von Zinzendorf, 10 years her junior (1725-1789) and thereby became even closer to the Zinzendorf family. In her memoir, she writes that this was a difficult move for her, as she had to leave the solitude of her little room “Stübchen” and join the company of the nobility. But she complies as she sees it as the Lord’s will. The following year, marriage was proposed for her with Leonhard Dober, but because of a mutual reluctance, these plans were abandoned. In a desire to educate herself further within the concepts and history of Pietism and mysticism, Anna befriended Steinhofer and Oetinger, Württemberg pietists who were visiting Herrnhut at that time, and began her study of Mme de Guyon and St. Theresa of Avila (JUNG 1998). By her own account, these readings tempted her to follow the contemplative life, but Zinzendorf called her instead to a life of Christian action.

In 1736, on Zinzendorf’s exile from Saxony, Anna Nitschmann joined his Pilgrim Congregation and, as Benigna’s companion, followed the family to the Ronneburg in Wetteravia (JUNG 1999, 165). In 1737, a year in which Anna traveled extensively with the Zinzendorf family, the Count apparently took the unusual step of requesting Anna’s father to adopt him as a son, so that he and Anna could call each other “Brother” and “Sister’. David Nitschmann complied. Anna’s own Lebenslauf ends in 1737.

So, early on, the leaders of the Moravian church recognized Anna’s abilities as a potential leader in the nascent mission field of North America. In 1740, both Zinzendorf and August Spangenberg decided that Anna (at age 25) should accompany her father to the American colonies to work among the German-speaking people there. Both men considered Anna’s gender to be a decisive factor in their choice, in that it would allow her to better speak with the “haughty and independent” colonists (FRIES 1924). So, in July 1740, Anna wrote her farewell letter to the Gemeine, in anticipation that she would never return.

In fact, Anna Nitschmann’s time in North America solidified her reputation as one of Pietism’s most important women leaders. (Here she is speaking to a group of Quakers) Anna Nitschmann left for America with David Nitschmann Episc., her father, David Nitschmann Sr, Christian Fröhlich, and Johanna Molther in late summer 1740. After an arduous journey, they arrived in Philadelphia on December 15, 1740, and traveled immediately to the Moravians’ newly purchased lands in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Many of the other German sects settled in the province, such as the Brethren at Ephrata Cloister, had heard of their arrival and subsequently came to visit with them. Anna’s “plan” was to work with these disparate groups, in the hope that her words, rather than those of a man, would bring them together in a truly ‘philadelphian’ ideal. To this end, Anna and her father traveled around Pennsylvania in the summer of 1741, visiting inter alia Conrad Beissel at Ephrata Cloister and the Associated Brethren of Skippack.

During her time here in Pennsylvania, Anna regularly wrote letters back to Herrnhut, to Benigna von Zinzendorf, to the Single Sisters Choir, and to those she had left in charge of that choir. In a letter dated April 1741, she describes her activities among the peoples of Pennsylvania, a place she says that is a huge confusion “ein gar grosses Gewirre” of different sects and varying religious opinions. Despite her judgment of this “Atlantic Babel” she sees that the people here are waiting for salvation. She reports that in the three months since her arrival, she has already gathered 20 young women who are seeking the Savior; and they are just waiting for the school that she and Benigna are to found to open. ( Although she lives with one of the Brethren of Skippack, she visits the Nazareth tract regularly, she notices the many Native Americans who visit her. As she is working to clear the land, she is helped by the Native girls and young women to carry wood and water. O Benigna, she writes, if only you were here to work with them!

Anna’s magnetic presence attracts other young women. So, despite the plan that a single sisters choir should not be founded in Bethlehem, Anna has other ideas. Not only has she gathered 20 young women together already, she is quite militant in her defense of their unmarried state. In another letter back to Herrnhut in April 1741, Anna congratulates Sister Brosel that she has refused the offer of marriage. Anna writes, ”I congratulate you, secondly, because you have refused your marriage with a conviction of your heart and want to remain a virgin as long as it pleases Him. I know well that we are not here for ourselves, but rather maidens of the Lamb. If He orders it otherwise, we cannot resist Him. But I have to confess, that this gave me not a little pleasure.”

“Zweytens, dass du hast …. Mit über Zeugung deines Herzens und mit … deine Heirath abgeschlagen, und Jungfer bleiben, solange es Ihm gefallen wordt. Ich weiss wohl dass wir nicht unsre sindt, sondern Mägde des Lammes. Wenn Ers uns anders befiehlt, so können wir Ihm nicht wiederstehen: Aber Ich muss bekennen, dass es mich nicht wenig gefreut hatt.”

In November 1741, Anna returned to Germantown to set up the Girls School with Anna Margarethe Bechtel and to await Zinzendorf’s arrival.

On December 9, 1741, almost exactly a year after Anna’s arrival in America, Zinzendorf and his daughter, Benigna, arrived in Germantown. Due to his lack of both financial and linguistic preparation, the Count deferred to Anna, who used the unspent money she had been given in Herrnhut to help the Count. Zinzendorf also relied heavily on Anna’s knowledge of English to communicate with the other German settlers in the province. As Zinzendorf embarked on his plan to proselytize to the Native Americans and to try to unite the German sects in the colonies, Anna became a crucial factor in his success.

During Bethlehem’s earliest months, despite there being explicit plans to the contrary, Anna worked to establish the Single Sisters Choir (SMABY 1999). While Zinzendorf is having a mixed reception among the German Lutherans in Pennsylvania, maybe it is Anna’s enthusiasm about the prospect of working among the Native peoples that convinces Zinzendorf that she (now 27 years old) and his daughter (17!!) should accompany him on his difficult and dangerous travels into Indian country. Let’s stop and think about this for a minute. I have worked on the records of the Moravian Indian missions in Pennsylvania for a while now. In 1742, much of the territory that Zinzendorf wanted to cover was known only to the Native peoples who hunted and lived there. Colonial agents, such as Conrad Weiser, were highly dubious about Zinzendorf’s plans to meet with one of the most influential Iroquois chiefs (Shikellamy) who had just been sent by the Haudenosaunee to oversee the politically crucial confluence of the Susquehanna river. And here is this Count, with his teenage daughter and another young woman wanting to travel through Indian country to talk to the Shawnee who were very unfriendly towards anyone (even the Iroquois). Conrad Weiser agreed to help but I can only imagine him shaking his head at such foolishness.

In August 1742, she set off with Zinzendorf’s party into the Pennsylvanian backcountry to meet the chiefs of the prominent American Indian nations, primarily the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee), the Mohican, and the Shawnee.

First, Anna traveled to the Mohican mission in Shekomeko, New York. Here she met with Jeannette Rau, who once married to Br. Martin Mack, quickly became a valuable missionary with her knowledge of the Mohican culture and language. The following month, Anna accompanied Zinzendorf to Shamokin, Pennsylvania, to meet with Shikellamy, the Oneida chief to discuss the possibility of Moravian missionaries working in the Haudenosaunee lands of Iroquoia that stretched across New York state and down into Pennsylvania.

Just up the West Branch, at Ostonwakin, Anna displayed her typical spirit of outreach in speaking at length with the celebrated interpreter between the Iroquois and the Colonial government, Madame Montour. In accounts of these travels into Indian country, Anna was always described as intrepid, taking the lead through difficult terrain, to the point where Zinzendorf had to hang on to her coattails to climb Shamokin mountain. She wrote thus: “The last journey was into the heart of their country, where we sojourned forty-nine days, encamping under the open heavens in a savage wilderness, amid wild beasts and venomous snakes.” (REICHEL 1870, 85n.) Her last foray into the wilds was a hazardous journey from Bethlehem to Ostonwakin on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and then on to the Wyoming Valley to meet with the Shawnee.

This definitely constituted the least successful and most dangerous of the meetings with the Native peoples, yet Anna returned safely with Zinzendorf to Bethlehem.

In January 1743, just over two years after she arrived in America, Anna embarked on the return trip to Europe. Her work in Pennsylvania was foundational: “If others reaped the harvest it was she that sowed the seed, and her name should be written in capitals in the church history of Pennsylvania, instead of being only casually mentioned !” (FRIES 1924, 134) On board the ship from New York to Dover, Anna writes back to Bethlehem: “As I never shall forget Pensilvania in generall so I think I shall remember thee also… an ever Dear Church of Sinners….. It is very weighty to me, that even from out of the English Nation, which hath Erred for so many years, trying many and various ways the Lord should gather a little Flock and bring it to rest on his Holy Wounds.” Life on board was rough, but in a separate letter to Brother Anton Seiffert dated March 1743 Anna describes her journey back to Europe. They Set sail on January 20 from New York and within 6 days had formed a Sea Cong. (they chose Elders). Everyone was seasick except Br Andrew the Negro and his wife. After experiencing two great storms that washed them onto a sandbank where wicked sailors tried to take advantage of them, they arrived Feb. 17 1743 in Dover and then continued on to London on Feb. 19.

In London, Anna stayed with Br. Hutton. However not for long. As Br Spangenberg was not in London but in Yorkshire, Zinzendorf, Benigna, and Anna N. travel on to Yorkshire by coach. Anna continued her work among the single sisters in Yorkshire, and Zinzendorf preaches to the assembled crowds on a Gemein Tag. They are like “hungry bees” she says (sometimes over 1000 people). She speaks about her experiences in Pennsylvania, and especially telling stories of the American Indians.

Once back in London, Anna meets with and preaches (in English) to 30 young women in the Fetter Lane Chapel, London. Those women in the audience were captivated by her words and, if not already members of the Fetter Lane Society, quickly joined.

Anna writes of this time: “On Sunday I held a Qr of an Hour with 30 young women together with 3 Bands. I with 10 Laborers and the 2 others with each 10 Sisters. I can make use of my little English here very well.” But, she assures her listeners, “Don’t you know, my Dr. Br. that the Bethlehem Brethren and Sisters are remarkable above all others?”

All this success had its results. After returning from America, Zinzendorf made Anna into the “Gemein-Mutter” of all women in the Moravian church and by so doing finally ousted his wife, Erdmuthe, from this position. After stops in Herrnhaag, Herrnhut and Ebersdorf, Anna continued on to Silesia and Riga, where she was imprisoned for 19 days in 1743/4.

For the next ten years, Anna continued her work with Zinzendorf in consolidating the Moravian congregations and helping him to weather the crisis of the so-called “Sifting Time”. In 1749 she returns to London with Zinzendorf and in June they travel again to the congregation in Yorkshire. What I find so fascinating in reading these accounts of Anna’s activities among the ordinary people of the Yorkshire countryside is how seamlessly she is able to slip into vernacular societies and languages. For example, the Fulneck Diary of the Tabernacles reports that on July 5, 1749 “the Ordinary and the Mother sang a good deal of the liturgies, hymns and other verses chiefly in English. “ The importance of the work in Pennsylvania is not forgotten but rather quite a pageant is put on to celebrate the anniversary, (and also Z’s birthday)

11.07. Fulneck Diary: Papa kept the midday ¼ hour and Christel the evening blessing. After the evening blessing our larger hall was very prettily illuminated and decorated because today was 11 years since our much-beloved Mother went to Pennsylvania, and secondly, we were celebrating again our much-beloved Papa’s 50th birthday (he had been 49 in May!!).

A large picture had been painted about the Mother’s departure, in which was seen how Papa and Mama had kept a lovefeast before she went. The Mother stood with her pilgrim staff in her hand and her clothes gathered up ready for going. Below was the Lamb’s text for the day of her departure 11 years ago: Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. In the middle of the hall the picture of Papa’s birthday was illuminated, and on the left hand side the picture completed by the single sisters. The whole room was covered with green and red cloth, and in the middle between the windows was a pretty throne behind which sat our dear and beloved heart with 50 wax candles burning on the gallery, which had been placed in a pretty manner. Next to the middle illumination stood 2 prettily decorated tables, filled on top with confectionary and wine (which had been arranged by the brethren and sisters). In front of one of the tables a large ‘L’ was to be seen and in front of the other ‘A C’ (Anna Caritas), which presented a very pretty picture. Papa, the Mother and the other hearts were very pleased and everyone was very pleased. This blessed lovefeast was closed with the kiss of peace an hour after midnight.

The event is also described in the Diary of the Tabernacles:

In the afternoon was a pleasant lovefeast in commemoration of the dear Mother’s going to Pennsylvania this day 9 years. Several verses made about that time by her and the Ordinary were read and sung, and it was with much pleasure taken notice of how much, even at this time, was felt and spoken of the sidehole of our Saviour. In the evening the brethren and sisters had prepared a lovefeast both with a view to the aforementioned commemoration of this day, as also to testify their hearty joy for having obtained the visit which they had so long wished for. The hall was adorned with lights and with several fine pictures that Br Heldt had painted, which were illuminated, and this being a cloth country, the floor and forms were covered with green and red cloth of their own manufactory. The Ordinary, the Mother, Anna Johanna and Christel, and indeed everybody there were heartily pleased with it, and the Ordinary among others sang a verse.

While in Yorkshire Anna and Anna Johanna Piesch, conduct the Speakings with the Single Sisters, while Zinzendorf and Christian Renatus conduct the Speakings among the Single Brethren. Interestingly, on Communion Day (July 25th) the diary speaks of “ Papa and the Mother shared in the Lord’s Supper with us, which was very important to us all. “ after Zinzendorf had consecrated the wine.

In 1756, Erdmuthe Zinzendorf died. Just a year later, on June 27, 1757, Zinzendorf married Anna Nitschmann and thereby transformed her from “Gemein-Mutter” to “Jüngerin.” Although subsequent church historians have considered the marriage to be an “Amts-Ehe,” a marriage that permitted Zinzendorf to work closely with his adoptive “sister” Anna, it was also commonly known to be a love match. The potentially scandalous marriage that crossed strict class lines was kept a secret from all but the inner circle of the church. Anna and Zinzendorf were married by Leonhard Dober in private in the Berthelsdorf castle, only publicly announced a year later, in November 1758.

Although Zinzendorf wanted a son, the marriage between him and Anna produced no children. Anna, now in her 40s, continued her heavy travel schedule throughout the German states with Zinzendorf. But the health of both was severely deteriorating. After spending his final weeks in the Herrschaftshaus in Herrnhut on May 9, 1760, Zinzendorf passed away, separated from Anna, who was also ailing in the Single Sisters House. It is recorded that, as his coffin passed her windows, Anna was able to stand and watch as it made its way up to the Gottesacker. Twelve days later, on May 21, 1760, Anna died and joined him on the Hutberg. She was buried next to him; on his other side was his first wife, Erdmuthe.

Anna Nitschmann’s legacy to the history of Pietism lies in her significant contribution to several branches of the Moravian Church; primarily mission work, hymnody, and religious leadership. Anna’s efficacy in the mission field was enormous. Although severely under-researched, archival evidence reveals that Anna Nitschmann was a superb missionary and leader. Her interactions with American Indians in Pennsylvania were effective and long-lasting, and her work establishing the Girls School in Philadelphia with Anna Margareta Bechtel (m.n. Büttner, Jungmann) was foundational. Furthermore, Anna Nitschmann was also an accomplished hymn writer, especially productive between the years of 1735 and 1748, composing while in Germany, England, and North America. For example, the 1741 Herrnhuter Gesangbuch contains 56 hymns of her composition, the most famous of which is Nr. 1027 “Verlobter König”. Despite later efforts to de-emphasize her importance, during her lifetime Anna Nitschmann was an object of widespread reverence. Archival records reveal lavish celebrations of her birthday throughout the Moravian world, from North America to Germany. Her death was as much of a shock to the Moravian church as was Zinzendorf’s.

However, it is important to consider what is missing from Anna Nitschmann’s archival records (SMABY 1997). Falling prey to the masking of female piety in post-1760 Bethlehem, the vast majority of her personal papers, diaries and letters were deliberately destroyed after her death (PEUCKER 2000); SMABY 1997 points to the additional, subtle ways in which Anna Nitschmann’s foundational activities were de-emphasized after 1761.

The recent discovery of a set of Anna Nitschmann’s addresses to the Single Sisters Choirs can give today’s reader some insight into her efficacy as a preacher (ZIMMERLING 2014, 253 and VOGT 1999). As mentioned above, both textual and visual evidence shows that Anna Nitschmann preached in America to men and women, both Quakers, Moravians, and other sects (VOGT 1999). Although VOGT 1999 argues that Anna preached only to other women in the Single Sisters choir and did not preach to men, FRIES 1924 argues the opposite. To date, biographers (JUNG 1999; ZIMMERLING 2005, 2014) have relied heavily on Anna Nitschmann’s own 1737 Lebenslauf. As PEUCKER 2000, SMABY 1997, and VOGT 1999 indicate, the deliberate destruction of Anna Nitschmann’s personal papers, letters, diaries, after her death in 1760 has relegated her to relative obscurity within the history of Pietism; however, her efficacy as a leader of Pietist women, a preacher, a hymn writer, and a missionary deserve more serious scholarly examination.


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Fries, Adelaide L. “The Lure of Historical Research.” North Carolina Historical Review. 1.2 (1924). Print.

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