Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie

The General German Biography (ADB ) is a biographical reference work from 1875 to 1912 (reprint 1967 to 1971 ) in 56 volumes of the Historical Commission at the Royal Academy of Sciences ( Munich) was published under the editorship of Rochus Freiherr von Liliencron and in Leipzig is published by Duncker & Humblot. The ADB is a first-class reference work to about 26,500 people who died before 1900 and in the German-speaking countries were effective. These include the Netherlands to the 1648.

The follow-up project of the ADB is the pending New German Biography ( NDB ).


In the Historical Commission of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences since its founding in 1858, there were plans to create a biographical reference work for Germany. 1868 was taken at the request of the committee chairman Leopold von Ranke, the project again and Rochus Freiherr von Liliencron was assigned to lead. As of 1873, supported by Liliencron by Franz Xaver von Wegele as co-editor, who took over the leadership in the field of political history.

1869, the basic principles of the company were established. The plant was designed for scientific and general use. Therefore biographies were taken from people who were in the Commission's view of mainly academic interest. No living individuals were recorded and only countries " from the original or partly of German nationality [ ... ], but only in so far as they are left with the overall life of Germany in a narrower intellectual context " into account.

Initially twenty volumes were planned to fifty sheets. The volumes should appear every six months, so that the processing time would extend to ten to twelve years. The scope of the biographies was divided into classes. The five hundred most important people that have been classified in Class 1, the space of a printed sheet was intended. In the 20 volumes originally should be around 40,000 biographies will be printed. However, it concluded that the individual biographies in the amount remains to be little space and reduced the number by half. Nevertheless, fit mainly by the greater length of the short biographies already in the first volume instead of the planned 1000 only 953 articles.

So to 1899 45 volumes have been achieved, in which 1,418 employees had written. There were 23 273 names mention. But with the letter Z is reached, the ADB has not yet been completed. To grudge other missing Biographies For more died in the meantime, people absorb and supplements with biographies of deceased persons to 1899 were published from the 45th band, which extended over a further nine supplement volumes. Volume 56 consists of a general register of all entries.

Already from the first volume of each band additions and corrections to the biographies in the previous volumes were added at the end.

Information value

The articles in the ADB have manual character; they form from the state of research of the respective year of publication. Here, then, many of the articles despite their age the most recent research is if the appropriate people are no longer treated after the appearance of the ADB - band in the scientific literature.

Conversely, if there recent research to a person who technically outdated biographical article ADB can still often provide in-depth detail information, such as extensive information on the plant or references to older literature or historical sources that are no longer generally available today.

When articles about people of the 19th century, many authors write about people you personally known or worshiped them, with biographical aspects are problematic without critical distance may be reduced or no treatment. In particular, in such cases, on the other hand, the ADB has itself become an interesting and important historical source of the history of science.

Band overview

Online editions

In May 2003, published by the Historical Commission of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and the Bavarian State Library Electronic General German Biography (E -ADB ), which was based on the scanned pages from the ADB. An index the articles were found; also the articles in the NDB were included in this index.

In a supported by the DFG project the General German Biography and the first 22 volumes of the Neue Deutsche Biographie were made available as electronic full text and renews the website globally in February 2010. The names of registers with updated additional information and bio - bibliographic information (including links to the Name Authority File ) were integrated into the Biography Portal.