The historic library

The library of the French Church in Berlin

The valuable historic library of the French Church in Berlin has been located in the French Cathedral (tower) since 1929. It is purely a reference library, which is available for academic research. The collection of books has grown historically and comprises various library establishments from the French Church in Berlin. The inventory includes approx. 500 metres of shelf space, of which approx. 350 metres of shelf space are historic old stock from before 1850.

Founding and history

In conjunction with the formation of the Séminaire de Théologie, a library was established in 1769. As the students of the theological seminary also had to give lessons at the French grammar school, the inventory proven to belong to the seminary includes titles that are rather atypical of an ecclesiastical library (mathematics, geometry, botany, atlases, German and French history as well as classical literature, historical journals, as well as art and architecture) in addition to theological literature (Reformed, Lutheran, Catholic). The collection of the theological seminary has been systematically expanded through donations, bequests and purchases, as can be seen from the preserved back catalogues and provenances.

The ex libris of this library was designed by Daniel Chodowiecki and given to the seminary library by him. Through the endowment from Marie Brandt-Mathieu, it was possible to form a separate consistorial library in 1892. A decision by the library commission stipulated that the endowments were to be used exclusively for the purchase of literature about Huguenot history. In the context of the internal refurbishment of the French Cathedral (tower) in 1929, the two libraries were amalgamated.
On 24th June 1944, the French Cathedral was badly damaged by incendiary bombs. Part of the library collection fell victim to the flames. After reconstruction of the tower, the preserved library was systematically catalogued, with greater emphasis also being placed upon proof of provenance.

The collection of books is being expanded specifically through purchases, specimen copies, donations and bequests. Old stock from the parishes of the Reformed community of EKBO has been incorporated into the library inventory in recent years. Furthermore, the rich collection of paintings and graphic art is also housed in the library.