Historical Commission at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities
The Historical Commission at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, from the beginning intended to be an "Academy for German History", was founded in 1858 by King Maximilian II of Bavaria at the suggestion of Leopold von Ranke.
The Commission's brief is to "publish source material and accounts of German history", and for 150 years it has produced almost 650 volumes and thus made a major contribution to basic research into history. As well as the traditional medium of the book, it is increasingly making use of the Internet. Its members are leading historians from Germany, Austria and Switzerland (currently 41; since 1858: 184). The Commission's publication and research projects range from the Middle Ages to contemporary history and include political, economic and social history as well as the history of civilisation and scholarship. The European context is also taken into consideration in a variety of ways.
Every year, at the start of March, the members of the Commission meet in the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities for their annual session to review the work of the previous year and to discuss the future. At this annual session fundamental decisions are made concerning new research projects and new members are elected.
- The research programme of the Historical Commission has been considerably expanded in the last few years, not least because it has been possible to obtain outside funding; it currently focuses on the following:
- Research into the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, above all the editing of the Deutsche Reichstagsakten (Documents of the Imperial German Diet) in four series from the late Middle Ages to the Everlasting Diet of 1663
- Creating a central source base for history of universities and scholarship by establishing a prosopographic data base, accessible on the Internet, of the "learned graduates" of the Old Empire (Repertorium Academicum Germanicum) in the period from 1250 to 1550
- Research into the political and social history of Germany in the 19th century, in particular into the attempts at reform in the early years (Quellen zu den Reformen in den Rheinbundstaaten [Sources concerning reforms in the states in the Confederation of the Rhine], for Bavaria Staatsratsprotokolle der Montgelas-Zeit 1799–1817 [Minutes of the State Council in the Montgelas Era 1799–1817]) and into the Deutscher Bund (the German Confederation) (1815–1866)
- Editions focussing on scientific correspondence and the First World War (most recently, amongst others the Kriegstagebuch von Karl Hampe 1914–1919 (Karl Hampe's war diary, 1914–1919) and Kaiser Wilhelm II. als Oberster Kriegsherr im Ersten Weltkrieg. Quellen aus der militärischen Umgebung des Kaisers 1914–1918 (Emperor Wilhelm II as supreme military commander in the First World War. Sources from the Emperor’s military entourage, 1914–1918) in the series Deutsche Geschichtsquellen des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts (19th and 20th century German historical sources)
- Gesamtausgabe des Briefwechsels Leopold von Rankes (Collected edition of Leopold von Ranke’s correspondence), the first publication of the entire correspondence (1813–1886) of the historian, a theorist of scholarship who founded the subject and the historical-critical method and is a central figure in the history of scholarship in the 19th century
- The database project Rektoratsreden 1810–1968/69 an deutschen und Schweizer Universitäten und technischen Hochschulen (Rectoral adresses at German and Swiss universities 1810–1968/69)
- Editions concerning contemporary history: publishing the Akten der Reichskanzlei. Regierung Hitler 1933–1945 (Documents of the Reich Chancellery. Hitler's Cabinet 1933–1945) and the Protokolle des Bayerischen Ministerrats 1945–1954 (Minutes of the Bavarian Council of Ministers 1945–1954) (in collaboration with the Bundesarchiv respectively the Office of the General Director of the Bavarian State Archives)
- Digitalising the Akten der Reichskanzlei. Weimarer Republic (Documents of the Reich Chancellery. Weimar Republic), which were published in 23 volumes between 1968 and 1990 (similarly in collaboration with the Bundesarchiv)
- Publishing the Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (New German Biography), the central biographical dictionary for the history of the German cultural area, covering all sectors of public life – politics and the state, the economy and society, the church, knowledge and the humanities – from the beginnings to the present day. Since January 2008 the project "NDB/ADB-online", financed by the DFG, has been in operation whose aim is to digitalise the c. 46,300 articles of volumes 1–22 of the NDB (arranged alphabetically as far as the entry on Karl Schinkel) and its predecessor, the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (Universal German Biography) (ADB; 56 volumes, 1875–1912). As a first step the "images" of the articles are available online www.deutsche-biographie.de (source: BSB). As of 2010 it will be possible to comfortably access the texts themselves.
- Assisting the coming generation of academics by means of the Commission's research as well as by publishing outstanding works (principally doctoral and professorial dissertations) in the Schriftenreihe der Historischen Kommission (Series of the Historical Commission)
Organisationally and financially the Historical Commission enjoys an independent status, but it is closely linked by statute to the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Most of the funding comes from the State of Bavaria. About 25% comes from third-party funds. 26 scientific staff are currently working at 9 locations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The Historical Commission is supported by the "Stiftung zur Förderung der Historischen Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften und des Historischen Kollegs" (Foundation to promote the Historical Commission at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Historical College) as a public foundation with legal status in civil law.
Tel.: ++49 89 23031-1151
Fax: ++49 89 23031-1245
Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886) was the first president of the Historical Commission from 1858 to 1886. The illustration depicts him in about 1858 in a fresco by the historical painter Engelbert Seibertz (1813–1905) in the Maximilianeum in Munich with the Maximilians Medal for Science and Art conferred on him by King Maximilian II in 1853.