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Library contain materials which represent or depict sensitive topics or were written from perspectives using outdated or biased language.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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Friedrich Wilhelm Hess Papers (Digitized Content)

The digitized content of the Friedrich Wilhelm Hess Papers consists of several letters exchanged between Friedrich Wilhelm Hess, friends and relatives, as well as poems, concert tickets, a birth certificate, and a newspaper clipping.

Friedrich Wilhelm Hess (d. 1877) was born in Hamm, Westphalia in the 1830’s. Before immigrating to America, he studied law in Germany. While in America, he studied medicine and served in the medical service during the Civil War. Afterwards, he practiced medicine in Baltimore and Cincinnati. He wrote several essays, novels, and poems, and worked on the staff of various newspapers in Cincinnati, including the “Freie Presse,” “Abend-Post,” “Westliche Blätter,” and “Volksblatt.” He died on August 2, 1877.

The digitized content contains forty-three items including letters, poems, concert tickets, a birth certificate, and a newspaper clipping. The letters are dated from the 1870’s and are primarily exchanged between Hess and his sister Emilie Hassel and his mother (signed as “M”). Also included are a birth certificate of Johann Hermann Gerhard Berling, a manuscript poem by Hess titled “Der Brand von Chicago,” an untitled poem by Paula in Emilie’s hand, two concert tickets dated 1875, and a newspaper clipping about the election of President Hayes.

The Illinois History and Lincoln Collections unit at the University of Illinois Library manages the physical items of the Friedrich Wilhelm Hess Papers as part of the Heinrich A. Rattermann Papers (MS 210). This component of the collection was completely digitized 2020. For more information, contact an archivist at