School program (historical)

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Title page of a school program from Culm from 1854, bilingual
Invitation to a lecture by GC Matern de Cilano at the Royal High School in Altona, 1740
Table of the lessons of the Royal High School in Altona, 1777
Announcement of the lectures of a director and librarian, 1792

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, a school program was a printed publication published annually by a higher school, which as a rule combined the institute's annual report with an academic treatise and was disseminated through exchange among the schools. The school programs in Germany, Austria and the Baltic States represent a unique and outstanding source for research into the development of the school system.


The school programs emerged from invitations from educational establishments to the annual exams and lectures, the precursors of the Abitur . Such printed invitations are already known from the end of the 16th century, arising from the so-called thesis sheets . In the 18th century it also became increasingly common for a Gymnasium Academicum to print invitations to individual special courses, as these were not infrequently public. The teaching program of the respective school year was tabulated in printed booklets and provided with explanations. These calendars of events were often supplemented by treatises in Latin in which the professors dealt with the subjects of their teaching and tried to show their scientific excellence. These publications were sometimes collected and, bound in chronological order, kept for example as Opuscula Professorum .

1824 made a decree of the Ministry of Culture of 23 August, the grammar-checking programs concerning , for all Prussian schools filed in the form of a duty, a regular account of the work done, the contents of teaching and testing programs that are published once a year should. Shortly thereafter, other states followed this example, such as Bavaria (1825), Saxony (1833), Baden (1836), and a nationwide exchange was organized, which was joined by the Free Cities of Frankfurt am Main and Lübeck in 1831 , and Saxony and other states in 1836 .

The programs served the mutual exchange of knowledge and experience and advanced training. They were also a means of public relations. In addition, it enabled the Prussian school inspectorate to achieve a certain degree of standardization.

Following the Prussian model, annual reports were also introduced in Austria in the 19th century . In contrast to Germany, this tradition was retained there even after the end of the Second World War and annual reports continued to be published.


In the following decades, the school programs were given a uniform structure, which was prescribed for Prussia as follows:

  • Treatise on a scientific topic by the director or a member of the teaching staff (compulsory until 1872, then optional as a supplement)
  • School news
I. Teaching constitution;
A. Curriculum for the school year;
a. General curriculum;
b. Distribution of subjects to the individual teachers
c. Special curriculum of the classes
B. Overview of ordinances of general interest issued
II. Chronicle of the past school year
III. Statistical News
A. Curatorium and teachers' college of the institution
B. Frequency of the institution / names of high school graduates
C. State of the teaching apparatus
D. Budget of the institution
IV. School foundations
V. Special notices to parents

In contrast to today's so-called school program , the programs of the 19th century were not objectives and profile descriptions for the future development of a school, but reports on the previous school year; however, the respective school profile is also clearly recognizable in this way . The school programs can best be compared to the yearbooks of American schools and colleges .

Since 1899, the programs were officially called annual reports , a name change that was slow to gain acceptance, but has not yet been able to replace the term school program for these reports. Even the much older lecture advertisements have long been listed in the literature as school programs .

Success and crisis

The idea of ​​standardizing and exchanging school programs had both positive and negative effects.

As early as 1860, 350 institutions took part in the exchange; In 1869 some schools already had 10,000 copies. Although the previous obligation to include a treatise was converted into the possibility of adding it in 1872, the authorities were increasingly overwhelmed by the exchange. Therefore, the exchange was handed over to the Teubner publishing house in Leipzig in 1876 , which was able to continue it with great logistical commitment until 1916. At this time, C. Struckmann estimates, with continuous collecting activity “a Prussian school had a maximum of 50,000 programs”.

The original approach, namely to create a platform for further training and pedagogical exchange, was lost in this enormous amount. There were also problems with archiving and cataloging. While in some schools this was done according to the school location (principle of provenance ), in other places it was done according to the topics of the treatises ( principle of pertinence ), which destroyed the unity of tradition. Some schools did not catalog them at all, which made all material inaccessible. In many cases this old stock was increasingly perceived as a burden. An ordinance of 1943 declared the school programs "undoubtedly mostly dispensable" and ordered the transfer to the old material collection.

In the 1960s, what survived this separation often ended up in the garbage or in the antiquarian book trade. The collection of school program brochures at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen was created through the purchase of 12,000 copies at a unit price of DM 0.66 from the antiquarian bookstore in 1969. This inventory was increased through donations from schools, which in the course of 1970 brought a further 35,000 Copies came together, and the purchase of 34,000 school programs, which were acquired from Vienna between 1974 and 1978 at a price of 0.40 DM each, increased considerably.


From a letter from Samuel von Pufendorf in Stockholm to a Jean Christofle in Stralsund, December 15, 1686; Edited by Johann Claussen in a school program in 1906
School program of the high school in Memel , 1866; Title page

Due to the sometimes poor bibliographical accessibility, the insight into the source value of the school programs only gradually gained acceptance. In the foreword to the catalog of the collection in the Lübeck city library , it says that school programs are "one of the most distinguished sources for research in the fields of school history, the history of pedagogy, historical educational sociology, school folklore and the history of ideology" .

The treatises give a rich insight into the wide range of academic interests of the teaching staff. They make it clear what high standards the high schools in particular represented. But just as often - especially before there were corresponding magazines - they offered a platform e.g. B. for local historical and educational treatises and reflect contemporary movements in the scientific landscape, such as the introduction of modern foreign languages ​​such as French and English or the rapid rise of the natural sciences in the second half of the 19th century.

In the meantime, some school program treatises have even acquired special scientific importance, for example when they contain editions of remote, including literary texts that have not been replaced in the meantime. In 1898, for example, Alfred Puls edited a Low German prayer book from the 14th century as part of the scientific supplement, and in 1904 and 1906 Johann Claußen published the letters of the philologist Johannes Caselius , written in 1589, in school programs . Christian Heinrich Postels and Jacob von Melle's description of a trip ... to the Netherlands and England in 1683 was first edited in 1891 in a Lübeck school program.

The actual annual reports are a treasure trove for data and facts that are otherwise difficult to collect and for some schools, for example those in the eastern German territories , represent the only tradition after the destruction of the war, in particular due to the chronic parts required by the Prussian instructors in the school programs . The lists of students and teachers are often important sources from which e.g. B. can reconstruct the common school attendance of known persons or teacher-student relationships.

In some fortunate cases, which essentially concern West German institutions, the school chronicles and reports on what had been achieved could be continued in other publications after the accountability had ended; Some schools still publish official yearbooks today, which provide information about special activities of the students, projects, new subjects, retired and newly hired teachers, etc. The content is very different and often depends on the interest and special commitment of individual teachers. There are also semi-official publications such as B. Publications from alumni, friends or sponsors' associations of high schools.


In addition to the already mentioned collections in Gießen and Lübeck, extensive holdings of school programs can be found primarily in the central Prussian collection of the former Reich Office for Schooling in Berlin, since 1997 in the library for research on the history of education , and in the library of the Francke Foundations in Halle (Saale ) and (collected from 1836 to 1918) in the Hamburg Christianeum .

The University and State Library of Düsseldorf has a collection of around 40,000 school programs that it has indexed, digitized and made available on the Internet since 2009 - including in the journal database (ZDB). In 2014, the ULB Düsseldorf started to develop and digitize the school program collection of the Görres-Gymnasium Düsseldorf analogous to its own holdings. The aim is to create a digital collection in which almost the entire inventory of school programs in Germany is made accessible in a more in-depth form.

In the USA, the library of the University of Pennsylvania has a larger inventory based on 16,555 German and Austrian programs from the period 1850 to 1918, which came from the state high school in Graz and were purchased in 1954 through a Swiss antiquarian bookshop. In 1961 a printed catalog was published, which is arranged alphabetically by author. The humanities titles comprising around a third of the collection, which were viewed as more important in terms of content than the natural science titles, are also made accessible via an English-language keyword index.


The first bibliographies of school program scripts appeared in school programs. Mention should be made of the compilations by Wilhelm Vetter ( ordered list of treatises which appeared in the school writings of all educational establishments participating in the program exchange from 1851 to 1863. 2 parts, program of the Luckau high school , 1864 and 1865) and Joseph Terbeck ( Orderly index of the treatises which appeared in the school writings of all the educational establishments participating in the program exchange from 1864 to 1868. Program of the Gymnasium Dionysianum , Rheine 1868). A continuation is formed by the systematically ordered list published by Franz Hübl in Vienna in 1874 of those treatises, speeches and poems which have been included in the middle school programs of Austria since 1870–1873 and those of Prussia and Bavaria since 1869–1872 .

For the period from 1876 to 1910 there is the work Systematic Directory of Treatises, which was developed by Rudolf Klussmann for the Teubner publishing house and published in five volumes , which appeared in the school publications of all the educational institutions participating in the program exchange . The programs are indexed in 13 thematically subdivided main groups as well as through a place and author register.

From 1890 to 1931 the annual directory of the treatises published by the German school institutions, compiled by the Royal Library (later the State Library), was published , sorted according to the author's alphabet with subject and location index.

The most extensive bibliography with around 55,000 listed titles is the directory of the program treatises of German, Austrian and Swiss schools of the years 1825–1918 compiled by Franz Kössler on the basis of the Giessen stocks (4 volumes 1987 plus supplementary volume 1991, ISBN 3-598-10665- 3 ). It is arranged alphabetically by author and contains a list of places and schools.

School programs have also been discussed in the educational press. For example, the Zeitschrift für das Gymnasialwesen 1847–1912 ( list of digital copies ) contains countless reviews of Prussian school programs.


  • Dietmar Haubfleisch, Christian Ritzi: School programs - on their history and their significance for the historiography of the education system. In: Irmgard Siebert (Ed.): Library and Research. The importance of collections for science (=  magazine for libraries and bibliography. Special volume 102). Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 2011, ISBN 978-3-465-03685-2 , pp. 165-205 and pp. 251 f.
  • Annual reports of the higher educational institutions in Prussia. Arranged by the state information center for schools. School years 1921/22 (1924), 1922/23 (1925) and 1927/28 (1930). Leipzig ( digitized version of the Paderborn University Library ).
  • Rudolf Klussmann: Systematic directory of treatises from school writings . 5 volumes 1876–1910. Reprint Hildesheim / New York 1976 (Online: Volume 5 1901-1910, Teubner 1916 ).
  • Markus Kirschbaum: Litteratura Gymnasii, school programs of higher educational institutions of the 19th century as identification of the scientific location, professional status and socio-political prevention (=  publications of the State Library Center Rhineland-Palatinate. ISSN  1861-6224 . Volume 2). State Library Center Rhineland-Palatinate, Koblenz 2007.
  • Siegrid Kochendörfer, Elisabeth Smolinski, Robert Schweitzer: Catalog of the school program collection of the Lübeck City Library (= Publications of the Lübeck City Library. Series 3, 12th directories). Library of the Hanseatic City, Lübeck 2000, ISBN 3-933652-10-3 .
  • Hans-Joachim Koppitz: On the importance of school programs for science today. In: Gutenberg yearbook. 68, 1988, ISSN  0072-9094 , pp. 340-358.
  • Franz Kössler: Directory of program treatises of German, Austrian and Swiss schools of the years 1825-1918. In alphabetical order by authors . 5 volumes Saur, Munich [u. a.] 1987-1991, ISBN 3-598-10665-3 .
  • Franz Kössler: Personal Lexicon of 19th Century Teachers: Professional biographies from school annual reports and school programs 1825–1918 with lists of publications. Preprint: Giessen 2008.
  • Freidank Kuchenbuch: About old Stendal school programs. In: 600 years of high school in Stendal 1338–1938. Festschrift. Winckelmann School, Stendal 1938, pp. 149ff. (with a bibliography of Stendal school programs from the 17th century to 1825).
  • Friedrich Markewitz: The school program as a type of text between the education and science system. A system-theoretical-text-type-linguistic investigation . Series: Project Applied Linguistics (PAL) Volume 2. Berlin 2019, ISBN 978-3-643-14043-2 .
  • Felicitas Noeske: The school programs. In: Christianeum. Bulletin of the Association of Friends of the Christianeum in connection with the Association of Former Christianeers. 61 (2006) issue 2, December 2006, p. 107ff. ( online ).
  • Irmgard Siebert: ULB Düsseldorf digitizes the school program collection of the library of the Görres-Gymnasium. In: BITonline. Vol. 16 (2013), no. 6, p. 478 f.
  • Irmgard Siebert: 'hidden collections' on the high-performance computer. ULB Düsseldorf digitizes the school program collection of the library of the Görres-Gymnasium. In: Bub: Forum Library and Information. Vol. 66 (2014), no. 1, p. 9.
  • Richard Ullrich: Program management and program library for secondary schools in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Overview of developments in the 19th century and an attempt to present the tasks for the future . Weidmann, Berlin 1908 (extended reprint from the magazine for the grammar school system. Berlin 61.1907), OCLC 1014838187 . ( Online (pdf) via German Digital Library )
  • Katrin Wieckhorst: School publications and their indexing in libraries . University and State Library of Saxony-Anhalt, Halle (Saale) 2013, ISBN 978-3-86829-568-9 .

Web links

Commons : School program  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. The official website of the city provides references to this educational institution, Polish ( Memento from September 28, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  2. cf. Cake Book (1938) p. 149.
  3. ^ Library for Research on Educational History: School Programs / Annual Reports. On the history of a neglected form of publication. P. 3.
  4. The programs of grammar schools and other schools listed in library catalogs are still difficult to sift through. Although the catalog cards of the old holdings of the University and State Library of Tyrol are scanned, OCR-recognized and retrieved using a full-text search, and there is even an opportunity for improvement by the crowd, internal and external maintenance of the entries leave a lot to be desired. As part of Austrian Literature Online , some school programs have already been digitized, for example the annual reports of the Franz-Joseph-Gymnasium Vienna .
  5. Cf. Erich Stietz: The school program collection of the Berlin University Library. In: From the work of the Berlin University Library. Berlin 1971.
  6. ^ According to: Michael Morkramer: 150 years of Lippstadt school programs .
  7. ^ Caspar Struckmann: School program and annual programs: On the history of a little-known series of publications. 2003.
  8. Struckmann, p. 6.
  9. ^ Johann Claussen: A letter from Samuel von Pufendorf . Program of the Christianeum in Altona, 1906.
  10. Neither the linked WP article nor the official website of the city provide any reference to higher schools, let alone to such educational institutions in the past; research using the popular search engines on the Internet is unsuccessful.
  11. quoted after the review of the catalog
  12. See the writings of Konrad Dietrich Haßler
  13. See Sabine Doff: Learning English between tradition and innovation. Foreign language teaching for girls in the 19th century. Langenscheidt-Longman, Munich 2002. School program fonts were one of the most important sources for this dissertation.
  14. A tabular overview of the topics covered is provided by Struckmann, p. 4.
  15. ^ Alfred Puls: Low German Prayer Book, from the parchment manuscript of the Royal Christianeum in Altona . Published in 1898 ( digitized version )
  16. ^ Johann Claußen: 36 letters by the philologist Johannes Caselius, written in Rostock in April and May 1589, from a manuscript in the grammar school library . Published in the school program of the Christianeum in Altona 1900; ders .: 39 letters from the philologist Joh. Caselius, written in Rostock in 1589 . Published in the school program of the Christianeum in Altona in 1904.
  17. Description of a trip ... to the Netherlands and England in 1683 by Jacob von Melle and Christian Heinrich Postel , ed. Carl Curtius , Katharineum School Program . Lübeck 1891.
  18. Felicitas Noeske: The school programs. In: Christianeum. Bulletin of the Association of Friends of the Christianeum in connection with the Association of Former Christianeers. 61 (2006) issue 2, December 2006, p. 107ff. ( Full text ).
  20. See
  21. ^ Catalog of the program fonts collection . Hall, Boston 1961.
  22. ^ Rudolf Klussmann: Systematic directory of treatises from school writings . 5 volumes 1876–1910. Reprinted in Hildesheim / New York 1976.
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on January 7, 2007 in this version .