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Reinhard Wittke papers

Identifier: 010.RW

Scope and Contents

The Reinhard Wittke papers date from 1947-2007 and contain information about Wittke's career while teaching at Eastern Michigan University and other institutions, as well as the European Travel Program that he established in 1960, which became the foundation for International Studies and the travel programs supported by the World College and Academic Studies Abroad.

The collection is arranged into four series: Career and Legacy, Course Materials, Tour Program and Personal Material. The Career and Legacy series includes files organized alphabetically and includes materials related to awards, scholarships, and service on campus. Also included in this series is non-tour related correspondence. The Course Materials series includes collected articles, clippings, and book reviews; grade books which are arranged chronologically; from there all other materials are arranged by the course and include additional files pertaining to specific lecture topics. There is not comprehensive documentation within this series of materials of syllabi, handouts or other course materials.

The Tour Program series makes up the bulk of the collection. Included in the series are files pertaining to general correspondence, research files, lecture notes, and program administration. From there an extensive sub-series of Tour Participant Papers that is arranged by title. Given that in the earliest years of the program is was for credit with the primary aim being graduate students and educators seeking continuing education credits, Wittke required that all participants produce a paper and they range from traditionally researched history papers to personal reflections. After that materials are arranged by the year of the tour starting in 1960 and includes the travel itinerary, tour brochures, handouts for participants, and specific lecture notes. There is a sub-series for each year the tour took place from 1960-2004 with additional files dating through 2007. Also included in this series are materials related to documenting the trip: scrapbooks, tour maps and ephemera, and a folder pertaining to tour reunions, more specifically the 40th anniversary of the tour program.

The Personal series includes and extensive correspondence subseries centered around communique with past participants of the Tour Program; materials from Wittke's undergraduate and graduate research, collected publications and obituaries. The correspondence are organized chronologically. They were originally bundled by the donor and contain typed and handwritten letters from businesses, family, and past particiapnts of the Tour Program. They also include cards, airmail, invitations, postcards, and notes.

The Reinhard Wittke papers comprehensively document the work of a faculty member promoting international education in a formalized tour program that spaned more than four decades. In addition to the Tour program, the collection is a reflection of his time in the classroom both at Eastern Michigan University and his prior institutions. There is however little in the collection that documents his scholarship and extensive service to the University.


  • 1947 - 2007


Conditions Governing Access

Researchers are asked to request materials 24 hours prior to visiting the the University Archives.

Conditions Governing Use

The Grade books contained in the Reinhard Wittke papers (Boxes 7-10) are closed for research. Please contact the University Archives with questions.

Biographical Note

Reinhard Wittke was born March 15, 1921 in Drossen,Germany (now Osna Lubice in Poland) and immigrated with his family to Sibley, Michigan (annexed to Trenton) in 1926. He attended the University of Michigan and received both his A.B. (1943) and M.A. (1945) in History and his PhD in Medieval History in 1956. From 1943-1946 Wittke taught History and Geography at the junior and high school levels in Trenton, Michigan and Rogers City, Michigan respectively. He served as a teaching assistant between 1946-49 at the University of Michigan.

Wittke married Berthilda (Bert) Emelia Metzger on January 30, 1947. Metzger also immigrated from Germany with her family in 1926 and lived in Ann Arbor. They met while Wittke was working at her family's restaurant, the German Inn in Ann Arbor, during his freshman year at the University of Michigan. They had one daughter, Sigrid.

From 1949-1951, Wittke took a position on the faculty at Mankato State in Minnesota teaching the freshman courses in History. Wittke and his family returned to Michigan in 1952 to assist in Medieval History at the University of Michigan, taking a one year leave from 1953-54 to study on scholarship with the Fulbright Program in Munich, Germany.

Wittke was hired by President Eugene Elliott to begin teaching at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) in the fall of 1956 in the Department of History. During his tenure at EMU, Wittke taught the two semester sequence of History of Western Civilization, the World in the 20th Century, in addition to his areas of specialty, Medieval and German History which he taught at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Wittke was the first faculty member on campus to offer course via closed-circuit television during a trial period between 1961-63. At the end of the trial, Wittke concluded that if he would be required to teach large numbers of students, he would prefer to deal with them face-to-face, which helped establish the 'mass section' course offering. Beginning in the fall of 1963, for more than 26 semesters, Wittke was responsible for teaching sections ranging from 100 to 450 students. Wittke was one of five finalists chosen by Student Council in 1964 for the first Outstanding Instructor Award, elected to Phi Kappa Phi for the 1979-80 class, and consistently received high marks in his evaluations. He was awarded the Senior Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award in 1981, recognized by the EMU Board of Regents in 1984, the Michigan Board of Governors in 1988 and again by the EMU Board of Regents in 1989.

While known for his teaching on campus, Wittke is also best known for his European Travel Study Program (which became International Studies). In 1960, under the title of "The Clinical Approach to History," Wittke travelled to Europe with an averaged size group of 30 mixing travel and lectures throughout Europe. EMU President Brickley wrote, after his visit with the group to Munich, Germany in 1977: "I have told many people here at the University that to listen to a lecture by Dr. Wittke on the unification (or disunification) [sic] of Europe while standing in downtown Munich is an unforgettable experience." Wittke led more than 40 tours, and while most were in Europe, there were also tours to Australia, China and New Zealand.

Active on campus in other capacities, Wittke served on the Faculty Council (now Faculty Senate) and the Curriculum Committee of the Council; board member of Inter-Collegiate Athletics (1962-64); Departmental Executive Committee and History Section Chairman; and the College Personnel and Finance Committee. He also gave lectures on his travels to student groups at area high schools and dormitories on campus as well as area organizations like Rotarty, Kiwanis, Lions, and the "20" Club.

Reinhard Wittke retired 1990 December 31 and was granted emeritus status by the Board of Regents. Wittke continued to travel with students and faculty from Eastern Michigan University and celebrated 47 years of touring in 2007. In 2014, the Reinhard and Bert Wittke Travel Scholarship was established support participation in international travel and study abroad. Preference will be given to graduate students in history section programs, followed by undergraduate students in those programs. Wittke continues to live in Ann Arbor.


46.3 Linear Feet (16 record center cartons, 3 oversize boxes, 39 archive boxes, 2 halfsize archive boxes, 38 slide boxes, 5 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



Reinhard Wittke was a professor in the History Department at Eastern Michigan University from 1956-1990. During his time at Eastern, Wittke established and was best known for establishing the European Adventure Tours in 1960, which became International Studies Program. The Reinhard Wittke papers which date from 1947-2007 primarily documents the tour program including clippings, tour planning, correspondence, student papers, maps, and itineraries; but also includes materials that documents Wittke's career as an educator including awards, course materials, grade books, and personal research. His papers are arranged into three record groups, Career and Legacy, Course Materials and Tour Program. There is little in the collection that documents his tenure process, scholarship or other professional service, some of the records in the Course Materials record group includes grade books from his previous institutions of employment. Records in the collection date from 1947-2007.

Accruals note

University Archives continues to add materials to the collection. To reflect additions, edits to the finding aid will occur at the end of each calendar year.

Location of Digital Copies

Digital Copies available at:

Related Materials

Additional materials from the later years of the European Adventure Tours and International Studies Program can be found in the records of the World College and Academic Programs Abroad.


Materials related to the curricular changes in the College of Arts and Science, Teaching through Television, or other materials related to the History Department in the Department of History and Philosophy records


and the Bruce K. Nelson papers


An Oral History with Wittke and P. George Bird was completed in the summer of 2016 and is available through

Reinhard Wittke papers
Elizabeth Searls and Alexis Braun Marks, CA
2014 July 8
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Repository Details

Part of the Eastern Michigan University Archives Repository

Bruce T. Halle Library, Room 310
955 West Circle Drive
Ypsilanti Michigan 48197