About Us

The BBF | Research Library for the History of Education in Berlin is a research library with outstanding library and archive holdings on the history of German education in its international relations and a center for historical educational research in Germany. The BBF is a department of the DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education.

The BBF is committed to collecting knowledge in education from a historical perspective. Sources as well as national and international research literature on the history of education in Germany are made available for scientific use in different forms. Scientists from diverse disciplines with an interest in the history of education in Germany are advised and supported in their work. Moreover, in a way that is relevant for today’s education, the BBF contributes to historical research on education, care and socialization. The BBF contributes to a beneficial transfer of such historical knowledge to the educational political, professional and general public. To this end, the three areas of work, i.e. the library, archive and research unit collaborate closely at the BBF.


The BBF library holdings comprise about 770,000 items, and it is probably the largest collection of pedagogical literature in Germany. Sources originate from the School Museum and Teachers Library (see History). The BBF documents professional knowledge of teachers as well as the discipline’s knowledge. Since the profile was redefined in 1992, the BBF has acted as a research library and the collection has been systematically complemented by adding current educational historical research literature. Besides usage on the premises, the more recent literature is partly also available on loan. Historical sources are increasingly made openly accessible in digitized format, e.g. for usage in Digital Humanities (Open Access).


The archive of the BBF is a collecting special archive on the history of education and educational practice in Germany with a temporal focus from the beginning of the 19th to the end of the 20th century. On 1,800 meters of shelving, it holds central documents such as written materials of private and institutional provenance, legacies and collections, manuscripts and photographs. The DIPF's institutional archive with the records of the base institution is also part of the holdings. The holdings are systematically expanded and processed according to archival principles; they are available to the public for research and study.

Research Unit

Activities of the research unit are focused on two areas of research: a) historical practice of school, instruction and education, and b) the history of pedagogical knowledge, its institutions, practice and agents. This area of research benefits from the excellent library and archive holdings. At the same time, the researchers collaborate with library and archival staff towards further developing the scientific infrastructure of the BBF.