Prussian Historisches Institut in Rome

Founded in 1888, the „Prussian Historische Station“, later renamed as the “Royal Prussian Historical Institute” (Königliches Preußisches Historisches Institut) in Rome, was a research institution of the Prussian state created to gain access for German scholars to the archives and libraries of Rome – in particular those of the Vatican. From 1903 to 1936, its director was Paul Fridolin Kehr (1860-1944). Among the other offices and projects he simultaneously led, Kehr was Kehr director of the MGH from 1919 to 1935 and continued the edition of the papal charters of Italy, Spain and Portugal up to 1198 that he had begun in 1896. He finally bequeathed a large part of his private library to the institute in Rome.
As a consequence of World War I, the institute in Rome was closed from 1917 to 1924. Kehr himself was living in Berlin at this time, since he had been appointed as director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut for German history in 1915. Besides this, he was also director in general of the Prussian State Archive and, since 1919, chair of the central board of directors of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica. At his instigation the MGH and the Prussian Historisches Institut were merged to form the Reichsinstitut für ältere deutsche Geschichte , in 1935. One of the measures taken in the course of this merger was to remove all materials that were relevant for an edition of the papal charters of Western Europe (Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands) from the institute’s library in Rome and integrate them in the MGH library in Berlin.

The exact number of books transferred remains to date unknown, but at least around 80 volumes from Kehr’s private library and further 80 volumes from the Roman institute could be identified thus far.