Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Special Collections Held by the University Library

Historical Research on Socialism

A speciality in the University Library's profile within the Social Sciences is the collection of Literature concerning Socialism and Labor Movement, based on Max Stein's special collection. Max Stein (1871-1952) was a Social Democrat from Upper Silesia (Oberschlesien). His collection was acquired in 1951; it is made up of approximately 7,500 volumes of monographical works, brochures and newspapers, of which approximately 3,500 volumes are from the 19th century.

The collection covers the history of Socialism, i. e., theory of Socialism as well as political and organizational history of the Labor Movement. It centers on the literature published in Germany and Central Europe since the foundation of the General German Workers' Association (Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein, ADAV) in 1863. The collection includes only little non-German-language in the original, but there are many translated sources. The German-language literature concerning the Labor Movement outside Germany is also well represented. All in all, and especially with respect to earlier literature (19th century), this is the largest known private collection in this discipline.

From a historical perspective, the numerous first editions of Socialist classics are impressive. Where research relevance is concerned, the literature published by corporations within the Labor Movement is more notable. The proceedings of the main Conventions are almost complete. A large portion of the corporation sources consists of publications issued by regional and local clubs, factions, labor secretariats and loCal cooperatives, etc. These materials are among the most valuable parts of Stein's Library.

The collection was catalogued and indexed in the framework of a German Research Foundation (DFG) project; a printed catalog was published in 1993 (Krimpenfort, Wilhelm: Bibliothek Stein : Sozialgeschichte im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert; Katalog / bearb. von Wilhelm Krimpenfort, u. Mitarb. von Dieter Vorath. Herausgegeben von Ulrich Naumann. - Wildberg : Belser Wissenschaftlicher Dienst, 1993. - XXXII, 874 S. ISBN 3-628-90100-6). There is also an edition by Belser Wissenschaftlicher Dienst of about a third of the "Bibliothek Stein" that facilitates access especially to the rare corporation sources. the individual volumes Of that edition are available on CD-ROM.

Since the early 60s, the University Library has retrospectively acquired a large amount of earlier literature, aiming at completeness, to specifically complement the Stein collection.

In 1979 Alfred Weiland's private collection was acquired. Alfred Weiland (1906-1976) was a Communist from Berlin. Among his collection are approximately 750 volumes relevant to the historical research on Socialism. Weiland's collection stands out by its emphasis on, and comprehensiveness concerning the various trends and currents in the Labor Movement's factions along the fringes of SPD and KPD from World War I and later.

Other important elements in the collection are Nazi-Resistance literature and socialist literature from the post-war years.

Further reading:

  • H. D. Heilmann: Die Bibliothek in Zeit und Räumen. I-IV.
    In: Bibliotheksinformationen der UB der FU Berlin. Nr. 18, Nr. 24, Nr. 25 und Nr. 26;
  • Sylvia Kubina: Die "Sammlung Weiland" in der UB der FU Berlin.
    In: Bibliotheksinformationen der UB der FU Berlin. Nr. 27;
  • Sylvia Kubina: Die Bibliothek des Berliner Rätekommunisten Alfred Weiland (1906-1978).
    Berlin: UB der FUB, 1995. - 135 S.: Ill.
    (Veröffentlichungen der Universitätsbibliothek der Freien Universität Berlin ; 4)
    ISBN 3-929619-07-5

The last completed project aimed at a more detailed description of the materials concerning the Proletarian Women's Movement. The resulting catalog, which has been published as a searchable CD-ROM database covers 3,000 essential sources. Moreover, some 1,000 sources have been newly editited. In this case, the sources listed are not limited to the Library's own holdings. Among the other libraries in Germany and abroad that were considered, the most important is that of the Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv (SAPMO) with its ample holdings, including Clara Zetkin's private collection. Both catalog and source edition were published in 1999 by Verlag Belser Wissenschaftlicher Dienst, Wildberg:

  • Bestandskatalog und Quellen-Edition zur proletarischen Frauenbewegung. Katalogwerk mit Katalogband und Bestandsverzeichnis auf CD-ROM, bearbeitet von Sylvia Kubina, hrsg. von Ulrich Naumann.
    Wildberg: Belser Wissenschaftlicher Dienst, 1999.
    ISBN 3-628-11329-6

The sources included in the edition can be acquired from the publishing house on CD-ROM or microfiche. A complete MAB2 title database useful for cataloguing purposes is also available: Database Proletarische Frauenbewegung of the 19th & early 20th Centuries. ISBN 3-628-11589-2.

All in all, the collection area Research on Socialism comprises approximately 50,000 volumes, of which aproximately 20,000 can be counted as historical sources of Socialism.

Deposit Copies of Berlin Publications 1952 to 1994

From 1952 to 1964, by an agreement with the Berlin Publishers' and Booksellers' Association, the University Library received one copy of every book published in Berlin and thereby accepted the responsibility of archiving the regional deposit copy. In 1965 the Library was officially appointed the Deposit Library for West-Berlin, and from 1990 to 1994 it had that function for all of Berlin (with restricted access). Since 1995, the deposit copies have been archived by the Berlin Central and Regional Library (Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin, ZLB).

Protected Holdings and Rare Materials Collection

All items published in 1900 or earlier are treated as protected holdings. They cannot be taken out on loan; they can be used  in the Reading Room only and are excluded from self-copying. The disciplines represented by these holdings are pretty much in keeping with the holdings in general; the materials are mainly from the 19th century.

The Rare Materials Collection consists of items of eminent academic, historical or esthetic value: pre-1500 books (incunabula, of which there are 17), other early books, rare works of Socialism, pamphlets, first editions, almanachs from the 19th century, notable exemplars of book art and relatively recent West Berlin fine-press books (1994 and earlier).
The University Library's Rare Materials Collection is different from corresponding holdings in other libraries in that it was not built by systematically acquiring valuable and rare books; instead it results from the fact that acquisitions of materials for research and teaching could comprise rarities; it is thus not a réserve précieuse in the customary sense. It contains 3,000 titles, of which approximately 1,700 were published before 1900. Important disciplines are Classical Studies, German History of Ideas during the 18th and 19th century; the Freie Universität Berlin Romance philologist Walter Pabst's Voltaire collection, Pamphlets and rare early post-war publications from West Berlin.


The University Library manages, and acts as a trustee for, the Berlin Homeopathic doctors' Associations' library (indicated by shelf numbers starting with 4 RH). Together with the University Library's own accessions, homeopathic literature from Hahnemann to the present is comprehensively covered. Alternative Medicine and outsider publications complement these holdings. Accession is continued at a limited rate by the Homeopathic doctors' Association. Materials are divided in three categories according to publication date: from 1850 and earlier, Rara; 1851 to 1950, protected holdings (for use in the Reading Room only); from 1951 on, available for loan.

Private Libraries

The Library has acquired a few small collections built by scholars, for instance those of the historian Friedrich Meinecke (1862-1954), the legal scholar Franz Neumann (1900-1954), the psychologist Ludwig Lewin (1887-1967) and the theater scholar Hans Knudsen (1886-1971). These collections (with the exception of Knudsen's) were not preserved in one piece, but were distributed throughout the stacks, which at the time, were shelved by subject area. In 1993, the Library acquired the private collections of the Romance scholar Walter Pabst (1907-1992), the theologian Helmut Gollwitzer (1908-1993), and the SPD politician Otto Suhr (1894-1957).

Old Law Theses

This collection of approximately 17,500 Law theses from the 16th to 19h centuries (mainly 17th and 18th) was entrusted to the University Library soon after its foundation by the Higher Court of Berlin (Kammergericht) and complemented with a number of theses from the general holdings. The collections origins lie with the Kgl. Preußisches Obertribunal, the Rheinischer Revisions- und Kassationshof and the Kgl. Preußisches Kammergericht.

The theses were predominantly written at the universities of the Old German Empire (Altes Reich, i.e., before 1806). There are some 1,000 theses, especially from the Netherlands and Switzerland. All areas of Law are covered, as were taught at the time; in particular common German private law.

The collection is catalogued bibliographically and by subject. All of it is part of the protected holdings and can be used in the Reading Room only.

Further reading: Schnieders, Klaus: Juristische Dissertationen aus dem Alten Reich: ein Sonderbestand der Universitätsbibliothek der Freien Universität Berlin. Berlin, 2012. - 117 S. - ISBN: 978-3-929619-81-2. - (Veröffentlichungen der Universitätsbibliothek. Nr. 6.)
Online version on the Freie Universität Berlin document server.

Old Medicine

By taking over a significant part of the former Berlin Medical Central Library, Berliner Medizinische Zentralbibliothek, (1980 seqq.) the University Library acquired a rather large selection of medical literature from the 18th, and especially the 19th as well as early 20th century. Moreover, sources of, and secondary literature concerning, medicine in antiquity are also well represented.

School Programs of the 19th Century

Some 13,500 school programs were taken over from the Pädagogisches Zentrum in 1968 and later complemented by the acquisition on a further 1,500. These German school programs from the second half of the 19th century (no more recent than 1915) pertain mainly to Prussia. The materials are shelved according to the alphabet of locations and then sorted by year. The collection is accessible. Cataloguing is in process.

Course Catalogs from German Universities and Other Tertiary Education Institutions

The collection of old course catalogs comprises the former eastern territories (Breslau, Danzig, Königsberg) – but with gaps. They are catalogued.