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Shwayder Family Histories and Genealogical Material, 1967-2002

Identifier: B245.02


  • 1967-2002


Language of Materials

Materials are predominantly in English with some Yiddish and Hebrew.

Biographical / Historical

The Shwayder family of Denver, Colorado, is best known for the luggage company Samsonite Corporation, which was founded and operated by the family over the course of the 20th century. The Denver Shwayders can be traced to Abraham Kobesky and Miriam Rachofsky of Poland, who married and later migrated to Manchester, England (where the name "Kobesky" was shortened to "Kobey"). Their daughter Rachel Kobey married Isaac Shwayder, who had also migrated to Manchester from Eastern Europe. Rachel and Isaac Shwayder had 11 children: Solomon, Dora, Jesse, Raschelle, Mark, Gertrude, Florence, Maurice, Hannah, Benjamin, and Liebe. Having been persuaded by his wife's pioneering uncle Abe Rachofsky and great uncle Alexander Rittmaster, Isaac Shwayder first came to Central City, Colorado, in 1879 to find work, and after two years the rest of his family joined him. The Shwayders later moved to Nevadaville (Black Hawk), Colorado, and in 1888 they settled in Denver, where Isaac Shwayder owned a grocery store and later started a second-hand furniture business. The Shwayders bought a six bedroom house at 637 Gallapago from St. Joseph Catholic Church to house their large family. The Shwayder children attended Franklin School and West High School in Denver, and Solomon Shwayder, the oldest brother, attended the University of Denver. In 1910, Jesse Shwayder opened a small luggage factory in Denver with his father, Isaac, and brothers, Mark, Maurice, Benjamin, and Solomon. The business became incorporated as the Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company in 1912, and it eventually changed its name to Samsonite Corporation. Isaac Shwayder died of a stroke in 1916. Most of the Shwayder siblings held executive positions in the family business. In 1961, Jesse Shwayder’s son King Shway sder became president of the Samsonite Corporation. In 1973, the Shwayders sold the business and the headquarters was moved from Denver to Massachusetts.


From the Collection: 7.25 Linear Feet (4 containers)

From the Collection: 1.35 Gigabytes

Scope and Contents

The series includes 20th-century materials detailing Shwayder family history. including two copies of the book "The Tale of a Little Trunk and Other Stories" by Hannah Shwayder Berry (1977 and 2002), a transcript of an oral history by Hannah Shwayder Berry (1981), a newspaper clipping of Hannah Shwayder Berry's story The 'pied piper' of West Colfax (1967), and a booklet describing the genealogy of the Shwayder family that includes family members born as early as 1876 and as late as 1943. There is also a digital container with digitized photographs, scrapbook, and "Five Stories" by Nellie Weitz Shwayder.


Series 2 is arranged chronologically in Folder 2. The two copies of "The Tale of a Little Trunk and Other Stories" are arranged chronologically in a rare books box within Box 1. A newspaper clipping is arranged chronologically with other oversize materials in Box 1. A digital cosntainer contains digitized photographs, scrapbook, and "Five Stories" by Nellie Weitz Shwayder.


Another item in this collection that contains some family history is the book "Jesse Shwayder and the Golden Rule." However, this book was placed in series B245.01 because it was created by Shwayder Bros. Inc., and most of the book's contents apply to the family business.

Processing Information

Processed by Salem Martin, February 25, 2008 and reprocessed by Thyria Wilson, May 2020.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

2150 East Evans Avenue
Denver CO 80208
(303) 871-3428