The German Class of 1890

Following on from Germany’s World Cup win, we thought it was an opportune time to write about the unusual German Class of 1890.

Not until 1887 was a part-time lectureship in Modern Languages first established at the University, and it was Dr Ernst Elster who received the appointment as lecturer of German Language and Literature (GUA21932, 27 Nov 1886 Letter from Dr Emile Elster to Professor Young applying to be allowed to give lectures in German language and literature).

Elster went on to appointments as Professor of German Literature in the universities of Leipzig and Marburg, and was followed in post by Dr Hermann Georg Fiedler, in 1889, (later Professor of German at Oxford University); and in 1890 by Dr Alexander Tille.

It was the German Literature course given during the academic sessions of 1889 and 1890 that attracted the most attention as around 15 German students matriculated for the class. They were

  • Letter from Emile Elster to Prof Young, 27 Nov 1886 (GUA21932)

    Letter from Emile Elster to Prof Young, 27 Nov 1886 (GUA21932)

    Johann Nicolaus Kiep

  • Ernst Alfred Schmidt
  • Samuel Ernst George Von Schulze
  • Simonis
  • Forss Rottenburg
  • Paul Rottenburg
  • Koppern
  • Heinrich Eberhard
  • Max Tuch
  • August Hafter
  • Adolf R Hertwig
  • Alfred Himi
  • Carl Schneider
  • Vockel
  • Walter Arend

As the information they provided on their matriculation slips is sparse, it could suggest that all were residents of and working in Glasgow at the time, like Johann Nicolaus Kiep,  who was serving as Imperial Consul at Glasgow at the time of his matriculation and had extended family connections in the Glasgow area.

Interest in the teaching of Modern Languages as a legitimate subject-area of study in British universities wasn’t developed late in the nineteenth-century and with an amount of opposition, as student Editor Carol Hunter noted in her blog post on the first appointee to the Lectureship of French Language and Literature at the University of Glasgow in 1895, Alfred Mercier. So this German class of 1890 shows to a great extent that the introduction of teaching of Modern Languages at University was actively supported by diverse members of the local community who were eager to foster international understanding and relationships through education.



Filed under Europe

4 responses to “The German Class of 1890

  1. ahtopen

    The Kiep family lived in Partickhill and I think one of them became an eye specialist.
    I also have a file I compiled while at Yorkhill about the Rottenburgs who were benefactors. The University Archives hold a ledger from his company UGD97, Liesler, Bock & Co. (“By 1864, Leisler, Bock & Co, merchants, were established at West George Street, Glasgow, Scotland. Several members of the Rottenburg family were involved with the firm, namely Fritz, Paul and Francis”)

    • kamcdonald

      Thanks for this information, Alma. It looks like the Kiep family and the Rottenburgs were related through Charlotte Kiep (née Rottenburg)
      We will get this information uploaded to their respective International Story records – and I am sure the German families deserve another blog post to follow this up.

    • Peter Williams

      Can you contact me at I’m trying to track down details of the Rottenburg family and particularly would like to make contact with present family members, as I have discovered a very valuable book in Bangor University Library which was owned by Paul Rotterburg and the family might like to know of this

      Peter Williams

      • kamcdonald

        Thank you for getting in touch Peter – the University archives may only hold the basic student records (matriculation slips) of those Rottenburgs who attended. If you would like more information, please contact our Archives Enquiry Service:

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