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Turnfest photographs

 Collection — Folder: SP146
Identifier: SP146

Scope and Contents

This collection includes black-and-white photographs of teams of athletes performing at Turnfest hosted by the North American Gymnastics Association and local turnverein in Indianapolis, Indiana in June 1905.


  • 1905 June

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Administrative Note

Turnverein were German-American gymnastic clubs that emphasized the practice of physical training for people of any age or sex. They were first founded by German teacher and patriot Friedrich Ludwig Jahn in Berlin in 1811. The club members became known as "Turners" and their philosophy spread to the United States as Germans immigrated there. The first gymnastic societies in the United States were established in 1848. In 1850, the individual societies of different cities formed a central organization called Turnerbund, a gymnastics union, and was eventually named Socialistischer Turnerbund. By the end of 1851, 21 local societies had been established in the U.S., with 1,672 members and the number of turnverein only continued to grow. The first German gymnastic festival (Turnfest) was held in Coburg, Germany in 1860, attracting affiliated Turnverein clubs and marking the beginning of international gymnastics competition. After the U.S. Civil War, in an effort to separate themselves from the German Turnerbund, the American organization was renamed the Amerikanischer Turnerbund, or Nordamerikanischer Turnerbund, which translates to North American Gymnastic Union in English. The American Turnerbund organized annual gymnastics festivals (Turnfest) and conventions attended by students and members of turnverein around the country and sometimes from abroad. By 1905, there were 300 separate Turner societies with 38,000 members in the United States.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, the local Socialer Turnverein built Das Deutsche Haus (German House), now known as the Athenaeum, as a clubhouse to host their gymnastics and fitness classes, as well as German social and cultural events. Students of turnvereine were highly sought as physical education teachers in midwestern public schools.


"Gymnastics." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Last updated November 6, 2020. Accessed December 14, 2021.

Metzner, Henry Christian Anton. A Brief History of the North American Gymnastics Union. Indianapolis: North American Gymnastic Union, 1911. Accessed December 15, 2021. Internet Archive.

"The Society of the Turnverein." Indianapolis Star, May 8, 1905, 6. Accessed December 14, 2021. ProQuest.

"Turnverein." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Last updated May 16, 2001. Accessed December 14, 2021.

Historical Note

Turnfest, a German gymnastics festival organized by the North American Gymnastics Union (Nordamerikanischer Turnerbund), took place at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana in June 1905. The gymnastics festival opened on June 21, 1905 with a torchlight procession from Das Deutsche Haus (German House) to the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument. The following day, there was a pageant of parade floats and marching bands, also in downtown Indianapolis. It was also the start of the gymnastics competition at the fairgrounds. A public concert was held at German House that evening where graduates from the Normal School of the American Gymnastic Union in Milwaulkee, Wisconsin received their diplomas. Athletics contests continued on June 23rd and on the 24th, teams from the United States, Germany, and Italy participated in mass exercises at the fairgrounds.


"Discuss June Festival: Gather at German House." Indianapolis Star, May 5, 1905, 9. Accessed December 14, 2021. ProQuest.

"Play to Usher in Gymnastics Fete." Indianapolis Star, May 28, 1905, A7. Accessed December 14, 2021. ProQuest.

"Preparing for Turnfest." Indianapolis Star, January 29, 1905, A17. Accessed December 14, 2021. ProQuest.


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation.


No further additions are expected.

Related Materials

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collections in Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN:

S2258: Indianapolis Socialer Turnverein collection

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2021/12/15 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid created 2021/12/15 by Brittany Kropf.
Turnfest photographs
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.