University of Manchester, Department of German Archives

Scope and Content

Extant records of the Department of German. The records currently comprise only an incomplete set of records of the Departmental Board, 1981-1996.

Administrative / Biographical History

German has been taught at the University since the opening of Owens College in 1851. Initially, a teacher of German, rather than a full professorial post, was employed. The first holder of this post was Tobias Theodores (1808-1886), a German émigré, who was best-known as a Hebrew scholar, and an expert on the Talmud.

Theodores lectured in German until 1879, thereafter giving up these duties to concentrate on Oriental languages (he was professor of Hebrew/oriental languages, 1860-1884). He was succeeded as lecturer by Hermann Hager (1846-1895). Hager, a noted Goethe scholar, extended teaching to German literature. In 1895, Owens College received funds from the industrialist Henry Simon to establish a chair of German. It seems likely that Hager would have been appointed to this chair, but he died before an appointment could be made. Instead Arwid Johannson became professor. Johannson (1862-1935) was an expert in German philology and it was this subject which dominated the syllabus for the next few decades. After Johannson retired, L A Willoughby and Barker Fairley held the Henry Simon chair for brief periods, and were succeeded by Eliza Butler and Ronald Peacock.

German tended to be the second largest modern languages subject (after French). German as a subject was taught at honours level, but also attracted a significant number of students studying the B.A. ordinary degree. In the post-war years joint degrees were introduced (in addition to the B.A. modern languages), and study-abroad periods became the norm. Over time, German literature became ever more significant in the syllabus and in the post-war period departmental staff won reputation for work on German literature and drama.

In the 1990s the Department became part of a larger School of Modern Languages. Currently, German language and literature as a subject discipline is part of the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures.

Chairs of German Language/Literature, 1895-1980

  • Arwid Johannson 1895-1930 (German and Germanic philology)
  • L.A . Willoughby 1930-1931
  • Barker Fairley 1932-1936
  • Eliza Butler 1936-1944
  • Ronald Peacock 1945-1962
  • Rudolf Keller 1963-1982
  • Idris Parry (modern German literature) 1963-1977

Access Information

Access conditions apply to this archive. Review of the archive will be required before access to any item is granted.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Acquisition Information

Transferred by Professor Martin Durrell, a member of the Department, in 2008.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.


Accruals possible. Post-2004 records will be treated as a separate collection.

Related Material

The Faculty of Arts archive will contain information relating to admissions, curriculum and examination matters for this department (FAR). Annual reports (1903-1996) can be found in the Reports of Council (UOP/2) ; general prospectus information in the prospectuses collection (primarily the Faculty of Arts handbooks). The uncatalogued School of Modern Languages archive, of which the department was part, covers developments for the 1990s.

The Vice-Chancellor's Archive (VCA) contains several files on this department and its staff:

  • VCA/7/53 - Department of German 1936-1950
  • VCA/7/433 - Department of German 1952-1968 [restrictions apply]
  • VCA/7/52 - Chair of German (Fairley, Butler, Peacock)
  • VCA/7/483 - Chair of German (Keller) [restrictions apply]
  • VCA/7/484 - Chair of German (Parry) [restrictions apply]


A brief history of the Department up to the 1980s has been compiled: Eda Sagarra and Peter Skrine, German Studies at the University of Manchester:a history of the German Department (1987).

Geographical Names