Friday, November 19, 2010

New exhibit: “Selections from the Allison-Shelley Collection”

Special Collections Library
Through January 24, 2011

The Allison-Shelley Collection of German Literature in Translation, which was bequeathed to the University Libraries in 1972 by the late Professor Philip Allison Shelley, provides opportunities for the study of the literary and cultural influences of the German-speaking nations of Europe on England and the United States. The exhibition features highlights from the collection’s strengths in children’s literature and fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, German toys and games made for export, early appearances of the Christmas tree, and documentation of the lives and traditions of Pennsylvania Germans.

Of special interest are items from a recent gift to Rare Books and Manuscripts of nearly 300 editions and translations of Struwwelpeter, a 19th-century children’s tale by Heinrich Hoffmann, which has delighted children on both sides of the Atlantic for 165 years. Struwwelpeter, whose title character is a boy who does not groom himself properly, is a highly exaggerated morality tale in which badly behaved children come to bad ends.  Hoffmann (1809–1894), a German psychiatrist, wrote and illustrated the book for his own children.

Since its first publication in 1845, the book has been popular with children throughout Europe and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. (In English the character is sometimes known as “Slovenly Peter” or “Shock-Headed Peter.”) The story has inspired many political parodies, including Struwwelhitler, published in 1941. There are also a great number of imitators, including variations for girls (such as Struwwelpaula) and even animal versions.

The new collection is the generous gift of Marion Herzog-Hoinkis of Frankfurt, Germany, whose late husband, Gerhard Hertz Herzog, was the director of the Struwwelpeter Museum in Frankfurt am Main. The Herzog collection contains editions that were published during Heinrich Hoffmann’s lifetime, but there are also dozens of 20th-century editions and translations, including many in regional German dialects. The gift nearly doubles the size of the Struwwelpeter holdings of the Allison-Shelley Collection. A major exhibition on Struwwelpeter will be held in the spring of 2012.

For more information about the exhibition or the Allison-Shelley Collection, contact Sandra Stelts by email ( or phone (814-863-5388).

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