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Herbert Schaumann papers

 Collection 0026-LIT

Herbert Schaumann (1909-1982) was a minor poet, a World War II veteran, and an associate professor of Comparative Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Maryland. In 1944, Schaumann met Katherine Anne Porter in Washington, D.C. The collection consists of correspondence between Schaumann and Porter between 1944 and 1947. Schaumann and Porter developed and ended an intimate relationship during this period. The letters discuss World War II, films, writing, and personal life.


  • 1941-1947
  • Majority of material found within 1944-1947

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


0.25 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The papers of Herbert Schaumann comprise the correspondence between Schaumann and Katherine Anne Porter between 1944 and 1947. Porter's half of the correspondence was sent from Washington, D.C.; her home on 6th Street in Santa Monica, California; a borrowed apartment on South Bentley Avenue in Los Angeles, California; and from in and near Saratoga Springs, New York. Most of Porter's correspondence was written in Santa Monica. Schaumann's letters were sent from Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and College Park, Maryland.


Born in 1909 in East Prussia, Dr. Herbert Fran(z) Ferdinand Schaumann came to the United States in 1930 while affiliated with the University of Berlin. Schaumann was part of a team of two sent on the U. S. Debating Tour that year from the German English Speaking Union's Centre for Speech and Debate. Schaumann remained in the United States and earned his bachelor's degree from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. After completing his bachelor's degree, Schaumann then moved on to Cornell University where he received his Ph. D. in 1936. His dissertation, Fundamental Characteristics of German-American Lyrics, is a study of the theme of homesickness in German-American lyrics in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the same year Schaumann earned his Ph. D., he began his teaching career at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, where he taught German until he began his service in the United States Army during World War II.

In 1944, Schaumann met Katherine Anne Porter at a party in Washington, D.C., where she was living. The two maintained a relationship, primarily through correspondence, seeing each other rather infrequently even before Porter left Washington in September 1944. In 1945, due to an injury, Schaumann spent some time in the hospital at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He was released from the army in 1945 soon after the dropping of the first atomic bomb. Upon leaving the service, Schaumann accepted a teaching post at the University of Maryland where he taught Comparative Literature and Creative Writing. Between the time they met and July 1946, when Schaumann visited Porter in California, they developed an intimate relationship that ceased abruptly when he revealed his homosexuality to her during that visit.

During their relationship Porter tried, unsuccessfully, to peddle Schaumann's poetry. In turn, Schaumann read and critiqued some of Porter's manuscripts created during this period. In 1956 Schaumann published a translation, Odysseus & Calypso, of Book Five of Homer's The Odyssey. Also, some of the poems mentioned in the correspondence between Porter and Schaumann were later published in several literary magazines (e.g. Voices, Poetry, University of Kansas Review, Briarcliff Quarterly, Recuerdo, and Views). These poems were also included as part of Schaumann's book Children on a Doorstep published in 1961 by Views Associates Press in Washington, D.C.

Schaumann was an active member of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore and contributed an essay to the published volume, Poe in Foreign Lands and Tongues, the product of a symposium held at the nineteenth annual commemoration of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore in Westminster Church, January 19, 1941. Also Schaumann edited the poetry journal Palinurus, a single issue of which was published in April 1959. Schaumann retired from the University of Maryland as an associate professor in 1971 and died July 18, 1982, at the Veterans Memorial Hospital (Washington, D.C.) from leukemia.


The collection has been arranged as one series.

Series 1
Correspondence with Katherine Anne Porter

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries purchased Schaumann's correspondence with Katherine Anne Porter from Waverly Associates in May 2000. In July 2011, the Libraries acquired ten additional items of correspondence exchanged between 1944 and 1946 from a private individual.

Related Material

Additional correspondence between Katherine Anne Porter and Herbert Schaumann may be found in the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter, (Series I [Correspondence], Box 36, Herbert Schaumann, 1944-1947 and n.d. [Reel 27, Frames 235-329 of the microfilm edition]).

A few letters and postcards from Schaumann to poet/ photographer Jonathan Williams, circa 1958-1962, may be found in the Jargon Society Collection, at the State University of New York, Buffalo.

Processing Information

The letters and their enclosures were placed in chronological order. Some of the items were housed in Mylar sleeves. The collection was placed in an acid-free folder and box with an acid-free support. In July 2011, ten additional items were integrated into the previously processed correspondence.

Guide to the Herbert Schaumann papers
Processed by Danielle M. DuMerer.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742