Fabienne Schopf of the University of Stuttgart has been in the Reading Room consulting the archives of the English Goethe Society and I asked her why:
I am consulting documents, e.g. letters, annual reports and the Publications of the English Goethe Society (EGS), London. I am especially interested in the period between 1886, when the Society was founded, until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. A similar society, the Goethe-Gesellschaft was founded in 1885 at Weimar, Germany. My master’s thesis will compare and analyze the efforts and publications of the societies.
Founded in 1886 with the aims ‘to promote and extend the study of Goethe’s work and thought, and to encourage original research upon all subjects connected with Goethe’ (English Goethe Society, First Annual Report presented at a Business Meeting 1 December 1886), the English Goethe Society continues to be active today.
Many of the Society’s records were lost in the bombing of University College London in 1940, where they were stored at the time. The core of the papers now available to researchers at Senate House Library was in the possession of Ella Oswald, the daughter of Dr Eugen Oswald, a founder of the Society, and were depositied with The Institute of Germanic Studies in 1955.
The collection now consists of c.1500 items, with the majority of them catalogued online. Among the the collection’s files of correspondence, administrative records and publications are some more unusual artifacts, including fragments of Goethe’s hair (EGS.5.2.PER (iii)), 18th-century silhouettes (EGS.5.2.SIL) and a bust of Goethe.