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Ernst Moritz Arndt collection

Call Number: MS 378


Correspondence sent to Hartmuth Arndt (1824-1876), son of German poet, educator, and political figure Ernst Moritz Arndt (1769-1860) while he was in Germany and later in the United States. About half the letters are from Hartmuth's father, often signing himself as "EMA." The collection also includes several photographs of various Arndt and extended family members, as well as additional 20th and 21st century materials. These secondary materials include transcriptsion of the Ernst Moritz Arndt letters, Arndt family genealogy, and documentation of the donation of the collection to the Max Kade Center at the University of Kansas in the early 2000s.


  • Creation: 1843-1913; 1948-1961; 2002-2005


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

History of the Arndt family

Ernst Moritz Arndt (1769-1860) was the son of Ludwig Nikolaus Arndt (1740-1808), who bought himself out of serfdom from Count Malte Friedrich zu Putbus shortly before Arndt's birth, and Friederike Wilhellmine Schumacher Arndt (1747-1804), a farmer's daughter. Arndt had at least one sister, Charlotte Dorothea, who married a Rassow. Arndt was instructed by tutors and at the grammar school associated with Straaslund's St. Catherine's Monastery for his early education. Later he completed his Gymnasium education and then studied at the Universities of Greifswald and Jena.

Arndt qualified for the Lutheran ministry, but at the age of 28 he decided instead to travel throughout Europe. These travels, at the very end of the 18th century, included seeing Rheinish castles destroyed in the French Revolution and previous wars, which helped solidify his dislike of the French and strengthened his German nationalism. He published an account of his travels, Reisen durch einen Theil Deutschlands, Ungarns, Italiens, und Frankreichs in den Jahren 1798/99 (1801-1804), starting his publishing career.

In 1800 Arndt asked for and received a lectureship in history at the University of Greifswald. In 1806, three years after Arndt published Versuch einer Geschichte der Leibeigenschaft in Pommern und Rügen providing a history of and denouncing serfdom in Pomerania, the region between the Oder and Vistula Rivers that has in more recent years been divided between Poland and Germany. The work was so influential that it contributed in 1806 to the Swedish King Gustav IV abolishing serfdom in the region.

Arndt was appointed chair of history at Greifswald in 1806. During these years he worked on his anti-Napoleonic work Geist der Zeit and had to spend some time in Sweden to escape Napoleonic troops. Later, after Prussia allied with Russia against Napoleon, Arndt traveled to St. Petersburg as private secretary to Freiherr vom Stein, another individual interested in raising German national consciousness. Arndt continued publishing patriotic German, anti-French songs, poems, and other writings during this time.

Arndt joined the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Bonn in 1818, where he was appointed a professor of history. However, he was suspended from teaching in 1820 because of his criticism of the Prussian government. Eventually he was reinstated in 1840.

After the outbreak of revolution across the German states in 1848, Arndt served as a representative in the Frankfurt National Assembly. He resigned from the position in 1849 after Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV refused to accept the crown from a democratic parliament. Arndt returned to academic life, continuing to write in a patriotic German vein, as well as religious poems and an autobiography. Arndt has more recently become a controversial figure in German culture due to anti-French, anti-Semitic, and anti-Polish strains in his German nationalism.

Ernst Moritz Arndt married Johanna Maria Charlotte Quistrop. They had one child before her death in 1801, Karl Moritz (1801-1885, known as "Karl Treu"). Ernst later married Nanna Maria Louise Schleiermacher (1786-1869) in 1817, with whom he had several more children: Karl Siegerich (1819-1869), Ludwig Roderich (1821-1862), Gottfried Heinrich Leubold (1822-?), Frederich Hartmuth (1824-1876, known as "Muth"), Gustav Willibald (1825-1834), and Nanna Wilhelmina Dorothea Mathilde (1827-1860). Karl Treu had at least one son, Siegmar Carl (1836-1917), who emigrated to the United States, marrying Dorothea Franck and living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Arndt's youngest daughter Nanna married Ernst Nitzsch.

Hartmuth Arndt emigrated to the United States in 1855. He probably married Emilie (often listed as "Amelia" on U.S. census records) Staege (1835-1915) after arriving in the U.S. They had three children, Anna Hermine Ernestine Arndt (1858-1943), born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Maria Anna Dorothea (1860-1897), born in Columbus, Mississippi; and Wilhelmine Katharine, or Minnie, born in 1863 in Florida and died in 1877 in Kansas. By 1870, according to census records, the family were living in Wyandotte County, Kansas. After Hartmuth's death, Emilie remarried J.J. Treat, a machinist, and remained in Wyandotte County until her death.

[Information retrieved from "Ernst Moritz Arndt,"; Harold Sack, "Ernst Moritz Arndt - Key Figure of the German Nationalism" on the SciHi Blog; and collection materials.]


.75 Linear Feet (2 document cases +1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



Scope and Contents

The bulk of this small collection consists of family correspondence to Frederich Hartmuth Arndt. Approximately half the letters are from Arndt's father, the writer and historian Ernst Moritz Arndt; the rest of the letters are from Hartmuth's aunt Charlotte Dorothea Rassow, his younger sister Nanna and her husband Ernst Nitzsch, and from other family members and acquaintances. All the correspondence is in German.

There are also 51 cartes de visite (CDVs), or mid-19th century photographic prints, associated with the collection. These portraits portray Arndt family members and extended relations, including one CDV of Ernst Moritz Arndt. The bulk of the photographs are identified in 19th century German handwritten script.

Additionally the collection contains 20th and 21st century materials about the correspondence, some from a University of Illinois graduate student who worked with the letters in 1948 and the rest from the Max Kade Center at the University of Kansas, which acquired the letters and CDVs, along with some other materials, in 2002.

Physical Location

MS 378

Physical Location

MS Q102

Custodial History

The collection was kept by Hartmuth Arndt family descendants until Grant and Ellen Kelley donated the materials, including some three-dimensional objects, to the Max Kade Center at the University of Kansas in 2002. The Max Kade Center transferred the correspondence, photographs, and secondary materials to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library in 2021 in order to aid access to the textual and photographic materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift to the Max Kade Center, Grant and Ellen (Schultheis) Kelley, 2002. Transferred to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, 2021.


  • Erhart, Walter and Arne Koch. Ernest Moritz Arndt (1769-1860): Deutscher Nationalismus--Europa--Transatlantische Perspektiven. Tübingen : Niemeyer, 2007. Available at KU Libraries at DD86.7.A8 E76 2007.
Guide to the Ernst Moritz Arndt Collection
Ernst Moritz Arndt collection
Finding aid prepared by mwh. Finding aid encoded by mwh.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Ernst Moritz Arndt collection, MS 378, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States