The Archives preserve the institutional memory of the Lutheran World Federation. They cultivate a culture of understanding, safeguard the institutional memory, respond to inquiries and support research.

You are welcome to visit the LWF archives. To do so, please use the request form below. Rules and fees may apply.

The LWF Archives

Children refugees after WWII

Refugee children from World War II wear LWF badges. Credit: Jean Olson Lesher

History is our future

Un pueblo sin memoria es un pueblo sin futuro

Aus Gegenwart wird Zunkunft

L’histoire se transmet et le présent a l’imminente responsabilité d’être à la hauteur du passé


The Lutheran World Federation Archives preserve the institutional memory of the LWF. They function to cultivate a culture of understanding, safeguard the institutional memory, respond to inquiries and to support research. They contain around 1km of linear papers, laid end to end, and serve about 100 requests a year, both from within the organisation and external. Requests often focus on specific historic documents such as Assembly reports and speeches, people in global Lutheran history, theological debates, correspondence, specific issues or themes, and photo, audio and video recordings. Lists of LWF publications from 1947 onwards are available on the LWF website.

The archives are housed in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva and include records of LWF governing bodies, correspondence, LWF publications and reports, periodicals and newsletters, clippings from 1947 to 1970, biography files, films, slides, photographs, videos and sound recordings, as well as a databank of resolutions by the governing bodies. The archives also include agendas and minutes of the Executive Committee of the Lutheran World Convention from 1923-1946 and correspondence from 1945 to 1947.

The archives were officially set up at the LWF Assembly in 1952, as were other LWF departments. The speaker noted there were at least six types of material that should be treasured: correspondence, minutes, addresses, reports and exhibits of governing bodies, press clippings, documents from previous meetings and programs of the LWF, records of ecumenical activities, and general and congregational records. The first archive plan appeared in 1958 and was based on the set-up of desks and division of tasks in 1958. After the 1970 assembly, at a time when Lutheranism had reached all continents, the LWF structure changed and thus, a new archive plan. The 1990 assembly brought about another major structural change which necessitated a new archive plan.

The archives are composed of four rooms: documents from 1945 to 1969, from 1970 to 1990 and from 1991 to 2011. A special room holds financial anmd personnel documents. The mandate of the service is to: maintain permanent archives documenting LWF activities, theological debate and developments in the Lutheran Communion; facilitate and stimulate research; assist staff and visiting researchers; collect material pertaining to Lutheranism worldwide; liaise with Lutheran archives and libraries; promote Lutheran heritage through exhibitions.

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