The BBF archive is an openly accessible, collecting archive on the history of education and educational practices in Germany, focusing on the beginning of the 19th century to the late 20th century.

Archival Collection

The archival collection (including deposita) currently comprises aproximately 1,800 meters of shelving. It contains mainly archival items concerning the history of education in the GDR, and other, mostly non-official documents such legacies of German pedagogues, files from important German pedagogical institutions, and even some international organizations. The stock is complemented by special collections with different foci, e.g. sketches drawn by students.

Pursuant to its collection profile, the archive continually compiles and preserves stock, processing the material for researchers and the general public.


The history of the archive dates to 1876, the foundation year of the institution (see history), which gives evidence to the fact that the archive was attributed high esteem even at this early point. In 1922, Adolf Rebhuhn (1854–1924), one of the founders of the collection, published a book on its manuscripts and pictures, the “Handschrift und Bild als pädagogische Geschichtsquelle“, emphasizing the relevance of such sources for the history of education. At this time, the archival collection comprised 8,000 documents and further objects. Following an air raid in the night of 22nd to 23rd November 1943, which the archive survived without damage, the collection was evacuated to a location in today’s Czech Republic. The return of the archival stock took until 1950, and up to today nearly 80% is believed to be missing. Following its return to Berlin, the archive was integrated into the Pedagogical Central Library (PZB) of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), founded in November 1950. Initially, the PZB was maintained by the German Pedagogical Central Institute (DPZI), and from 1970 the archive was run by the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences in the GDR (APW). Alas, the historical archival stock was only preserved at the APW but not further expanded.

Pursuant to the agreement on German unification, the APW was dissolved as of 1st January 1991. The library and specialized archive were, however, meant to be continued, existing in their own right. In early 1992, the collections were taken over by DIPF. Since then, the historical holdings from the early days of the Teachers' Library have been systematically supplemented by targeted acquisitions.

The administrative documents of the two former PZB institutions, DPZI and APW, as well as numerous bequests of those working there, were transferred a few years later to the BBF by the Federal Archives, Bundesarchiv, as deposit holdings, so that they can be researched together with the educational history holdings available there. A deposit agreement of 1994 regulates the preservation, cataloguing and provision of these central sources for the educational history of the former GDR. 

At the same time, the building up of a collection began with the assets and bequests of pedagogues who were active or are still active in the West German states and in "reunited" Germany. Moreover, the archive collects files from pedagogical institutions and associations – e.g. the Archive of the own superordinate institution, DIPF. This has led to the creation of informative, widely diversified source corpora on the history of education, which are being proactively supplemented in order to make them available for current and future research topics.

Searching for Documents

The online archive database can be used to search for all of the archive's holdings. In addition to the title, there are descriptions of the contents, scope, chronological classification, origin and, of course, shelf mark. Depending on the depth of indexing, it is also possible to conduct an online search in the description units, or to consult the printed finding aids in the reading room.

Of course, you are welcome to contact us regarding any general or  specific questions about our holdings and their use.

 From Opening Hours to Internships: Links to the Most Important Informations About the Archive