McKean Photographic Album

Scope and Content

Photograph Album 1881-1894 – the photographs are of scenes in and around Braunschweig.

Administrative / Biographical History

The album has an inscription that suggests it was a present from Anna Uhlendorf, Braunschweig, Germany, to Herrn und Frau McKean, this is almost certainly John Fleming McKean (1851-1925) and his wife Margaret McKean (nee Fife). John Fleming McKean (1851-1925) was born in Dundee and served his apprenticeship in the office of Messrs W. R. Morrison and Co., Dundee. He married Margaret Fife in 1879 in Dundee. McKean was invited to Germany to manage the local jute factory owned by the Brunswick Jute and Flax Company (Braunschweigische Aktiengesellschaft für Jute- und Flachs-Industrie). Gaining a reputation as an expert in jute manufacturing, his home became a meeting place for British and Continental engineers and anyone else interested in the textile industry.
The McKeans had two daughters: Katherine (Kathie) (1880-1968) and Elsie (born c 1883). Elsie married a local businessman called Arthur Kiel and remained in Germany. Her father retired in 1912 and returned to Scotland with his daughter Kathie, it is probable that his wife predeceased him while they were still in Germany. He lived in Newport, Fife, until his death in 1925. Kathie never married but maintained contact with several people in Germany, some of whom visited her at her home near Dundee in Scotland, including her goddaughter, Ruth Thiele, and Nellie Bruell (later Nellie Friedrichs). Ruth Thieles grandmother, Alice Smith was originally from Aberdeenshire and was the sister of the noted Scottish divine and theologian, William Robertson Smith. Alice Smiths daughter Jeannie, Ruth’s aunt, was a class mate of Elsie McKean Kiel and Ella Pauline Herxheimer (also known as Didi) and all three women maintained their friendship long after their school days. Elsie and her husband left Germany before the Second World War and moved to Britain, though during the War because of their German citizenship they were incarcerated for a while. Elsie McKean Kiels son Herwart McKean Kiel (b c 1913-d 1995) fought in the Black Watch regiment during the War. In civilian life he was a photographer.

Elsie McKean Kiels friend Ella Pauline Herxheimer was the mother of Nellie Friedrichs (1908-1994), who wrote a recollection of her early life called Memories-My Life in Braunschweig. 1912-1937 (Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben in Braunschweig 1912-1937), published in 1980 by the Stadtarchiv und Stadtbibliothek Braunschweig (Brunswick) in which she mentions Elsie McKean Kiel and her visits to Kathie McKean in Scotland. Nellie Friedrichs husband was the eminent German-born mathematician Kurt Otto Friedrichs (also known as Frieder) (1901-1982), among whose awards was the National Medal of Science presented by President Carter. He and Nellie had met when he was a lecturer in Braunschweig, but because Nellie was Jewish their relationship was increasingly difficult, especially when in 1935 relationships between Aryans and Jews were declared illegal by the National Socialist regime in Germany. They married and settled in the U.S.A. After the War Nellie was active in the reconciliation between Germans and Jews in Braunschweig.

Access Information

Open for consultation subject to preservation requirements. Access must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation.


There was almost no contextual information regarding the album until December 2009 when a researcher in Germany was in touch with Dundee City Archives, who forwarded the enquiry to the University Archives. The researcher’s mother’s godmother was Kathie McKean. The researcher attached scans of various items relating to the McKean family and she also directed us to Nellie H. Friedrich’s recollections.
Nellie H. Friedrich’s recollections of her early life in which she mentions Elsie McKean Kiel can be accessed at:

There is biographical information about Kurt Otto Friedrichs at:

Other Finding Aids

Descriptive list.

Alternative Form Available

No known copies.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements


Archivist's Note

Fonds level description compiled by Michael Bolik, Assistant Archivist, December 2009.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission given for photocopying. Reproduction is available subject to preservation requirements. Charges are made for this service, and copyright and other restrictions may apply.

Custodial History

The volume was in the possession of Elsie McKean Kiel’s son Hans McKean Kiel, the son of Elsie McKean Kiel, who latterly lived in Fife. On his death it passed into the hands of a friend who lived in Dundee and who donated it to the University of Dundee Archive Services.


None expected.

Related Material

Textile industry collections.

Location of Originals

The material is original.