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William A. Speck collection of prints.

Call Number: YCGL MSS 11

Scope and Contents

The William A. Speck Collection of Prints contains portraits, views and illustrations documenting the life, work, and reception of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The collection is housed in 42 boxes, plus numerous broadside folders, and consists of three series: Portraits, Views, and Illustrations. While most of the collection is composed of prints, other formats may also be found, including watercolors, silhouettes, printed ephemera, and a few photographs.

Series I, Portraits is arranged alphabetically by name. Series II, Views is arranged by country, and within that by city. It should be noted that the place names in Series II are those that were in use in the 1920s and 30s, when most of the collection was cataloged, and therefore may not reflect current usage or political divisions.

The Portraits series includes portraits of Goethe and of his associates, but also includes many contemporaries not closely associated with the poet. The Views and Illustrations focus more narrowly on Goethe himself, his life and work, depicting places where Goethe lived or visited, or which he discussed in his works, particularly Weimar, and scenes and characters from Goethe's works, in particular Faust.

In addition to this listing, which was compiled by labeling on the files, a card index exists in the curator's office, which provides access by artist name to many, though probably not all, works encompassed in this collection. These cards also may contain additional information, including such things as names of engraver, place of creation, date of creation, and bibliographic citations. For further information about the card index, consult the appropriate curator.


  • circa 1750-1850




Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The William A. Speck Collection of Prints is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was built by the library by gift and purchase from various sources. These include a core group of prints collected by William A. Speck and brought to Yale when he accepted the position of curator of the Yale Collection of German Literature; items purchased for the collection with Yale funds by Speck, including approximately 3750 prints from the Berg Collection, or received as gifts during his tenure; and materials acquired since by the library, by gift or purchase.


38.77 Linear Feet ((42 boxes) + 13 broadside drawers)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Print collection of portraits, views, and illustrations focused on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The portraits are of persons associated with Goethe, and include an extensive file on Goethe. The views are of places where Goethe lived or visited, particularly Weimar, and the illustrations are of scenes and characters from Goethe's works.

Processing Information

This finding aid will be updated once final folder numbering and labeling have been completed. The date of the update will be noted on the title page.
Guide to the William A. Speck Collection of Prints
by Beinecke Staff
December 1999
Language of description
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2010-02-10: Transformed with yale.addEadidUrl.xsl. Adds @url with handle for finding aid. Overwrites @url if already present.
  • 2007-08-13: beinecke.prints.xml converted for compliance with Yale EAD Best Practice Guidelines with brbl-migrate-01.xsl (mr2007-08-13).
  • 2007-03-08: PUBLIC "-//Yale University::Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library//TEXT (US::CtYBR::::[WILLIAM A. SPECK COLLECTION OF PRINTS ])//EN" "prints.xml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).

Repository Details

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977