Mission statement

Clio, die Muse der Geschichtsschreibung

“No future without a past”

Guiding principles of the Austrian Archives for Adult Education

The Austrian Archives for Adult Education are the historical memory of the Austrian adult education centres and their umbrella organisations. As a corporate archive, it allows an approach based on historical documents, their archival processing and academic analysis to the historical self-understanding and identity of the adult education centres in Vienna and their umbrella organisation – “Verband Wiener Volksbildung” and since 2008 “Die Wiener Volkshochschulen GmbH”, of which the Austrian Archives for Adult Education are an essential component.

The value of the Enlightenment

In Austria, the tradition of adult education that is not connected to politics and that is centred on science reaches back into the 19th century. It is nourished by the fight against intellectual paternalism and social exclusion as well as the endeavour to democratise and to popularise science and “Knowledge for everyone” – no matter what social class, religious affiliation, age or sex.

It is necessary to secure these democratic and emancipatory values of the European Enlightenment for the historically sensitive work of the adult education centres in the present and future. These values are genuinely written into the history of the Austrian adult education centre movement and serve the purpose of individual and social humanisation.

The recipients of the past

The Austrian Archives for Adult Education are a place where information is processed, supplied and managed for the needs of “Die Wiener Volkshochschulen GmbH” and the adult education centres as well as for various kinds of historical research (contemporary, (adult) educational, social and cultural) at universities and outside the academic sector.

With its projects and symposia, its cooperation on exhibitions, radio and television programmes, its specialised books and journals and the “Knowledgebase Adult Education” internet platform, the Austrian Archives for Adult Education also appeal to anyone who is interested in the history of adult education and its relevance to society as a whole.

The goals of the present

The Austrian Archives for Adult Education are responsible for the collecting, professional archiving and computer-supported indexing of text, image, audiovisual and digital sources relating to the adult education centres from the period of their founding and development up to the present.

The permanent safeguarding of rare historical material and the provision of historical and contemporary primary and secondary literature provide the necessary basis not only for internal self-understanding and critical self-reflection but also for the scientific investigation and the historiographical anchoring of adult education and the popularisation of science in the politics of democracy and in intellectual history in Austria.

The competences for the future

The Austrian Archives for Adult Education have in its keeping statues, minutes, correspondence, programmes, posters and photographs from the former “Verband Wiener Volksbildung” – now called “Die Wiener Volkshochschulen GmbH” –, its individual adult education centres and the adult education establishments linked with it as well as the donations and bequests of significant adult educators. An extensive research library and a periodical collection are affiliated with the archives, which consist of association, organisation, programme, poster and photograph archives.

The THESEUS database system includes documentation of all lectures, courses and other events that were offered in Vienna adult education centres between 1887 and 1964.

Important contributions to the culture of documentation, research and publication of the Vienna adult education centres include the carrying out of research projects and search requests and the publication of specialist monographs, conference proceedings, commemorative publications and the 20-year-old journal “Spurensuche. Journal on the History of Adult Education and Popularisation of Science”.

The Austrian Archives for Adult Education provide competent advising, comprehensive support and academic expertise to its users (adult educators, students, academics, curators and publishing and media specialists).

“Whoever seeks shall find!”

Anyone who would like to conduct targeted and result-oriented research in a specialised library, archive or a documentation centre will normally identify an area of interest for research and knowledge. Due to the wealth of historical material, only those who know exactly what they are looking for will be able to make a discovery.

The informational and research tools of the Austrian Archives for Adult Education span different fields and databases. Its employees are committed to the guiding principle that the success of their services depends on clients finding more information and further references than they were actually seeking in the first place.