Guide to the Research Collections



The collection of printed materials relating to Germany (including the Holy Roman Empire) is strong, but less extensive than the collection relating to France. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this area is its rapid growth in the period after 1941, as indicated by the following:

19218,563 volumes

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Much of this growth can be attributed to the vast number of publications received by the library immediately after World War II under the Cooperative Acquisition Project. Under this project the New York Public Library received more volumes than any American library other than the Library of Congress. Although most of the material received was nondocumentary, there are strong holdings on the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei and the Third Reich, including a large number of serial titles rare in the United States. Approximately half of the total German history holdings, or some 14,000 volumes, concern local history.

Pamphlet holdings are less extensive than those for France, Great Britain, or Italy, but the several thousand items include many dissertations and reprints. There is a group of about 50 items published during the Thirty Years War in Paris and the Netherlands.

The historical collections relating to German tribes, the medieval empire, and modern Germany are numerous and important. They include such sets as the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, the contents of which have been fully cataloged by the library.

Among general materials is a large number of German historical periodicals. Approximately 40 titles are noted in the Public Catalog, including the eighteenth-century Patriotisches Archiv für Deutschland (1784-90) and the Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelalters (varying title, 1937-). Publications relating to local history include those of the Historische Kommission für Niedersachsen with other publications on archaeology and antiquities, and reprints of documents and archives. Additional material is found in the publications of learned societies.

Systematic histories of Germany, the extensive collections of general literature devoted to politics, foreign relations, and diplomatic history, and primary materials in the public documents collection enrich the resources.

The literature of general travel is extensive. It is supplemented by material for the individual states of Germany. Although the works in geography are less numerous than for some other European countries, they form an important related group consisting of guidebooks, gazetteers, and other materials. There are representative collections for the study of early German colonial interests.

Biographical works relating to German rulers are an important feature of the resources; especially interesting is the literature pertaining to Frederick the Great, supplemented by several letters and documents in the Manuscripts and Archives Division, and to Kaiser Wilhelm II; the latter holdings are enriched by some 200 books and pamphlets presented by Professor John A. Mandel in 1913.23 Holdings for Adolf Hitler include many editions of Mein Kampf; the Manuscripts and Archives Division has material on the early translations of the work into English.

Among materials in the Rare Book Division are Cronica van Coellen (1499), Hartmann Schedel's Das Buch der Chroniken ("The Nuremberg Chronicle," 1493), and early sixteenth-century printed statutes. The Spencer Collection has Die güldin Bulle (1485), which concerns imperial election procedure and contains the 1356 decree of Charles IV with additions by the emperors Sigmund and Frederick. Works published in the eighteenth century form an interesting and rich collection. Not only are the systematic treatises present, but such older works as Moser's Teutsches Staats-Recht (1737-54) and Ludolf's Electa Juris Publici can be found as well.

Nineteenth-century printed materials include a large collection of contemporaneous books and pamphlets from the period of the 1848 revolution. The twentieth century is especially well represented. Materials relating to the world wars are described in chapter 47 of this Guide. The library began to collect material on Nazi Germany at an early date and acquired many ephemeral propagandistic publications. After World War II a great deal of material was received through the Cooperative Acquisition Project. Important related material is found in the Jewish Division.

A strong collection of books, periodicals, and other items on the Germans in America is administered by the American History Division.24

Public Documents

The strong collection of German public documents includes reprinted archives, diplomatic series, treatises, and similar materials. The file of the Weissbuch is complete, and other series, particularly those of reprinted documents, relating to World War I, are extensive.

Series national in scope are numerous and generally complete. The official gazette, Deutscher Reichs-und preussischer Staats-Anzeiger, begins in 1875 and continues to the outbreak of World War II, as does the Stenographische Berichte of the Reichstag (available on film from 1867-1937/38). The Verhandlungen des Bundesrats is essentially complete for the same period, as are publications of the various ministries of finance, posts and telegraphs, and the like, and the published reports of statistical bodies. Though some files of government publications are present for the years of World War II, coverage is uneven. There is a good representation of publications of the Control Council for all zones of Germany during the postwar period, including statutes and gazettes. The library currently receives publications of both the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). A larger proportion of materials comes from West Germany, with a strong representation of statistical publications. The official gazettes for both East and West Germany are complete.

Session laws, the Reichsgesetzblatt, are complete from 1871 to 1943. These are continued by the publications of the Control Council for the various zones of postwar Germany, and by the East German Gesetzblatt (1951-) and the West German Bundesgesetzblatt (1949-). Although the library has the standard works on the Nuremberg Trials, more extensive holdings of documents, records, and exhibits are to be found in the Columbia University International Law Library and the New York State Library at Albany.

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Of earlier materials, the collection contains such sets as the Stenographischer Bericht über die Verhandlungen der deutschen constitutirenden, Nationalversammlung zu Frankfurt am Main (1848-49).

For the North German Confederation, the library has a complete file of the session laws, the Bundesgesetzblatt, but its set of the Verhandlungen des Reichstages des Norddeutschen Bundes is incomplete. There are other important series.

Although holdings of the administrative documents, laws, and related materials of the German states are uneven, the collection as a whole is good. Some series are long, such as the Gazette of Hesse, or the Gesetz-Sammlung für die Königlichen Preussischen Staaten, which, commencing in 1810, continued until 1944. The collection is strongest for Baden, Prussia, Saxony, and Würtemberg.

The important collection of municipal documents includes some volumes of municipal statutes from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Municipal reports are numerous, series for the more important German cities being substantially complete with exceptions for the World War II and immediate postwar periods. In 1930 the library received as a gift a nearly complete set of publications for Bruchsal, Baden.


With the exception of "Chronica der Stat Nuremberg" from 1348 to 1625, several letters and documents of Frederick the Great, and a body of eighteenth-century diplomatic correspondence in the Hardwicke collection dealing with Hanover, Saxony, Prussia, and other states, the majority of German historical manuscripts pertain to international affairs during the American colonial period. The Anspach papers in the Bancroft collection are original documents concerning the troops furnished by the Margrave of Anspach-Brandenburg to the British government for service in America during the period 1776-85. There are also journals of German officers and German regimental histories of the American Revolution.