Herbert Schaumann papers
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.
Important Information for Users of the Collection
This collection is open for research.
Herbert Schaumann papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.
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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.
Scope and Contents of the 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.
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.
Processed by: Danielle M. DuMerer, November 2000. Revised by Ruth M. Alvarez, July 2011.
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.
EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Michael Yates.
Arrangement of Collection
The collection has been arranged as one series.
Detailed Description of the Collection
Series 1: Correspondence with Katherine Anne Porter, 1941-1947 (35 Items)
This series contains twenty-seven letters, four telegrams, and four cards exchanged by Katherine Anne Porter and Herbert Schaumann. Twenty-three are Porter's letters to Schaumann. Four are Schaumann's letters to Porter. The four telegrams and four cards card are from Porter to Schaumann. All of Porter's letters are original. Two of Schaumann's letters are carbon copies. The collection also contains some newspaper clippings and notes made by Schaumann. In the correspondence, Porter and Schaumann discuss World War II, including their distaste for Germans (despite Schaumann's ethnic background) and the Japanese, and two letters specifically address the first atomic bomb.
Other topics include Porter's career in screenwriting, her dissatisfaction with the film industry, her various residences in California, and writing. Poems by Schaumann are listed in one letter dated October 29, 1945.
Many of the letters concern personal life and, specifically, the development and, finally, the abrupt ending of Schaumann and Porter's romantic involvement. The last letter in the series is written by Schaumann and is addressed to Porter but was never sent. According to this letter (dated February 6, 1947), Porter requested that he return the letters she sent to him. Therefore, some of her original letters to Schaumann, as well as some from Schaumann to Porter, are in the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter. Porter prepared some of her side of this correspondence for possible publication under the proposed title, "Letters to a Stranger"; however, the project was never completed. On the envelope of his final unsent letter to Porter, Schaumann jotted some phrases Porter used to describe her negative reaction to Schaumann's revelation of his homosexuality.
Among some of the notable persons mentioned in the collection are Thomas Mann, Edith Sitwell, Robert Penn Warren, Hart Crane, and Porter's nephew Paul Porter.
The letters, telegrams, and note card are arranged chronologically.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame|
|Correspondence with Katherine Anne Porter, 1944-1947||series 1||box 1||folder 1|
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.
For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.
Selected Search Terms
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.
- American Authors -- Correspondence
- American Poets -- Correspondence
- Herbert Schaumann -- 1909-1982 -- Correspondence
- Katherine Anne Porter -- 1890-1980 -- Correspondence
Names (Added Entries)
- Katherine Anne Porter -- 1890-1980