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Frederick Henry Wilkens collection

Identifier: MS-0346

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Scope and Contents

The collection consists entirely of research material of philologist, Frederick Henry Wilkens, and reflects his two main interests: the influence of Germans on Anglo-Saxon art and literature and the origins of the German language. Most of the material is written in German although some of Wilkens's notes are in English. Some material is written in Friesian (an older spelling is Frisian) , a Low German language native to an ancient Teutonic tribe of Holland. Professor Wilkens traveled widely, and his notes contain materials found in archives and libraries from over ten different European countries. Included in the collection are copies of medieval German and Latin books and charters, hand written transcripts of documents on tracing paper, and Wilkens's notebooks.

Also in the collection are photostats of the research notes of German philologist, Eduard Sievers (1850-1932). Both Sievers and Wilkens were graduates of the University of Leipzig; both held academic positions and concentrated their research in the fields of phonetics and linguistics. Wilkens acquired the copies from the University Library in Leipzig after the death of Sievers.

Most of the material in the collection was the basis for Wilken's published volumes and journal articles: Zum hochalemanischen Konsonantismus der althochdeutschen Zeit, (Leipzig: G. Fock, 1891). "The Manuscript, orthography, and dialect of the Hildenbrandslied," Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, (Baltimore 1897) 12:226-250.

Early influence of German Literature in America, (New York: MacMillan, 1900).
"G.H.C. Egestorff's first stay in England and his translation of Klopstok's Messiah," Americana Germanica, (New York 1902) 4: 292-298. "The Source of Kleist's Review: Uber den Zustand der Schwartzen im America," Modern Language Notes (1931), 46: 111-118. "Obituary of Eduard Sievers," Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, (1932) 47: 607-608.


  • Creation: 1896-1939


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Collection is open for use.

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

Dr. Frederick Henry Wilkens was born in Baltimore on November 8, 1865, the son of a German emigrant mercantile family. He attended high school both in Germany and in Baltimore. Wilkens received the A.B. degree at The Johns Hopkins University in the summer of 1884. Afterwards, he returned to Germany where he attended the University of Berlin for two years studying classic philology and philosophy. In 1886, he moved to the University of Leipzig, where he graduated with a Ph.D. in German philology, 1891. He returned to the United States to pursue an academic career.

With the help of Johns Hopkins professor of philology, Basil L. Gildersleeve, he became an associate professor in German philology at Wisconsin University (1893-1896). He returned to Hopkins as a fellow by courtesy (1896-1900) before teaching at Union College and Cornell University. In 1904, he was appointed to a position at New York University where he was eventually promoted to professor of German Philology. Professor Wilkens was an active member of the Modern Language Association, and he wrote many reviews of books published in German for Modern Language Notes, a magazine issued by Johns Hopkins on philology. Professor Wilkens made frequent trips to Germany for his ongoing research, and he died in Berlin, August 1, 1939, a few weeks before Germany attacked Poland.


10.53 Cubic Feet (17 letter size document boxes, 8 legal size document boxes, 1 custom box (20 x 13.5 x 2 inches))

Language of Materials



The collection consists entirely of research material of philologist, Frederick Henry Wilkens, dating from 1896-1939 which reflects his two main interests: the influence of Germans on Anglo-Saxon art and literature and the origins of the German language.


The collection has been artificially arranged into four series to organize important areas of Wilkens's research. Series 1: St. Gallen Charters; Series 2: German-Americans; Series 3: Eduard Sievers Research Material; Series 4: Medieval Studies.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was received by the German Department after Frederick Henry Wilkens's death in 1939.


Sources: Frederick Wilkens, Zum Hochalemanischen Konsonatismus der Althochdeutschen Zeit. Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung der Philosophische Dokterwuerde der Universiaet Leipzig, (Leipzig: Gustav Fock, 1891). Obituaries, The New York Times, August 2, 1939.

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Ernst Pijning in March 1993.

Frederick Henry Wilkens collection
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