The Corpus Schwenkfeldianorum

Selina Schultz

Selina Gerhard Schultz working in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, where Corpus editors stayed and worked as they collected and organized documents for the Corpus project. She is one of three editors of the Corpus and a Schwenckfeld biographer. Photo, collection of Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center

The Corpus Schwenkfeldianorum, known as the Corpus, is the critical edition of Caspar Schwenckfeld’s letters and books. Caspar Schwenckfeld (1489-1561) was a contemporary of Martin Luther and leader of the 16th century Silesian Protestant Reformation. The Corpus is the most comprehensive and largest collection of his work known to date, consisting of 19 volumes, a total of 18,000 pages.

Corpus Volume

One of 19 volumes. A complete set of all 19 volumes weighs approximately 109 lbs.

Beginning in 1884, efforts to collect Schwenckfeld’s work for the Corpus project were led by Howard W. Kriebel, Perkiomen teacher, Schwenkfelder descendant and historian, and Dr. Chester David Hartranft, Professor and President of Hartford Theological Seminary. So much archival and collection material was collected for the Corpus that it provided the foundation for the archive and museum collection at the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center we know today. Efforts to compile and print the 19 volumes of the Corpus began in 1884 and lasted through 1961. 2011 marks the 50th anniversary since the last volume of the Corpus was published and distributed in 1961. With this year marking the 10th anniversary of the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center as a museum, library, and archive as it stands today, and the 450th anniversary of the death of Caspar Schwenckfeld, there are so many reasons to celebrate the Corpus project that launched our institution’s history and continues on as a legacy of Schwenckfeld’s work for successive generations.

Display Case, Corpus Exhibit

One of the many cases as part of the Corpus exhibit. Hundreds of black boxes were used to organize research papers for the Corpus project. This is what remains of the black boxes.

Ongoing through April 2012, our special exhibit in the Local History Gallery on the first floor of the Schwenkfelder library & Heritage Center focuses on the the history of the Corpus Schwenckfeldianorum project. The exhibit explores early efforts in Germany by Adam Reissner (1500-1572) to Daniel Sudermann (1550-1631) who collected and reprinted Schwenckfeld’s writings, to the work by the Colonial American Schwenkfelders, and individual and collected efforts in the late 19th century that launched the Corpus Schwenckfeldianorum project in 1884. You’ll see various documents and artifacts that document the project’s 77 year history from 1884-1961: black boxes that stored research notes by Corpus editors, photographs, correspondence, subscription notices, sample pages, proof texts, and more in our exhibit.

The 50th Anniversary of the Completion of the Corpus Schwenkfeldianorum runs through April 1, 2012.

For a brief overview of the history of the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center as the Schwenkfelder Historical Library as part of the Carnegie Library on the campus of Perkiomen School from 1913-1948, visit:

Celebrate 10 years with us and join our 10th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, September 24, 2011 from 10:00am-2:00pm. It’s an event that’s free and open to the public.


About schwenkfelder

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the Schwenkfelders and the history of southeastern Pennsylvania and the Perkiomen Region. The Heritage Center offers educational programming and tours, exhibits, workshops, and events throughout the year. Our blog is maintained by museum educator, Rebecca Lawrence, SLHC staff and guest bloggers.
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