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Germanic languages & literatures collection

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Collection description

The Library's excellent collection of materials in historic and comparative German linguistics, one of the strongest in the U.S., is based on the library of the Rostock philologist and folklorist Reinhold Bechstein (1833-1894) that was acquired by Penn in 1896. There is a 1,600 volume Frisian collection and a relatively strong collection of scholarship on German dialects and old Scandinavian. A core collection of Yiddish books was donated in the 1990s through the National Yiddish Book Center. Special Collections houses a collection of some 900 books published during the Nazi era.

The collections in German literature are strong general collections, adequate to support graduate study and much faculty research.

The focus has always been on works by and about canonical authors, although the emergence of cultural studies and a new interest in women and minority authors have brought a significant expansion to the scope of the collection e.g., the acquisition of a rare run of the Weimar women's journal Die Dame.

In recent years the Library's collections in support of the study of German literature, history and culture has expanded to includes significant numbers of Hörbücher (especially of authors reading their own works) and German films, of which, as of 2019, there are some 1,800+ German titles on video and DVD.

Large microform sets include the two major U.S. German Baroque collections, two collections of sixteenth century Flugschriften, and the collection Deutsche Zeitschriften des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts.

The library provides networked access to long runs of journals provided under the rubric DigiZeitschriften ("the German JSTOR"), to the Bibliothek deutscher Klassiker and the complete works of Goethe (the so-called Weimarer or Sophien Ausgabe).

Links to special collections will go here if they exist.
Links to policies will go here if they exist.

Doing research

Research guides

Germanic Languages & Literatures - Research Guide


Bibliographie der deutschen Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft (BDSL)  |  Historical Abstracts  |  MLA International Bibliography  |  Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA)  |  KVK - Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog

Reference works

Major journals

Research guides


There are many more databases, reference works, academic journals and resources that could be useful for your research beyond what can be listed above. If you are interested in identifying other potentially sources for your research, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Charles Cobine directly by email at cobine@upenn.edu, or schedule an appointment:

Schedule an appointment with Charles