Hanns Wilhelm Eppelsheimer

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Hanns Wilhelm Eppelsheimer (born October 17, 1890 in Wörrstadt , † August 14, 1972 in Frankfurt am Main ) was a German librarian and literary scholar .


Eppelsheimer was the son of the geometer Wilhelm Eppelsheimer and his wife Elise, geb. Horst. He attended high school in Mainz and then studied law, history, French, German, art history and philosophy in Freiburg im Breisgau , Munich and Marburg . In 1914 he received his doctorate. During the First World War he was an officer in the field artillery from 1914 to 1918. From April 1, 1919 to 1929 he was a librarian at the Mainz City Library .

On March 1, 1929, Eppelsheimer took over the position of director of the Darmstadt State Library . After the National Socialists came to power on September 30, 1933, he was forced out of office and retired due to his classification as a Social Democrat. He then began extensive bibliographic work and published 1935–1937 the Handbuch der Weltliteratur , a bibliography of the literature of civilized peoples and their outstanding literary monuments.

After the end of the Second World War, Eppelsheimer resumed his professional activity as a librarian when he was reinstated as director of the Darmstadt State Library from April 6 to December 31, 1945. In 1946 he became director of the city ​​and university library in Frankfurt am Main . In the same year, together with Georg Kurt Schauer (1899–1984), Heinrich Cobet and the publisher Vittorio Klostermann , he initiated the founding of the German Library in Frankfurt am Main, of which he was the first director from 1947 to 1959; until 1958 he also remained director of the city and university library. In 1946 he became an honorary professor for library science at the University of Frankfurt, where he was also a lecturer for comparative literature .



In Mainz, between 1919 and 1927, Eppelsheimer and his colleagues developed the so-called Eppelsheimer method , a pragmatic method for building library catalogs , on the basis of which the Mainz subject catalog was created. A combination of a systematic subject catalog and verbal subject indexing using free keywords was implemented, which Eppelsheimer referred to as the “royal road” of subject indexing. It was adopted by several libraries in the years that followed.

Bibliography of German Linguistics and Literature Studies (BDSL)

Eppelsheimer's greatest achievement in the field of bibliography is the compilation of the bibliography of German literary studies , the first volume of which was published by Vittorio Klostermann in 1957 and initially covered the period from 1945 to 1953. From the second volume onwards, Clemens Köttelwesch (1915–1988) took on the editing and gradually brought the bibliographical references up to date. The ambitious project records the literature on German literary studies that has appeared worldwide, and since 1969, German linguistics as well . Since then it has been published as the Bibliography of German Linguistics and Literature Studies (BDSL) , but is still known as Eppelsheimer-Köttelwesch in Germanic specialist circles . The BDSL has been recorded by computer since Volume XXX (1990), and since 2004 it has been available on the Internet for the years 1985–1995 (for licensed institutions up to the present).

Awards and honorary positions


  • Petrarch. F. Cohen, Bonn 1926. 2nd edition, Klostermann, Frankfurt a. M. 1971.
  • Handbook of World Literature from the Beginnings to World War I: A Reference Work. Published in 7 issues 1935–37. Klostermann, Frankfurt a. M. 1937. 3., revised. u. supplementary edition 1960.
  • Homer - an original genius: essays. Parzeller, Fulda 1948.
  • Francesco Petrarca: poems, letters, writings. Selection u. Inlet by Hanns W. Eppelsheimer. Fischer library, Frankfurt a. M. 1956. 6th edition, Insel-Verl., 1994.
  • Library of an intellectually interested German: World Exhibition Brussels 1958. Börsenverein d. German Book trade, Frankfurt a. M. 1958.
  • History of European World Literature. Insel-Verl., Frankfurt a. M. 1970.


  • Alexandra Habermann, Rainer Klemmt, Frauke Siefkes: Lexicon of German Scientific Librarians 1925–1980 . Klostermann, Frankfurt 1985, ISBN 3-465-01664-5 , pp. 69-71.
  • Thomas Riplinger: The importance of the Eppelsheimer method for the theory and practice of library and documentary subject indexing. In: Library: Research and Practice . Volume 28, 2004, pp. 252–262 ( online version ).
  • Eva Tiedemann: Hanns Wilhelm Eppelsheimer: Curriculum vitae and bibliographic report. In: Kurt Köster (ed.): The German Library 1945–1965: Festgabe for Hanns Wilhelm Eppelsheimer . Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1965.
  • Article Hanns Wilhelm Eppelsheimer , in: Stadtlexikon Darmstadt, Stuttgart 2006, p. 212.
  • Stephan Rosenke: Hanns Wilhelm Eppelsheimer - Director of the Hessian State Library. In: 450 years of knowledge - collecting - conveying. From the court library to the university and state library in Darmstadt 1567–2017. Justus von Liebig Verlag, Darmstadt 2017, ISBN 978-3-87390-402-6 , pp. 186–191.

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