Austrian Biographical Encyclopedia (ÖBL)

The Austrian Biographical Encyclopaedia continues a tradition of biographical entries that goes back to Constantin von Wurzbach and his 60-volume work, ‘Biographical Encyclopaedia of the Austrian Empire’ (published in 1856–1891). During the First World War, preliminary work already began on a sequel to Wurzbach’s encyclopaedia orientated towards international works of this kind and which was published in part in the subsequently continued series, 'New Austrian Biography'. Moreover, the Amalthea publishing house collected rich biographical data which was assumed by the Austrian Academy of Sciences in 1946 with the goal of revising and publishing it in the form of a biographical encyclopaedia.

For this purpose, the 'Commission for the Development of an Austrian Biographical Encyclopaedia’ was founded in the same year and an editorial team appointed. This commission was converted into the institute 'Austrian Biographical Encyclopaedia and Biographical Documentation’ at the Austrian Academy of Sciences on 1.1.1994. In 1.1.2013, the 'Austrian Biographical Encyclopaedia’ (ÖBL) was incorporated into the newly founded Institute of Modern and Contemporary History.

The Austrian Biographical Encyclopaedia is the only encyclopaedic work in Europe to record the life courses and career paths of prominent personalities in the entire territory of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy as well as in the First and Second Republics. In selecting the entries, we are committed to taking individuals into account who do not hold a prominent place in public consciousness.

The printed edition currently comprises 68 instalments. The most recent was published in September 2017 and ranges from ‘Valentinotti Stefan’ to ‘Vogel von Frommanshausen Karl’. Over 18,500 biographies have been published to date, ranging from the letter ‘A’ to ‘Vog’. An overview of the volumes published until 2017, including single instalments, is available here. With the publishing of volumes 15 and 16 (and over 20,000 biographies), the print edition will be completed in the next few years.

The construction of an online edition began in 2004. Since July 2009, this open access version has been accessible in the Internet. In addition to this resource, a ‘premium version’ subject to charge went online in 2011: it contains more complex search options reaching beyond full-text search, and offers supplementary visual material and links.

The project ‘Mapping Historical Networks: building the new Austrian Prosopographical | Biographical Information System (APIS)’ was launched on 15 April 2015. The project is funded by the Austrian National Foundation and was approved in the framework of the Austrian Academy of Sciences’ call for projects under the title, ‘Digital Humanities: long-term projects dealing with cultural heritage’.

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