German 17th Century Newspaper in Swedish Libraries

Newspaper in Sweden

The Kungliga bibliotekt

The Kungliga bibliotekt

As the period of my archival and library travels is starting, I thought it would be nice to give an insight and clues about where to find 17th century newspaper and how to work with them. My fist trip brought me in middle of November to Stockholm where I was to work with the newspaper holdings of the Kungliga bibliotekt. Situated right in the middle of the historic Östermalm district in the Swedish capital, this legal deposit library holds around 20 million books in Swedish and the personal archive of notable Swedes such as Astrid Lindgren, August Strindberg and Dag Hammarskjöld. But there is more to find for a historian interested in the history of the newspaper.

Some statistics

View from the balcony in the main reading room of the Kungliga biblioteket. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Richard Akerman

View from the balcony in the main reading room of the Kungliga biblioteket. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Richard Akerman

What makes the Kungliga biblioteket so important is the amount of German newspapers they hold. Never destroyed by war, the collection that was started by the Wasa-dynasty remains intact until this day and provides us with the largest surviving collection of German newspapers of the seventeenth century. After one week of revising my database and collecting bibliographic information, it became obvious to me that in this library holds (as uncovered as of now) 1.062 weekly issues of newspapers printed between 1605 and 1650 in the German speaking lands. This number represents almost 10% of the whole production that is known today and is expected to rise as I was not able to look at all their holdings in this short period. The initial purpose of the trip was to see what the library holds, in which state the newspapers are, and how accessible the material is being kept.

In comparison, the other libraries with significant holdings account for usually around 100 issues with (Munich, Bavarian State Library: 124 issues; Halle, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek 109 issues; Hannover, Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek 102 issues). Other outstanding collections are to be found in Zurich Zentralbibliothek (441 issues ) and the Ratsbücherei Lüneburg (421 issues). What sets the Kungliga biblioteke apart from the aforementioned is their broad variety of holdings. Whereas in Lüneburg and Zurich only a small number of individual titles with many issues and sometimes complete year-runs are kept, the Kungliga bibliotek offers the researcher the possibility to look into a variety of newspaper titles from the whole period mentioned before.

Newspapers in other holdings: the Riksarkivet

The Riksarkivet’s Catalogue

The Riksarkivet’s Catalogue

Conveniently connected by a 20 minutes bus ride on the Blåbuss No 1 line is the Riksarkivet (Swedish National State Archive). Here, a number of stray newspaper runs are being hold and prove to be very remarkable. An almost complete run of the Türkischer Estates und Krieges-Bericht from 1683 and 1684 is kept here (set aside two numbers of this newspaper that are being held at the Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg) and appears to be one of the first illustrated German newspaper, even though “illustrated should be understood in a different way as I tried to explain here.

The service in this archive is extraordinary user-friendly and orders can usually be collected 15 minutes after they were given to staff. However, remember to bring your own camera as they are only few possibilities to scan and they charge high fees for using them. Newspapers of the seventeenth century can be found using the archive’s catalogue and through entering the keyword “Extranea-samlingen” which brings subfields in the catalogue to choose the relevant country or time period from.


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