University Library

Historic stocks

The University Library is fortunate to have existed since the 15th century and survived the Second World War without significant loss, and so has sizable historic stocks.


Key figures about our historic stocks

The University Library holds:

  • More than 2,100 incunabula
  • Approx. 105,000 rare books
  • Over 6,600 manuscripts and autographs
  • More than 8,500 scores and
  • Almost 160 historical collections.

History of the library holdings

You can find a detailed description of our holdings of historic books in "Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland" (1994)

Use of stocks

Digitized texts

Manuscripts and prints that have already been digitized can be found in DigiTü and Katalog plus.

Historic publications are routinely digitized by other libraries, with records held in the KVK (Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog).

Only available in the Manuscript Reading Room

All works from before 1851, manuscripts, historical collections, autographs, incunabula and rare books can only be used under supervision in the Manuscript Reading Room. Borrowing is not permitted.

Ordering items

  • Incunabula, old prints and rare books can be ordered using Katalog plus.
  • To order manuscripts and items from historical collections you need a special order form which can be obtained in the Manuscript Reading Room.
  • Non-members of the university who do not have a library card should apply by e-mail to the Manuscripts / Historic Prints department.
  • To research and order items from the archives please contact the University Archive.


Reproductions can be requested (for a fee) from the Reading Room staff. Photography is only possible on a case-by-case basis by arrangement.

Catalog system

This catalog system was used for all books acquired up to 1960.

The system divides the entire holdings by field into 11 main categories, labeled with the letters A-L.

Each main category is subdivided into a larger number of subcategories, which is explained below. Within each category, the books are generally organized by the date of acquisition.

More on Manuscript shelf numbers system (M)

Historic prints and rare books


The library’s collection of incunabula includes roughly 2,100 titles with a strong focus on theology, which makes up more than half of the volumes.

The incunabula are recorded in the Incunabula Catalog INKA.

A printed catalog also exists:

  • Inkunabeln der Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen, der Fürstlich Hohenzollerschen Hofbibliothek Sigmaringen und des Evangelischen Stifts Tübingen : Ed. by Gerd Brinkhus and Ewa Dubowik-Baradoy. Assisted by Astrid Breith, Wiesbaden : Harrassowitz, 2014.

Rare books

Rare books include all works dated between 1501 and 1700, as well as texts that are unusual, irreplaceable or especially valuable. Almost all of them are listed in Catalog plus and can be ordered directly in the Manuscript Reading Room.

The holdings of rare books now extend to about 105,000 volumes. An important focus of the collection is in the field of theological literature.

Cadastral maps

Tübingen University Library’s collection of historic cadastral maps of Württemberg consists of approximately 15,000 scrolls in 1:2,500 scale. For conservation reasons, the original documents are no longer handed out.

The cadastral maps have been digitized by the state archives and are available free of charge:

The necessary coordinates can be found here:


Tübingen University Library’s holdings of manuscripts stretch to about 6,600 shelf numbers. A shelf number may in this case relate to one single sheet, or to several meters of shelf.

Oriental manuscripts

A key area is the Oriental manuscripts that arrived in the library as collections in the 19th and 20th centuries. Numerically the largest group is made up of Indian manuscripts with now more than 850 items. The 107 Armenian manuscripts include outstanding examples of Armenian illumination of the 12th to 19th centuries.

Occidental manuscripts

The university library holds some 350 Medieval and approximately 3000 modern Occidental manuscripts. There are also roughly 350 Medieval fragments from the 9th to 16th centuries, and as well as approx. 160 literary estates also a collection of autographs, music and deeds.

Manuscript shelf numbers

The shelf numbers used today for the manuscript stocks of Tübingen University Library date back to the reorganization of the manuscript collections carried out by Adalbert von Keller in 1840-41. Keller ordered the manuscripts primarily by philological aspects into language groups, which were each identified by a lower case letter to which could be added a Roman number as a suffix.

Summary of shelf number groups
Shelf number group Description rough number
Ma “Oriental” manuscripts  
Ma I Indian 891
Ma II Semitic 1
Ma IIIa Ancient Persian 14
Ma IIIb Modern Persian 130
Ma IV Hebrew 16
Ma V Aramaic 13
Ma VI Arabic 383
Ma VII Turkish 294
Ma IX Ethiopian and Amharic 32
Ma X Tibetan 3
Ma XI Chinese 1
Ma XIII Armenian 109
Ma XIV American 1
Mb Greek manuscripts 46
Mc Latin manuscripts 380
Md German manuscripts (incl. historical collections up to 1983) 1139
Me Germanic manuscripts (not German)  
Me I Gothic 2
Me II Icelandic 3
Me III Swedish 1
Me IV Low German 5
Me V Saxon 6
Mf Romance manuscript  
Mf I French 43
Mf II Italian 5
Mf III Spanish 5
Mg Slavic manuscripts 2
Mh Württemberg manuscripts


Mh I   4


Collections Tübingen lecturers 528
Mh III Manuscripts relating to Tübingen 151
Mi Autographs 869
Mk Music 97
Ml Deeds 23
Mm Fragments (post-1985)  
Mm I Latin parchment fragments, C9th 12
Mm II Latin parchment fragments, C10th/11th 12
Mm III Latin parchment fragments, C12th 54
Mm IV Latin parchment fragments, C13th 79
Mm V Latin parchment fragments, C14th/15th 196
Mm VII Latin paper fragments, C15th  
Mm X German parchment fragments, C13th  
Mm XI German parchment fragments, C14th  
Mm XII German parchment fragments, C15th  
Mm XIII German paper fragments, C15th  
Mn Historical collections (post-1983)  

Manuscript catalogs

The online Manuscripts Catalog includes:

  • German manuscripts (Md and Mh)
  • Manuscript collections of Tübingen university lecturers (Mh II)
  • Manuscripts relating to Tübingen University and University Library (Mh III)
  • Greek manuscripts (Mb)
  • Latin manuscripts (Mc)
  • German manuscripts (Me)
  • Spanish manuscripts (Mf III)

General catalog of manuscripts

All categories of shelf number are accessible via the general catalog of manuscripts in the Manuscript Reading Room.

The general catalog is gradually being digitized:

A copy of the general catalog (dated 1969) is kept together with the printed catalogs in the reference holdings in the Manuscript Reading Room.

Printed manuscript catalogs

Ma I Indian manuscripts

Ma III Persian manuscripts

  • Wilhelm Eilers: Persische Handschriften. T. 1. Wiesbaden 1968 (VOHD 14.1)(16 manuscripts)

Ma IV Hebrew manuscripts

Ma V Aramaic manuscripts

  • Julius Assfalg: Syrische Handschriften. Wiesbaden 1963 (VOHD 5) (No. 37, 40, 54, 103: Ma V 1-4

Ma VI Arab manuscripts

Ma IX Ethiopian manuscripts

  • Six, Veronika: Äthiopische Handschriften der UB Tübingen (Hamburg, 2000. Not released in print)
  • Heinrich von Ewald: Über die äthiopischen Handschriften zu Tübingen. In: Zs. f. d. Kunde des Morgenlandes 5, 1844, p. 164-201
  • Heinrich von Ewald: Über eine zweite Sammlung äthiopischer Handschriften in Tübingen. In: Zs. der Dt. Morgenländ. Ges. 1, 1847, p. 1-43

Ma XIII Armenian manuscripts

Mb Greek manuscripts

Mc Latin manuscripts

Mg Slavic manuscripts

  • Elke Matthes: Katalog der slavischen Handschriften in Bibliotheken der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Wiesbaden 1990. p. 171 (Mg 1)

Mk Music manuscripts

  • Catalog of music manuscripts in Tübingen University Library, compiled by Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM), German work group, 80328 Munich, within the framework of compiling music manuscripts Series A/II / compiled by Gottfried Heinz-Kronberger. - Répertoire International des Sources Musicales, 2007.
  • August Bopp: Das Musikleben in der Freien Reichsstadt Biberach unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Tätigkeit Justin Heinrich Knechts und Katalog der Kick’schen Notensammlung. Kassel 1930, p. 100-179: Katalog der ehemaligen Kick’schen Notensammlung (Holdings Mk 90). The Kick collection is available as a digital reproduction.

Historical collections

Today the University Library holds as many as 160 historical collections, including numerous partial and fractional collections.

Records of historical collections

You can find a summary of the historical collections held in the University Library in our

If you want to search for historical collections and autographs in libraries throughout Germany, please refer to the Kalliope Union Catalog.
You can find historical collections in German archives in the federal archives’ database of historical collections [in German].


Portrait collection

The portrait database contains over 12,000 portraits from the holdings of the University Library, the university archive and the graphic collection of the Institute of Art History. The paintings date from the 16th to the 20th century.
Over the period 2009 to 2012 the collection was digitized and scientifically researched as part of a project by the Baden-Württemberg Cultural Foundation.