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For subject assistance contact: Kirk Doran, Liaison Librarian, 254-8933. Librarian's website.


Finding Books

Library books are arranged on the shelves by topic according to the Library of Congress classification system, a combination of letters and numbers found on the spine label of each book. Here are three basic subclasses relevant to German studies:

DD German history

PF German language (including dictionaries)

PT German literature

Listed below are several selected classification numbers and ranges with their corresponding topics.

DB1-DB879 History of Austria (including Austro-Hungarian Empire)

DD175-DD289.5 History of modern Germany from 1519-1989

DD290 History of Germany since 1990

GR155-GR159 Folklore of Austria

GR165-GR169 Folklore of Germany

PF3640 German-English dictionaries

PT83-PT873 History and criticism of German literature

PT1100-PT1374 Collections of German literature

PT1501-PT2688 Individual authors' works, criticism, biography, letters, memoirs, diaries

This brief outline is only a starting point to help you begin browsing the library's book shelves. There are many more combinations of classification numbers and topics. Every book you find in the catalog will have a unique call number and location. You can search the catalog by author, title, subject, or keyword, and you can browse the catalog virtually by call number.

In addition to German literature and books about German topics, the library has thousands of books in German on many topics in many different subject areas. You can limit a search on any topic in the catalog to German language materials. Simply select "German" in the language block at the bottom of your search screen.

Searching tip: Omit umlauts when entering search terms. Do not add an "e" after vowels to represent umlauts.

If you find a book in the catalog with a Dewey Decimal call number and a location of storage, submit a storage request formand it will be retrieved for you. If you find a book in the catalog with a Dewey Decimal call number and a location of Archives & Special Collections, go to Archives and Special Collectionson the library's lower level and request the book. (These books can only be used in the archives reading room.)

If a book you want is not in our catalog, or is checked out to someone else, you may request the book from other libraries.

Reference Sources

Reference sources are often an excellent place to begin your research. The following are a few examples of important encyclopedias, dictionaries, and literary/cultural reference sources relevant to German studies. Some are in print format only, some are online only, and some are available both in print and online. You can find more print reference books browsing the reference stacks, or by searching the catalog and limiting the location to Reference Stacks. You can find more online sources by searching the catalog for the subject heading Electronic reference sources, by searching our library's database page and by browsing the Internet Sources section of this guide.

Biography and Bio-bibliography

Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie
The most exhaustive historical national biography of prominent German persons from antiquity

through the 19th century. Not limited to literary figures, the ADB includes many entries not found in other sources. This is the digitized version of the 56 vol. set published in Leipzig by Duncker & Humblot, 1875-1912. It includes a search box, index of names, and the full text.

Biography & Genealogy Master Index
Indexes biographical sources on persons, both living and deceased, from all disciplines and countries. This excellent starting point is an index only, not a full-text database. You will need to consult the sources it references to obtain the biographical information itself.
Frederiksen, Elke P., and Elizabeth G. Ametsbichler, eds. Women Writers in German-Speaking Countries: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998. (561 p.) Reference PT167 .W65 1998 
Thorough coverage of 54 women writers from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Each article includes a biography, major themes in the author's works, a survey of criticism, and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.
Grimm, Gunter E., and Frank Rainer Max, eds. Deutsche Dichter: Leben und Werk deutschsprachiger Autoren vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1993. (886 p.) Reference PT155 .D476 1993
Substantial coverage of more than 150 authors, arranged chronologically instead of alphabetically, and featuring portraits (illustrations or photographs) of many of the authors.
Heuer, Renate, ed. Lexikon deutsch-jüdischer Autoren. München: Saur, 1992-. Reference PT169 .L49 (19 vols.)
A work still in progress, the 19 vols. completed thus far cover Jewish authors from A through P. Each entry includes a biographical outline and lists of works by and about the author. Not limited to literary authors.
Jens, Walter, ed. Kindlers neues Literatur Lexikon. 22 vols. München: Kindler, 1988-1998. Reference PN41 .K53 1998 
An encyclopedia of world literature from the beginnings to the present. Includes plot summaries of more than 20,000 works, as well as evaluations, and primary and secondary bibliographies (Ausgaben and Literatur).
Keith-Smith, Brian, ed. An Encyclopedia of German Women Writers, 1900-1933: Biographies and Bibliographies with Exemplary Readings. 10 vols. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1997- Reference PT1141 .L495 1997 
For each author, this specialized set features a biography in English (two to three pages in length), a portrait, a works list, brief bibliography, and selected exemplary texts of the author's works in German.
KLG - Kritisches Lexikon zur deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur
A German literature database covering about 600 authors writing in German who began publishing after 1945. Each entry contains a biographical sketch, a detailed critical essay, and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources. Note: all the information is in German only.
Konzett, Matthias, ed. Encyclopedia of German Literature. 2 vols. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000. (1136 p.) Reference PT41 .E53 2000 Online version 
A highly selective encyclopedia written by scholars in English-speaking countries, this set presents "a transnational perspective, allowing a critical look at German literature and culture from the outside." Bibliographical references are to works in English and German. "A substantial contribution to English encyclopedias of German literature, this authoritative two- volume set features in-depth treatment of the authors, works, topics, and influences of German literary studies. Arranged in A-to-Z format, the articles are both definitive and critical."--"Outstanding Reference Sources," American Libraries, May 2001.
Literature Criticism Online
Includes Contemporary Literary Criticism, Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism, Literature Criticism from 1400-1800, Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, as well as Drama Criticism, Poetry Criticism, Shakespearean Criticism, Short Story Criticism.
Literary Index (Gale Literary Sets) 
Gale's Literary Index is a master index to large sets of literary reference books published by Gale through 2006. It indexes more than 159,000 authors. Some of the major reference sets indexed are Contemporary Authors, Contemporary Literary Criticism, the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Literature Criticism from 1400-1800, Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, Poetry Criticism, and Twentieth-Century Literature Criticism. The books themselves are online (see previous entry) or in our reference collection; this index tells you which volume(s) include the author or work you are researching.
Lutz, Bernd, and Benedikt Jessing, eds. Metzler Autoren Lexikon: Deutschsprachige Dichter und Schriftstller vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart. 3rd ed. Stuttgart: Metzler, 2004. (848 p.) Reference PT155 .M48 2004
Includes biographical essentials and very brief bibliographies of 550 German authors from the middle ages to the present, with an emphasis on the last three centuries. Arranged alphabetically.
Wilpert, Gero von, ed. Lexikon der Weltliteratur: biographisch-bibliographisches Handwörterbuch nach Autoren und anonymen Werken: Deutsche Autoren A-Z. 4th ed. Stuttgart: Kroener, 2004. (698 p.) Reference PT155 .W48 2004 
Mostly very brief biographical entries for 3,000 significant authors. Includes biographical facts and dates, a description placing the author in literary context, a summary assessment of the author's works, and a concise works list and bibliography of secondary sources.


Bibliographie der Deutschen Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft (BDSL). Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1957-2006. Reference PT85 .B5 (Volumes 1-46 cover the years 1945-2006)

Online version covers 1985 to the present. :The most important and comprehensive international bibliography of published works on German language, literature, and cultural studies. Each annual volume contains about 15,000 entries, and lists books, journal articles, and reviews. The database itself is in German, but it indexes publications in numerous languages. This source is an index only, not a full-text database; you will need to use our journal locator and interlibrary loan to obtain the full-text of the materials listed.

DaSinD (Datenbank Schriftstellerinnen in Deutschland)
Outlines publication history through detailed works lists of German language women authors and translators publishing since 1945. Primary sources only.
A catalog of more than 98 million books and other materials in 60,000 libraries worldwide, including Dickinson's, WorldCat is the most comprehensive database of published materials in libraries.

Other literary and cultural reference books

Fanning, James. Literaturwissenschaftliches Wörterbuch: Deutsch-Englisch, Englisch-Deutsch. Frankfurt am Main: P. Lang, 1993. Reference PN44.5 .F36 1993

A specialized dictionary of literary terms in German and English.

Sandford, John, ed. Encyclopedia of Contemporary German Culture. New York: Routledge, 1999. (696 p.) Reference DD290.26 .E53 1999

Written by scholars primarily in Great Britain and the United States, this book presents a very broad view of German culture since 1945. Included are more than 1,000 thematic and biographical entries. Bibliographical references are largely to English language sources.

Watanabe-O'Kelly, Helen, ed. The Cambridge History of German Literature. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. (613 p.) Reference PT91 .C36 1997

This is not an alphabetical source for finding quick facts; its lengthy chapters require sustained reading. Nine scholars describe the major periods of German literature from the early Middle Ages to the reunification of Germany in 1990.

General encyclopedias and dictionaries

Brockhaus Enzyklopädie: in vierundzwanzig Bänden. Mannheim: F.A. Brockhaus, c1986-1996.

Reference AE27 .B922 1986 (25 v.)

The preeminent general knowledge encyclopedia in the German language.

Dudenredaktion (Bibliographisches Institut). Oxford-Duden German dictionary : German-English, English-German. 3rd ed. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2005.

Reference PF3640 .O94 2005

Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. Deutsches Wörterbuch. Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1962-70.

Reference PF3625 .G7 (32 v.)

"... the first German dictionary conceived on scientific lines; initiated by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The dictionary was designed to give the etymology and history, illustrated by quotations, of all the words in the (New) High German literary language from the time of Martin Luther (c. 1500) to that of J.W. von Goethe (d. 1832), as well as significant dialectical words and forms."--Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.

Paul, Hermann. Deutsches Wörterbuch: Bedeutungsgeschichte und Aufbau unseres Wortschatzes. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 2002. (1243 p.)

Reference PF3625 .P328 2002

At the intermediate and advanced level, using a German language only (not German-English) dictionary is essential to learning how to think in the language.

Terrell, Peter. Collins German-English, English-German Dictionary: Unabridged. New York: Collins, 2004. (2108 p.)

Reference PF3640 .C68 2004

An unabridged German-English dictionary is indispensable for learning German. A pocket dictionary is not sufficient, especially given the structure and complexity of German vocabulary.

Wahrig, Gerhard. Deutsches Wörterbuch: mit einem Lexikon der Deutschen Sprachlehre. 6., neu bearbeitete Auflage. Gutersloh : Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag, 1997.

Reference PF3625 .W2 1997

Journal Articles and More!

The following online databases, selected from our complete database list, are indexes to journal articles (and in some cases books and book chapters). Several of them provide only citations (references to articles), others include abstracts (summaries of articles), and several include full-text (complete articles).

If the article you want is not available directly in full-text, search our journal locator to see if we have electronic access to the journal title and volume you need, or if we own the journal title and volume you need in print. If neither is the case, use interlibrary loan (ILLiad) to obtain the article from another library.

If the citation is to a book or book chapter, search our catalog for the title of the book (not the chapter). If we don't own it, then search PALCI's EZ-Borrow, and if you still don't find it, submit a request via ILLiad.

Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary databases

Bibliographie der Deutschen Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft (BDSL).

Online version covers 1985 to the present. Print version covers 1945-2006 (Reference PT85 .B5 vols. 1-46)

A comprehensive international bibliography of published works on German language and literature, and on Germanic studies. Each annual volume contains about 15,000 entries, and lists books, journal articles, and reviews. This source is an index, not a full-text database; you will often need interlibrary loan to obtain the full-text of the materials listed.

Historical Abstracts Historical Abstracts covers materials treating all aspects of world history, except the United States and Canada, from 1450 to the present. Includes full text. The U.S. and Canada are covered in the companion database, America: History & Life.

Humanities and Social Sciences Retrospective A bibliographic database that cites articles from English-language periodicals. Coverage includes a wide range of interdisciplinary fields covered in a broad array of humanities and social sciences journals.

Humanities Full Text Covers journal articles in the humanities, archaeology, art, classics, film, folklore, history, journalism and communications, linguistics, literature, music, performing arts, and religion.

Humanities International Complete (HIC) Full text of hundreds of journals, books and other published sources from around the world in all aspects of the humanities. FOR CITATION SEARCHING: Click the "More" button at the top of the search screen, then click "Cited References."

MLA International Bibliography The premier scholarly index for literature, language, linguistics, and folklore. (Modern Language Association)

General full-text databases

JSTOR An interdisciplinary archive of over 600 journals in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Project Muse Covers the fields of literature and criticism, history, the visual and performing arts, cultural studies, education, political science, gender studies, economics, and many others.

Academic Search Complete A scholarly, multi-disciplinary full-text database for the humanities, sciences and social sciences. Includes scholarly journals, magazines, conference proceedings and books. For newspaper coverage, use Newspaper Source Plus.

Internet Sources

Be careful to evaluate information obtained from free Web sites. For your research, it is best to begin with an authoritative meta site (an index of Web sites), such as the ones below, and follow their links.

Deutscher Wortschatz

Die Daten werden aus sorgfältig ausgewählten öffentlich zugänglichen Quellen automatisch erhoben. Die Beispielsätze werden automatisch ausgewählt und stellen keine Meinungsäußerung des Projektes Deutscher Wortschatz dar. Für die darin enthaltenen Inhalte und Meinungen sind ausschließlich die Autoren verantwortlich. English German Dictionary

An online English-German dictionary to which every user can contribute by adding and verifying translations.

DWDS - Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache des 20. Jh.

An ongoing project of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, this is a digital dictionary of 20th and 21st century German language built upon a huge collection of digitized texts.

German language

Part of a meta site for web resources on selected languages. Created by Wayne Selcher, professor of international studies at Elizabethtown College.

German Language News and Magazines

MIT libraries Foreign Language News and Newspapers meta site

German Studies Web

"The German Studies Web is designed to provide access to scholarly resources in German Studies, including all German-speaking countries. The resources organized here have undergone a selection and evaluation process. If needed, annotations have been provided augmenting the research value of these resources to scholars. It contains contributions from German Studies bibliographers nationwide. The coordinator for the German Studies Web is Reinhart Sonnenburg (Dartmouth College)."


Part of a meta site for web resources on selected countries. Created by Wayne Selcher, professor of international studies at Elizabethtown College.


"A member of H-Net Humanities & Social Sciences OnLine, sponsored by the Michigan State University, H-German is a daily Internet discussion forum focused on scholarly topics in German history."

LeMO: Lebendiges virtuelles Museum Online

"Beim virtuellen Gang durch 150 Jahre Zeitgeschichte werden Informationstexte sowie Film- und Tondokumente mit den musealen Objektbeständen verknüpft und vermitteln so ein umfassendes Bild von Geschichte."


"Ein Online-Service der Informatik der Technischen Universität München. The LEO dictionary now contains over 400,000 entries."

ZDB: Zeitschriftendatenbank

A union catalog of German periodicals published from 1500 to the present, and held in 4,300 German libraries. About 1.2 million periodical titles with detailed information of what issues and years are held in which libraries. Now with links to free full-text journals. Note: this source does not index the articles in these periodicals.