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

The archive of the BBF holds a comprehensive body of documents pertaining to the history of kindergartens. In this regard, the papers of the pedagogue Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel (1782–1852) are particularly interesting. Fröbel had studied with Pestalozzi and he founded the first German kindergarten in 1837, in Bad Blankenburg – he is regarded as the „father of kindergartens“. In addition, the archive stores documents from the Pestalozzi-Fröbel Association (pfv) and its predecessor institution, 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 ideas on early childhood. Fröbel’s “theory of play” is oriented towards a child’s fundamental perception involving as many senses as possible: sensing, touching, hearing, speaking and singing are thus to be activated and increasingly interlinked. Fröbel attributed significant meaning to small children’s game activities and their desire to employ themselves with regard to early development. The so-called Fröbel gifts wer toys he designed himself and for which he wrote detailed instructions – they are still used in kindergartens today, together with his songs and nursery rhymes.

Berlin Legacy of Friedrich Fröbel

The archive of the BBF contains part of the legacy left by Friedrich Fröbel which is known as the „Berlin legacy“. Other parts of his legacy also exist: i.e. 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 running meters 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.

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). 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 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 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 as well as documents from the regional offices. Moreover, the legacy contains documents concerning the history of the German Fröbel movement and the institutional history.

The archive of the association also contains some objects from practical training of kindergarten teachers, for example a fold-out collections of pictures which are in some cases artfully crafted, pattern booklets and individual sheets from participants in the training courses – from the late 19th century respectively the years 1905 to 1911. They were probably produced in the Pestalozzi-Fröbel House, a training institution for kindergarten teachers which was led by Fröbel‘s great-niece Henriette Schrader-Breymann (1827-1899) in Berlin-Schöneberg.

The archive of the Pestalozzi-Fröbel Association has so far not been indexed in detail, only a list of delivered items exists. If you have a concrete request for use, please contact the archive and mail to .