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Universitätsbibliothek Mainz

Brentano collection and other autographs

The autograph collection of the Mainz University Library contains more than 700 letters and other handwritten documents of historical personalities such as Georg Forster, Alexander von Humboldt and Maria Theresa. The most prominent part of the collection is the Brentano Collection, which was purchased in 1954 and includes numerous letters and manuscripts by Clemens Brentano and Bettina von Arnim, among others.

Clemens Brentano Special Collection

The Clemens Brentano Collection can be traced back to Franz Dessauer, an industrialist whose family maintained friendly relations with the Aschaffenburg branch of the Brentano family. In 1923 he bought the Brentano House in Aschaffenburg in order to set up a Brentano Museum. With the help of bookseller Pattloch, he collected manuscripts, first editions, and literature by and about the Brentano family. But the plan failed due to the economic crisis and the turmoil of war. The Brentano House was bombed, but the collection remained unharmed in the safes of the Pattloch bookstore. It was put up for sale in 1953 and acquired by Mainz University Library the following year.

In addition to the Brentano special holdings with their about 500 titles, Mainz University Library owns numerous autographs. This Clemens Brentano Collection includes correspondence and several manuscripts by Clemens Brentano and by members of his immediate and extended family, as well as individual items from this circle. Numerous autographs come from the written legacies of Bettina von Arnim. Anyone who has an academic interest can view the documents on request. Get an overview of all documents in the autograph portal Kalliope.

Or explore high-quality digital copies of the complete Brentano Collection in Gutenberg Capture.

Autograph Collection

The autograph collection was established as early as 1946 with the first antiquarian purchases of handwritten documents. In the 1950s and 1960s in particular, it was supplemented by further acquisitions. In addition to letters from historical figures, the collection contains a large number of lecture notes from various universities as well as individual manuscripts of different origins. An outstanding unique piece is the family book “Das Stammbuch des Königsberger Studenten C.H.B.”, which contains a handwritten entry and the last portrait of Immanuel Kant.

The autograph collection is largely accessible in the portal of the Kalliope Union. In a directory created by Peter Baader you will find a complete overview (PDF).


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Dr. Christian George
Dr. Christian George