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Switzerland and Pro Helvetia

A sample of Pro Helvetia donations

For a number of years the University Library has benefited considerably from the generosity of the Arts Council of Switzerland Pro Helvetia. Through its activities Pro Helvetia aims to support a contemporary, culturally diverse and open-minded Switzerland, and a primary objective is the fostering of cultural relations with other countries. The University Library's language specialists collect information on new titles relating to Switzerland on a regular basis, and submit lists of desiderata to Pro Helvetia. These are reviewed in Zürich and if they meet Pro Helvetia's criteria, the books are supplied to Cambridge free of charge.

German titles supplied in the latest delivery, in August, give some indication of the subject diversity.

  • Die Schweiz in Europa: Antithese, Modell oder Biotop? By Urs Altermatt. Frauenfeld: Huber, 2011.
  • Von Rosinen und anderen Spezialitäten: die Schweiz und die EU by Beat Spirig and Rolf Weder. Zürich: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 2011.
  • Der Sammler und die Seinigen: Martin Bodmer (1899-1971) und der Gottfried Keller-Preis by Thomas Bodmer. Zürich: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 2010.
  • Muslime in der Schweiz edited by Brigit Allenbach and Martin Sökefeld. Zürich: Seismo, 2010.
  • Wirtschaftswunder Schweiz: Ursprung und Zukunft eines Erfolgsmodells by R. James Breiding and Gerhard Schwarz. Zürich: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 2011.
  • Die Geschichte der Schweiz: von den Anfängen bis heute by Volker Reinhardt. München: Beck, 2011.
  • Natur und Abbild: Johann Ludwig Aberli (1723-1786) und die Schweizer Landschaftsvedute by Tobias Pfeifer-Helke. Basel: Schwabe, 2011.
  • Berns moderne Zeit: das 19. und 20. Jahrhundert neu entdeckt edited by Peter Martig. Bern: Stämpfli, 2011.
  • Karl Moser: Architektur für eine neue Zeit, 1880 bis 1936 (2 vol. set) edited by Werner Oechslin and Sonja Hildebrand. Zürich: GTA, 2010.
  • Das Kunstmuseum Bern: Höhepunkte der Schweiz aus sieben Jahrhunderten edited by Christiane Lange and Matthias Frehner. München: Hirmer, 2010.
  • Der Glanz des Alltäglichen: Amiet, Giacometti, Hodler und Vallotton edited by Angelika Affentranger-Kirchrath. Bern: Benteli, 2010.
  • Patrimonium: Denkmalpflege und archäologische Bauforschung in der Schweiz, 1950-2000 by Hans-Peter Bärtschi et al. Zürich: GTA, 2010.
  • Kunst und Wissenschaft: das Schweizerische Institut für Kunstwissenschaft 1951-2010 by Juerg Albrecht et al. Zürich: Scheidegger & Spiess, 2010.

With the Swiss franc rapidly increasing in value against the pound, we would be able to acquire relatively few of these titles if we had to buy them from the Library budget. These Pro Helvetia donations enable us to continue to develop in depth our collections on Switzerland, and these have long been an area of particular interest for Cambridge. Switzerland is singled out for special mention in our collection development policy. The Library currently has more than 26,000 Swiss imprints. French language imprints dominate for the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The 19th century sees a marked swing within the collections from French to German, and the 20th century continues that trend.


The title page of Acton.d.36.187, Newe Ordnung, Wider den Gassen-Bättel (1643).

Rare Swiss holdings

We have approximately 16,000 German language imprints from Switzerland. There are 57 titles from the 16th century, 20 from the 17th, 182 from the 18th, 1988 from the 19th and 11,350 from the 20th.

Lord Acton collected very actively in this area. When the Acton Library was presented by Lord Morley in 1902, numbers in the Acton classification scheme were specifically devoted to matters Swiss. At Acton.15 are placed books on Swiss church history, and Acton.36 has books on Swiss political history.

Acton's library contains some 500 nineteenth century titles in German on the history of Switzerland, including many items produced by local printers in such towns as Agen, Burgdorf, Olten, Rapperswyl, Sursee and Stäfa. Seven titles published in 1829 or 1830 relate to Thurgau, and a further eleven published in 1830 or 1831 are on Sankt Gallen. There are more than 30 Lucerne imprints from the first half of the nineteenth century, and Acton's collection of materials on Bern is even more notable. A particular highlight are the 73 ordinances issued by the Bern Chancellery printed between 1635 and 1764. There are also important runs of early Swiss periodicals, including Museum Helveticum (1746-1752), Schweitzerisches Museum (1783-1790), Neues schweitzersches Museum (1794-1796), Der schweizerische Geschichtsforscher (1812-1840) and Helvetia (1823-1833).