The Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (BCSSS) acquired the first valuable materials in 2004 and began building the Bertalanffy Archive for Systems Research & Cybernetics. It was further completed by donations from other archives, from individual researchers, and from members of the Bertalanffy family.
To date, the archive comprises the estate of Ludwig von Bertalanffy, divided into four partial estates, to which the important crypto-partial estates of both his wife and collaborator Maria von Bertalanffy and his son and collaborator Felix D. Bertalanffy are integrated. In addition to parts of Ludwig von Bertalanffy's estate library, the Bertalanffy Archive has a specialized library for systems science and cybernetics, which is under constant construction and whose foundation is formed by collections of various systems scientists that have been donated to the BCSSS over the years. Additional the archive comprises collections of digital documents.
We continually receive international inquiries from young researchers and, more recently, from professionals who either want to reprocess the valuable original sources for their own research or have a specific interest in the development of the philosophy and history of science in various disciplines.
Organization of the Bertalanffy Archive: Mag. Dr. Jürgen Lenk
Ludwig von Bertalanffy was born in 1901 in Austria, in Atzgersdorf (since 1954 a district of Vienna), studied in Innsbruck and in Vienna, and received his doctorate in 1926 at the University of Vienna under Moriz Schlick. After years as a private lecturer, he taught as a professor at the University of Vienna between 1940 and 1948. After 1948 he received an appointment at the University of Ottawa (Canada) as professor and director of the Institute of Biology. Later he worked as a visiting professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, was Director of Biological Research at Mount Sinai Hospital and Clinic in Los Angeles, Sloan Professor at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka (Kansas), and from 1964 Professor of Theoretical Biology at the University of Alberta in Canada, where he was also a member of the Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Psychology. In 1969 he received an appointment at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he taught until his death in 1972.
Bertalanffy was a “Senior Fellow” (1954–1955) at the Center of Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences (Ford Foundation, Stanford University) in Palo Alto, California, and co-founded the Society for General Systems Research (SGSR) with Anatol Papoport, Kenneth Boulding, and Ralph Gerard, which evolved into the now global International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS).
In 2004, his scientific partial estate (= partial estate/Teilnachlass Ludwig von Bertalanffy 1) turned up in an antiquarian bookshop in Buffalo, was purchased by the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (BCSSS) as a founding act, and was transferred to the Bertalanffy Archive, which was opened with it, in 2005. A further and very extensive partial estate (= partial estate/Teilnachlass Ludwig von Bertalanffy 2) was donated to the BCSSS by Gisèle Bertalanffy (1930–2021), Bertalanffy’s daughter-in-law, in 2011. In the same year, the Bertalanffy Archive was supplemented by the donation of Marshall W. Allen of another partial estate (= partial estate/Teilnachlass Ludwig von Bertalanffy 3), the collection of letters from Bertalanffy to Joseph Henry Woodger (Joseph Henry Woodger Collection), which is very important in the history of science.
As a testamentary disposition of Gisèle Bertalanffy (1930-2021), a further partial estate (= partial estate/Teilnachlass Ludwig von Bertalanffy 4) finally reached the BCSSS in Vienna from Canada as her last donation in 2021, through the mediation and in cooperation with her local agent William Robert “Bill” Badger.
The scientific-systematic indexing of the estate is well advanced, but not yet completely finished. The documents on the 4 partial estates offered here online in advance serve as an initial overview and are continuously revised and supplemented.
For scientific purposes, the Bertalanffy Archive is accessible by appointment.
Care, archiving and scientific indexing of the estate of Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901–1972): Mag. Dr. Jürgen Lenk
- Partial estate/Teilnachlass Ludwig von Bertalanffy 1
- Partial estate/Teilnachlass Ludwig von Bertalanffy 2
- Partial estate/Teilnachlass Ludwig von Bertalanffy 3
- Partial estate/Teilnachlass Ludwig von Bertalanffy 4
- Parts of the estate library
- Estate enrichment through purchase or copies of works and documents by and about Ludwig von Bertalanffy