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Wilhelm Rapp papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Rapp

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, poetry, photographs, and clippings of Wilhelm Rapp. Correspondence includes letters to Illinois Staats-Zeitung editor Hermann Raster. Also included are personal documents belonging to Rapp and a diary written by relatives describing his wife Gesine's trip to Germany in 1877. Three scrapbooks compiled by Rapp's daughter Emilie consist of obituaries and eulogies from various sources, as well as other miscellaneous materials. Rapp's poetry was written prior to the German revolutionary movement of 1848, and is indicative of his thoughts at the time. A 50th anniversary edition of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung consists of seven sections covering German contributions to Chicago art, music, religion, history, and the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

Materials are in German unless otherwise noted.


  • Creation: 1846-1929



Materials are in German.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Wilhelm Rapp 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 Wilhelm Rapp

German emigre and editor of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung.

Wilhelm Rapp was born on July 14, 1827, in what is now the Baden-Württemburg region of southwest Germany. As a student at Tübingen University Rapp participated in the German revolution of 1848, and was imprisoned for a year for his activities. Upon his release Rapp lived in Switzerland, where he taught school before emigrating to the United States in 1852.

Rapp edited Die Turn Zeitung in Philadelphia and Cincinnati, then moved to Baltimore in 1857 to become editor of the Baltimore Wecker. Rapp's anti-secessionist and anti-slavery views made him the target of mob violence, and in 1861 he narrowly escaped lynching by fleeing to Washington D.C. disguised as a minister.

While in Washington, Rapp met with Abraham Lincoln, who offered him the position of postmaster general. Rapp declined, instead moving to Chicago to become editor of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung. Rapp remained in Chicago until his death at age 80 on February 28, 1907. He and his wife Gesine had three daughters: Emilie, Frida, and Mathilda, and a son, William Jr.


2.2 Linear Feet (2 boxes and 1 oversize box)


Correspondence, poetry, and clippings relating to Wilhelm Rapp, German emigre and editor of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung.


Materials are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Collection Stack Location

1 28 7, 1 30 1

Other Finding Aids

Article: Newberry Library Bulletin, May 1952 (2nd series, no. 9)


Gift of Emilie Rapp Kemper, William Rapp Kemper and Nelda Kemper Meiners (Mrs. John C. Meiners), 1947.

Processed by

Kelly Kress, 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 Wilhelm Rapp papers, 1846-1929
Kelly Kress
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