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Hajo Holborn papers

Call Number: MS 579
Scope and Contents

The papers of Hajo Holborn came to Manuscripts and Archives from the History Department of Yale University in September 1969, several months after Holborn's death in June of that year. They are made up of the contents of his office files and contain few letters and personal documents. (A preliminary inventory was prepared by Professor Hans Gatzke of the Yale University History Department in 1971 and was the only guide to the papers until this register was completed in 1981.) Other records have unfortunately disappeared. Although the papers do not cover the full range of Holborn's interests, they offer a remarkably coherent reflection of his activities ca. 1920-1935.

The papers have been divided into two series: OFFICE FILES and SUBJECT FILES. The OFFICE FILES contain surviving correspondence, negotiations with various universities and publishers, and drafts and reprints of several essays and reviews, offprints sent him by colleagues, and memorabilia. Through the kindness of Alfred Vagts, we have electrostatic copies of twelve letters from Holborn to Vagts concerning his emigration to the United States and his later academic career (1934-1941). Together with these is a brief memoir on Holborn by Vagts, probably written ca. 1976.

The SUBJECT FILES consist very largely of printed matter arranged topically. The major portion of this material was gathered in connection with a commission received by Holborn in 1929 from the Historische Reichskommission to write a history of the constitution of the Weimar Republic. (See Box 1, folder 4.) The materials on this topic which constitute a major part of the papers are made up of Holborn's own handwritten and typed notes, pamphlets, periodicals, handbills, typescript copies of documents, and other papers. Most vivid in charting the writing of the constitution are the large number of working papers issued by the Constitutional Assembly (Die verfassunggebende deutsche Nationalversammlung) which were originally in the possession of Dr. Marie Baum, a member of the Assembly and of the Deutsche Demokratische Partei (DDP). A letter from Hugo Preuss (then Staatssekretär des Innern) transmitting the first official draft (1919 Jan 7) of the constitution and a memorandum of explanation contains extensive comment on the draft in an unidentified hand. (Box 12, folder 95.) Many other stages of the constitution are included in the papers, as are counter drafts by interest groups and petitions from industry, labor organizations, local communitites, the elderly, small landholders, etc. seeking to influence the decisions of the Assembly. Rare records on the origins of the DDP, also from Dr. Baum, contain handbills and election pamphlets dealing with the role of women within the party, pamphlets issued by the party discussing issues of the day, and proceedings of some of its meetings in 1919. Also of importance are the pamphlets on the Workers' and Soldiers' Councils of 1918-1919, including a rare copy of Allgemeiner Kongress der Arbeiter und Soldatenräte Deutschlands vom 16.-21. Dec. 1918. Stenographische Berichte, as well as contemporary reports by and about councils in Bavaria, Berlin, and Hamburg.

The bulk of the series is made up of pamphlets and books issued between 1919 and 1929. Many were published by small presses in small editions and are now difficult to find. Of those that survived, many were printed on cheap paper and are in poor condition. There are also some 19th century pamphlets on early attempts at a constitution for Germany and discussions of the constitutional question. A bibliography, probably drawn up by Holborn in connection with this project (Box 19, folder 170), has been annotated by Manuscripts and Archives staff to indicate which pamphlets are in the collection and to note their location. Taken together, the combination of printed matter, documents, and clippings provides a rich resource for the study of the beginnings of the German Democratic Party, the Revolution of 1918-1919, the Workers' and Soldiers' Councils, as well as the constitutional foundation of the Weimar Republic.

Nine books which were seriously damaged in a flood at Manuscripts and Archives in 1980 had to be discarded. These are listed at the end of the register. Fortunately duplicate copies of these books are in the stacks of Sterling Memorial Library and are available to the reader.

In order to preserve the printed matter in the collection and also make it more accessible, the books and pamphlets have been filmed and are available on MICROFILM HM 118. An author and subject guide provides access to the reels.

For related material in Manuscripts and Archives, see the German Pamphlet Collection for propaganda on the Ruhr and Silesia and the last days of the Weimar Republic. For material on the Versailles Treaty, reparations, and the post-World War I period, see the Frank L. Polk Papers Mss 656 and the Edward M. House Papers Mss 466.

Language of Materials

The materials are in English and German.

Conditions Governing Access

Series II, Boxes 4-24, is available on microfilm. Patrons must use HM 118 instead of the originals.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by Hannah H. Gray for unpublished works authored or otherwise produced by Hajo Holborn. After her lifetime or until September 11, 2020, whichever comes first, copyright passes to Yale University whether such works are at Yale or physically located elsewhere in the world. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Yale University History Department, 1969; gift of Hanna H. Gray, 2012.


Arranged in two series: I. Office Files. II. Subject Files, and two additions.

Majority of material found within 1849 - 1969
12.02 Linear Feet (29 boxes)
Related Names
Holborn, Hajo, 1902-1969
Language of Materials
Multiple languages