History of the Archives
The Archive of the Francke Foundations in Halle has existed for over 300 years. Established by August Hermann Francke during the seventeenth century, its holdings reflect the difficult rise, worldwide success as well as the decline of Halle Pietism. Therefore the major part of the holdings originates from the heyday of Halle Pietism in the first half of the eighteenth century. Manuscripts, documents, materials and records linked to the eventful history of the Francke Foundations represent yet another major component of the Archive.
Initially, the individual institutes owned their own foundation registries and archives. The holdings were subdivided into: the administration, the schools, the Mission Institute, and the individual economic institutes of the Foundations. Valuable manuscripts were preserved in the Library’s manuscript collection. These holdings have been expanded and supplemented by means of estates and donations.
The archive was supervised only on a part-time basis and was not available for public use until into the twentieth century. In the course of his 50-year tenure, the private secretary of Gotthilf August Francke (1696-1769), Sebastian Andreas Fabricius (1716-90), introduced the currently existing order to a large part of the documents, especially the Mission archive. Around the middle of the nineteenth century the Archive lost more than 11,000 manuscripts, which were stolen by exploiting a position of trust. Thanks to the then Royal Library in Berlin, the Berlin library acquired this part of the inventory in its entirety, which was made available to the public as the “Francke Estate.” Only during the second half of the nineteenth century did the Foundation directors Gustav Kramer (1806-88) and Wilhelm Fries (1845-1928) initiate the first source-based scientific presentation of the Foundation's history.
After the abolition of the Francke Foundations in 1946 the Archive was established as an independent central institution, assembling the archives of the individual institutions and assigning them to separate archival sections. The holdings outsourced during the final years of World War II were kept in the premises of the former Orphanage, now Houses 2-7. Dr. Jürgen Storz was the first to professionally staff the position of archivist between 1955 and 1992. In spite of the poor conditions he succeeded in securing the holdings and allowing a restricted use. At this time the work of systematically cataloguing the documents began. Early search tools were produced. Despite unfavourable external conditions the scholarly analysis of the archival materials was initiated. The publications appearing during these years remain an important basis for the study of Pietism.
With the revival of the Francke Foundations in 1992 the Archive was reorganised. Under the incoming management the first task was to create conditions for utilising the holdings. In 1993 the Archive was moved to the premises of the former Paper Warehouse (House 30), where it was stored until the completion of Houses 23-24, formerly the location of the Canstein Bible Centre. The archival materials were subjected to a thorough revision, while modern archival and computer technology were introduced. Work on disclosing the collections and creating search tools was continued. Numerous scientific contacts were resumed, intensified or re-established. In 2003 the Archive and the Library of the Francke Foundations merged to become the August Hermann Francke Study Centre (Houses 22-23).