1848 Revolutions

Sendschreiben des Granaten-Brunnens in Berlin an seine Collegen, die Brunnen in den Provinzen
Sendschreiben des Granaten-Brunnens in Berlin an seine Collegen, die Brunnen in den Provinzen. Berlin: E. Litfass, 1848.

As well as the many books, both contemporary and later, we have some specific collections of ephemeral material relating to the Revolutions of 1848 which form a fascinating primary source for the study of this period.

About the collection

The collection is particularly strong in material from Berlin. A run of 661 proclamations and broadsides give an overview of events in the city between March and November 1848 as they happened and as politicians and writers reacted to them. we have further volumes containing satires, verses and single periodical issues from the same period.  Well-known writers such as the poet Ferdinand Freiligrath are represented alongside figures whose literary career flourished only for a few revolutionary months, and statesmen of the day alongside soapbox orators.

Alongside the Berlin material, we have a number of items relating to the other parts of Germany and a further collection of pamphlets, periodical issues and proclamations from the Revolutions of 1848-49 in Austria. Some short runs and individual numbers of revolutionary periodicals can also be found in our newspaper collections including, as a pendant to the works published in Germany during the revolution, a number of radical or liberal papers produced by German refugees in London in the later nineteenth century.

The Library’s French collections also include material from the French uprisings of 1848, and relevant ephemeral material from Hungary can be found in the collection assembled by László Waltherr.

What is available online?

Some useful online sources for 1848 Ephemera are:

  • 1848 – Flugschriften im Netz (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main): a collection of digitised ephemera, with summaries of content and indexes of contributors, subjects, places and events
  • Sammlung Friedlaender (Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin). The most comprehensive contemporary collection of ephemera relating to the events of 1848 primarily in Berlin, assembled at the time bythe Berlin doctor Georg Friedlaender
  • The Zentral- und Landesbibliothek has digitised material and an informative online exhibition
  • Revolution 1848 (Austrian National Library). A collection of digitised newspapers and ephemera from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

Although the volumes of ephemera described bring a number of specfic items together, most of our holdings from the period of the 1848 revolutions are not kept together and there is no separate catalogue of the collection as a whole. Potential users must be prepared to search the general catalogues for relevant material.

How to guides

Guide to researching provenance of books now in the British Library

Where do the British Library’s old printed books ‘come from'? Who owned or read them in centuries past? Why does it matter?

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