Papers of Professor Otto Schlapp (1859-1939)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The papers of Professor Otto Schlapp include: class certificates, session 1880-81, for Rhetoric and English Literature, and Sanskrit and Comparative Philology; a medal, session 1880-81, for Sanskrit; LL.D diploma dated 1930; letters, tributes and a decorated formal address on retirement, 11 July 1929; a copy of Schlapp's thesis; a copy of his letter of application to the Chair along with testimonials and other documents; an address on the place of modern languages in examinations for bursaries to Scottish universities, 1900; certificates of renunciation of German citizenship and of British naturalisation; invitations and photographs; cuttings relating to Scott and Carlyle medallions; and, etchings of the University etc.

Administrative / Biographical History

Otto Schlapp was born in Erfurt, in Thuringia, Germany, on 15 May 1859. Schlapp was educated first in his native town and then, at the age of twenty, at the University of Jena. In 1880, the second year of his studies, he came to Scotland to study English and Sanskrit at Edinburgh University. In 1881, Schlapp returned to Germany to continue his studies at Berlin, Leipzig, and Strasbourg universities. Later on, he obtained the degree of Dr.Philos from Kaiser-Wilhelms-Universitaet zu Strassburg (Strasbourg), with a thesis entitled  Die Anfaenge von Kants Kritik des Geschmacks und des Genies, 1764 bis 1775: erster Teil einer Untersuchung ueber Kants Lehre vom Genie und die Entstehung der Kritik der Urteilskraft. Returning to Edinburgh in 1887, he taught German at George Watson's College, Edinburgh, and at Edinburgh Ladies' College until 1894. Schlapp became a Lecturer in German at Edinburgh University in 1894, and in 1920 he was appointed Reader. In 1926, Schlapp became Professor of German at the University. His publications include  Bilder aus Sizilien (1885),  Kants Lehre vom Genie und die Entstehung der 'Kritik der Urteilskraft' (1901), a revision and enlargement of  Chamber's elementary German grammar (1904), and a revision and enlargement of  Chambers's advanced German grammar (1905). Earlier in his life, in 1899, Schlapp gave up his German nationality, and he became a British subject in 1914. He retired through ill-health in 1929, and received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from his University in 1930. Professor Otto Schlapp died on 26 December 1939.

Conditions Governing Access

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

The immediate source of the Schlapp papers was Dr. Robert Schlapp (1899-1991), son of Professor Otto Schlapp and Senior Lecturer in Mathematical Physics at Edinburgh University. The papers were received in August 1984. Accession no. E84.27.


The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1)  Who was who 1929-1940. Vol.3. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1941. (2)  University of Edinburgh Journal. Vol.3. 1929-1930. p.38. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. (3) Burnett, John H. (et al.).  The university portraits. Second series. pp.169-171. Edinburgh: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1986.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

The local Indexes show various references to Otto Schlapp material (check the Indexes for more details): various letters of Schlapp, including his application for the German Chair, in Sar.Coll.33. and Sar.Coll.142/1 (Gen. 202 and Gen. 237); a book presented to Schlapp at Df.4.67, and a mention in a letter at Gen. 767/10; and, some 21 notebooks of notes of his lectures in German taken down 1913-1914, at Gen. 1862. The Library, Special Collections Division, also holds another copy of Schlapp's thesis  Die Anfaenge von Kants Kritik des Geschmacks und des Genies, 1764 bis 1775: erster Teil einer Untersuchung ueber Kants Lehre vom Genie und die Entstehung der Kritik der Urteilskraft (1899) at shelfmark Zm.6.18.

Corporate Names