Biesele, Rudolph Leopold (1886–1960)

By: Megan Biesele

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: April 2, 2016

Rudolph Leopold Biesele, historian, was born on January 29, 1886, at York's Creek in Guadalupe County, Texas, one of three children of Julius and Hedwig (Bading) Biesele, a farming couple who were the children of German immigrants. He attended public schools in Guadalupe County. In 1905 he received a teacher's certificate from Southwest Texas State Normal School (now Southwest Texas State University), after which he attended the University of Texas (B.A., 1909; M.A., 1910). He taught high school German and civics in Corsicana and high school history in Waco. Around the time of the outbreak of World War I he shifted from German studies to history because of anti-German sentiment.

In 1924 Biesele moved his family to Austin and began graduate studies toward the Ph.D. in history. He taught in the University of Texas history department from 1925 to 1928, when he received his Ph.D. In 1928–29 he taught history at the University of Alabama; in 1929–30 he substituted for Professor C. W. Hackett in the University of Texas history department; in 1930–31 he was chairman of the Department of History and Social Science at Louisiana Polytechnical Institute; from 1931 to 1941 he was associate professor of history at the University of Texas; from 1941 to 1957 he was professor of history there; and from 1957 until his death he was professor emeritus. He was remembered by many for his record of service to the history department at the University of Texas and for his warm dedication to his students over a lifetime of teaching.

Biesele's most outstanding accomplishment was The History of the German Settlements in Texas, 1831–1861 (1931). Also of note were his supervision of more than 100 master's theses in history and his service as associate editor of the Southwestern Historical Quarterly from 1937 to 1957. He served on the editorial board of the Journal of Southern History from 1943 to 1946. He belonged to the Southwest Social Science Association and the Texas State Teachers Association, and was a member of the executive council of the Texas State Historical Association.

Biesele was awarded a Hermannssöhne Stipendium by the New Braunfels lodge of the Order of Sons of Hermann to support his study of German literature, a university advanced fellowship in history for 1926–27, and a posthumous plaque of appreciation by the New Braunfels Conservation Society in 1969. He was married on September 3, 1910, to Anna Emma Jahn; they had four children. Biesele was a founding member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Austin, in which he served as elder and taught Sunday school classes. He died in Austin on January 4, 1960.

Mississippi Valley Historical Review, September 1960. Report of the Special Rudolph L. Biesele Memorial Resolution Committee (Documents and Minutes of the General Faculty, University of Texas, June 17, 1960).

  • Education
  • Educators
  • Social Sciences
  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Historians

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Megan Biesele, “Biesele, Rudolph Leopold,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2022,

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April 2, 2016