Publisher's archive

The BSH’s publishing archives are part of the library collection. All publications produced by the BSH or its predecessor institutions are collected in the BSH's archives. This includes nautical and scientific publications as well as unpublished documents and photos.

The archive of nautical publications

The BSH publishing archives’ collections consist of publications published by the BSH, the DHI and the Deutsche Seewarte (German Nautical Observatory) and the relevant authorities at the time. These are mainly nautical publications such as sailing or sea manuals, Notices to Mariners, nautical charts or Lists of lights. Scientific titles such as the Deutsche Hydrographische Zeitschrift, ice charts and reports, BSH reports, permits and standards are also included.

Items on the history of the organisation are also archived:

  • Ship diaries,
  • Ship drawings,
  • Guest books of our own ships,
  • Organisation charts,
  • Images of staff, buildings, ships and equipment,
  • some films about research trips.

This part of the archive is located in the library in Hamburg.

The nautical publications of the Seehydrographischer Dienst of the GDR (SHD) are also part of our collections. These can be viewed in the library in Rostock.

The archive of nautical charts

Our archive of more than 50,000 official German nautical charts is located in the library in Rostock. Two copies of each nautical chart published by the BSH are archived.

The archive only contains charts published by the BSH and its predecessor institutions, not nautical charts produced by other countries. In addition to the charts, the archive also includes the directories of nautical publications of the Deutsche Seewarte, the DHI and the BSH as well as the SHD, which were published regularly since the beginning of the 20th century. The oldest chart in the archive dates back to 1825. The complete stock of nautical charts, which also contains special charts such as quadrant charts, wreck charts, radio location charts, sea border charts or fishing charts, can be researched via our online catalogue.

The historical nautical charts are stored in large metal cabinets. The charts are stored vertically and sorted by chart number and date. This way the charts are stored flat and protected from dust and light. Since all important information is printed on the lower edge of the charts, the charts are stored upside down. The SHD charts and current BSH charts are stored in chart cabinets in the library.

Additional Information


Maritime Library – Hamburg +49 40 3190-2600


Maritime Library – Rostock +49 381 4563-601

History of nautical charts

Detail of nautical chart 49 "Mouths of the Jade, Weser and Elbe" from 1878

What are nautical charts? Since when do nautical charts exist? | What do the symbols and abbreviations mean?

The history of nautical charts