Harvard Law School Library Releases Internment Camp Papers Archive

The Harvard Law School Library announced earlier this week the release of the Maurice Ettinghausen collection of Ruhleben civilian internment camp papers, 1914-1937. An overview of the collection is available at

The papers were produced when the German government established an internment camp at a horse racetrack outside of Berlin to incarcerate male foreign civilians, with most of the materials dating from 1914 to 1918. Most of those interned were British, though there were other nationalities. You can view the digitized papers by going to — the materials are divided into boxes which are further divided into topical folders. The content of the folders is not usually personal material — instead it’s things like notices, playbills, tobacco cards, newspapers, etc. If you’re interested in hand-lettered signage and general randomness don’t miss the Canteen Committee Announcements, Box 4, Folder 2.

There are also images available with this collection. You can get to them by searching for Ruhleben in Harvard’s VIA system. I did just that and got 371 hits, which included pictures of the theatre productions, camp buildings, groups and societies formed within the Ruhleben camp, and so forth.

Seeing the kind of societal bonds that developed when a bunch of people were thrown into a camp is fascinating. Especially the things like newspapers, camp notices, etc. I could spend a lot of time browsing the printed material. Kudos to Harvard for digitizing this collection, which they have had for over 75 years.

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