Economic and non-profit society of the Canton of Bern OGG

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Economic Non-Profit Society Bern
OGG Logo.jpg
Chair: Simon Bichsel (President)
Establishment date: 1759
Seat : Bern

The Ökonomische Gemeinnützige Gesellschaft Bern (OGG ) is an association founded in 1759 with headquarters in Bern , which promotes the development of rural areas, especially in the areas of education, culture, economy and ecology.

Starting position

During the so-called Sattelzeit (1750 to 1850), the emerging industrialized countries developed the ability to initiate long-term economic growth processes . The closer ties between science and politics and business were of central importance. The economic-patriotic societies founded throughout Europe in the second half of the 18th century, a sub-group of the learned society, initially served as institutional vessels for the production of 'useful knowledge' with regard to reforms in the economy and society . The Ökonomische Gesellschaft Bern, founded in 1759 (later the economic non-profit society of the Canton of Bern OGG) was one of the pioneers. Economic was understood in the sense of comprehensive housekeeping geared towards the material and moral well-being of the individual and included a wide variety of economic and educational-moral issues, although agriculture was the focus.


Johann Rudolf Tschiffeli, portrait after Dominikus Tiberius Wocher (1808)

In November 1758, Johann Rudolf Tschiffeli called for a prize to be donated for the best treatise on the improvement of agriculture and grain production. In response to his call, a surprising number of people, a total of 59 - mostly belonging to the Bernese patriciate - were willing to pay so-called “subscription money” or “prize money”. Tschiffeli was supported in his project by six other men, in addition to Samuel Engel also by Gabriel Herport (1705–1783), Niklaus Emanuel von Diesbach (1692–1772), Sigmund Friedrich König (1712–1765), Franz Jakob von Tavel (1729– 1798) and Niklaus Emanuel Tscharner . These then formed the actual core of the Economic Society, which was founded in January 1759 in an effort to pursue the problem areas touched on with the price in a closer connection. The purpose of the society was primarily to promote agriculture, but further topics were also dealt with. The new society deliberately joined an illustrious group of previously founded economic-patriotic societies, such as those in Edinburgh (1723), Dublin (1731), London (1754) and Rennes (1757).

Program and topics

It should be the intention of this society to take up the farming, the food level and the action. That is: to increase the erosion of the land, to improve the processing of the land's goods, and to facilitate the distribution of the same. This will be the only subject of your research and experience.

This is how the economic society formulated its goals in its statutes of 1762. The primary goal was to increase the yields of the soil, but the innovations that were propagated affected all areas of agriculture, from agriculture to cattle breeding to the extraction of silk. Society should also pay attention to craft and industry. The Economic Society intended to be able to base its work on a scientific foundation. For this purpose, an extensive catalog of questions was formulated and the development of early statistical surveys (so-called topographical descriptions) was supported, which should show the state of agriculture and industry in the Bernese area.

Building society in the 18th century

The company was initially structured as follows: The large company , a kind of general meeting, met once a year in public in a festive setting and awarded the prizes for the questions advertised, but otherwise had primarily a representative character. Anyone wishing to be accepted into the large society had to submit a test of their knowledge by means of an essay - unless they were a "professional member", i.e. a member of the large or small council. Next to the “large society” was the “middle” or “narrower” society, which usually met monthly between December and May during the winter months. It was considered to be the actual economic society, it decided on new members and on tendering and awarding the prize tasks, issued the company's statutes, the so-called laws, administered the funds and conducted the correspondence of the economic society. The president of the “closer” was also the president of the “large” society. The “small” or “working” society or commission was finally eliminated from the middle-sized society. She formed the company's board of directors. Her duties included all of the Society's activities, which she had to prepare in weekly meetings in winter and monthly in summer. This included drafting price questions, preliminary advice on the documents received, drafting reports and printing the company's publications. All deliberations and decisions of the economic society required a prior judgment by the working commission. It had its own president and vice-president, as well as the two secretaries and the Seckelmeister (cashier) of the middle society. The outlined structure remained in place until 1768, after which it was noticeably eroded and changed into a two-tier structure, based on the principle of a board of directors and a general assembly, in which the narrower society was merged with the working commission. The big company took over from the middle one the authority to approve the bill and elect its own president.

Further development

Niklaus Emanuel Tscharner (1750).

In the first years of its existence, the Economic Society developed an extensive activity. In Bern, the ordinary members such as Johann Rudolf Tschiffeli and Niklaus Emanuel Tscharner did the real work. Diverse contacts, reputation and external splendor gave the partnership a large number of domestic and foreign honorary members (including Carl von Linné ). The Economic Society sought to mobilize talent with competitions and hoped that expert knowledge would be communicated; it rewarded practitioners with prizes. In the Bernese territory, which in addition to the Bernese core territory also included Vaud and parts of what is now the canton of Aargau, she encouraged the establishment of numerous subsidiary companies.

From a European perspective, society was accorded outstanding importance. With its organizational structure and its empirically and conceptually superior working method, it acted as a model for numerous other companies. Her papers and observations, published in two languages, and her prize questions received a pan-European response. Some of its members were known or even famous throughout Europe as authors and scientists, such as the brothers Niklaus Emanuel Tscharner and Vincenz Bernhard Tscharner and Albrecht von Haller . Many European scholars attested that the city ​​and republic of Bern had great potential for reform due to the low state tax quota and prospering agricultural economy.

After a decline in activity during the course of the 18th century, there were temporary breaks in social activity in the first decades of the 19th century. After the implementation of the liberal order in the canton of Bern in 1831, it was reconstituted in 1838. On the personal level, the town of Bernese patricians increasingly withdrew, while academics and leading personalities from the country (e.g. Rudolf Schatzmann and Johann Rudolf Schneider ) gradually gave the economic society a new face. In terms of content, she then concentrated entirely on agriculture, in particular on the increasingly important areas of dairy farming and cattle breeding; the once wide-ranging field of activity was restricted and scientific ambitions receded. The number of members increased impressively, and the economic society increased its influence on the peasant class with local associations.

In 1890 the society merged with the non-profit society of the canton of Bern to form the new economic and non-profit society of the canton of Bern (OGG). Today, the company is primarily dedicated to supporting charitable projects. For example, it arranges supervised living spaces with farming families to people who cannot live alone.

The OGG as a cantonal non-profit society has a statutory seat on the central board (ZV) of the Swiss non-profit society (SGG) .

Publications of the society

Since 1760, the Economic Society published the award-winning treatises as well as news about its activities and other valuable writings in the treatises and observations . This magazine was aimed primarily at a learned audience. Thanks to its bilingualism (German-French), the publication had international success and helped the OeG to gain wide-ranging attention in the 18th century. The lack of printable price fonts already slowed the publication of the series from the second half of the 1760s, so that the late publication of the volumes became a chronic evil until the seventies, until the last piece of a considerable series was finally printed in 1776. In the following, individual volumes appeared only sporadically, the last in 1796. As a result, the Society repeatedly complained about the lack of its own magazine and repeated efforts were made to found one again. The circumstances of the time and the continuing lack of good contributions prevented the publication of regular publications until 1846. It was not until this year that the Economic Society received its own periodical again, the “Wochenblatt für Landwirtschaft und Gartenbau” (Weekly Journal for Agriculture and Horticulture), which was later renamed “Bernische Blätter für Landwirthschaft, Wald- und Gartenbau”. This specialist newspaper has been published since 1901 and continues to this day under the name " Schweizer Bauer ".


Membership directory 1761


  • Erne, Emil: The Swiss law firms. Lexical representation of the reform societies of the 18th century in Switzerland , Zurich 1988.
  • Guggisberg, Kurt, Wahlen, Hermann: Expert sowing, delicious fruit. Two hundred years of the Economic and Non-Profit Society of the Canton of Bern 1759–1959 , Bern 1958.
  • Holenstein, André ea: Useful science in the Ancien Régime. Actors, topics, forms of communication , Heidelberg 2007, (Cardanus Yearbook for the History of Science 7).
  • Daniel Salzmann: Dynamics and Crisis of Economic Patriotism. The activity profile of the Oekonomische Gesellschaft Bern 1759–1797 , Nordhausen 2009 (Berner Forschungen zur Regionalgeschichte, 9), p. 45.
  • Stuber, Martin: "Vous ignorez que je suis cultivateur". Albrecht von Haller's correspondence on topics related to the Economic Society of Bern . In: Ders., Hächler, Stefan, Lienhard, Luc (eds.), Hallers Netz. An exchange of European scholars' letters at the time of the Enlightenment , Basel 2005 (Studia Halleriana IX), pp. 505–541.
  • Martin Stuber ea (ed.): Potatoes, clover and clever minds. The Economic and Charitable Society of the Canton of Bern OGG (1759–2009) . Bern 2009, ISBN 978-3258-07387-3 .
  • Wyss, Regula: Pastor as a mediator of economic knowledge? The role of pastors in the Economic Society of Bern in the 18th century , Nordhausen 2007.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Directory of the members of the economic society in Bern; directed to the year 1761. (Digitized version)
  2. See Jürgen Büschenfeld: Review of: Stuber, Martin; Moser, Peter; Gerber-Visser, Gerrendina; Pfister, Christian (ed.): Potatoes, clover and clever minds. The Economic and Charitable Society of the Canton of Bern OGG 1759–2009. Bern 2008 . In: H-Soz-u-Kult , March 12, 2010.