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Frederick Klaeber papers

Identifier: ua-00741

Scope and Content

This small collection deals primarily with the period of time following Klaeber's retirement from the University in 1931. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence from 1945 until Klaeber's death in 1954. Many of the letters Klaeber wrote to friends and colleagues describing his difficult circumstances in Bad Koesen are contained in the collection. Correspondence from 1947 to 1954 deals primarily with attempts made by University administrators and others to press the United States government to release Klaeber's funds. In 1953, Senator Hubert Humphrey introduced a bill providing that the funds be transferred to the University as per Klaeber's wishes. The funds were finally released in March 1954 and the Frederick Klaeber Scholarship Fund was established.

Another intriguing and dramatic incident in Klaeber's life is described in folder 1. A single sheet of paper contains a series of short memos referring to an accusation made against Klaeber in 1917 of disloyalty to the United States government. Klaeber defended himself in a letter to President Marion Le Roy Burton and the matter was resolved in a little over a month. The name and identity of the accuser is not revealed and no further mention of the incident is made.


  • 1917
  • 1928-1956


Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Biographical Sketch of Frederick (Friedrich) Klaeber (1863-1954)

Frederick Klaeber taught Old and Middle English and English Philology at the University of Minnesota from 1893-1931. He was born in Beetzendorff, Prussia in 1863. He received his Ph.D. in 1892 at the University of Berlin and was recognized as the world's leading authority on Beowulf. Dr. Klaeber spent his entire academic career at the University of Minnesota. He was appointed Assistant Professor of English Philology in 1896 and Professor of English and Comparative Philology. At the time of his retirement he was Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Philology.

After retiring from the University, Dr. Klaeber and his wife Emma returned to Germany. He took a non-paying teaching position at the University of Berlin and kept in contact with his friends and colleagues in Minnesota. He hoped to be able to renew his passport and a letter, written in 1939 to University president Guy Stanton Ford, in which he expressed interest in doing so. Unfortunately, he was forced by the Nazi Party to become a German citizen. He never returned to the United States and his estate was later confiscated by the United States government under the Alien Property Act.

Dr. Klaeber was not heard from again until September 1945. By then his home in Berlin had been bombed and he and his wife were forced to take refuge in Bad Koesen, in the Russian zone, broke and nearly starving. Friends and colleagues, including presidents Guy Stanton Ford and James Morrill, and Joseph Warren Beach were able to get food and clothing to him. In 1951, Dr. Klaeber began the process of beginning a scholarship fund with $60,000 of his money held in Minnesota but unavailable to him because of legal and political obstacles. In 1954 the Frederick Klaeber Scholarship Fund became a reality. Professor Klaeber died October 4, 1954 in Bad Koesen (East Germany).


.5 Linear Feet (0.5 linear ft.)


This collection contains the papers of Frederick Klaeber, professor emeritus of English and comparative philology at the University of Minnesota.


The papers are arranged in chronological order.

Source of acquisition

The collection was donated to the Archives by Ray Archer, Director of the Department of Insurance and Retirement, sometime in 1969.

Related Materials in University Archives

Guy Stanton Ford papers

Inventory of the Frederick Klaeber papers, 1917, 1928-1956
Carol O'Brien; updated by Karen Spilman
June 1989; updated May 2004
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area