Archival Materials on the History of Kindergarten and the Friedrich Fröbel's Pedagogy

The archives of the BBF contain an comprehensive collection on the history of the kindergarten. Particularly noteworthy is the partial legacy of the pedagogue Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel (1782-1852). The student of Pestalozzi founded the first German kindergarten in Bad Blankenburg in 1837 and is considered the father of the kindergarten. In addition, the archive holds documents of the Pestalozzi-Fröbel-Verband (pfv) and its predecessor, the German Fröbel Association.

In 1837, Friedrich Fröbel founded an “Institution for the Care of Children’s and Adolescents‘ Desire to Explore“ in Blankenburg (Thuringia) based on his theoretical concepts of early childhood. Friedrich Froebel's "play theory" focuses on the basic perception of the child with her or his many senses: Thus, feeling, touching, hearing and speaking are to be activated and should increasingly interact. Fröbel thus attributes crucial importance to the toddler's play and engagement in early childhood development. The so-called Fröbel "Spielgaben" (=play gifts), which Fröbel designed and provided with detailed instructions for use, are still used today in kindergartens, as are his nursery rhymes and songs.

Berlin Legacy of Friedrich Fröbel

The archive of the BBF contains part of Friedrich Fröbel's legacy, known as the „Berlin legacy“. Futher parts of his legacy are the Blankenburg legacy in the Friedrich Fröbel Museum in Bad Blankenburg and the Keilhau legacy in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (State Library at Berlin).

The Berlin legacy consists of roughly 13 linear meters of archival materials and it is the most comprehensive of the legacies. It contains unique sources from the period between 1800 and 1850 including manuscripts relating to the development of the gifts, songs and movement games. Moreover, the papers contain documents concerning the institution of kindergarten and the training institute for kindergarten teachers, as well as documents about Fröbel‘s ideas on teaching and educating. Furthermore, materials are included from Fröbel’s practical pedagogical work in Frankfurt am Main, Yverdon, Keilhau, Helba near Meiningen and Blankenburg.

In particular, the comprehensive correspondence kept at the BBF archive is worth mentioning. Fröbel exchanged letters with, for example, distinctive pedagogues, e.g. Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and Adolph Diesterweg, but also with colleagues and friends. At the BBF archive, the legacy is stored as a depositum of the Federal Archives.

A complete edition of Fröbel letters (not only from the Berlin legacy) is available as an Online Edition, edited by Professor Dr. Helmut Heiland (Fröbel research unit at the University of Duisburg-Essen) and the BBF.

The archive also holds many issues of the weekly magazine “Die erziehende Familie” (The educating family) (1826), the “Sonntagsblatt“ (Sunday paper) (1838-1840) and “Friedrich Fröbels Wochenschrift“ (Friedrich Fröbel’s weekly bulletin) (1850).

The entire legacy has been indexed in a printed finding aid.

Archival Materials From the Pestalozzi-Fröbel Association

Part of the archive of the Pestalozzi-Fröbel Association (pfv) founded in 1948 (pfv) and its predecessor - the German Fröbel Association (founded in 1873) - were handed over to the BBF archive in 2001. These materials contain administrative files of the Pestalozzi-Fröbel Association (until 1990), correspondences and documents of the chairs of the association, documents from the regional offices and on the the history of the German Fröbel movement.

The association's archives also contain some objects from the practical training of educators. Examples are the partly artistically designed leporellos, pattern books and single sheets of participants of the training courses, which date back to the late 19th century or the years 1905 to 1911. They were probably created in the Pestalozzi-Fröbel-Haus, a training school for kindergarten teachers in Berlin-Schöneberg run by Fröbel's grandniece Henriette Schrader-Breymann (1827-1899). 

The archive of the Pestalozzi-Fröbel Association is only roughly indexed. If you have a concrete request for use, please contact the archive and mail to .