"si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil"

— M. Tullius Cicero

arrow down


Towards fulfilling its scientific tasks and as part of providing its services, the Institut für Personengeschichte maintains a specialist library and various special collections. The library bears the ISIL number DE-1970, Bensheim, as its international standard identifier and is a reference library.

The library currently comprises approximately 75,000 volumes of printed works (as at 1/3/2022), 65 early modern manuscripts (mainly heraldic and family books), as well as some manuscript fragments taken from historical book covers. In accordance with the research focus of the Institute, the library is continuously expanding both its shelf and digital book and its journal holdings. This expansion is facilitated by the acquisition of antiquarian books and the latest research literature on the history of persons and groups, as well as genealogy.

In the reading room, guests of the Institute can use the reference books to support their own research work. It contains handbooks, encyclopaedias, and overviews on general history, as well as on the historical auxiliary sciences. All works not placed in the reference library of the reading room, as well as collections from the magazine area, can be ordered from the librarian and brought to the user's workplace. All Institute holdings are recorded in an OPAC-compatible catalogue database.

The Institute owes the core of its historical library holdings to a donation by the collector Niklas Freiherr von Schrenck and Notzing. In addition to some 2,700 printed works from the 16th-18th centuries, it contains nearly 3,500 historical house, court, and state calendars from early modern Europe. These include documents of outstanding provenance from the collections of ruling houses, numerous princely and noble families, and from monastery and scholarly libraries. This collection-segment of old books unites important source editions and core texts of early modern historiography, genealogy, and legal history. It also contains a comprehensive collection of historical calendar works, which form a central source for personal research into the ruling classes of the ancien régime and the European monarchies of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Medievalist research literature with a prosopographical-genealogical orientation is available to Institute visitors through the acquisition of the scholarly library of Armin Wolf (formerly held by the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, Frankfurt am Main). This includes a rich collection of offprints. In addition, the scholarly libraries of Gerd Tellenbach (1903-1999) and Karl Schmid (1923-1993), which have been donated to the Institute, offers important sources and reference works. The library of Wolfgang Vollrath, the former managing board member of Villa Hügel (e. V.) in Essen and for decades the curator of many cultural-historical exhibitions, has also become part of the institute's holdings and sets its own accent on the history of art and regional history. Other special collections, such as the rich Judaica collections or the Academics Department, are dedicated to the history of individual population groups.

The Institute's book collection includes not only monographs, collected works and separata (including grey literature), but also scientific journals and series from the fields of general history, regional history, and genealogy, including around 350 family association journals. While the journal holdings concentrate almost exclusively on the historical German-speaking area, most other library departments provide cross-sections through the whole of European history from the early Middle Ages to the present; for example, on aristocratic, military, economic and social history.

Opening hours

  • by arrangement

Contact person

In 2008, the Stiftung für Personengeschichte took over the bookbindery Berlich in Heidelberg as a department of the Institute. Since then, a small team has been involved in the restoration of leather volumes, the binding of magazines and serial works, and the repair of frequently used or damaged copies.
All the Institute’s books receive an ex libris, on which the accession and, if necessary, the donor is noted.