Stenographic collection

The stenographic collection of the SLUB Dresden offers a variety of insights into the 2,000-year history of stenography. It is the largest and most important specialized library of its kind in the world. Its history is closely connected with the development of parliamentary stenography in Saxony

The stenographic collection includes a total of 53,000 media units. You will find titles from six centuries, from the 16th century to the present.

As a special collection of the SLUB Dresden, the stenographic collection represents a particularly valuable cultural asset worthy of protection. We mainly acquire media on the two main subjects of stenography and typing/word processing, but also in special selections on the subsidiary subjects of writing, linguistics and political science. For the main subject areas, the SLUB strives for international completeness; with regard to the other areas, German-language literature is preferred, in selection in English or French.

History of the stenographic collection

The stenographic collection of the SLUB emerged in 1835 from a small collection of books by Franz Jakob Wigard. The student of Franz Xaver Gabelsberger, inventor of a forerunner of the German Standard Shorthand (DEK) in use today, had started his collection at that time in order to train future state parliament stenographers.

The collection also included teaching materials from other shorthand systems, parliamentary transcripts and laws. The expanded collection profile resulted from the tasks of the Royal Stenographic Institute (later the Stenographic State Office), which was founded in 1839 and to which the library was affiliated. This included not only recording the parliamentary proceedings in shorthand. The members were also charged with giving lessons, taking examinations and engaging in scientific and journalistic activities to disseminate stenography.

In 1966, the Stenographisches Landesamt was dissolved and the collection was incorporated into the stenographic library of the Sächsische Landesbibliothek.

Holdings of the stenographic collection

The stenographic collection of the SLUB mainly comprises monographs, periodicals and manuscripts. In addition, there are original stenographs, commercial prints, portraits, audiovisual media as well as various material items. In addition to literature on shorthand, you will also find writings on typing, word processing and office management as well as individual titles on writing, linguistics and political science. The collection also includes an extensive foreign language section, which makes up about a quarter of the total holdings. It contains works in 52 languages.

The holdings at a glance

Monographs Approximately 27,700 volumes, of which 21,100 are in German and 6,600 in foreign languages

Periodicals Approximately 17,400 volumes, of which 12,400 are in German and 5,000 are in foreign languages, as well as about 35 periodicals that are continuously subscribed to.


  • Autographs: Approximately 3,000; mainly correspondence from German and foreign-language stenographers and system inventors; also autographs in shorthand, e.g. from politicians and writers.
  • Manuscript volumes: around 350; mostly several manuscripts bound together in bundles; mostly in shorthand.
  • Archival materials
  • Files: 310 boxes, including 1. files of the Stenographisches Institut/Landesamt Dresden; 2. files of stenographic organisations, associations, societies; 3. exhibition materials, society reports, newspaper cuttings and similar items
  • Bequests/partial bequests: 187 boxes with 19 bequests/partial bequests

Original stenographs 54 individual records as well as collections on, for example, the Reichstag, the Saxon Parliament or practitioners of the GDR

Commercial Prints Approximately 1,100; including cards of all kinds, such as visiting, membership or congratulation cards, certificates and diplomas, various philatelic objects, posters and advertising material

Portraits Approximately 2,250; mainly portraits of numerous stenographers and system inventors as well as group photographs, for example of important events in the history of stenography; see also the image database of the Deutsche Fotothek.

Audiovisual media and non-book materials Approximately 530; these include sound and shellac records, tape cassettes, audio CDs, videos, DVDs, floppy disks and CD-ROMs

Material testimonies

  • Medals: About 600; especially commemorative and honorary medals, also badges, plaques and buttons; see also in the image database of the Deutsche Fotothek
  • Typewriters
  • 54 historical typewriters
  • Objects of art: 19 objects; these include sculptures, fabrics, graphic art, paintings and furniture

Bequests and partial bequests in the collection

The stenographic collection currently holds 19 estates/partial estates of stenographers, inventors of various stenographic scripts and researchers. A total of 187 archive boxes contain mainly autographs, i.e. handwritten transcripts of well-known personalities. These include letters and manuscripts, but also printed works and photographs. The majority of the bequests have so far only been roughly recorded in internal inventories, so they are not yet available for use. The Kunowski archive with the estates/partial estates of Felix von Kunowski, Arnold Joseph Christoffels and Gottfried Rahn (research group for the spoken track) as well as the estate of Christian Johnen are fully indexed. The individual documents are listed in the Kalliope database and/or in the respective special directories.

Some of our rarities

  • The textbook collection as the core of the stenographic collection - it comprises almost without exception all first editions of German stenographic textbooks, from the geometric shorthand systems to the German Standard Shorthand.
  • The collection of Old English works of the 17th and 18th centuries, consisting of a total of 85 titles - 78 of which are original editions - on the beginnings of modern shorthand
  • The manuscript collection with autographs of almost all important German inventors of the various types of shorthand, including original letters by Franz Xaver Gabelsberger
  • The numerous written bequests of well-known stenographers and stenographic scholars, for example Felix von Kunowski and Christian Johnen.

Catalogues of the stenographic collection

All new acquisitions of the stenographic collection since 1993 can be researched and ordered in the SLUB catalogue. In addition, you have the possibility of accessing selected works on stenography as full text within the framework of the Digital Collections.

Some holdings (such as archival records or commercial prints) have so far only been roughly recorded in internal inventories. In addition, there are still old holdings at the SLUB that can only be found in the author or anonymous catalogue. We are continuously working on converting the catalogues into electronic form.

Other catalogues accessible at the SLUB

Special catalogues

  • Systematic catalogue of locationsLocations arranged according to subject areas/languages
  • Keyword catalogue of periodical contents German and foreign-language specialist journals for stenography and typewriting
  • Biographical catalogue Personal news published and still appearing in the trade press, especially on personalities in stenography
  • Autograph catalogue All short and long handwrittenautographs, especially those of stenographic personalities.
  • Catalogue of portraits or index of illustrations Illustrations that have been published scattered in older printed publications

Printed catalogues

Publications of the Stenographic Collection of the SLUB

Stenographic institutions and associations (selection)

Stenographic sources in digital form in catalogues and portals (selection)

External e-resources

How to use our services

The entire stenographic collection is arranged according to a special system. For research you can simply enter the desired subject group of the stenographic classification in the index "shelf location" of the SLUB catalogue (capital letter - space - small letter).

Research online

  • The holdings of the stenographic collection are indexed by means of various catalogues or in internal inventories - you will find a complete list of all Internet offerings above in the section "Further information on stenography".
  • Selected works on stenography can also be accessed as full text within the Digital Collections.

Use at the SLUB

  • In the open access area Stenography on level -2 of the Central Library, you can use more than 5,000 volumes as well as all journals that are regularly subscribed to.
  • Please order the desired copies either directly via the SLUB catalogue, by loan slip or by delivery service. Your order will be made available to you after a short time either for lending or for reference use at the circulation desk of the Central Library.
  • Please understand that rare and valuable media can only be used in the Collections Reading Room.

How to contact us

Do you have further research tips or information on the subject of shorthand that cannot yet be found here? We look forward to receiving your tips!

If you have any special enquiries or requests, please do not hesitate to contact our subject librarian:

Dominik Stoltz Tel.: +49 351 4677-530 E-mail: