History of the Archive

Following his death in 1898, Theodor Fontane’s estate, initially in the possession of his family, was stewarded by a testamentary commission. Parts of the estate found their way early on to the Märkische Museum. Following failed negotiations with the Prussian State Library (Preußische Staatsbibliothek) over the acquisition of that part of the estate administered by Friedrich Fontane, the family property went up for auction on the 9th of October, 1933 at the auction house of Meyer & Ernst.

In 1935 the Brandenburg provincial administration acquired the comprehensive components not sold at auction, together with the collection set up by Friedrich Fontane and that part of his publisher’s archive concerning his father, and founded the Theodor Fontane Archive as a literary archive of the province Brandenburg.

The Fontane Archive took up its activities immediately after the founding and was able to considerably expand its holdings into the war years. As a PhD Student of Julius Petersen, Charlotte Jolles counts among its first coworkers. In the last year of the war, a considerable loss of the holdings occurred in the throes of evacuation, the whereabouts of which remain unclarified to this day.

After 1948 the Fontane Archive was carried on as a division of the state und college university of Brandenburg and from 1969 as a division of the German State Library (GDR). In the years after 1989, the threatening dissolution of the Fontane Archive, through its refounding as a stand-alone institution of the state of Brandenburg, was averted. Since 1992 it has been able to position itself as a literary archive through its scientific work and simultaneously expand its collections.

The holdings of the Theodor Fontane Archive missing since the Second World War were documented in a publication by the former archive head Manfred Horlitz in 1999.

In October 2007, the Fontane Archive moved into the Villa Quandt at the foot of the Potsdam Pfingstberg, which could be restored for use of the Fontane Archive with resources from the Hermann Reemtsma Foundation in Hamburg and the European Regional Development Fund. In the same year it became affiliated to the Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv. Since 2014 the Fontane Archive has belonged to the Faculty of Arts at the University of Potsdam as an academic institution.