Ducal Collection

Content, scope and history of the collection

The vast majority of the historical prints in the Gotha Research Library belong to the Ducal Collection. It contains about 300,000 volumes from the beginning of printing in the 15th century to 1850, as well as a large collection of works published between 1851 and 1945. The Ducal Collection contains the surviving princely library holdings of the ducal houses of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1640–1825) and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1826–1918) in Gotha.

While the library of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg had collected works in all areas of knowledge and focused on the history and reception of the Reformation and Lutheran theology until the first third of the 18th century, the ducal librarians had to abandon this universal acquisition policy in the mid-19th century in favour of concentrating on book production in the humanities.

Between the 1930s and 1945, the Ducal Collection suffered heavy losses. The Soviet Union returned most of the manuscripts and prints in the collection to the GDR in Gotha in 1956. The Ducal Collection has been treated as a – largely – closed collection since 1957.

Structure of the collection

The basic structure of the collection, which is divided systematically into subject groups and special groups, goes back to the specifications of the state theorist and scholar Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff (1626–1692), who worked in Gotha from 1645 to 1664. It is divided into seven major groups: Libri theologici (Theol), Libri juridici (Jur), Libri politici (Pol), Libri medici (Med), Libri historici (Hist), Libri philosophici (Phil) and Libri mathematici (Math).

In the 19th century, the philologist and ducal librarian Friedrich Jacobs (1764-1847) also recorded the newspapers, periodicals (Ephemerides - Eph) and archaeological literature (Antiquaria - Ant).

In the second half of the 19th century, the following subject groups were reworked or newly formed: Fine literature (Poes), geography (Geogr), descriptions of cities (Opp), biographies and memoirs (Biogr), and genealogy and heraldry (Gen).

In the 20th century, the groups Gotha Literature (Goth), Books and Manuscripts (Book), Music (Mus), Statistics (Stat), Education (Päd), Art (K) and Numismatics (Num) were added.

Outside this systematic arrangement are block books, incunabula and post-incunabula up to 1517 (Xyl. or Mon. typ.), dissertations (Diss), funeral sermons (LP) and hymnals (Cant. spir).


While the prints of the 15th, 16th, 17th and 20th centuries are fully indexed online (in part with provenances), the alphabetical and systematic catalogue of the Ducal Collection should be used in addition to the online catalogue when searching for prints of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Online catalogue of the Gotha Research Library

Index of 16th-century prints published in the German-speaking world

Index of 17th-century prints published in the German-speaking world

Alphabetical catalogue of the Ducal Collection

Printed matter. Systematic volume catalogue of the Duke's Collection of the Gotha Research Library (Please search in the Digital Historical Library for "designation of subject group [and] more systematic", e.g. "philosophy more systematic").

Systematics of the Ducal Collection


Research and digitisation orders:

Anke Seifert
Library Associate for User and Digitalization Services
(Gotha Research Library)
Forschungsbibliothek Gotha (Gotha, Schlossplatz 1)


Head of Collection Development and Cataloging
(Gotha Research Library)
Forschungsbibliothek Gotha (Gotha, Schlossplatz 1)