Life in Miniature: Wood Carvings from Brienz

On January 26, 2009, the Gettysburg College community lost a gifted and generous friend with the death of Reverend Frederick S. Weiser, Class of 1957. Pastor Weiser was a highly respected scholar of Pennsylvania German studies and an avid collector of folk art from Pennsylvania and from the mountain villages of central Europe. Weiser periodically lent Musselman Library samples from his collections for public exhibition. Past exhibits included original Pennsylvania German fraktur and carvings from the Erzgebirge region of Germany.

At the time he passed away, Musselman Library staff members were working with Weiser on this exhibition of wood carvings from Switzerland. We have done our best to complete our work without his wise counsel. We offer this exhibit as a tribute to his life and felicitous connection to Gettysburg College.

Once again, Musselman Library at Gettysburg College is hosting an exhibit of European wood carvings from the collection of Weiser. A graduate of Gettysburg College, Class of 1957, and the Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg, Pastor Weiser has served congregations in Lancaster Biglerville, and Berrysburg. He has been an instructor at Gettysburg College and Penn State - Harrisburg and served for twenty-five years as editor of the Pennsylvania German Society publications. He is a noted authority on Pennsylvania Germans and has published numerous books and articles on their folk art and genealogy and frequently lectured on these subjects.

In addition to all these activities, for years Pastor Weiser has traveled to Europe and collected the beautiful wood carvings from small villages in the Erzgebirge and Upper Lusatian regions of Germany as well as the Interlaken region of Switzerland. The wood carvings currently on display in the library come from Brienz, a fishing town on the Brienzersee near Interlaken in the Canton of Berne. This particular collection began around 1962 when Fred brought his mother a wood carving from Brienz as a gift from his travels. With each trip came a new carving and before long, Fred began to add to his own collection as new pieces were created. The figures represent Swiss life around 1900 and feature careful reproductions of the regional attire, occupations, and the personality of this region north of the Alps.

This exhibit is on display in Musselman Library.