The Center focuses on the history of philology since its beginnings, in particular on the history of German studies. Over 230 scholarly estates, archives, and collections at the German Literature Archive Marbach form the foundation for the Center’s research.
In 1972, an appeal initiated by Eberhard Lämmert and Walter Müller-Seidel from the Deutscher Germanistenverband (›Association for German Studies‹) was met with interest at the German Literature Archive. The aim of the appeal was to provide an institutional and documentary basis for research into the history of the discipline, especially regarding the years 1933–1945 and their repercussions. The ›Research Center for the History of German Studies‹ that was subsequently established at the German Literature Archive provided German Studies with a space for historical self-reflection. Since then, the Center has expanded its subject matter to include international German Studies from 1800 to the present day. It has also extended its focus to include the study of academic disciplines, communication, source collection, and documentation, and has increasingly incorporated estates relating to other philologies. Academic articles, repertories, and bibliographies all contribute to the research of the discipline, and are annually recorded in the journal Geschichte der Philologien (›History of Philology‹).