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Adolf-Würth-Zentrum für Geschichte der Psychologie

Back to Wuerzburg after 135 years


The privately owned historically significant Nachlass of Carl Stumpf (1848-1936) has been given to the Adolf-Würth-Center for the History of Psychology.

It did not take long for the Stumpf family and Professor Armin Stock from the Adolf-Würth-Center for the History of Psychology to agree that the Nachlass of Carl Stumpf should be transferred from the private archive in which it was excellently maintained for decades to the Adolf-Würth-Center at the University of Wurzburg. Opened to experts interested in the history of science, the documents have been placed in Wurzburg in March 2014 and are now available in an online finding aid.
The Nachlass of the psychologist and philosopher Carl Stumpf is closely related to the history of the University of Wurzburg. Stumpf was born on 21. April 1848 in Wiesentheid close to Wurzburg. In 1865, he enrolled at the University of Wurzburg at the early age of 17. There, he met the philosopher Franz Brentano (1838-1917) and became his student. Upon Brentano’s recommendation – who at the time was not yet entitled to supervise doctoral dissertations - Stumpf temporarily went to the University of Göttingen in order to earn his doctorate, supervised by Rudolf Hermann Lotze (1817-1881). He was awarded the qualification of university lecturer in 1870. At the age of 25, Stumpf was appointed to a professorship at the University of Wurzburg and thus became one of its youngest professors of philosophy. He stayed in Wurzburg until he was offered a professorship in Prague which he accepted in 1879. Later, he accepted offers in Halle (1884), Munich (1889) and Berlin (1894). During his time in Wurzburg, Stumpf started conducting research in the field of “Tonpsychologie” together with Friedrich Kohlrausch (1840-1910), Professor of physics. Stumpf maintained this field of research for the duration of his scientific activity. Students of his were, among others, the famous Gestalt psychologists Wolfgang Köhler (1887-1967), Max Wertheimer (1880-1943) and Kurt Koffka (1886-1941).
In 1900, Carl Stumpf founded the Berlin archive for phonograms, which was admitted to the UNESCO list “Memory of the World” in 1999.
“Stumpf was in correspondence with almost every famous psychologist of the 19th century”, enthuses Professor Stock. “His Nachlass is a valuable gain for the Adolf-Würth-Center and our warmest thanks is owed to the Stumpf family for placing their trust in us.”