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Department of German records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-04-100

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The records of the Department of German, spanning the years 1889-1917 and 1952-1987, consist of student, faculty, and administrative records, as well as a Festschrift for Harold Jantz, and four bound volumes of minutes of the Germanic Society. The record group is arranged in four series: (1) Seminar Minutes, 1889-1917; (2) Administrative Records, 1953-1984; (3) Faculty Records, 1952-1987; and (4) Student Records, 1959-1985.


  • Creation: 1889-1987


Use Restrictions

Administrative records in series 2 are restricted for twenty-five years from their date of creation. Educational records, in series 4, as defined by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, are restricted, as are employment records in series 3. For details, see Regulations Governing Access to Restricted Records, in the front of each binder.


At the time of its founding, The Johns Hopkins University had no formal departments. German was grouped together with all other languages, English included, in a vague category similar to that which contained history, economics, and political science. There was only one faculty member, Hermann Brandt, a graduate of Hamilton College, who held the rank of associate. There were no graduate fellows studying German, but Brandt offered undergraduate courses in German elements, the works of Goethe, scientific German, and readings in High German literature. While Brandt taught all courses himself, examinations were given by A. Marshall Elliott, Associate in Modern Philology. By 1880, German had been separated from Romance languages and grouped with Teutonic Languages which included Anglo-Saxon, Middle English, and Shakespearean English as well as Old Norse and Icelandic. At the same time a new faculty member, George Stockbridge, joined Brandt in teaching courses in German.

In 1882, Brandt resigned his post at Hopkins and returned to Hamilton College to assume the chairmanship of the Department of Modern Languages. His replacement was Henry Wood, a graduate of the University of Leipzig and originally an Associate Professor of English. One of Wood's goals (as stated in the President's Report of 1886) was to shift emphasis away from philological evaluation of texts to teaching students to read German at an acceptable level of comprehension. The separation of English and German in 1888 enabled Wood to concentrate exclusively on developing an improved German language instruction program.

In 1889, the Teutonic Seminary was founded. Wood headed the group, composed of junior instructors and graduate students. The Seminary, later called the Germanic Society, met four to five times a semester to hear papers on all aspects of German literature, from technical philological discussions to historical narratives of the lives of great German writers. In 1890, "area" courses were first offered which dealt with German history and geography and which were designed specifically for non-German majors. In 1893, the first course in Gothic was offered.

The First World War and its concomitant anti-German feeling did not affect the actual working of the department, although the number of students in departmental programs dropped as more and more young men were called to military service. The only change in the department was the disbanding of the Germanic Society in March of 1917. Of course, papers were still presented in the departmental seminar. The seminar of 1920 dealt with German war poetry, and in the President's Report of the same year, Wood states that the poetry was "found to represent constructive ethics of world peace on a background of conflict, instead of a partisan spirit of strife."

After a period of nearly forty years as Chairman, Henry Wood retired in 1920 and the leadership of the department passed to Hermann Collitz, a graduate of the University of Gottingen. Collitz directed the department toward greater involvement in linguistic associations. Under his leadership there was an increase in faculty participation in the American Philological Association, the Modern Language Association, and the Linguistic Society of America. Indeed, in 1925 Collitz was elected president of M.L.A. and L.S.A. simultaneously, a rare honor. Collitz also stimulated interest in the Johns Hopkins Philological Association to such an extent that every German Department Chairman after him was an associate editor of the American Journal of Philology, a publication once operated exclusively by the Classics Department.

When Hermann Collitz retired in 1927, William Kurrelmeyer, an 1899 Hopkins Ph.D., became Chairman. The most conspicuous event of Kurrelmeyer's term was the Second World War, during which all ties with German universities, some of which were the repositories of manuscripts which Hopkins professors were in the process of editing, were cut. The wartime demand for manpower drained the University, and in 1943 the department offered only one graduate course. One part which the department did play in the war effort was its participation in the Army Specialized Training Program, a government program whereby students prepared for military jobs by taking courses specified by the government instead of University degree requirements.

Kurrelmeyer resigned his post as Chairman in 1944 and was succeeded by Ernst Feise. A graduate of the University of Leipzig, Feise had been dismissed from the faculty of the University of Wisconsin in 1917 because of an allegedly "unpatriotic" comment he had made to a colleague. Because of the reputation as a "hostile alien" which his dismissal gave him, Feise was unable to obtain a teaching position and was forced to work as a gardener before joining the faculty of a college in Mexico City, whence he came to Hopkins. Feise's area of expertise was the metrical structure of both poetry and prose, and he claimed to be able to identify the author of a piece of German writing simply by scanning its metrical structure. Another talent for which Feise was celebrated was his skill in carving puppets out of potatoes for use in acting out scenes from plays which he would discuss in class. During the Second World War, he was an outspoken critic of Hitler and, as early as 1937, wrote letters in which he warned of the menace which the Nazi regime posed to European stability. One of Feise's earliest criticisms of Hitler was that, as an Austrian, Hitler spoke German so poorly that he would never be accepted as a true German citizen. In 1949, Feise was the organizer of the celebration in Baltimore of the two hundredth anniversary of the birthday of Goethe, which was undertaken in conjunction with the Goethe Societies of Maryland and the District of Columbia.

After the end of the Second World War, enrollment in the department grew as veterans returned to finish their educations. In 1952, Ernst Feise resigned from the chairmanship, and Arno Schirokauer, a graduate of the University of Munich who specialized in German dialects, became chairman. Schirokauer's term as Chairman was cut short when he died suddenly in 1954. William McClain, who had come to the department as a visiting associate professor in 1946, was appointed Acting Chairman, a post which he held for three years. During his term McClain increased cooperation with other departments in the School of Arts and Sciences, particularly the Writing Seminars. McClain initiated courses in German literature taught in English to stimulate interest in languages in general and German in particular; this came at a time when the scientific departments were growing in size and prestige at the expense of the traditional humanistic departments.

In 1957, McClain was succeeded as Chairman by Harold Jantz, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. Jantz held the chairmanship until 1973, when McClain was reappointed. Following his retirement in 1980, Lieselotte Kurth became the chairperson. Kurth received her Ph.D. from Hopkins in 1963 and her special field of interest is eighteenth-century literature. Since 1989 she has been Professor Emerita. Rainer Naegele has been the chairperson since 1987.

"Dr. Ernst Feise, Literary Expert in German." The (Baltimore) Sun, June 20, 1966.
"Dr. Kurrelmeyer Dies at Hospital." The Sun, October 10, 1957. Johns Hopkins University. The Johns Hopkins University Circular, 1876-1980.
"Professor-You Can't Say That!" New York Post, April 19, 1940.
"Schirokauer, Scholar, Dies." The Sun, May 25, 1954.

List of Faculty:

Herman C. G. Brandt, Associate Professor, 1876-1882
Dr. Henry Wood, Associate Professor, 1883-1892; Professor, 1892-1920; Emeritus, 1920-1925
James W. Bright, Assistant 1882-1883
Charles F. Raddatz, Examiner, 1878-1885
G. Theodore Dippold, Instructor, 1883-1884
Adolph Gerber, Fellow by Courtesy, 1883-1885
George Hempl, Instructor, 1884-1886
Julius Goebel, Instructor, 1885-1888.
Marion D. Learned, Instructor, 1886-1887; Associate, 1888-1893; Associate Professor, 1893-1895
Frederick M. Warren, Instructor, 1888-1889; Associate, 1889-1891
Hermann Schoenfeld, Instructor, 1891-1893
Bert John Vos, Instructor, 1892-1893; Associate, 1893-1898; Associate Professor, 1898-1908
Albert B. Faust, Instructor, 1895-1896
Thomas S. Baker, Assistant, 1895-1898; Associate, 1898-1900; Visiting Lecturer, 1900-1908
William Kurrelmeyer, Assistant, 1900-1907, Associate, 1907-1912; Associate Professor, 1912-1924; Professor, 1924-1944; Emeritus, 1944-1957
Julius Hofmann, Assistant, 1902-1915
Hermann Collitz, Professor, 1907-1928; Emeritus, 1928-1935
Robert Bruce Roulston, Instructor, 1908-11; Associate, 1911-1917; Associate Professor 1917-1928; Professor, 1928-1944; Emeritus, 1944-1953
Aaron Schaffer, Assistant, 1917-1918
Ernst Feise, Associate Professor, 1927-1928; Professor, 1928-1952; Emeritus, 1952-1966
Karl J. Arndt, Instructor, 1933-1934
Jane F. Goodloe, Instructor, 1933-1936?
Frida Ilmer, Instructor, 1933-1936?
Gurney W. Clemens, Instructor, 1933-1936
Ralph V. Ehle, Instructor, 1933-1934
Augustus J. Prahl, Instructor, 1933-1936?
Emma E. Walters, Instructor, 1933-1936?
B. B. Rosenberg, Instructor, 1936-1939
Carl Scharf, Assistant, 1936-1937
Heinz von Schuching, Instructor, 1943-1952
Arno C. Schirokauer, Lecturer, 1945-1946; Professor, 1946-1954
Claire Strube Schradieck, Lecturer, 1947-1949
William Harold McClain, Visiting Lecturer, 1953-1954; Associate Professor, 1954- 1963; Professor, 1963-1983; Emeritus, 1983-
Heinrich Schneider, Visiting Professor, 1955-1956
Dr. Suerbaum, 1955-1956
Stefan Einarsson, Professor (joint with English), 1955-1962; Emeritus, 1962- 1973/4
Joachim Bumke, Assistant Professor, 1958-1961
Morgan H. Pritchett, Lecturer, 1960-1963
A. L. Taylor Starck, Visiting Professor, Spring 1961
Robert Beare, Lecturer, 1961-1963
George F. Jones, Lecturer, 1961-1963
Harold Jantz, Professor, 1956-1974; Emeritus, 1974-1987
Petrus W. Tax, Lecturer, 1962-1965; Associate Professor, 1965-1969
Lieselotte Kurth, Instructor, 1963-1964; Assistant Professor, 1964-1968; Associate Professor, 1968-1973; Professor, 1973-1989; Emerita, 1989-
Holger Homann, Assistant Professor, 1965-1970; Associate Professor, 1970-1974
Gerhard Friesen, Instructor, 1967-1968; Assistant Professor, 1968-1974
Richard J. Allen, Assistant Professor, 1970-1975; Associate Professor, 1975-1979
Klaus Haberkamm, Professor, 1974-
Rainer Naegele, Visiting Professor, 1974-1975; Associate Professor, 1977-1979; Professor, 1979-
David G. Mikkelson, Lecturer, 1974-1976
Carol Jacobs, Associate Professor, 1975-1978
Winder McConnel, Assistant Professor, 1976-1978
Philip Grundlehner, Assistant Professor, 1978-1986
Frank Trommler, Visiting Professor, 1980-1981
Marion Sperberg McQueen, Assistant Professor, 1981-1988
William Durden, Assistant Professor, 1981-
Arlene Wergin, Lecturer, 1981-
Liliane Weissberg, Assistant Professor, 1983-1990
Allen Weirick, Lecturer, 1984-
Werner Hamacher, Professor, 1985-
Donald Clark, Lecturer, 1985-
Ruediger Campe, Mellon Fellow, 1988-1990
Fritz Gutbrodt, Assistant Professor, 1989-
Hent de Vries, Visiting Scholar, 1989-


1.61 Cubic Feet (3 letter size document boxes, 1 legal size document box)

Language of Materials



The volume entitled "Teutonic Seminary Minutes" was transferred from Gilman storage. The three volumes of "Germanic Society Minutes" were probably also transferred from Gilman storage, although their exact provenance is unknown. Student and faculty records, and records of departmental publications and programs were transferred by Rita Braun, Administrative Assistant in the German Department.

Accession Number

79.42, 89.4, 89.32

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by James Knighton and Aravinda Pillalamarri.

Department of German records
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA