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Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures Records [Bulk Dates: 1935-1990] , 1935-1990

Summary Information

At a Glance

Title:Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures Records [Bulk Dates: 1935-1990] , 1935-1990
Physical description:4 cubic feet (4 record cartons)
Language(s):In English and German.


Arranged in three series:


Scope and Content

The collection consists of correspondence and student records generated by the department and the chairpersons of the department from 1935 to 1990. Correspondence mostly relates to general administrative matters, curriculum issues, faculty appointments, Germanic Review contributions, dissertations, and personnel information. The general correspondence is mostly that of the chairperson of the department regarding administrative issues with occasional personal content. Faculty correspondence contains information on faculty members in the department, in particular their appointments. Student records include references from various chairpersons, transcripts, dissertation topic approvals, and acceptance letters. A number of faculty members were students in the Germanics department prior to their appointments, for which reason correspondence regarding their student transcripts, dissertations, etc. as well as personnel information is kept with the student records for the protection of privacy. Photograph identifications have been kept with original correspondence and paperwork.

Series I. General Correspondence, 1937-1971

Contains correspondence among the department, usually the chairperson of the department, and other non-Germanic Languages Department faculty members of the Columbia University community, administrative employees such as the Vice-Presidents, Provosts, and Columbia College Deans, as well as external contacts. Correspondence regarding the Germanic Review is filed under the correspondent’s name. The folder “Vice-Presidents” contains correspondence regarding discriminatory practices and affirmative action among other topics. “King’s Crown Press” contains correspondence mostly relating to one publication, Henry Caraway Hatfield’s “Winckelmann and his German Critics, 1755-1781.” [A division of the Columbia University Press, the King’s Crown Press was established in 1940 to print Columbia University dissertations.] The folder “Columbia College Office of the Dean” contains correspondence regarding Gustave Mathieu’s appointment as well as other topics. There is also some interesting correspondence regarding the use of professors from the Germanic Languages department in Columbia College. Folder “Committee on Instruction” contains correspondence as well as minutes of the Committee. The folder “Seemann-Simpson” contains the correspondence of more than one individual and is named for the range of names contained in the folder. The correspondence is with the following: Eric Seemann, E. H. Sehrt, Milledge Seigler, Alfred Senn, Philip A. Shelley, Gladys Linton Shrader, David R. Siegel, Henry M. Silver, Theodore Silverstein, and Amos E. Simpson. The folders are arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent, office, or committee.

Series II. Faculty correspondence, 1937-1988

Contains personnel information (i.e., retirement benefits and hiring) and information on students receiving masters and doctorates. Some of the folders contain photograph identifications. The folder “Scott-Smith” contains correspondence with more than one person. The list of the names appearing in the file is inaccurate. The actual correspondents in the folder are: Douglas M. Scott, Winifred Scott, Ingo Seidler, Oskar Seidlin, Frederick C. Sell, Alphonse Sesplaukis, Werner Sewald, Joachim H. Seyppel, Charles I. Silin, Ernest J. Simmons, Philip R. Sisson, and Herbert W. Smith. “Wijk, Axel” file also contains correspondence regarding Gunnar Granberg. The folders are arranged alphabetically by name of the faculty member.

Series III. Student Records, 1930-1990

Contains correspondence with graduate students or prospective students of the Germanic Languages and Literatures department. It also contains student graduate records, transcripts, grade reports, course schedules, dissertation information, exams, and manuscripts. The correspondence mostly relates to coursework, requests for leaves of absence, letters of acceptance, fellowship information, and references. Many of the student’s files have photograph identifications. Folders are arranged alphabetically by the name of the student.

Using the Collection

Access Restrictions

The following restrictions apply: Administrative restriction for 25 years on general correspondence. For faculty correspondence and student files, there is a restriction period of 75 years from the latest date in the folder.

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures Records; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Archives; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Records processed 2003 Abby Lester

Finding aid written 2003 Abby Lester

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion November 16, 2011

Finding aid written in English.

    2012-02-07 xml document instance created by Alison Rhonemus

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Job applications.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Photographic prints.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Bauke, Joseph Padur, 1932-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bayerschmidt, Carl Frank, 1905-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.--Administration.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.--Dept. of Germanic Languages and Literatures.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.--Students.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Fife, Robert Herndon, 1871-1958PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Germanic ReviewPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Germanic languagesPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Halpert, Inge D., 1932-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Huyssen, AndreasPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Jackson, W.T.H. (William Thomas Hobdell), 1915-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Historical Note

The German language has been taught at Columbia University since the 1880’s. However, the Germanic Languages and Literatures Department was not organized until 1890 under the Division of Modern Languages and Literatures of the Faculty of Philosophy. The department grew rapidly at the beginning of the twentieth century, with professors teaching in both the Graduate Faculties and Columbia College. The six chairpersons represented in these records are Robert H. Fife, Carl F. Bayerschmidt, William T. H. Jackson, Joseph P. Bauke, Inge Halpert, and Andreas Huyssen. The most recent correspondence covers Andreas Huyssen’s term as chairperson. Following is a timeline of the chairpersons: 1920-1946 Robert Herndon Fife, 1948-1961 Carl Frank Bayerschmidt, 1961-1967 William Thomas Hobdell Jackson, 1967-1979 Joseph Padur Bauke, 1979-[1989] Inge D. Halpert, 1989- ? Andreas Huyssen.

The Germanic Review , a quarterly publication, was founded in 1926 by Professor Robert Herndon Fife and has always been closely tied to the department. The chair of the department was usually the editor, or one of the editors, of the Review .