New Ulm, Minnesota, located 90 miles southwest of the Twin Cities, was proclaimed by results of the 2000 Census as “the most German town in America.” Many residents trace their German ancestors back through generations in this city settled largely by German immigrants in the nineteenth century. New Ulm has many historic attractions of German lineage including the Hermann Monument, Glockenspiel, Wanda Gag Home and Schell's Brewery, but it also has the German Heritage Collection of the New Ulm Public Library.
This collection of about 100 books is devoted not to German history per se, but more precisely to German-American history. Begun in 2000, this still small collection is nonetheless noteworthy in its attempts to collect materials on this focused topic. Denis Warta, a New Ulm city council member at the time, urged the creation of the collection in 2000 noting - “There are pieces of this in college libraries all across the United States. Some public library should make this available, and New Ulm should be that place, as the most German town in the United States.” And so it was. It is believed to be the only such specialized German-American history collection in a public library in the United States.
Dedicated in October, 2000, the German Heritage Collection, given its narrow subject focus, has grown slowly. Donations from several authors helped establish the collection as did contributions from members of the Society for German-American Studies. While scholars find the collection of note, so do genealogists and anyone interested in German-American history. All of the materials circulate and may be borrowed locally or through interlibrary loan.
Access the Collection
Given its small size, the collection is not separately housed, but is interspersed throughout the library’s general collections. Each volume in the collection, however, is distinguished by an identifying sticker depicting the Hermann Monument in New Ulm. For off-site users, contents of the collection may be searched in the library’s online catalog. Access the online catalog, then use the local subject heading: “German-American Heritage Collection” to obtain listings of the materials.