In the aftermath of the Second World War, the LWF supported thousands of displaced people in Europe. The young boy wearing an LWF pin on his coat lapel represents those pushed to leave their homes and find refuge elsewhere. Photo: LWF Archives


Preserving and promoting the Lutheran communion’s institutional memory

The LWF Archives, housed at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, preserve the records of the Lutheran World Convention, the Lutheran World Federation, and the Christian World Communions. The collection contains paper documents, photographs, sound tapes, films and videos, and publications representing some 1,000 running meters, the institutional and historical memory of the Lutheran Communion. Their digitalization process ensures long-term access, for future generations, to this unique and invaluable heritage consisting of milestone moments of the Lutheran World Federation.

        LWF Digital Archives, Library, and Museum

        Opening of the Welcoming the Stranger conference

        The LWF Archives collection predates the 1947 founding of the organization, and includes documents that are nearly 100 years old. Shortly after the LWF’s founding Assembly in Lund, Sweden in 1947, a Committee on History started exploring ways and means to establish permanent archives for the LWF. At the 1952 Assembly in Hanover, Germany, together with the other departments, an archive service was officially created. Finally in 1957, a German archivist was invited to Geneva to set up permanent archives. He introduced an archival system and organized the documents that had accumulated since 1945 when a representative of the Lutheran World Convention (LWC), the forerunner of the LWF, set an office in Geneva. Today most of the pictures and publications are digitalized and the 1 km archives boxes inventoried online, available on the LWF website

        Consistent documentation of routine and milestone moments of an organization is critical for safeguard institutional memory. While the LWF itself was founded in 1947, LWF Archives hold material that is nearly 100 years old. They are located in the Ecumenical Center in Geneva

        Officially established by the Second LWF Assembly in 1952, as were other LWF departments, they contain around 1 km of linear papers, laid end to end, and respond to requests from both within the organization and externally. They include records of LWF governing bodies, correspondence, LWF publications and reports, periodicals and newsletters, newspaper clippings, biography files, films, slides, photographs, videos and sound recordings, as well as a databank of resolutions by the governing bodies. The treasured collection covers the agendas and minutes from the Executive Committee of the LWF predecessor body, the Lutheran World Convention, 1923 - 1946.

        Researchers and other individuals seeking information often request specific historical documents such as Assembly reports and speeches, people involved in the global Lutheran history, theological debates, correspondence, specific issues or themes, and photo, audio and video recordings.

        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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        Years' Heritage
        Almost 100 years history since Lutheran World Convention
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        Yearly Requests
        From LWF staff, member churches, universities, researchers, authors, other

        Photo: LWF Archives