Reinhart Koselleck Library and Archive project - DLA Marbach

In 2008, the German Literature Archive in Marbach am Neckar and the German Documentation Center for Art History in Marburg acquired the scientific papers and the main part of the personal library (about 10,000 books) of the historian Reinhart Koselleck. The library represents the type of a universally-oriented library of a 20th century scholar.

The books that have been chosen to be treasured in Marbach and Marburg show numerous signs of Koselleck’s working and studying process. This provenance information provides an insight into Koselleck’s horizon of knowledge and his interests: marked text passages, marginalia and annotations, handwritten notes, dedications and many inserts.


The main part of Koselleck’s library is situated at the German Literature Archive in Marbach whereas the books covering political iconography, hippology and arts are located in Marburg. All of these books at the German Literature Archive in Marbach and at the German Documentation Center for Art History in Marburg will be described in the Kallías library catalogue of the German Literature Archive, a project that will be completed February 2014. The books which are located in Marburg will be included as virtual data-records. All of these books will be described in Kallías so that it will be possible to search the Koselleck library in only one catalogue. Until now more than 6,650 data records are already finished. This means that all the books in Marbach have been catalogued, only the serials and offprints as well as the books in Marburg (processing time: 06/2013 - 01/2014) remain.

A guide (in German) on how to search for Koselleck’s books and their provenance information in Kallías can be found at the homepage of the German Literature ArchiveThe catalogued items can be used in the library reading room of the German Literature Archive. The cataloguing project of Kosellecks' library is sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

The scientific papers of Koselleck, located in Marbach, amount to more than 240 green archival boxes (each contains about 500 sheets). Among them are handwritten manuscripts, machine written typescripts and numerous material collections and notes, as well as materials concerning the genesis of Koselleck’s habilitation treatise "Preußen zwischen Reform und Revolution", records to speeches, lectures, essays, the papers to "Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe", convolutes to "Arbeitskreis für moderne Sozialgeschichte", to academies and historical commissions. Koselleck’s copious correspondence with notable scientists of the 20th century includes inter alia letters to and from Gadamer, Habermas, Iser, Jauß, Luhmann, Sternberger, Tugendhat and Weinrich, as well as correspondences with other German and Westeuropean scientists, philosophers and publishers.

The material for "Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe" forms a special part of Koselleck’s papers; formations and documents regarding single lemmas within and around the lexicon were sorted by Koselleck himself. Among them are many disordered notes with text references, quotations or annotations which reach beyond the published texts. In addition Koselleck’s papers contain more material collections, documents that show intensive work with scientific colleagues and student assistants. Enclosed are handwritten excerpts and structures, letters to and from Koselleck, newspaper cuttings and copies from various European libraries marked and annotated by Koselleck.

The part of the collection located in Marburg contains a large set of images and related textual materials accumulated over decades. Koselleck collected these materials because of his interests in iconography of modern times and modernity in general, especially the history of the violent death. It is in particular his own photographs and drawings that reflect Koselleck’s perspective on history and politics. Koselleck’s image collection is composed of two parts, understood as a result of two long-term projects on Politischer Totenkult (the political cult of the dead) and political iconography with focus on the phenomena and history of violent death. The image collection contains for example pictures of war memorials, cenotaphs and statues or pictures of and about power and authority. The Marburg collection also includes correspondences, inter alia with Warnke, Imdahl or Schmoll gen. Eisenwerth.

All in all, Koselleck’s papers' allow an insight to the science of history in the 20th century and provide comprehensive unpublished materials that will be useful for historical professions. The description and cataloguing of Koselleck’s material is undertaken in cooperation with the German Literature Archive and the German Documentation Center for Art History in Marburg  and is sponsored by the Gerda-Henkel-Stiftung. The scientific papers of Koselleck in Marbach cannot be accessed without written permission from Koselleck’s family while the work of cataloguing and describing these materials is still ongoing. The work in Marbach will presumably be finished this year.

Pictures : DLA Marbach
Some boxes with Koselleck bibliographical catalogue cards and handwritten notes can be seen in the exhibition "Zettelkästen - Maschinen der Phantasie" in our Literaturmuseum der Moderne until September.

We thank Janet Dilger and Marcel Lepper from the Erschließungsprojekte Reinhart Koselleck in DLA Marbach, for providing the information!

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