Göttingen school of history

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The Göttingen school of history was a group of historians associated with a particular style of historiography located at the University of Göttingen in the late 18th century.[1]

The University of Göttingen was the original centre of the "Geschichtswissenschaft" or history as an academic discipline, and became a major centre for globally-orientated anthropology.[2] The school itself was one of the newest universities in Europe, having been founded in 1734 by Gerlach Adolph von Münchhausen, and the first to include the obligation to conduct and publish research alongside lecturing.[3] The historians of this school sought to write a universal history by combining the critical methods of Jean Mabillon with that of the philosophical historians such as Voltaire and Edward Gibbon.[4]

This group of historians played an important role in creating a scientific basis for historical research,[5] and were also responsible for coining two fundamental groups of terminologies in scientific racism:

List of academics[edit]


  1. ^ Gierl, Martin (3 May 2013). "Change of Paradigm as a Squabble between Institutions". Scholars in Action (2 vols): The Practice of Knowledge and the Figure of the Savant in the 18th Century. BRILL. p. 285. ISBN 978-90-04-24391-0. The term "Göttingen school of history" refers not to student-teacher relations nor to a shared methodology, but precisely to this field of competition in historical, cultural and anthropological interpretation, which emerged in Göttingen in the second half of the eighteenth century as an institutional effect of the Göttingen university, and which is captivating not for its shared attitude, but for its vigorous activity emanating from all of the university's areas of expertise in all areas of contemporary cultural-historical debate – which, as a political and cultural identity debate, was at the centre of discourse in the late Enlightenment.
  2. ^ a b Burns, Robert M. (2006). Historiography: Foundations. Taylor & Francis. pp. 94–. ISBN 978-0-415-32078-8.
  3. ^ Demel, Walter (1 November 2012). Race and Racism in Modern East Asia: Western and Eastern Constructions. BRILL. p. 68. ISBN 978-90-04-23741-4. In order to explain this concept and its changes, one must consider the intellectual situation of Göttingen. A university had been founded in this Lower Saxony town in 1736–37. Here, for the first time. the task of giving lectures was combined with the obligation to conduct and publish research. Göttingen soon became known as a center of "universal" historiography which – under English influence – flourished there… Being a center of global history, Göttingen became a hub for globally oriented anthropology as well. Or, to express it with a slight exaggeration: It became what would be called in German the most important "Hexenküche" [witch's kitchen] of racial theories.
  4. ^ Iggers, Georg (1 November 2010). The Theory and Practice of History: Edited with an Introduction by Georg G. Iggers. Routledge. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-136-88292-0. There had developed in the eighteenth century at the University of Göttingen a school of historians, including Johann Christoph Gatterer, August Ludwig Schlozer and Arnold Hermann Heeren, who combined the critical method of erudite scholars like Mabillon with the concern of the philosophic historians of the eighteenth century, such as Voltaire and Gibbon, who sought to write universal history without a strict critical evaluation of their sources. Niebuhr and Ranke refined the concern with critical method, Ranke in the process narrowed the universality of the outlook of the Göttingen historians. What Ranke brought to history was less a new method – this had been developed to a great extent by the Göttingen school – than a greater emphasis on the professional and technical character of history and a conception of history that we shall discuss later in this Introduction.
  5. ^ Cheng, Eileen K. (2008). The Plain and Noble Garb of Truth: Nationalism & Impartiality in American Historical Writing, 1784–1860. University of Georgia Press. pp. 362–. ISBN 978-0-8203-3073-0. …historians of the Göttingen school also played an important role in establishing the basis for critical scholarship and a more "scientific" approach to history during the second half of the eighteenth century as they used their training in philology and statistics and in what were considered the "auxiliary sciences" of paleography and numismatics to analyze historical data.
  6. ^ The End of Racism by Dinesh D'Souza, pg 124, 1995, "Blumenbach's classification had a lasting influence in part because his categories neatly broke down into familiar tones and colors: white, black, yellow, red, and brown."
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Gierl, Martin (3 May 2013). "Change of Paradigm as a Squabble between Institutions". Scholars in Action (2 vols): The Practice of Knowledge and the Figure of the Savant in the 18th Century. BRILL. p. 285. ISBN 978-90-04-24391-0. ...that its opponent was by no means a united historians camp". On the contrary: August Ludwig Schlozer, an early full member with Gatterer, who later turned increasingly into Gatterer's competitor, became a member of the academy as Michaelis protégé in 1766; the popular philosopher Christoph Meiners, who had published a cultural-anthropological History of Mankind in 1775, was a member of both societies as well; Spittler and Heeren two other leading thinkers of the so-called "Göttingen school of history", which, with respect to ancient history, encompassed Heyne and Michaelis with their works on antiquity – where members of the academy.
  8. ^ a b "Old Testament – Georg-August-Universität Göttingen".