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The American Studies Collection at SUB Göttingen

Göttingen State and University Library houses one of the largest and most wide-ranging American Studies collections in Europe, encompassing historical and contemporary primary sources as well as scholarly publications on American history, culture, literature, folklore, politics and geography. The collection features books, journals, maps, microforms and photographic prints as well as digitized copies of historical documents.

Starting with its foundation in 1734, Göttingen University Library has been collecting books and other materials from and relating to the British colonies on the North American continent since the University’s founder, Georg August, Duke of Hanover, also ruled Great Britain in personal union (as King George II). 

Among the most important historical sources of the collection are two editions of the famous Columbus letter describing his first voyage and a copy of the first American census of 1790 bearing the handwritten name of Thomas Jefferson. 

Parts of the collection of 18th and 19th century Americana, among them a variety of travel reports in both German and English, have been digitized. You can browse this collection on the website of the Göttingen Digitisation Centre (Americana, Itineraria, VD17 and VD18). 

Apart from entertaining business relations to book-sellers abroad, the library also benefitted from the generosity of some of its famous patrons: Shortly before his death, the financier John Pierpont (J. P.) Morgan, who studied at Göttingen University in 1856/57, donated money to the library for the purchase of English and American books. He also presented the library with a copy of the expensive twenty-volume edition of Edward Sheriff Curtis's The North American Indian (including photogravure plates), a massive documentary project that he had helped finance.

The library’s historical collection has been continually supplemented by items bought at national and international auctions, among them first and rare editions of major 19th century literary works such as Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass(1855) and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick

After World War II, SUB Göttingen was tasked by the German Research Foundation (DFG) to collect primary sources and scholarly literature pertaining to the United States of America as part of its Special Subject Collections Programme. This resulted in a substantial collection of contemporary German and international research literature comprised of both books and journals. The collection of primary literature contains editions of historical sources (both in print and on microform) as well as editions of literary texts representative of a large variety of genres: Volumes of contemporary poetry published in limited editions, literature of the fantastic (science fiction, horror, fantasy), crime fiction, anthologies of short stories, regional and non-fiction writing as well as literary magazines.

Tips for exploring American Studies in the Göttingen collections

Further Reading

1776 Independence: Die amerikanische Revolution im Spiegel zeitgenössischer Druckwerke. Ausstellung 1976. Göttingen: Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, 1976. Arbeiten aus der Niedersächsischen Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen 14.

Eck, Reimer, ed. Nordamerika aus der Sicht europäischer Reisender: Bücher, Ansichten und Texte aus vier Jahrhunderten. Ausstellung der Niedersächsischen Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen, der Niedersächsischen Landesbibliothek Hannover und des Amerika-Hauses in Hannover. Hannover: Amerika-Haus, 1991.

The American Studies Collection at the Branch Library North American Studies, University Library of the FU Berlin

The Branch Library North American Studies of the University Library of Freie Universität Berlin holds the largest North American Studies collection in Germany. In addition to books and journals pertaining to a broad range of subjects, it holds extensive collections of newspapers, comics and TV series. Please visit the library's website for more information.

American and Canadian Newspapers

Supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Branch Library of North American Studies of the University Library of the Freie Universität Berlin has been collecting North American newspapers and news magazines since 1975. In 2011, this collection was transformed into the special subject collection "North American Newspapers" (SSG 7.261) within the DFG's special subject collections programme. Since 2016, several newspaper subscriptions have been funded as part of the funding of the Library of Anglo-American Culture and History (FID AAC). The Branch Library of North American Studies offers extensive holdings for more than 1.500 historical and modern American and Canadian newspapers, including newspapers published by German exile communities in the U.S.

All of the newspapers are archived on microfilm and made available via interlibrary loan and on site at the Branch Library North American Studies in Berlin. All newspapers can be found by using the library's search engine Primo. Select the tab "Zeitschriften" and type in the beginning of the title of the newspaper you are looking for. Currently, the library is subscribing to the following newspapers on microfilm: 

  • Le Devoir
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Boston Globe
  • New York Times
  • USA Today
  • Washington Post
  • Chicago Tribune

Comics & TV Series

Shelves Stacked with DVDs
Shelves Stacked with DVDs

The Comics Collection

In 2013, the Comics Collection at the Branch Library North American Studies (then the Library of the John F. Kennedy Institute) began to develop systematically, although it had been part of the holdings since the early 1970s. With the help of the Einstein Foundation, we bought more than 500 collections of historical newspaper comic strips, superhero anthologies of all periods, collections of important artists and writers, graphic novels and other current and historical examples of North American graphic narrative art.

Thanks to a cooperation with the Comic Arts Collection at Michigan State University donating its duplicates to the library, our collection of comic books is growing continually. The range of comic books covers genres and time periods from Action Comics of the 1960s and 70s, to science fiction comics of the 1980s, to current superhero comics.

In 2015, Wolfgang J. Fuchs donated his collection of "National Lampoon" and "Crazy" to the library. Both have been popular humor magazines in the 1970s and 80s and contain lots of comics, cartoons, fumetti, and written pieces, thus enriching our holdings.

Along with other popular primary sources, such as movies, TV series, magazines or newspapers, comics serve as a regular source for research and teaching at the JKFI and other research institutes. They were of special interest to the Research Unit "Popular Seriality - Aesthetics and Practice" (2010-2016).


The TV Series Collection

With more than 3.300 movies and television series, the Branch Library North American Studies of the University Library of the FU Berlin is home to the most extensive special collection of North American motion pictures in Germany. Since the 1980s, important movies and documentaries from and about the United States and Canada have been collected. Since 2013, North American TV series are being acquired as well. This part of the collection is currently funded as part of the Library AAC and both TV series and comics are available via interlibrary loan. They are listed in Primo, FU Berlin's central library portal.


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