Archives and Special Collections are open by appointment only, limited to UMN affiliates. Appointments must be made one week in advance of your visit. Contact or the curator of the collecting area you wish to use for assistance. We continue to provide scans of requested research materials when possible, especially for our non-campus clientele.

In 1982, the University of Minnesota was honored to be chosen as the repository for the personal library of Professor Robert A. Kann. Assembled throughout the career of one of the leading American scholars of Austrian history, the collection is noted for its broad richness and its integrity as the product of a single collector. The core of the collection is modern Austrian history, emphasizing the political and intellectual history of Austria and the Habsburg lands from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. The collection consists of nearly 6,000 monograph volumes, significant periodicals, and some 800 offprints.

Robert A. Kann was born in Vienna, Austria in 1906 and received his Dr. Juris degree from the University of Vienna. In 1938 he interrupted a promising law career in Austria and, with his wife, fled the threat of National Socialism. Prof. Kann received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in History from Columbia University in 1946, and was appointed to the faculty of the History Department at Rutgers University where he remained throughout his career. When he found refuge in the United States, Robert Kann devoted himself to the study and teaching of Austrian history, with a particular interest in examining forces of conflict, division, reconciliation, and integration. In 1976 he returned to Austria as visiting professor at the University of Vienna and was appointed Honorary Professor of Modern History just before his death in 1981.

Professor Kann was one of the foremost authorities on nationalities and nationalism within the Austrian Empire, and many items within the collection reflect this interest. Included are materials about international law, general history, ancient and Renaissance history, German and other European history, philosophy, Austrian literature, history, and arts, history of Socialism, constitutional history, philosophy and related subjects. About half of the monograph collection consists of rare or unique items, including numerous primary sources such as pamphlets, speeches, government reports, etc. Among these materials are political pamphlets by Karl Renner and others, early published constitutional documents such as the Constitution of 1848, and rare editions of philosophical works. The oldest work in the collection is a 1684 imprint:

Abraham a Sancta Clara, 1644-1709. Reimb dich, oder, Ich liss dich, das ist, Allerley Materien, Discurs, Concept, und Predigen Welsh bistro in underschidlichen TractÄtlein gedruckt worden: nunmehr in ain Werck zusammen gereimbt, vnd zusammen geraumbt, mit einem beygefÜgten Indice concionatorio, vnd neuen Zusatz. . . . Salzburg: gedruckt vnd verlegt bey Melchior Haan, 1684

The languages of the collection are German, French, English, Hungarian, Czech, Slovene, Serbian, and Croatian.

The Kann Collection was acquired by the University Library to support the research endeavors of the Center for Austrian Studies, which was founded in 1977 at the University of Minnesota. The center was a gift from the Austrian people on the occasion of the Bicentennial Anniversary of the United States in grateful acknowledgment of the United States’ assistance, under the Marshall Plan, to Austria’s recovery after World War II. The purpose of the Center is to foster Austrian studies in a wide range of disciplines and to bring greater knowledge and a clearer understanding of Austria to Americans. The Kann Collection was opened and dedicated in April, 1984, by historian Carl Schorske on the occasion of the first annual Robert A. Kann Lecture sponsored by the Center for Austrian Studies.

Additional materials have been acquired through purchase and donation to augment the original Kann Collection, including a significant donation from historian R. John Rath which brought important materials on Habsburg Italy and primary source materials from World War II into the collection. These additional materials are designated as the Kann Supplemental Collection. This Supplemental Collection will continue to grow.

In 1996, with the assistance of major grants from the Austrian Cultural Institute, the University of Minnesota Center for Austrian Studies, and the University of Minnesota Center for European Studies through a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education, both the Kann Collection, which had originally been inventoried on cards, and the Kann Supplemental Collection, previously uncataloged, were given full cataloging to national standards. Records for the collection were entered into the library’s on-line catalog and into the international databases (OCLC and RLIN), bringing information about the contents of this collection to the international community of scholars and researchers. Additionally, this online access provides a bibliographical resource for other libraries. The University of Minnesota Library also provided funds for preservation and stabilization of materials in the collection, many of which date from the period of acid paper (ca. 1870-1960) and are very fragile.

In addition to the Robert A. Kann Collection of Austrian History and Culture and its Supplement, Special Collections holds other important collections of Austrian materials:

  • Pamphlets on Austrian history, 1621-1815. WILSON Rare Books 943.6 Z
  • Pamphlets on Austrian History. Folio series. 1756-1792. WILSON Rare Books Folio 943.6 Z1
  • Austrian Pamphlets and Broadsides from the Revolution of 1848. Uncataloged: card inventory for this collection is located in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Related Collections:

  • World War I Pamphlets. Uncataloged: a card inventory for this collection is located in the Special Collections Reading Room.
  • Die Presse (newspaper) Early years in newsprint format. Consult Special Collections for more information.