About the Digital Archive


Eberhard and Emmy Arnold's papers document the founding, growth, and spirit of Sannerz and the Rhön and Alm Bruderhofs. The collections include almost all of Eberhard’s writings, correspondence, and records of public and private talks. These take the form of rough notes, letters, poems, maps, published and unpublished articles and lectures, lecture posters, books, meeting minutes, and transcripts of meetings within the community. There are also documents and photographs of his and Emmy's families, as well as of community life. All material authored by Eberhard Arnold is intended for upload on this site over the next few years. Inquiries regarding any archival material, including that not available on this site, should be directed to contact@bruderhof.com.

Where possible, German transcriptions and draft English translations have been included with images of the original documents. This continues to be a work in progress. Some translations are taken from earlier Plough publications intended for general audiences, and these are yet to be reviewed for the site. They may therefore include inaccuracies or earlier editorial omissions or additions. For critical, scholarly work, we recommend consulting the images of the original documents, included with every entry in our digital archive.

Reference Codes and Document IDs

Eberhard's writings are arranged in two series: "slash numbers" and "straight numbers." For the slash numbers, the first two digits indicate the year of origin. For example, “Das Glück” (“Happiness”) is given the code EA 20/08 because it was published in 1920. The assignment of straight numbers began in 1932. Else von Hollander initially cataloged Eberhard's writings with slash numbers. After her death in January 1932, Eberhard's secretaries used straight numbers, which go from 1 through 509. In Primavera, Paraguay, Günther Homann meticulously cataloged the entire collection, assigning copy numbers to different versions of the same text, using Roman numerals.

Notes made at Bruderhof meetings were originally recorded in shorthand. It took decades for these to be transcribed. This work was continued in Primavera and then in Woodcrest, New York, through the 1980s. New transcriptions were then assigned slash numbers based on the year of the meeting. It is these transcriptions that have been made available in our digital archive as the original shorthand notes were unfortunately disposed of.

The slash and straight numbers have been retained as the primary means of identification, location, and call number for each of Eberhard’s talks and writings. The numbers have been standardized so that the second element in each of the slash numbers consists in two digits, with zeros being added for originally singular digits (e.g. EA 10/01). Straight numbers also all have three digits now, so that EA 1 becomes EA 001. These EA codes (in both forms) remain the primary means of reference for documents in the digital archive. (To confuse things a little, in rare cases dates provided in the digital archive conflict with those of the slash numbers. This is because the dating of these documents was later revised, and the original number was maintained for the sake of continuity.)

Finally, document IDs are generated when a document is scanned. The first number corresponds to the box number of the physical holding and the second number corresponds to the folder number. For example, “Der Prophetismus” (“Prophecy”) has 20126083_17_S as its ID, where 20126083 and 17 correspond to box and folder numbers, respectively. “S” stands for “scan,” and only applies to the digital object. This becomes relevant when considering the individual pages of a document. So the first page of “Der Prophetismus” has 20126083_17_S_001 as its ID, the second has 20126083_17_S_002, and so on. On downloading a set of scans, each image will be named according to its unique ID.

History of the Collections

Eberhard Arnold placed great value on maintaining a historical record of the community. This included copying, organizing, and understanding the writings he collected about the Hutterites. Until her death in January 1932, his sister-in-law, Else von Hollander, supported him in this work. In May 1932, Irmgard Keiderling began assisting him as secretary. Other Bruderhof sisters, including Hella Roemer, Hildegard Friedrich, and Susi Gravenhorst also helped. Papers documenting the movement were largely bound into three ‘history books’ and given to Eberhard by the brotherhood for his fiftieth birthday in 1934. Other hand-bound volumes of documents and songs are extant, as well. These documents were secretly transported in many shipments and by various means from the Rhön Bruderhof in Hessen, Germany, to the Alm Bruderhof in Liechtenstein, to escape detection by the Nazis. They were then taken to the Cotswold Bruderhof in England, and between 1941 and 1942 went by ship to the communities in Paraguay. There they were stored at the hospital in the Loma Hoby community for some time. Gunther Homann, who had studied theology in Tübingen, was the archivist. He created the original EA registers, meticulously listing every piece by Eberhard, how many copies existed, and where they were located.

The collection was moved from Paraguay to Woodcrest, New York, in 1961. After the Darvell community was started in England in 1971, the whole collection was photocopied, and copies were sent there as a backup. In May 2011, the collection was shipped to the new facility at Fox Hill, New York, where it currently resides.

The collection has seen some losses and additions over the decades. The story goes that when the Gestapo raided the Rhön Bruderhof on November 16, 1933, Moni and Emmy stuffed potentially incriminating documents into the wood stove before they could be discovered. Some documents were also damaged by termites when in Paraguay, but for the most part everything was remarkably well preserved. Finally, in 1957, a fire at Woodcrest burned down the building where Heini Arnold had his office, taking some of Heini's personal copies of his father's letters and poetry with it. On the whole, it is amazing how much of the material has survived across time and place. Regarding additions, in the early 1990s Chris Zimmerman acquired photocopies of some correspondence from Eberhard's time at Goshen College. In 1995, Markus Baum acquired several documents from the Bad Blankenburg Alliance Archive that were missing from the Bruderhof Archive. Photocopies of these were then incorporated.