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Ottoman Turkish Collections in the Library of Congress

Karl Süssheim Collection

Karl Süssheim book plate
Karl Süssheim book plate. Library of Congress African American and Middle Eastern Division.

The single largest component of the Ottoman Collections at the Library is the Karl Süssheim Collection of 2,512 cataloged works, including books, pamphlets, and bound periodicals. Additionally, there are 11 banker's boxes with correspondence, photographs, notebooks and clipped articles from various publications as well as his personal diary covering 1903-1908.

Karl Süssheim (1848-1947) was a German historian of Jewish descent. As a professor of Islamic history, he was fluent in Arabic, Persian and Ottoman Turkish. Born in Nuremberg Germany on January 21 1878, Süssheim studied history, philosophy and science at the University of Munich where he submitted his dissertation in March 1902. After graduating, he studied in Constantinople until 1906 where he began collecting books and pamphlets in Ottoman Turkish. From 1919 until his dismissal by the National Socialists in June 1933, he was an associate professor at the University of Munich.

In 1941, with the help of Turkish friends, he immigrated to Istanbul with his wife and daughters and found a job at Istanbul University. During his years in Istanbul, Süssheim collected a large number of original manuscripts. In 1960, the Bavarian State Library acquired a large part of this collection. Süssheim also penned essays and papers, often hand-written in Ottoman and Arabic. He started his diary from the years 1908 to 1940 in Turkish and by 1936 he was writing in Arabic. Süssheim died in 1947 and is buried in the Ortakoy cemetery district in Turkey.

Karl Süssheim, his widow, Karolina (Ina) Plank Süssheim O'Brien and daughters immigrated to the United States with his personal papers and many Ottoman Turkish printed works he had collected. This collection was sold to Yale University in 1949. Yale University Library gifted the Süssheim Collection to the Library of Congress in March 1992. Each Library of Congress catalog record of his collection items has the note: Süssheim Collection, gift of Yale University, March 1992. Many items in Süssheim collection still have his special book plate inside the cover.

The entire Süssheim Collection of books is housed in the Near East Section and is available to researchers in the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building Room LJ-229. The list of cataloged books in the Süssheim collection  can be retrieved in this Süssheim Collection stored search result list. Alternatively, you can search for the Süssheim Collection using Keyword Search and putting "sussheim collection" in the search box in the Library of Congress Online Catalog

Please see the finding aid below to search for Süssheim's papers and instructions about seeing his diary.

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.


Karl Sussheim took many of his pamphlets and smaller books to a book binder who combined them into one volume. These works have been cataloged in over 104  bibliographic records with separate Library of Congress Control Numbers (LCCNs) and a note field that lists each title working from the right to the left in the Ottoman Turkish script. When searching the bound volume for the particular title, look for the LCCN barcode on the individual work that matches the title in the bibliographic record. See examples below.. The last two titles have the same call number because they are bound into the same volume.

Sussheim Papers

Karl Sussheim's papers consist of personal letters, photographs, clippings, documents for business transactions, and many small and large notebooks that are organized into 11 file boxes in 8 1/2 x11 manila folders with numbers.

Number Box Contents
1 envelope diary (number 4), notebook (shorthand), essay book (Morgenstern)
2 notebooks/letters
3 notebooks/letters
4 notebooks/letters
5 notebooks/letters
6 notebooks/letters
7 correspondence
8 correspondence
9 manuscripts/articles
10 cards/articles
11 notes

Karl Sussheim Diary

Karl Sussheim's diary covers the years 1903-1908. The manuscript is available in the Ottoman Turkish Rare Collections and is available for viewing by request in the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room. Contact us using Ask a Librarian for more information on accessing the diary.