LBI Library and Archives staff have built an online database of publishing houses founded by German-speaking refugees outside the German Reich and occupied Europe between 1933 and 1945. The new portal gives LBI’s substantial collection of Exilliteratur a higher profile and aids in the discovery of a body of work that is not otherwise linked by bibliographic data. Many of the publishers of Exilliteratur were of Jewish origin and fled from Germany after the Nazi Party came to power in 1933 or from Austria after the Annexation in 1938. These exile publishers and authors served the cultural needs of the scattered German-language communities in the various outposts of exile across the world, and they published a very broad range of literature, from fiction to philosophy to children’s books and maps. Thus, they put into the world a body of work linked not so much by themes or genres, but by the circumstances of its production.
LBI has long sought a way to present these disparate works in their context as the product of the refugee experience. An exhibition called “Publishing in Exile”, organized jointly with the Goethe-Institut New York in 2009, went a long way toward accomplishing this, but did not comprehensively link all the works in the LBI Library.
In 2012, the Library was fortunate to partner with an intern with a research interest in this area. Natalie Tunstall, an Information Management student at the University of Applied Sciences in Hannover, surveyed LBI’s holdings of Exilliteratur and compiled the information that underlies the new database during a summer internship at LBI. Matthew Johnson, a comparative literature and German studies undergraduate at New York University, continued and expanded Tunstall’s work during an internship in summer 2013.
Users can now browse LBI holdings in this area by publisher’s name and location. Each publisher’s page includes a historical profile and a link to the complete listing of its works in the online catalog. These listings are generated dynamically, so that they will remain comprehensive as the library collection grows.