Cataloguing and Research

Current Projects

La Belle Anglaise: The Book Collector Luise Dorothea of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg as a Mediator of English Culture

Duchess Luise Dorothea of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg , Miniature, c. 1740/45

The Lutheran Duchess Luise Dorothea, born Saxe-Meiningen (1710–1767), played a significant role in shaping the political and cultural life of the Gotha court during the 18th century. As a female author of educational texts, a member of societies and a theologically, philosophically, and aesthetically interested networker, she is counted among those female rulers who helped shape the Early Modern era on cultural and political levels. The influence of these princesses on contemporary politics and society is evident in their book collections. This is particularly true for Luise Dorothea, whose private library of approximately 3,500 works represents one of the most extensive private collections at the Gotha Court. Given her love of all things French and intense (correspondence) contacts, including with Voltaire, her collection was perceived as "French." Remarkably, among the almost entirely French-language prints, there are about 100 'English' male authors and a few female authors, as well as a multitude of books with English, Scottish, Irish, and American references. These publications cover not only works of moral philosophy but also encompass publications from all fields of the so-called fine sciences and liberal arts. Besides the Duchess's preferred works of literary fiction, the collection also includes periodicals, dictionaries, religious literature, political treatises, historical accounts, scientific writings, and travelogues.

The aim of this research project is to systematically reconstruct, analyse, and contextualize the "Bibliotheca Anglicana" within the entire collection, with particular emphasis on the materiality of English books.  The results will be published in a monograph and presented in a digital reconstruction.

To the project page

Duration: 01.11.2023-31.10.2026

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Project Partners
Faculty of Theology, University of Göttingen; Gotha Research Library; Gotha Research Centre; Herzog August Bibliothek; Thuringian University and State Library Jena

Project Group
Management: Dr. Gabriele Ball (University of Göttingen)
Gotha Research Library: Dr. Kathrin Paasch, Dr. Hendrikje Carius, Dr. Dietrich Hakelberg
Gotha Research Centre: Prof. Dr. Martin Mulsow, Dr. Markus Meumann
Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel: Prof. Dr. Peter Burschel, Prof. Dr. Ulrike Gleixner, Dr. Hartmut Beyer
Thuringian University and State Library Jena: Dr. Andreas Christoph

“Cultural Heritage in Cyberspace: Education, Preservation, Access”

The project “Cultural Heritage in Cyberspace: Education, Preservation, Access” funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and directed by Professor Albrecht Fuess (Philipps-Universität Marburg) aims to create an extensive binational academic network in the framework of the DAAD’s programme line on the German-Egyptian progress partnership. In the field of the preservation of cultural heritage, a sustained cooperation is established between German and Egyptian academic institutions, notably through digitization projects, mentoring and support of early career researchers, exchange of experts, shared production of knowledge, and cultural learning. The project is located at the intersection of Islamic Studies, Arabic Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies, oriental Manuscript Studies, Heritage Studies, and Digital Humanities. Practical project goals are the development of overarching German Egyptian digital infrastructures for oriental manuscripts as well as the transfer of practical and technical knowledge. The German-Egyptian progress partnership will support the preservation of cultural heritage and strengthen a comprehensive social access to knowledge. It will also promote academic discourse on cultural heritage both among the German and the Egyptian partners. The Gotha Research Library is one of the German partner institutions in the project.

Project term: 2021–2022

Patrons: German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Funding amount: € 200,000 (Philipps-Universität Marburg)

Project partners
German Side:
Philipps-Universität Marburg; Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities; Berlin State Library; Universität Hamburg; Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities; University and State Library of Saxony-Anhalt (Specialised Information Service Middle East North Africa and Islamic Studies, including the Middle East Virtual Library, MENALIB)
Egyptian Side:
Egyptian National Library (Dār al-Kutub); Cairo University; ʿAyn Shams University; Egyptian Supreme Council of Culture; further affiliated institutions

Project group
Dr. Hendrikje Carius (Head of User Services and the Digital Library) and Dr. Feras Krimsti (Curator of the Oriental Manuscript Collection)


Mapping Africa and Asia

Indexing the correspondence and personal documents of Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff (1626–1692)

Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff

The scholar and statesman Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff is considered one of the most important exponents of the European republic of scholars between the Thirty Years' War, Pietism and the beginning of the Enlightenment. He is regarded as the founder of modern, scientifically based administrative theory and is one of the most important representatives of Christian state theory as well as Protestant church history. After a stellar career in the service of Duke Ernest of Saxe-Gotha, he moved to the top administrative position in the Principality of Saxe-Zeitz. Shortly before his death, he was appointed Founding Chancellor of the University of Halle/Saale. In his scholarly work, Seckendorff sought to link history, philosophy and politics to natural and international law. Among the multitude of his writings, the “Teutsche Fürstenstaat” of 1656 and the “Commentarius de Lutheranismo” of 1688 (expanded in 1692) stand out.

The provision of its largely untapped and widely dispersed sources – over 7,900 documents in a total of 32 libraries and archives – is a major desideratum in the study of the Early Modern Period. The project will provide new impulses for the source-based interdisciplinary examination of Seckendorff. In addition to the Research Library, the materials to be indexed therein are primarily stored in the State Archives of Altenburg, Gotha and Meiningen, which belong to the Thuringian State Archives, as well as in the Main State Archives of Dresden and the State Archives of Saxony-Anhalt/Wernigerode, with which the Gotha Research Library cooperates closely.

The documents are described in accordance with the Rules for the Indexing of Bequests and Autographs (RNAB). The results will be entered into the Kalliope database of the Berlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage. A conference is planned at the end of the project.

Project term: Funding phase I: January 2020 to December 2022

Patrons: German Research Foundation

Funding amount: € 245,000

Project group
Leadership: Dr Kathrin Paasch (Director of the Gotha Research Library), PD Dr Monika Müller (Head of Department of Special Collections)
Editors: Dr Jacob Schilling, Franziska König, Hanna Losfeld

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Orient Digital

Qur'an fragment on parchment (3rd/9th century) with an excerpt from the first Sūra

Orient Digital is a cooperative project of the Berlin State Library, the Gotha Research Library, the IT Department of the Leipzig University Computer Centre and the Bavarian State Library in Munich. The aim is to establish a union catalogue and a web portal for oriental, i.e. Arabic, Persian and Ottoman, manuscripts in Germany.

The three libraries in Berlin, Gotha and Munich preserve the largest collections of oriental manuscripts in Germany. With more than 65,000 oriental manuscripts, the German collections form one of the largest collection cores in Europe. Of these, only 6,100 manuscripts have been recorded in electronic form so far. This has an impact both on the visibility and on the usability of the German holdings. There is also still a lack of uniform collection standards and the necessary coordination between the various libraries and projects.

The project aims to address these shortcomings by increasing the manuscript descriptions available in the current electronic applications from 6,100 to 22,000. In parallel, common standards are being established to record data from printed catalogues of the libraries participating in the project in a standards-compliant manner and to build a central portal solution with a common index. This will allow for an optimal exchange of data on oriental manuscripts.

From 27 to 29 October 2021, the Staatsbibliothek Berlin hosted "The Critical Link? A workshop on Authority Control and Oriental Manuscripts in Libraries and Digital Humanities Projects" took place. Further information can be found here.

Project term: 06/2020–05/2022

Patrons: German Research Foundation

Funding amount: € 148,290

Project partners
Oriental Department of the Berlin State Library, the Bavarian State Library in Munich and the IT Department of the University Computer Centre Leipzig

Project group
Leadership: PD Dr. Monika Müller (Head of Department of Special Collections), Dr. Feras Krimsti (Curator of the Oriental Manuscript Collection)
Editor: Wael Abbas

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European Training Network (ETN) Mediating Islam in the Digital Age

The project Mediating Islam in the Digital Age (MIDA) is based on the observation that digitization and technological progress have an important impact on Islam and that this has many far-reaching consequences. These are reminiscent of the consequences of past technological revolutions, like printing. MIDA explores the different facets of this process and raises three important questions: How does digitization impact Islam (notably convictions, practices, societies, political organisations, social institutions, and perspectives)? How does it shape the relation of Muslims to their past? How does it affect Islamic Studies?

MIDA is coordinated by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris. The Gotha Research Library is one of thirteen partner organisations. The Library will supervise two junior scholars in Gotha in 2022 and 2023.

Duration: starting in 03/2019

Funding: EU

Project partners
Consortium of twelve academic institutions and thirteen partner organisations

Project group
Director: Dr. Kathrin Paasch
Academic execution: Dr. Hendrikje Carius, Cornelia Hopf (until 10/2019), PD Dr. Monika E. Müller (from 11/2019), Dr. Feras Krimsti