From Heritage to Present Future – Expansion of the Bertalanffy Archive

Recently the BCSSS managed to physically bring together all three partial estates of Ludwig van Bertalanffy and expanded the Archive at the BCSSS. Two parts of the archive were kept at the Department for Theoretical Biology at the University of Vienna as a loan by the BCSSS until October 2018.

The expanded Bertalanffy Archive at the BCSSS now includes the first part of Bertalanffy’s estate, which were unobserved in a small second-hand store in Buffalo (New York) for over 30 years. When the store was sold in 2004 this first part of Bertalanffy’s estate was discovered by the new store owner, a bookseller, who then offered six banana boxes with published and unpublished writings and personal letters to the public. A newspaper article at the time mentioned the valuable discovery and its history (in German). Right after the foundation of the BCSSS in 2008 the Centre managed to purchase the entire find and, thus, bring Bertalanffy’s work back to Vienna.

In 2011 the archive was expanded by a generous donation by Dr. Marshall W. Allen. This second big partial estate included the entire collection of Ludwig von Bertalanffy’s letters to Joseph Henry Woodger (1894–1981) which he formerly received from Woodger in person for his respective studies.

In 2011 and 2012 another 17 boxes were brought to the BCSSS, as a gift from Ludwig von Bertalanffy’s daughter in law, Gisèle Bertalanffy, including private documents, letters, recordings and pictures.

The physical merger of the three parts is a considerable benefit for the archiving by the BCSSS as well as for researchers, who want to work with Bertalanffy’s estate. His legacy is kept and edited at the Bertalanffy Archive at the BCSSS.

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