The IISH reference library documents the social environment and political context in which the German social movement evolved in scientific journals, monographs and dissertations. The publications of the social movement itself, such as periodicals, posters, and leaflets, are available for research on the subject. A wealth of printed material relates to the workers' protest that took place during industrialization and that figured extensively in literature about the social issue. Very few institutions offer such a comprehensive impression of the crucial final years of the Weimar Republic as the IISH library, which includes Vorwärts from the SPD, as well as the Völkische Beobachter of the Nazis, the communist Rote Fahne, and even the liberal Frankfurter Zeitung.
The scope of the library collections extends considerably beyond the boundaries of social history. This is thanks to the inclusion of specialized libraries and subject-based collections of books, leaflets, pamphlets, and periodicals.
The vast and impressive library of Gustav Mayer was purchased in 1937 and contains works from the early German socialists from 1830 to 1848.
More recent accessions are:
- The Archiv der Alternativpresse (ID-Archiv) collected the press of the new social movements in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. This extensive collection contains thousands of periodical titles and various subject files and multimedia materials. Subject files include the Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF) prisoner Ronald Augustin, Ingrid Strobl, solidarity with prisoners ('Knastarchiv'), and other themes. Documents originating from the ID-Archiv can be found by searching the online catalogue under collection code ID. Read more...(in German)
- A large collection relating to the 'Wende' in 1989 contains circular letters, correspondence, founding manifestos, conference papers and proceedings, programmes, rules, statements, press releases and publications by political organizations and civic movements that came into being in the GDR after September 1989, including Demokratie Jetzt, the Grüne Partei, the Initiative Frieden und Menschenrechte, Neues Forum et cetera.
- Bela Althans was a prominent member of various organizations of the extreme right in Germany in the 1980s. He collected materials dealing with the glorification of Nazism and its protagonists, revisionism, and history written about World War II. More than 2500 books, countless brochures, and several video and audio cassettes from his collection have now been included in the IISH library. These can be found by searching the online catalogue under collection code 'Althans'.
Many archives and collections (the Marx and Kautsky family archives are but two examples) also contain photographs and other audiovisual materials. These have been transferred to the Image and Sound Department. This department houses an impressive collection of rare photos, posters, badges, and audiovisual materials. All these materials may be retrieved through different types of searches in the IISH catalogue.