Prof. Dr. Hartmut Keil

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Prof. Dr. Hartmut Keil
Professor Emeritus for American Culture and History


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Although I was born near the city of Bielefeld, I studied and taught at universities in southern Germany for the major part of my life: Freiburg i. Br. and Munich, where I earned both my Ph.D. and my Habilitation. The first and decisive impact for my professional life was a year in the United States as an exchange student with the American Field Service, where I had the privilege to attend, and graduate from, St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H., one of the best secondary schools in the country. Since that time I have lived on and off in the U.S.A. for altogether some seven years, with Washington, DC as my “home town,” where I was Deputy rep. Acting Director at the German Historical Institute from 1992-1994 before assuming my present position in Leipzig.


My teaching covers many aspects of American history both on the undergraduate and graduate levels. The lectures are survey courses, in which I emphasize socio-political, economic, and cultural aspects of American society. In my graduate seminars I cover important historical developments (e.g. slavery) as well as topics of contemporary relevance that can fruitfully be explored by analyzing their historical rootedness. My specialties are American social, immigration, labor, minority, and African-American history.


My research centers around (especially German) immigration, labor, and social history in the nineteenth century. I conducted a large research project on German immigrant workers to Chicago from 1979-1988 (known as the Chicago Project), and am presently engaged in looking at the relationship between German immigrants and African-Americans in the antebellum period, and at the significance of Francis Lieber, a liberal German immigrant. Other topics have been: McCarthyism, expansion and imperialism, the impact of German socialist immigrants on the American labor movement, coverage of Germany in American national television news, and violence in American history.

Study Tours

In addition to the regular load of teaching, I have offered study tours to the United States on selected topics. They have included “The Condition of African Americans in the South after the Civil Rights Movement” (in 1990 – when I still taught at Munich but took five students from Leipzig along, when the GDR had not yet been dissolved – and in 1996), “The American Political System” (1999), “Religion in American Society” (2002), “Civil Society and Civic Engagement” (2003), “Voluntarism, Diversity, and Civic Engagement” (2006), the latter two study tours in connection with the Leipzig-Houston sister city relationship.

Selected Publications & Papers

  • “Das Verhältnis deutscher Immigranten zu Sklaverei und Abolition in der Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts,” in: Migration und Erinnerung. Reflexionen über Wanderungserfahrungen in Europe und Nordamerika, hg. Christiane Harzig (Göttingen 2006), pp. 105-22.
  • “The Emergence of Chicagos Multiethnic Labor Movement,” in: Tales of Two Cities / Stadtgeschichten: Hamburg & Chicago, ed. Claudia Schnurmann, vol. 2 (Berlin 2006), pp. 211-27.
  • “Alexander von Humboldt, The German Immigrant Community, and Antebellum Politics, in: Przeglad Polonijny, Polska Akademia Nauk, Rok XXXI zeszyt 4/2005, Krakow 2005, pp. 7-21.
  • Ed., Transatlantic Cultural Contexts. Essays in Honor of Eberhard Brüning, Tübingen 2005.
  • “Violence in the United States and Latin America in the Nineteenth Century: A Comparative Approach,” in: Iberoamerica. América Latina Espana Portugal, I No. 4 (2001), pp. 45-67 (with Michael Riekenberg).
  • “German Working-Class Radicalism after the Civil War” in: The German-American Encounter: Conflict and Cooperation between Two Cultures, 1800-2000, ed. Frank Trommler and Elliott Shore, New York 2001.
  • “The Workingman's Myth of the Civil War: The Perspective of German-American Workers,” in: When the Shooting is Over: The Order and the Memory, ed. Loretta Valtz Mannucci, Quaderno 4, Milan Group in Early United States History, Mailand (1998), pp. 219-29.
  • “German Immigrants and African-Americans in Mid-Nineteenth Century America,” in: Enemy Images in American History, eds. Ragnhild Fiebig-von Hase and Ursula Lehmkuhl (Providence, RI, 1997), pp. 137-57.
  • “Work, Democracy, and Culture in Nineteenth-Century America,” in: Democracy and the Arts in the United States, eds. Alfred Hornung et al. (Muenchen, 1996), pp.21-38.
  • “The Working Man's Vision of Liberty,” in: Visions of the Future Collective & Individual; Secular & Sacred, ed. Loretta Valtz Mannucci, Quaderno 5, Milan Group in Early United States History, Mailand (1996), pp. 261-73.
  • “McCarthyism and Congressional Investigations on Internal Security During the Cold War, 1945-1956,” in: Anti-Communism and McCarthyism in the United States (1946-1954): Essays on the Politics and Culture of the Cold War, ed. André Kaenel (Paris, 1995).
  • “Die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika zwischen kontinentaler Expansion und Imperialismus,” in: Imperialistische Kontinuität und nationale Ungeduld im 19. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt am Main, 1991), pp.68-86.
  • “Kolonisation, Sendungsbewusstsein und Kommerz: Zur Entstehung einer nationalen Identität in den nordamerikanischen Kolonien Englands im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert,” in: Siedler-Identität. Neun Fallstudien von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, eds. Christof Dipper and Rudolf Hiestand (Frankfurt, 1995), pp.81-95.
  • “Deutschlandberichterstattung im amerikanischen Fernsehen (1988-1990),” in: Medienkultur - Kulturkonflikt. Massenmedien in der interkulturellen und internationalen Kommunikation, hg. Ernest .W.B. Hess-Lüttich, Opladen 1992, pp.41-64.
  • “Deutschlandberichterstattung in amerikanischen Fernsehnachrichten,” in: Qualitativ-empirische Sozialforschung. Konzepte, Methoden, Analysen, eds. Detlef Karz and Klaus Kraimer (Opladen, 1991), pp.343-375 (with Hans Schmid, Friederike Bauer, Carol Gillert and Monika Spindler).
  • “The Presentation of Germany in American Television News,” in: Germany and German Thought in American Literature and Cultural Criticism: Proceedings of the German-American Conference in Paderborn May 16-19, 1990, ed. Peter Freese (Essen, 1990), pp.26-50.
  • Ed. German Workers' Culture in the United States 1850 to 1920 (Washington, D.C., 1988).
  • Ed. German Workers in Chicago: A Documentary History of Working-Class Culture from 1850 to World War I (Urbana, 1988); (with John B. Jentz).
  • “The Impact of Haymarket on German-American Radicalism,” in: International Labor and Working-Class History No. 29 (Spring 1986), 14-27.
  • “German Immigrant Workers in Nineteenth-Century America: Working-Class Culture and Everyday Life in an Urban Industrial Setting,” in: Frank Trommler and Joseph McVeigh, eds., America and the Germans: An Assessment of a Three-Hundred-Year History, Vol. 1: Immigration, Language, Ethnicity (Philadelphia, 1985), pp.189-206.
  • Ed., Deutsche Arbeiterkultur in Chicago von 1850 bis zum Ersten Weltkrieg. Eine Anthologie (Ostfildern, 1984); (assisted by J. Jentz and others) English edition: German Workers in Chicago: A Documentary History of Working-Class Culture from 1850 to World War I (Urbana, 1988).
  • “Einwandererviertel und amerikanische Gesellschaft. Zur Integration deutscher Einwanderer in die amerikanische städtisch-industrielle Umwelt des ausgehenden 19. Jahrhunderts am Beispiel Chicagos,” Archiv für Sozialgeschichte, Vol.24 (1984), 45-87.
  • “Die deutsche Amerikaeinwanderung im städtisch-industriellen Kontext: das Beispiel Chicago, 1880-1910,” in: Klaus J. Bade, ed., Auswanderer - Wanderarbeiter - Gastarbeiter: Bevölkerung, Arbeitsmarkt und Wanderung in Deutschland seit der Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts (Ostfildern, 1984), pp.378-405.
  • Ed., German Workers in Industrial Chicago, 1850-1910: A Comparative Perspective (DeKalb, Ill., 1983); (with J.Jentz).
  • “From Immigrants to Urban Workers: Chicago's German Poor in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, 1883-1908,” Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, Vol.68 No.1 (1981), 52-97 (with J.Jentz).
  • Ed., Sind oder waren Sie Mitglied? Verhörprotokolle zu unamerikanischen Aktivitäten, 1947-1956, Rowohlt Verlag, dnb 131 (Reinbek, 1979).
  • “Liberale und McCarthy. Zur McCarthyismus-Rezeption in den fünfziger Jahren,” Amerikastudien, 19 Heft 2 (1974), 220-232.
  • “Erklärungsversuche zum McCarthyismus - Stand der Forschung nach zwei Jahrzehnten,” Zeitschrift für Politik, 21 (June, 1974), 168- 183.
  • “Kinder- und Jugendbücher,” in: Vietnamkrieg und Literatur. Amerikas Auseinandersetzung mit dem Krieg in Südostasien, München 1972 (with G.Raeithel, K.Ensslen, H. Ickstadt), pp. 42-77.

Selected Honors, Awards, Distinctions

  • American Council of Learned Societies post-graduate fellowship, the University of Wisconsin at Madison
  • Research project grant from the Volkswagen Foundation for a “Social History of German Workers in Chicago”
  • National Endowment for the Humanities grant for translation into English of German version of anthology on German workers' culture in Chicago
  • German Research Foundation grant for edition of F. A. Sorge correspondence (in conjunction with the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam)