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Heinz Bluhm papers

Collection BC-1996-078: Heinz Bluhm papers


  • Creation: 1824-1993
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1927 - 1993

Scope and Contents

The Heinz Bluhm papers document the professor’s personal life and academic work. They include his professional materials, such as correspondence with archives, universities, and other scholars; his publishers, Bergland Verlag and Peter Lang Verlag; and journals where Bluhm’s reviews appeared. The bulk of Bluhm's correspondence dates from 1942 to 1993. This collection also features texts about Goethe, Nietzsche, Herder, and Schiller, as well as speeches from 1929 to 1989. It contains a Biblical Quotation Index which lists New and Old Testament citations from the Bible and the Weimar Ausgabe. Bluhm’s "fictional writings” consist of stories in which he describes parts of his life but with a fictional character as the central figure.

Other material includes Bluhm’s diaries, notes from lectures he attended at the University of Wisconsin, class schedules, exams, and course evaluation reports of his own classes. The cassettes and reel-to-reel magnetic tapes are recordings of lectures and speeches. The photographs in the collection are of Heinz Bluhm and his family.

Less information is available regarding Professor Bluhm's work as Chairman and professor of Germanic Studies at Boston College.


Language of Materials

English, German

Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research. Audio materials in Series I may not be available immediately for use as they will require reformatting; please contact the Burns Library in advance for access to audio materials.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note

Heinz Bluhm was born in Halle, Germany on November 23, 1907, the only child of Fritz and Louise Bluhm. The first eighteen years of his life he lived in Halle and Magdeburg, Germany. In 1924 the family immigrated to Oshkosh, Wisconsin where relatives of Louise Bluhm had lived since 1882.

Bluhm went to high school in Oshkosh and to Northwestern College in Watertown, Wisconsin, graduating in 1928. He then went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison to do graduate work in German and Classics. A University Fellowship in German made it possible for Bluhm to earn a master's degree in 1929 and a doctoral degree in 1932. While writing his dissertation on "The Reception of Goethe's Faust in England in the Second Half of the 19th Century," Yale University offered Bluhm an assistantship for one year (1930-1931). While at Yale he was able to do research in the Goethe collection. Back in Madison, Bluhm worked as a full-time instructor in German until 1937, when Yale offered him a faculty position. Two years later he became an Assistant Professor. On August 15, 1938 Heinz Bluhm married Helen McClure Berrn. They had four children: Peter, Louise, Margaret, and Christopher.

During his first years at Yale Bluhm's research was focused mainly on Nietzsche, and he published several articles. Soon after, however, Bluhm's interest shifted to Martin Luther and Goethe. His scholarly attention focused on these figures through the later years of his career. While at Yale, Bluhm started to work on an "Index Verborum," a reference guide to the essential words in Martin Luther’s writings from 1516 through 1525.

In 1966 Heinz Bluhm was asked to teach two courses at Boston College. After thirty years at Yale, he accepted a professorship at Boston College in 1967. One year later Bluhm founded the Germanic Studies Department.

In 1971 Germany honored Bluhm’s contributions to German culture with the "Bundesverdienstkreuz." Between 1980 and 1993 Bluhm won several Newberry Library Fellowships and during the summer he often travelled to Chicago. At the Newberry Library he conducted research for the publication of the letters and diaries of Ottilie von Goethe, daughter-in-law of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the publisher of the nineteenth century magazine "Chaos."

Although Heinz Bluhm retired in June, 1976, he continued to teach at Boston College and work on his Luther project until about a week before his death on November 21, 1993.


"Biographical information," Box 51, folder 9-10, Heinz Bluhm papers, BC.1996.078, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

"Vita mea (for Peter)", Box 30, Folder 1, Heinz Bluhm papers, BC.1996.078, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.


20.25 Linear Feet (51 containers)


Papers documenting the life and work of twentieth-century German scholar Heinz Bluhm, a Professor of Germanic Studies at Boston College. Includes correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, research notes, and teaching material. The bulk of the papers concern Martin Luther, Goethe, and related topics in German.


Arranged into eight series: I. Autobiographical; II. Correspondence; III. Course materials; IV. Personal items; V. Photographs VI. Recordings; VII. Research; and VIII. Writings.


Received as a distribution of the estate of Heinz Bluhm through William A. Essley, executor (1994).

Related Materials

Ottilie von Goethe Papers (Modern.MS.Goethe), The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts, Chicago, Illinois.

Heinz Bluhm Papers
1824-1993 (bulk 1927-1993)
Monika Schmatz
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States