After the death of Goethe’s last grandchild Walther von Goethe on April 15, 1885, the poet’s estate passed to Grand Duchess Sophie of Saxe-Weimar and Eisenach as stipulated in Walther’s will. The Grand Duchess founded the Goethe Archive in the same year. In 1889, Schiller’s inheritance was donated to the archive by his grandson and great-grandson. The archive has borne the name »Goethe and Schiller Archive« ever since.
Grand Duchess Sophie had the current archive built between 1893 and 1896 to accommodate the rapidly growing collection; both the ducal family and the Goethe Society founded in 1885 contributed to this expansion. Until the beginning of World War I, the archive was home to 35 inheritance, together with the eponym further from the classic time (including Herder, Wieland, Knebel, Riemer, Chancellor von Müller, Johann Heinrich Meyer and Bertuch) and figures from the late 19th century (including Freiligrath, Immermann, Otto Ludwig, Fritz Reuter, Hebbel).
In the first decades of its existence, the Archive’s most important task was the creation of the Sophie or Weimar edition of Goethe’s works, which was initiated by Grand Duchess Sophie and which appeared between 1887 and 1919 in 4 parts comprising 143 volumes.
Between the two World Wars, the long-overdue indexing of the collection was unable to progress beyond the earliest stages. The most important addition to the Archive was the estate of Georg Büchner, donated by Anton Kippenberg in 1924. From 1925 to 1947, the Goethe and Schiller Archive was sponsored by an administrative organisation set up by the state of Thuringia, the administrators of the ducal treasury and the Goethe Society.
In the 1950s, the Goethe and Schiller Archive acquired the estates of Franz Liszt and Friedrich Nietzsche. The systematic organisation and indexing of the collection did not begin until 1954.
You will find information on the current situation under collection.
The Goethe and Schiller Archive is divided into two departments:
The Media Processing and Use department is responsible for the maintenance, indexing, supplementation and procurement of the collections and customer care.
Since the publication of the Sophie edition, the Archive sees itself as a centre of Goethe research and edition philology supported by original sources. Further information is available under Editions.
Im Vorfeld der Literatur: Vom Wert archivalischer Überlieferung für das Verständnis von Literatur und ihrer Geschichte. (Preface to literature: the value of archives for studies of literature and its history.) Studies edited by Karl-Heinz Hahn, Weimar 1991.
Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv. (Goethe and Schiller Archive.) Directory edited by Karl-Heinz Hahn, Weimar 1961. (This directory gives an overview of the items archived in each estate.)
Goethes Autographensammlung. (Goethe’s autograph collection.) Catalogue edited by Hans-Joachim Schreckenbach, Weimar 1961.
Friedrich Nietzsche. Ecce Homo. Facsimile edition of manuscript. Transcript. Commentary edited by Karl-Heinz Hahn. Leipzig 1985, also Wiesbaden 1985.
Roswitha Wollkopf. Das Nietzsche-Archiv im Spiegel der Beziehung Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsches zu Harry Graf Kessler (The Nietzsche archive in the light of Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche’s relationship with Count Harry Kessler) in: Jahrbuch der Deutschen Schillergesellschaft (German Schiller Society Yearbook), 34 (1990), pp. 125-167.
Georg Büchner. Woyzeck. Facsimile edition of manuscripts. With transcript, commentary, list of editions, edited by Gerhard Schmid. Leipzig 1981, also Wiesbaden 1981.
Roswitha Wollkopf; Renate Krumbach. Verlassenschaften. Der Nachlass Vulpius (Inheritance. The Vulpius estate), edited by the Stiftung Weimarer Klassik. Weimar 1995.