Special Collection Company Histories

Adam Opel

The special collection of company histories of Braunschweig University Library was established and catalogued in the 1980s.

In 1990, a first list of all documents containing the history of a company was compiled. Since then, the collection has been continuously expanded. The collection grew steadily through the purchase of smaller collections or gifts, such as about 500 titles provided by the Richard Borek Foundation.

10 years after the first edition of a catalogue of the special collection of company histories, the collection had more than doubled in size, so that a second edition was published and a third edition in 2005. Today, the database of company histories includes almost 6,000 titles. All titles are also listed in the online catalogue of Braunschweig University Library.

Apart from other company publications such as company magazines for customers or employees, product catalogues, annual reports, etc., the collection only includes literature which in any form describes the history of the company or at least time periods. Often these company histories are published on the occasion of an anniversary and designed with the aim of advertising in a particularly representative way.

The collection of company publications also has a special significance because they are often not published, but are given away to business friends, partners and customers and are therefore not always available in libraries or archives.

The spectrum of company publications ranges from simple leaflets to voluminous scientific publications. Above all, large companies with good company archives have commissioned recognised experts as authors (e.g. Franz Maria Feldhaus, Conrad Matschoß, Wilhelm Treue) or illustrators (e.g. the painter Otto Bollhagen).

Only independent publications were included in the catalogue, i.e. no journal articles or newspaper articles and also no anthologies of several companies. Likewise, a distortion of the increasing number of quite extensive and partly graphically elaborately designed Internet presentations was not included. Only commercial enterprises were recorded, but no state or municipal institutions and associations . Exceptions are the chambers of industry and commerce, transport companies and housebuilding societies.


The oldest company history named by Redlich is ‘Geschichte und Feyer des ersten Jahrhunderts des Eisenwerkes Lauchhammer‘ from 1825.  The oldest publication on the history of the company in the collection of the Braunschweig University Library is the publication about the ‘Stobwassersche Fabrik' in Braunschweig von 1830. Also online as e-Book.