German collections

We only began to acquire German material on a regular basis in the 1960s. However our collections may now be the largest of their kind in Scotland.

The post-Reformation period is strongly represented. We collect material from earlier periods more selectively.

Most of our acquisitions relate to Germany. However we also have material on Austria — including the Austro-Hungarian Empire — German-speaking Switzerland and other German-speaking communities in Europe.

For more information on our current serial titles see our list of selected German serials.


Photograph of soldiers on a truck
Brandenburg Gate, 1918.
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Our main collecting area is the humanities. Subjects include:

  • History
  • Literature and literary criticism
  • The arts and culture
  • Philosophy.

We also have works on topics like:

  • The history of the book
  • Publishers and publishing
  • Scoto-German relations
  • The activities of Scots in German-speaking countries.

Social sciences and travel

Although we collect social science material less extensively, we do hold publications on:

  • Economics and economic history
  • Politics and political science
  • Education and educational history, including that of particular institutions.

Through the Graham Brown Fund, we have collected many works on the topography of the German-speaking Alpine regions. We also have various publications on travel through this region. You will find more information about these items in our mountaineering and polar collections.

Pre-20th century material and special collections

Detail from Gutenberg Bible
Detail from the 15th-century
Gutenberg Bible.
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The Advocates Library — the Library's forerunner — collected some German material during the course of the 18th and 19th centuries. The majority of this was in the decades immediately following the French Revolution.

Several of the Library's special collections also contain a significant number of German items. These include:

  • The Dieterichs Collection of pamphlets, dissertations and miscellaneous literary publications: The largest single collection of German materials in the Library.
  • The Crawford Collection of Lutheran pamphlets: Around 1,500 16th-century tracts.

See our Special and Named Printed Collections for more information about these and other items.

Microform collections

We have three substantial German interest microform collections:

  • 'Flugschriften des frühen 16 Jahrhunderts': Complete texts of some 5,000 pamphlets in German and Latin printed between 1501 and 1530 within the Holy Roman Empire. On microfiche.
  • 'Flugschriftensammlung Gustav Freytag': Around 6,000 miscellaneous pamphlets collected by the 19th-century author Gustav Freytag. On microfiche.
  • 'The Harold Jantz Collection of German Baroque Literature': A large number of literary political, scientific and general cultural texts. On microfilm.

Manuscripts, maps and music collections

Explore our manuscript collections for more information about Scots whose public career or private interests involved them with Germany. You will find information about relevant cartographic and musical material in our map collections and music collections.


For more information about our German collections, email Chris Taylor.


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