Alchemical Sources in the Herzog August Library

Leonhart Thurneysser, Quinta Essentia, 1574, p. xxxvii

This project aims to develop a central catalogue of the Herzog August Library´s alchemical sources as well as to index them with regard to terminology, illustrations, persons and genres. The project has produced a web portal with digital copies of these medieval and early modern books and a thesaurus of alchemical terms was developed for the intensive indexing of their content: This thesaurus allows searches in the Library’s alchemical holdings and navigation within the literature itself (structural data). It strengthens our understanding of the books with repect to the history of science, culture and knowledge.
The project allows the Herzog August Library to contribute to research on the history of alchemy, the concepts and images of which have long been relevant for cultural and religious studies. In recent years, historical alchemy has also become a focus of history of science and knowledge, concentrating on historical relations between natural and human sciences as well as their prevailing practices and personal networks.
The rich holdings of the Herzog August Library are continuously being enlarged by antiquarian acquisitions purchased for the Collection of German imprints 1601-1700. Over the past years, 250 rare books with alchemical content have been added to the holdings. This number reflects the importance of the German book market for the circulation and reception of alchemical knowledge during the 17th century.
At present, alchemical imprints (15th–18th century) are being systematically identified in the Library’s holdings and indexed by notations that allow them to be searched in the Library’s online-catalogue.

Web portal on the alchemical holdings of the HAB


Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Duration: June 2014 – January 2017
Contact: Dr. Petra Feuerstein-Herz
Researcher: PD Dr. Ute Frietsch
Phone: +49(0)5331-808-115, -324,  Fax -173