German Literature | Newberry

German Literature

Heinrich Quentell's Bibel from Cologne, circa 1478

Heinrich Quentell. Bibel. [1478]. VAULT folio Inc. 1252.


The Newberry Library has a strong collection in European history and literature, especially that related to Christianity. German materials include early Bibles and items related to Ottilie von Goethe, daughter-in-law of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. 

You can use this research guide for information on Searching the Catalog, Reference Sources in English, Hightlights from the Newberry Library Collections, Publications about the Newberry Library Collections, Digital Resources, and Collections at Other Institutions

Searching the Catalog

To find books on German literature in our collection, you can search by subject in our catalog using the following headings (subject searching is slightly better in the Classic, rather than Vu-Find, interface for the catalog):

German literature

Authors, German

German drama

German poetry

Fairy tales – Germany

You may also search by title or author, if either of these is known.

Many of our German literature resources are in German. To view these resources, search in Newberry’s catalog for the subject German literature. If you click on the “More Limits” button, you can also limit by language.

For those items listed as on the 3rd floor Reference shelves, you might also consider looking at the call numbers around those books, since there should be materials dealing with similar topics nearby. All items with a “Ref” call number can be viewed on the open shelves on the 3rd floor. General and Special Collections items must be retrieved by staff.

Reference Sources in English

Garland, Henry and Mary Garland. The Oxford Companion to German Literature. Oxford [Eng.] : Clarendon Press, 1976. Location: 3rd floor Reference. Call number: Ref PT41 .G3.

Hardin, James and Christoph Schweitzer, eds. German Writers from the Enlightenment to Sturm und Drang, 1720-1764. Detroit : Gale Research, c1990. Location: 3rd floor Reference. Call number: Ref PN451 .D5 v.97.

Highlights from the Newberry Library Collections*

Related to Ottilie von Goethe (daughter-in-law of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe):

Goethe, August von. August und Ottilie von Goethe : neue Briefe. Weimar : H. Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1964. Love letters of August and Ottilie. Call number: 5A 3099.

Goethe, Ottilie von. Aus Ottilie von Goethes Nachlass… Weimar : Goethe-Gesellschaft, 1912-13. Chiefly the correspondence of Ottilie von Goethe with Sibylle Mertens-Schaaffhausen (notable figure in German society, who had a serious interest in archaeology and held salons for prominent artists and intellectuals) Adele Schopenhauer (sister of the philosopher). Call number: Y 952 .G733493 v. 27-28.

Goethe, Ottilie von. Chaos. Bern : H. Lang, c1968. Reprint of journal edited by Ottilie. Call number: PN5220 .C42 1968.

Goethe, Ottilie von. Ottilie von Goethe : Erlebnisse und Geständnisse, 1832-1857. Leipzig : Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1923. Call number: E 5 .G711.

Jameson, Mrs. (Anna). Letters of Anna Jameson to Ottilie von Goethe. London: Oxford University Press, 1939. Letters of a friend of Ottilie’s that, among other things, make clear Ottilie’s affair with Charles Sterling, which resulted in a child that Ottilie bore in Vienna. Call number: E 5 .J23294.

Ottilie von Goethe Papers. [These are still unprocessed, so a prior appointment is necessary to view them. Please contact Reference at to make an appointment.]

Pre-Lutheran Low German Bibles:

Quentell, Heinrich. Bibel. Cologne : [Heinrich Quentell, 1478?]. Notes by Nicolaus de Lyra, well-known Franciscan theologian and famous for his biblical exegesis. Call number: VAULT folio Inc. 1252.

Stephan, Arndes. Die Bibel. Lübeck : Stephan Arndes, 19 Nov. 1494. Call number: folio Inc. 2645.

Trutebul, Ludwig. Biblia dudesch dat erste [-ander] deell. Halberstadt : [Ludwig Trutebul?], 1522. Call number: Bonaparte 9947.

*Taken from Heinz Bluhm’s article, “The Newberry Library ‘Goetheana’ : A Preliminary Report on the Chicago Find,” The Newberry Library Bulletin 5.5 (1960): 173-185, Call number: Z 79.N 4112 and photocopy in checklist area.

Publications about the Newberry Library Collections

Bluhm, Heinz. “The Newberry Library ‘Goetheana’: A Preliminary Report on the Chicago Find.” The Newberry Library Bulletin 5.5 (1960): 173-185. Call number: Z881 .C5246b and photocopy in checklist area.

Hawgood, John A. “A German-American Library of the Wilhelminische Zeit.” The Newberry Library Bulletin 4.7 (1957): 211-221. Call number: Z881 .C5246b and photocopy in checklist area.

Digital Resources


Most of the databases at the Newberry are subscription databases; therefore access is available to registered readers only within the library building. Those listed below are subscription databases.

JSTOR: Provides full-text access to an archive of major scholarly journals. Contains complete runs from their first volumes up through approximately five years ago.

ProjectMuse: Provides full-text access to recent volumes of scholarly journals in the arts and humanities published by Johns Hopkins University Press and journals of other university presses.

For a comprehensive list of all our databases, visit our Databases webpage.


Yale’s research guide on German digital texts: a wealth of recommended resources covering German literature of many different periods

LitLinks: German and translated texts

Erlanger Liste: German texts, organized by genre, including literature

Collections at Other Institutions

German Society of Pennsylvania: largest collection of German language materials in the U.S. outside a university

Yale University: its collection of German literature, one of the oldest collections at Yale, is especially strong in 17th-century and Goethe materials