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Hermann Raster papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Raster

Scope and Content of the Collection

The bulk of this collection consists of correspondence — professional, personal, and family. Many of the letters in the collection are in German, written by prominent German-American and German editors, professors, diplomats, singers and authors. There are also letters in English from important Chicagoans covering topics such as the fledgling Chicago Public library, immigration laws, the Chicago Board of Education, anti-temperance and the Republican Platform. Many of Raster’s letters to his family have been translated, including those that reveal his experiences and feelings as an immigrant in New York City and during the aftermath of the Chicago fire in 1871.

The Works series includes clippings of Raster’s columns and editorials, as well as hundreds of pro-union, anti-slavery news letters sent to a Berlin paper during the Civil War. This collection also includes various personal items such as several photographs, illustrations, an obituaries scrapbook, and various memorabilia.


  • Creation: 1849-1940
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1860 - 1891



Materials are in German and English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Hermann Raster papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Hermann Raster papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Hermann Raster

German immigrant “Forty-Eighter,” editor of New York Abendzeitung and Illinois Staats-Zeitung.

Hermann Raster was born in 1827 in Zerbst, Germany. He graduated from University of Leipzig in 1846 and the University of Berlin in 1848. In 1849 he took a job as the stenographer of the Anhalt Legislature. Raster took part in the revolutions of 1848, writing passionately against church and monarchy. He was forced to flee to America with fellow revolutionaries to escape prison.

Raster arrived in New York in July, 1851 and first found employment as a farmhand near Tioga, PA. He left for Buffalo in the spring of 1852, accepting the position of editor for the Buffalo Demokrat. His journalistic reputation grew quickly and in February of 1853, Raster was made editor of the New York Abendzeitung, the most influential German-language paper of the time.

In 1867, Raster accepted the position as editor for the Illinois Staats-Zeitung in Chicago, where he remained until his death. Raster died in July 1891 in Silesia, Germany where he had traveled for his poor health. His third wife Margarethe and their three children, Anna, Edwin and Walther survived him.

Raster was influential in leading the German-American switch to the Republican Party in 1856, swaying German public opinion via his pro-union, anti-slavery articles in the German press, and promoting the personal liberty (anti-temperance) cause.


6.2 Linear Feet (10 boxes and 2 oversize boxes)


Correspondence and other materials pertaining to the life of German immigrant "Forty-Eighter," Hermann Raster, and his work as editor of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung.


Papers are organized in the following series:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1850-1892
Boxes 1-2
Series 2: Works, 1849-1911
Boxes 3-5
Series 3: Personal, 1879-1940
Box 6
Series 4: Family Papers, 1851-1930
Boxes 7-10

Collection Stack Location

1 28 7, 1 43 12

Other Finding Aids

Article: Newberry Library Bulletin, Dec. 1945 (no. 3).


Gift of Anna Raster Hercz, [1946]; Lenore Raster Aagaard, 1945-1977; Elizabeth Raster Marlowe, 1967; and Arthur Hercz ,1979.

Processed by

Shannon Yule, 2007.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the Hermann Raster papers, 1849-1940, bulk 1860-1891
Finding aid prepared by Shannon Yule
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States