The Princesses Library

A Transdisciplinary Research Project

Project Description

In 2017, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz, managed to obtain a unique book collection, consisting of the private libraries of the Swedish princess Sophia Albertina, the Swedish Queen and Prussian Princess Louisa Ulrika and the Prussian Queen and Hannoveran Princess Sophia Dorothea. This large interdisciplinary, international research project is devoted to the collection. The project bring together librarians, archivists and researchers from a number of disciplines, working together on the collection and invites research from a vast array of perspectives, including book history, literary history, gender history and art history, as well as historical research on the political and intellectual history of 18th Century Northern Europe.

The collection, which is currently being catalogued at the library, is singular in a number of aspects: Firstly, the fact that the collection has been kept intact makes it a close to unique specimen of the 18th Century aristocratic culture of literature and learning in Northern Europe. Secondly the collection is of interest from a gender perspective as it consists of the private libraries of the three women, kept separated from the representative royal libraries of the Prussian and Swedish monarchies. Thirdly the collection is an exceptional source for the history of reading and the reading habits of the 18th Century high aristocracy. The collection allows us to trace the mobility of ideas and literature, transgressing national and linguistic borders, and the collection thus offers an opportunity to study the history of translation alongside the history of the book trade. Lastly the collection provides a unique opportunity for cooperation between researchers, librarians and archivists from the very outset, which calls for methodological innovation and a developed theoretical reflection.

About the Project

The project is international, simultaneously based in Sweden (Department of Literature, Uppsala University) and Germany (the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and the Nordeuropa-Institut at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), and with the participation of scholars from France (the University of Strasbourg) and the Netherlands (the Rijksuniversiteit in Groningen).

Project Duration



The project has received funding for initiation from The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (Riksbankens jubileumsfond). The ambition is to further develop an extensive research program, that will be ready to be officially launched in two years when the collection according to plan has been catalogued and can be made accessible to researchers.