University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The items in the Digital Collections of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library contain materials which represent or depict sensitive topics or were written from perspectives using outdated or biased language. The Library condemns discrimination and hatred on any grounds. As a research library that supports the mission and values of this land grant institution, it is incumbent upon the University Library to preserve, describe, and provide access to materials to accurately document our past, support learning about it, and effect change in the present. In accordance with the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read statement, we do not censor our materials or prevent patrons from accessing them.

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Hilgard Family Papers (Digitized Content)

The digitized content of the Hilgard Family Papers consists of correspondence from the 1830s and 1840s between German immigrant Theodor Hilgard, in Belleville, Illinois, and his mother, Madame Maria Dorothea Engelmann Hilgard, in Bavaria.

Theodor Hilgard (1790-1873), born in Bavaria, immigrated to the United States in 1836. He settled in the German colony at Belleville, Illinois, with his wife, five daughters, and four sons. Hilgard, himself educated in law at both German and French universities, engaged in farming and real estate promotion, while encouraging his sons in their educational pursuits.

The digitized content contains handwritten copies of letters Theodor Hilgard likely made himself before sending the original letters to his mother, Madame Maria Dorothea Engelmann Hilgard, in Bavaria. The letters are densely written in nineteenth-century German script. Also included as supplementary material are handwritten twentieth-century transcriptions of these letters. The letters date from 1836 to 1841.

The Illinois History and Lincoln Collections unit at the University of Illinois Library manages the physical items of the Hilgard Family Papers (MS 708). The collection was partially digitized in 2020. For more information, contact an archivist at