"si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil"

— M. Tullius Cicero

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The INSTITUTE FOR PERSONAL HISTORY (IPG) possesses a specialised library and a number of special collections for the performance of its academic activities and the appropriate performance of its services. The library has been allocated the international standard identifier ISIL number DE-1970, Bensheim and is a reference library. The library currently encompasses approx. 65,000 volumes (printed works; status: 31.12.2016), 45 manuscripts from the early modern period, mainly armorials and family registers and a number of manuscript fragments detached from historical bound volumes. In conformity with the research focuses of the institute, the library is continually being augmented with real books and digitalised versions of books and periodicals. The acquisition of antiquarian works and the most recent research literature on the topics of historical individuals and groups and genealogy are collected for this purpose.
  Visitors to the institute can consult works from the reference library in the reading room to support their individual research projects. The reference library consists of reference books, dictionaries and comprehensive volumes on general historical scholarship and auxiliary historical fields. All works not available in the reference library in the reading room and collections kept in storage areas can be ordered from the librarian and will be brought to the user at his or her workplace. All works in the institute collections are recorded in the OPAC-enabled catalogue data bank. The institute owes the core of its historical library collection to a donation by the collector Niklas Freiherr von Schrenck und Notzing encompassing around 2 000 printed works dating between the 16th and 18th centuries and almost 3 000 historical house, court and state almanacs compiled during the early modern period across Europe. This includes documents from major provenances originating from collections in ruling houses, numerous royal and noble families and monastery, collegiate and scholars’ libraries. This stock segment of ancient volumes brings together essential source editions and core texts of early modern historiographies, genealogies and legal history and is complemented by the comprehensive collection of historical almanacs which constitute a central historical source genre enabling personalised research into the historical ruling classes of the ancien regime and European monarchies of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Visitors to the institute have access to medieval research literature with a prosopographical-genialogical focus through the acquisition of the academic library of Armin Wolf (formerly Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, Frankfurt am Main), including an extensive collection of more compact special editions. The donation of the academic library owned by the mediaevalist Karl Schmid (1923-1993), formerly based in the universities of Münster and Freiburg, has also made accessible a significant collection of source and reference volumes. A different emphasis focusing chiefly on art history and national history has been provided by the donation of the library belonging to Wolfgang Vollrath, formerly an executive board member of the Villa Hügel (e. V.) in Essen, who curated cultural-historical exhibitions for many decades. The library is further augmented by a number of special collections such as its substantial Judaica segment and the Academics department which is devoted to the history of individual population groups. The IPG library collection is not limited to monographies, collected works and separate editions (including grey literature), but also contains academic periodicals and series from fields such as general history, national history and genealogy, including around 350 family association periodicals. While the collection of periodicals is almost exclusively devoted to historical German-speaking areas, the majority of other library departments permit an insight into European history in its entirety from medieval times up to the contemporary period, for example aristocratic, military, economic and social history.

Opening hours

  • Tuesdaysbetween 8am–4pm
  • andby arrangement

Contact partners / Reading room and reception of guests

A bookbinding workshop is affiliated to the library. In 2008, the Foundation for Personal History was able to take over the bookbinding firm Berlich in Heidelberg as a facility of the Institute of Personal History. Since then, a small institute team has been occupied with the restoration of leather bindings, the binding of periodicals and multiple volume works and the repair of much used and damaged copies.