Collection of Autographs

The beginnings of the collection of autographs can be traced to the history of the predecessor of the BBF, i.e. the German Teachers Library, in the 1870s. Amongst other materials, this collection contains manuscripts written by reknown pedagogues and documents from everyday school life.

The founding fathers of the German Teacher Library, Adolf Rebhuhn and Hermann Gallee, as early as in 1876 pursued a systematic approach to setting up a school historical archive. By 1943, the archive had collected 3,088 manuscripts, 1,066 pictures and 409 school coins. Following an air raid in the night of November 22nd, 1943, the holdings were transported to a location which is today situated in the Czech Republic, in order to protect the material from war damage and looting. After the war, the return of archival materials was not completed until 1950. Because only a small number of the manuscripts were returned (exactly 1,341) today’s archive of manuscripts does not correspond to the record first published in 1922 by Alfred Rebhuhn ("Handschrift und Bild als Pädagogische Quelle. Ein Nachweis von Quellen aus der Deutschen Lehrer-Bücherei"). Besides many of the manuscripts, the entire collection of coins and many of the pictures remain missing.




Details About the Collection

The collection of autographs first of all contains letters written by pedagogues, but also school reports, school programmes, reports from school visitations, appointment certificates for teachers and other sources concerning school life in Germany. In some cases, the reunion of documents resulted in smaller, so-called “untrue” legacies of pedagogues, for example papers from Friedrich Adolph Wilhelm Diesterweg, Christian Wilhelm Harnisch and Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Wander.

The oldest item in the collection dates from the 16th century. Most documents concern the second part of the 19th century and the early 20th century.

The entire collection of manuscripts can be searched on the archive database, to a large part it is indexed via summaries and information about persons.

Compiling of Summaries (Regesten) of the Autographs

To make these pedaogical documents accessible to researchers and the general public, the existing records are currently being processed and complemented. To this end, the current holdings are compared against the information given in the record of manuscripts dating from 1922. Moreover, missing summaries (Regesten) are compiled. Subject to a comprehensive research on provenance, existing indexing data are simultaneously being enriched with information on writers and addressees of the manuscripts. Finally, a complete record of persons will be compiled and thus users will be given comfortable means of access to the valuable collection of manuscripts.