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University of Wisconsin–Madison

North American Print Culture in the German Language: Growing the Collections of the Max Kade Institute at UW–Madison


The Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies (MKI) at UW–Madison is dedicated to researching
the stories of German-speaking immigrants and their descendants in a global, multicultural, and transdisciplinary context. A crucial part to this mission is preserving American print culture and personal
documents in the German language—historically one of the most widely spoken minority languages in
North America—and making them accessible to researchers from this campus and beyond.

The institute offers scholars an opportunity to hear some of the many different voices in our diverse society and to add the perspectives of Americans and Canadians past and present who communicate(d) in a language other than English to North American historiography.

With over 9,000 items, the Max Kade Institute Library and Archives are currently home to one of the
largest collections of German language materials printed in North America. There are, however, gaps in
the collection. With this project, MKI seeks to enrich and expand its collection through the purchase of
historical books published in the German language in North America, books published in Germany about
specific aspects of the German-American experience, collections of personal letters written in German by
and to immigrants, ephemera, and difficult-to-acquire secondary sources.

The efforts are focused in the following areas:
1) German-language materials produced early in America’s history from the 18th through the early 20th
centuries published in or about Mid-Atlantic, Southern, and Western states;
2) German-language materials from the 18th through the early 20th centuries published in or about
3) German-language materials published by and about the Pennsylvania Dutch, speakers of a German related
language that developed through immigration to Pennsylvania during the 18th century.

The benefits of these acquisitions will extend to faculty and students in many units including GNS+, History, Art History, the Center for Jewish Studies, Language Sciences, the Folklore Program, and Geography, and the iSchool, as well as to family and community researchers.


Mark Louden, Professor of Germanic Linguistics and Director of the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies


Kevin Kurdylo, German Language Humanities Librarian, Memorial Library


Antje Petty, Outreach Program Manager for the Max Kade Institute of German-American Studies