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Esperanto: Topics in Chronicling America

In 1887, Esperanto is developed as "universal language" and later rebranded as an "international auxillary language." This guide provides access to material related to "Esperanto" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Dr. Zamenoff, the Father of Esperanto." March 20, 1910. The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, CA), Image 5. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Linguists have long experimented with constructed language as a means of creating a universal or auxiliary language to unite all humanity, but no attempt is as successful as Esperanto. First introduced in 1887, Esperanto grows rapidly. It soon boasts millions of speakers, translations of classical texts, and a literature of its own. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


1887 Dr. Ludwig L. Zamenhof develops Esperanto as a universal language and publicizes it under the pseudonym, Dr. Esperanto in the book Unua Libro ("First Book"). Zamenhof will later rebrand Esperanto as an "international auxiliary language," rather than a universal language.
August 1905 The first International Esperanto Congress is held at Boulogne-Sur-Mer, France.
January 1906 The US War Department library begins collecting Esperanto literature.
August 1908 The US officially recognizes Esperanto and sends Mayor Paul Straub to the 4th International Esperanto Congress in Dresden, Germany.
November 1908 Ester Giffen, the Superintendent of the Reading Room for the Blind in the Library of Congress, educates members of the Capitol Esperanto Club, many of which are blind, on Esperanto using English Braille.
August 14, 1910 The 6th International Esperanto Congress opens in Washington DC. There are an estimated 2.5 million Esperanto speakers in the world.
1914-1919 In the context of World War I, many argue that Esperanto will prevent war by creating a "brotherhood of language."