Letters from emigrants

Scope, contents and history of the collection

The Gotha Research Library preserves around 11,130 emigrant letters, which are available in as originals or copies. The letters were written by German emigrants to North America between 1820 and 1990 to their families and friends back home. The collection also includes 18 diaries, chronicles and travelogues with more than 100 pages.

In addition, the library preserves transcriptions for about 10,000 of these letters and provides about 2,000 copies of emigrant letters that have appeared in print, as well as references to over 4,000 other printed letters. Lists of emigrant letters in state, regional and local archives of the new federal states are kept. For approximately 454 letter series – a series comprises three or more letters from one writer – detailed biographical data and information material on the emigrants' hometown and place of residence in America are provided.

A total of about 25,000 pages of contextual material from archives and private collections, as well as material on other aspects of the German emigration to America, are available at the Gotha Research Library. The library is happy to provide teaching material on emigration in school lessons.

Research and use

Search tools
Further information on the history of the collection can be found on Prof. Lehmkuhl's website.

Emigrant letters can be consulted in the special reading room by appointment.
Notes on use and research of the emigrant letters collection

Scientific supervision:

Prof. Dr. Ursula Lehmkuhl, University of Trier



Head of Special Collections
(Gotha Research Library)
Forschungsbibliothek Gotha (Gotha, Schlossplatz 1)