Provenance principle

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The principle of provenance (from Latin provenire , "come from") is an archival classification principle and forms the basis for the organization and indexing of archived material - rarely also library good - according to origin and context.

The principle of filing archives according to their provenance (i.e. their creation / origin) by a registrar , e.g. B. an authority, to summarize in stocks, was theoretically developed by Philipp Ernst Spieß from 1770 and applied in the secret house archive of the Margraviate Brandenburg-Kulmbach-Bayreuth on the Plassenburg . However, it was not until the 19th century that it became more widespread in archives and ultimately established itself in most archives in Central Europe. The provenance principle was introduced in the Secret State Archives in Berlin in 1881 under Heinrich von Sybel .

In librarianship , however the there pertinence ago, the records classified by topics (facts, events, territories and / or persons). These classifications are recorded in real catalogs . In libraries, the principle of provenance is only applied, for example, to donations or the purchase of entire collectors ', scholars' or special libraries, in that these collections are kept closed and not sorted into the general holdings of the library.

The archival counter-term are collections and selected items. In these archives are kept that are of different origins, but were brought together for practical reasons (e.g. maps, plans, photos or newspaper clippings).


  • Friedrich Beck, Eckart Henning (ed.): The archival sources - with an introduction to the historical auxiliary sciences, 4th edition, Cologne, Weimar, Vienna 2004. ISBN 3-8252-8273-2
  • Paul Bailleu : The principle of provenance in the Secret State Archive Berlin. In: sheets for German national history. Correspondence sheet of the general association of the German historical and antiquity associations - Mittler, No. 10 u. 11. 1902, October a. November. Pp. 193-195 ( online MDZ Munich ).

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