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Curt von Faber du Faur papers

Call Number: YCGL MSS 23

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of material generated by Curt von Faber du Faur as author, collector, literary historian, curator of the Yale Collection of German Literature, and Yale faculty member. Material comprises writings, including drafts of literary and critical works, articles, lectures, and essays; correspondence; and personal papers.


  • circa 1936-1966


Language of Materials

In English and German.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

Box 26 and 27 (audiovisual material): Restricted fragile materials. Regerence copies may be requested. Consult Access Serivices for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Curt von Faber du Faur Papers 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

Bequest of Curt von Faber du Faur, 1966.


The collection is organized into seven series: I. Literary Works, 1930s. II. Books and Book Projects, 1936-1966. III. Graduate Courses: Lectures and Notes, 1949-1961. IV. Articles, Lectures, and Research Notes by Topic, 1946-1960. V. Correspondence. VI. Personal Papers. VII. Writings by Others.


9.68 Linear Feet (27 boxes)

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The collection consists of material generated by Curt von Faber du Faur as author, collector, literary historian, curator of the Yale Collection of German Literature, and Yale faculty member. Material comprises writings, including drafts of literary and critical works, articles, lectures, and essays; correspondence; and personal papers.

Curt von Faber du Faur (1890-1966)

Curt von Faber du Faur, Yale professor and Curator of the Yale Collection of German Literature, was born in Stuttgart, Germany, on July 5, 1890. In 1958, he provided this biographical information on a questionnaire sent to him by the Yale University Press, which was about to issue the first volume of his catalog, German Baroque Literature.

“I was an officer in the German Army, from 1909-1919. Left January 1919, studied History of Art and German Literature at Munich and Giessen. Settled as an antiquarian in Munich 1923. Transferred my home to Florence, Italy, 1931. Lived there farming olives, wheat and wine. Wrote criticism and articles for “Frankfurter Zeitung”. Emigrated to America, March, 1939. Was book collector since 1911. Offered my collection as a loan to Harvard University where it stood from 1939 to 1944. Lectured at Harvard. Sold the collection to Yale 1944. Became Research Associate, 1944, Research Professor February 1951.”

A few facts may be added to this modest autobiographical sketch. On his father’s side, Faber was descended from a distinguished military family and also from the French jurist and poet, Guy de Faur, seigneur de Pibrac (1529-84), a friend of Ronsard. Faber’s mother was descended from the Cottas, publishers to Goethe and numerous other writers.

In the army, Faber held the rank of lieutenant; his discharge came about because of illness. After graduate study in Munich and Giessen, he was awarded his PhD in art history by the latter university. His dissertation, on a late fifteenth-century south German engraver and painter, was published as Der Hausbuchmeister (Berlin, Gloria-Verlag, 1921).

During the 1920s, he was in contact with the circle around the poet Stefan George, where he met his future wife, Emma Schabert, née Mock, widow of Rufus Blake. Their marriage took place in 1928. (The Yale Collection of German Literature counts among its holdings Faber’s heavily annotated copies of George’s poetry cycles.)

Faber’s career as an antiquarian bookseller was distinguished. In 1923 he and Dr. Georg Karl founded the firm Karl & Faber in Munich, which grew to be one of Germany’s major auction houses for antiquarian books and art. The firm still does business, after several name changes, as Hartung & Hartung. Among the early catalogs published by the Karl & Faber was Sammlung Victor Manheimer. Deutsche Barockliteratur von Opitz bis Brockes (Katalog 27, 1927), which Faber wrote with Karl Wolfskehl.

While “farming olives, wheat and wine” in Italy in the 1930s, Faber also wrote and published a volume of poetry and three Expressionist plays: Uffizien. 14 Gedichte (Florence, 1933); Das grüne Blut. Dramatisches Gedicht (Munich, 1936); Der Abfall. Dramatisches Gedicht (Munich, 1937), and St. Satyros. Dramatisches Gedicht (Munich, 1937).

Oral tradition at Yale has always maintained that Curt von Faber du Faur abandoned Harvard in favor of Yale because Harvard did not grant him faculty rank. (In the retained administrative files of the Yale Collection of German Literature, there is a folder of material documenting the actual negotiations between Yale and Faber.) At Yale, his initial appointment was as Research Associate in German Literature and Bibliography and Associate Curator of the German Literature Collection (Carl Schreiber was still curator of the Speck Collection at that time). By 1951 he had been promoted to Research Professor in German Literature and Bibliography and by 1955 he was sole curator of the library collection. During these years he held visiting lectureships at Columbia University (1949/50) and in the Middlebury College summer school (1951).

Faber was a fellow of Davenport College at Yale and a trustee of the Yale Library Associates. His major honors included the Yale Medal (1964), the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of German ( Bundesverdienstkreuz, 1965), and the gold Goethe Medal of the Goethe Institut (1966). He was a member of the Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung in Darmstadt. Among his friends were Richard Alewyn, Ernst Hauswedell, Paul Hindemith, Thornton Wilder, and Karl Wolfskehl.

Through his collecting, writing, and teaching, Curt von Faber du Faur envigorated the study of seventeenth-century German literature in the United States. The two-volume bibliography of his book collection was for a long time a standard bibliographical reference in the field of German baroque literature; its discursive chapter introductions still serve as a general introduction to the field. See “The Legacy of Curt Faber du Faur to the United States” (Colloquia Germanica 25 [1992], 195–209) by Blake Lee Spahr, probably Faber’s most prominent student.

Custodial History

The bulk of the papers was left in the library when Faber died.

Processing Information

Christa Sammons put the collection in preliminary order in 2008. At that time, a small number of documents were discarded, including records of student performances in Faber’s graduate seminars, student examination and term papers, and confidential recommendations of students and former students for academic positions and grants. Uncorrected extra carbon copies of articles were discarded, as well as many extra offprints from scholarly journals. Also discarded were typescripts in English of the two volumes of German Baroque Literature. Many sets of proof for those same volumes had been discarded earlier, when the German Collection was moved from the Wall Street stacks to Basement Area 3. (Various sets of proof were cataloged as printed matter in the Yale system at the time of production.)

The following items, gifts of Jan Thacher, 1997, were added in 2011 August: Thacher, Jan, The Cotta Legacy: the Doris von Schmeling Thacher Collection, VHS cassette, second copy; and Faber du Faur, Moriz von, "Damals, gestern und heute," series of articles, Stuttgarter Zeitung, 1953 January 6-March 12, photocopy. Also added in 2011 August: Negative microfilm copy of a collection of letters to Wolfgang Liepe congratulating him on his 70th birthday, source unknown.

Guide to the Curt von Faber du Faur Papers
by Christa Sammons
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.