Maria von Trapp, the last surviving of the seven children portrayed in “The Sound of Music,” died last week at her home in Stowe, Vermont, at the age of 99.
Most Americans know of the von Trapp family from the play and film, and several of the Rogers and Hammerstein songs have become standards. The play and movie tells how the family fled Europe in the late 1930s as the Nazis were tightening their grip on Europe.
In the play, Mary Martin had the role of governess for young Maria and her brothers and sisters. Julie Andrews took that role in the movie, and Carrie Underwood recently had it in a live TV version.
If you want to know what really happened to the real von Trapp family, go to “The Real Story of the von Trapp Family” by Jean Gearin in Prologue magazine, the flagship publication of the National Archives.
In her article, Gearin draws on records from the National Archives to separate fact from fiction about the family and tell what happened to the family members after they arrived in the United States. Gearin is an archivist with the National Archives at Boston.
Image: Photographs from von Trapp Declaration of Intention documents. Records of District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21.
Watching the Sound of Music Live? Read up on the real Maria von Trapp!
When the von Trapp family fled the Nazi regime in Austria, they traveled to America. Eventually, the entire family—except for the husband, Georg—-became American citizens.In the early 1940s the family settled in Stowe, Vermont, where they bought a farm. They ran a music camp on the property when they were not on tour. In 1944, Maria and her stepdaughters Johanna, Martina, Maria, Hedwig, and Agathe applied for U.S. citizenship by filing declarations of intention at the U.S. District Court in Burlington, Vermont. Georg apparently never filed to become a citizen; Rupert and Werner were naturalized while serving in the U.S. armed forces during World War II; Rosmarie and Eleonore derived citizenship from their mother; and Johannes was born in the United States and was a citizen in his own right.
If you are planning on watching the new version of the Sound of Music this week, make sure you brush up on all your von Trapp trivia here: http://go.usa.gov/WFbh
This is the Declaration of Intention for citizenship form of Maria von Trapp (of The Sound of Music fame). The von Trapp family had toured the U.S. prior to moving to Stowe, Vermont permanently. The form includes her date of birth, occupation, a physical description, place of birth, current address, date of emigration, place of last foreign residence, port and date of arrival, her husband’s name and place of birth, and number of children with their names, dates and places of birth.
If you look closely (you can zoom in on our catalog) you’ll notice certain dates which may have later been disputed.
Declaration of Intention of Maria von Trapp, 01/21/1944
Dated September 27, 1939, this passenger manifest from the SS Bergensfjord includes the von Trapp family, making their second musical tour of the United States.
Passenger list of the SS Bergensfjord, dated September 27, 1939 (page 1 detail); Passengers and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957; Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service