Marriage and children

Carl Zeiss and his wife Ottilie with their daughter-in-law, Franziska née Thierbach circa 1885 (ZEISS Archives).

Carl Zeiss and his wife Ottilie with their daughter-in-law, Franziska née Thierbach circa 1885 (ZEISS Archives).

Little is known about what Carl Zeiss was like as a person. Records suggest that his elder brother’s wife introduced him to the family of a clergyman named Schatter who lived in the town of Neunhofen in Thuringia. On 29 May 1849, Zeiss married the clergyman’s daughter, Bertha Schatter. Years later Zeiss confided in his friend K.O. Beck that he had made a good choice in his union with Bertha, even though the bride had virtually no wealth of her own. The couple’s wedded bliss was short-lived, however: Bertha died the day after giving birth to her first son Roderich on 23 February 1850. She was just 22 years old.

Fortunately, Zeiss was able to call on family assistance once again. Bereft of his mother, Roderich was initially taken in by Zeiss’s parents-in-law in Neunhofen. Therese Schatter looked after her newborn grandson until she died in February 1851, almost exactly one year after her daughter passed away. Zeiss then entrusted Roderich’s care to his second-eldest sister, Hulda, who also seems to have spent much of her time in Neunhofen.

In 1853, Zeiss remarried, this time to Ottilie Trinkler (1819 – 1897), the daughter of a clergyman from the town of Triptis in eastern Thuringia, who was distantly related to Zeiss’s first wife. Carl Zeiss himself subsequently referred to both his wives affectionately as “spiritually very much country folk.” His marriage to Ottilie produced three children: Karl Otto (1854 – 1925), Hedwig (1856 – 1935), and Sidonie (1861 – 1920).

The ‘Manual’

A record of income and expenditure

In his ‘Manual’ Carl Zeiss kept detailed records of his income and expenditure between the years 1848 and 1863. It details both the business performance of a small workshop and Zeiss’s private expenditures. This makes it an excellent socio-historical source.

We use cookies on this site. Cookies are small text files that are stored on your computer by websites. Cookies are widely used and help to optimize the pages that you view. By using this site, you agree to their use. more