Christian Alsdorff

 

ALSDORFF, CHRISTIAN
(d. 1838)
was a fraktur artist and schoolteacher. No record of his birth or of his descendants has been found. While his origins remain a mystery, he worked as a schoolmaster for many years, and the authors of one of Lancaster County’s histories mentioned Alsdorff’s work as a teacher long after his death. The earliest record of Alsdorff andhis work appears in a fraktur he made for a student while he was a schoolmaster in Earl Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in December 1791. He continuedto make frakturs in Lancaster, Montgomery, and Dauphin Counties in Pennsylvania, and later in his life in Mifflin County. He apparently knew and was stronglyinfluenced by the work of fraktur artists Johann Adam Eyer (1755–1837) and his brother, Johann Friedrich Eyer (1770–1827); in turn Alsdorff influenced the work of Christian Strenge (1757–1825).Alsdorff worked chiefly among the Mennonites. His production includes small music-notation books, religious texts,
vorschriften
(writing examples), bookplates,and presentation frakturs, all closely related to elementary education among Mennonites. An example of his work is a poem based on the story of Susanna from theHebrew apocrypha that was in every German Bible.The capital letter
A
he drew for Anna Stauffer, with its group of angels dancing and turning, along with a bookplate in an
ausbund,
the hymnal Amish andMennonites in Lancaster County shared until 1804, both reveal that he knew the work done at the Ephrata Cloister in Pennsylvania, where the hymnals were decoratedwith crosshatched designs. Although Alsdorff s work was not exclusively made for Mennonites, and he surely was not one himself, his name is closely associated withtheir culture, rightly so.
See also
Johann Adam Eyer; Fraktur; German American Folk Art; Pennsylvania German Folk Art; Religious Folk Art; Christian Strenge
.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Johnson, David R. “Christian Alsdorff, the Earl Township Artist.”
Der Reggeboge,
vol. 20, no. 2 (1986): 45–59