Among its outstanding manuscript holdings, the Gotha Research Library preserves four special collections on Lutheranism from the 16th to 18th centuries. It has been making these collections accessible online since 2004. The results are searchable in the Kalliope Union Catalogue and can be used for further research on handwritten documents.
The Reformation manuscripts from the 16th century comprise 260 volumes with almost 16,000 individual documents. They provide a deep insight into the early phase of the Reformation and its further developments into the early 17th century. The manuscripts include a considerable number of autographs as well as numerous contemporary copies of almost all reformers of the first to third generation, among them Martin Luther (1483–1546), Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560), Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466–1536), Johannes Bugenhagen (1485–1558), Georg Spalatin (1484–1545), Jean Calvin (1509–1564), Theodore Beza (1519–1605) and the Thuringian reformers Friedrich Myconius (1490–1546) and Justus Menius (1499–1558). In addition, there are (partial) estates from Paul Eber (1511–1569), Stephan Gerlach (1546–1612), Bartholomäus Gernhard (1525–1600), Aegidius Hunnius (1550–1603) and Johannes Piscator (1546–1625). Many of these documents – with the exception of the correspondence of the most influential reformers – remain unpublished to this day. The Research Library made this collection accessible from 2004 to 2009 with funding from the German Research Foundation.
The estate of the two Lutheran theologians Johann Gerhard (1582–1637) and Johann Ernst Gerhard (1621–1668) from Jena comprises 206 manuscript volumes with over 8,850 individual documents. It contains above all the correspondence (a total of around 3,700 letters), as well as personal documents, manuscripts of various writings, notes and collections from school and academic studies, scholarly notes, and writings that arose in connection with pastoral and church leadership activities. The unique bequest of two theologians from the 17th century makes it possible to study the history of Lutheranism in terms of the humanities, ideas, education, universities and politics, as well as the history of early modern scholarly culture. Johann Gerhard is considered one of the most important theologians of Lutheran orthodoxy. He significantly shaped the Lutheran confessional culture with his dogmatic and edifying writings. His son Johann Ernst Gerhard rendered outstanding services to the study of Oriental languages and cultures. The Gotha Research Library made this bequest accessible from 2009 to 2013 with funding from the German Research Foundation.
Seckendorff's correspondence and personal documents
The scholar and statesman Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff (1626–1692) is considered an outstanding representative of the political practice of the German Protestant territories of the second half of the 17th century. 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 Evangelical Lutheran church historiography. Despite his political activities being largely confined to Central Germany, Seckendorff was part of a dense political and administrative network and one of the most important Central German exponents of the European “Respublica litteraria” between the Thirty Years' War and the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment. Of the 7,860 documents distributed among 32 libraries and archives, 968 documents have been preserved in the Research Library, mainly Seckendorff's scientific correspondence since 1664, letters from Seckendorff in correspondence with Wilhelm Ernst Tentzel (1659–1707) and Tobias Pfanner (1641–1716), as well as manuscripts and handwritten materials documenting his scientific and political activities during the Gotha period. With his writings, Seckendorff aimed at the synopsis of a multiplicity of discourses in which he was actively involved. The indexing of his hitherto largely unexplored correspondence and personal documents goes well beyond previous studies, concentrating primarily on Seckendorff's publications and provides new impulses for a source-based interdisciplinary examination of Seckendorff. The Gotha Research Library has been indexing the correspondence and personal documents since 2020 with funding from the German Research Foundation. In doing so, it cooperates with all archives and libraries that preserve documents by Seckendorff.
The estate of the Lutheran theologian and Gotha library director Ernst Salomon Cyprian (1673–1745) comprises 135 manuscript volumes with almost 8,700 individual documents. These include almost 4,000 letters with some 600 persons throughout Europe, an extensive collection of Cyprian's material for his own major editions and works on the history of the Church and the Reformation, along with the collection of manuscripts and prints he assembled for the Reformation anniversary in 1717. Through this collection, the networks of this scholar from the late phase of confessional Lutheranism can be reconstructed and examined. Furthermore, the estate enables research into the early scholarly reappraisal of the history of the Reformation. Cyprian is considered one of the last representatives of Lutheran orthodoxy who decidedly fought against certain developments in the Enlightenment and Pietism. The Gotha Research Library made the bequest accessible from 2014 to 2020 with funding from the German Research Foundation.