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William Kurrelmeyer papers

Identifier: MS-0002

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of over 1600 items of correspondence and manuscripts of 18th and 19th century German literary figures, as well as seven manuscripts from the 15th century. Of particular importance are the letters of Christoph Martin Wieland, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and a letter of Friedrich von Schiller.

Numerous letters are addressed to Hermann Costenoble of Jena whose publishing house handled the works of Gutzkow, Gerstucker and much of the relationship between author and publisher which was characteristic of the 19th century. Johannes Kleinpaul, scholarly collaborator of the University of Leipzig, writer and editor of various periodicals, was also the recipient of many letters. There is also considerable correspondence of such authors as Friedrich von Bodenstedt, Friedrich Gerstocker, Karl Ferdinand Gutzkow, Paul Heyse, and Luise Muhlback.

A small number of personal items comprises Series 3 contained in Box 1. Among the items are a catalog of the literary papers prepared by Professors Lieselotte E. Kurth and William H. McClain published in Sonderdruck aus dem Jahrbuch der deutschen Schillergesellschaft in 1967, pamphlets, the German Society of MD, and a few of Kurrelmeyer's notes.

There are seven parchment documents dating from 1407 to 1498 which have not been translated.


  • Creation: 1400-1913


Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical Note

William Kurrelmeyer, professor of German, collector of rare books and manuscripts and one of America's leading scholars in the field of German studies, was born in Osnabruck, Germany on January 17, 1874. He was brought to Baltimore by his father, Eberhard Kurrelmeyer, in 1882 and attended Baltimore City College, and later The Johns Hopkins University where he received his A.B. degree in 1896 and his Ph.D. in 1899. From 1899-1900 he was professor of Modern Languages at Franklin and Marshall College. In 1900 he came to Hopkins where he rose from instructor to professor until 1927 when he was appointed head of the German Department, a position he held until his retirement as professor emeritus in 1944. In 1902 he married Carrie May Herrman, and they were the parents of Bernhard Kurrelmeyer and Carrie May Kurrelmeyer Zintl. William Kurrelmeyer died in Baltimore, October 9, 1957.

Kurrelmeyer's writings included more that 100 books and articles in his field. He did extensive research and writing as part of his many travels to Germany. In 1916, he became editor of Modern Language Notes. He edited a ten-volume translation of the pre-Lutheran German Bible and a multi-volume work of German lexicography. Modern Language Notes dedicated its May 1953 issue to Kurrelmeyer and expressed the opinion that the Baltimore professor had brought to light more German words than anyone in recent years. Kurrelmeyer acquired a library of more than 25,000 volumes primarily German literature of the 18th and 19th centuries. In seven gifts between 1950 and 1957, he presented most of these books to The Johns Hopkins University. Of particular interest is Kurrelmeyer's Wieland collection said by many to be the finest collection of Wieland in the world. This includes holography letters of Christoph Martin Wieland and the first editions of all his works, the result of more than 30 years of collecting by Kurrelmeyer.


5.2 Cubic Feet (1 letter size document box, 8 legal size document boxes, 2 legal half-size document boxes, 1 flat box (20.5 x 14.5 x 1.5 inches), 1 flat box (15.5 x 12 x 3 inches))

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

A legacy online finding aid for this collection is available:

A catalog of the Kurrelmeyer Collection of manuscripts was prepared by Professors Lieselotte E. Kurth and William H. McClain and published in Sonderdruck aus dem Jahrbuch der Deutschen Schillergesellschaft. A copy is included in the collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was bequeathed to Kurrelmeyer to the JHU library. Kurrelmeyer collected the material over a number of years.


The manuscripts are described in Kurth, Lieselotte E. and William H. McClain, "Dichterhandschriften in der Bibliothek der Johns Hopkins-Universität, Baltimore," Sonderdruck aus dem Jahrbuch der Deutschen Schillergesellschaft--XI/1967 pp. 614-30--

Processing Information

This collection was processed by M. C. Beecheno in June 1988.

William Kurrelmeyer papers
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

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