Heinrich Meyer Papers

Identifier: MSS.0290

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

The Heinrich Meyer Papers contains six series: I. Correspondence, II. Writing, III. Lawsuit/Investigation, IV. Schule am Meer/Juist School, V. Newspaper and Magazine Clippings, VI. Personal. Series I: Correspondence contains incoming and outgoing correspondence with colleagues, publishers, institutions, organizations, friends, and family. Series II. Writing contains material related to publications, research, and teaching. Series III. Lawsuit/Investigation consists of material related to Meyer’s investigation and internment. Series IV. Schule am Meer/Juist School contains letters and publications related to the school. Series V. Newspaper and Magazine Clippings is a collection of relevant publications. Series VI. Personal contains items of nostalgic value like catalogues of Meyer’s books, certificates, announcements, photographs, and drawings.


  • 1904 - 1974

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be viewed only in the reading room of Special Collections in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library. Materials should be requested 3 days prior to visiting to facilitate easier access. Contact specialcollections@vanderbilt.edu to schedule an appointment.

Biographical Note

Heinrich Meyer was a Germanist, born on May 17, 1904 in Nuremberg, Germany. His writing, research, and teaching focused on philology and literature. He studied at multiple universities and with his dissertation on the German pastoral novel, he completed his doctorate in 1928. In 1930, he emigrated to the United States and became a naturalized citizen in 1935. In the early 1940s, Meyer was investigated for alleged pro-National Socialist sentiments. He was found guilty in 1943 and interred at a camp in Kenedy, Texas, but he was permitted to retain his citizenship when the decision was overturned a year later. After this, Meyer moved to Emmaus, Pennsylvania with his second wife, Doris Hoag Clark, where they worked together on Organic Gardening magazine. He was a professor at Rice Institute (until 1943), Muhlenberg College (1945-1947), and Vanderbilt University (1953-1961). After a sabbatical year, during which he conducted Spinoza research as a Guggenheim Fellow, he was a Visiting Professor or Lecturer at Princeton University, Universität Hamburg (Winter semester 1961/1962), and Indiana University (1962). Finally, he taught at Vanderbilt continuously from Winter semester 1963/1964 until 1972, when he was granted emeritus status.

Meyer was an avid book-reader and collector, with estimates about the size of his collection ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 tomes. He donated and sold thousands of books to, among others, the libraries at Harvard and Vanderbilt Universities. In addition to his teaching duties, Meyer wrote numerous books, articles, and reviews and corresponded with colleagues throughout the United States and Europe. One such scholar was Eduard Berend, who fled Germany prior to the outbreak of World War II. Meyer secured an affidavit for Berend which enabled the refugee to obtain his visa in Switzerland.

Meyer died in 1977 in a retirement home in Washington at the age of 73.


15.4 Linear Feet (37 Hollinger boxes)

Language of Materials





Spanish; Castilian

Greek, Modern (1453-)




The Heinrich Meyer Papers (1907-1974) consists of the correspondence and writings of the Germanist Dr. Heinrich Meyer.


Of the 37 Hollinger boxes that comprise the Heinrich Meyer Papers, only 6 are non-correspondence materials. They are arranged into six series, not only to highlight the most important chapters of Meyer’s life, but also to create order in the absence of a known original order: I. Correspondence, II. Writing, III. Lawsuit/Investigation, IV. Schule am Meer/Juist School, V. Newspaper and Magazine Clippings, VI. Personal.

Physical Location

Offsite Storage, Special Collections & Archives

Processing Information

The original order of these papers could not be recreated, so it was necessary to impose some order upon the papers. This order takes into account the order that the papers were in prior to processing as well as the anticipated needs of researchers. Generally, the order was determined by importance and scale. The papers are organized, first, by correspondence, which is the bulk of the collection and appears to have played a significant role in Meyer's professional and personal life. The individuals with whom Meyer corresponded most frequently appear in the first boxes; his correspondence with the philologist Lee Hollander has a box all of its own. Then, less frequent correspondents are organized alphabetically by last name (where available) and chronologically. The “Professional Correspondence” subseries is for letters that are related to various endeavors, such as book selling and publishing, teaching, and the publication of research. Here, too, the institutions with which Meyer was in closest contact are sorted into individual folders, while the others are organized alphabetically and chronologically. Due to the often-friendly nature of Meyer’s correspondence with others, there is a great deal of overlap between the various subseries; professional letters were not only about business, but also about forming courteous relationships with colleagues. Correspondence with friends, family, and spouses are in the “Personal Correspondence” subseries. These letters are not merely of nostalgic value, but rather, they bear witness to everyday life in the United States during the various stages of Meyer’s life (in Texas, in the Kenedy internment camp, in rural Pennsylvania, and in Nashville). Researchers interested in Meyer’s writing (as an academic and as editor of Organic Gardening magazine), research, and teaching can find manuscripts, drafts, and publications in the “Writing” series. The “Lawsuit/Investigation” series is comprised of correspondence and legal materials that Meyer and others gathered in preparation for his defense. The “Juist School” series contains correspondence with students and faculty at the innovative school, as well as some publications. Finally, the “Newspaper and Magazine Clippings” and “Personal” series contain materials that were probably of emotional value to Meyer, to some degree. As an enthusiastic reader, Meyer collected newspapers, writing notes in them and writing to the editor. Lists of his books that he begrudgingly sold can be viewed in the “Personal” series, along with various book publication announcements, CARE package receipts, certificates acknowledging only some of his accomplishments, and photographs of friends and family.

Finding Aid for the Heinrich Meyer Papers
Kathy Smith and Wendy Timmons
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Library
1101 19th Ave. S.
Nashville TN 37212 United States


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