History

Welcome to Corporate History

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Our ideals have been shaped by our history of more than 350 years – right from the very start. Each of the 13 generations of the Merck family has contributed in its own way, making us what we are today: a leading science and technology company.

Founded in 1668

We are unique. We have been developing further since 1668, thus creating a special identity. The shared values that underpin the company and shape its future are anchored in the past and are still practiced to this very day.  We are reliable. Family-owned for 13 generations The features that have shaped the company for more than 350 years are not “over and done with”. Each generation has helped to build the foundations that form our current identity. Our success is based on our values, on courage, achievement, responsibility, respect, integrity, and transparency. These very values inform our approach to our day-to-day work, the way we face challenges, and our interactions with our customers, business partners, employees, owners, shareholders, and the family.  For instance, what does courage look like? Courage is pharmacist Friedrich Jacob Merck leaving his hometown to go build a new life in far-away Darmstadt. Courage is expanding the company's presence to foreign continents early on. And sometimes even the addition of a tile to the mosaic has led to a brave new era, such as an active ingredient developed in Darmstadt that was on board the first manned mission to land on the moon.

 

Questions about history – solutions for the future

Change and stability, euphoria and sober perspectives, success and failure – over time a company experiences many extremes. Knowing and understanding this helps us to rise to challenges and develop ideas. The Corporate History research center collects, preserves, assesses, records, and scientifically processes everything that should and must be remembered in the interests of future-oriented actions. We reflect on the conceptual foundations of pharmacy, chemistry and medicine and answer questions about research and entrepreneurship.This work is done by an interdisciplinary team together with external cooperation partners using a broad range of methods. We offer professional advice, provide ideas and find solutions. High-quality scientific papers based on sound sources are written and used in professional and public discourse. 

envisioning tomorrow

The Merck Archives are protected as cultural property of national significance. They encompass the international company archive with handwritten and printed records (correspondence, contracts, patents, laboratory journals, manufacturing specifications, blueprints or advertising), photos, video, books, periodicals, audio recordings and digital storage devices along with a family archive (bequests, correspondence and autographs). The oldest writings date back to the 16th century. An exhibit storeroom with a multitude of objects and an art collection complements the historical artifacts.

The historical library features thousands of books and periodicals, covering everything from valuable illustrated formulation and herbal books from the 15th century through to contemporary expert literature. The collection of national and international historic pharmacopoeias and herbals is particularly noteworthy. 

Explore our history, the evolution of technology, and the progress of natural sciences and medical knowledge through the historical objects we have on display.

Corporate History offers internationally appreciated co-working spaces for symposia, lectures, round tables, and educational events. Individually prepared presentations can be used to add a historical element to events. The research results of Corporate History are also presented in the co-working space.

Opening hours:

Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (CET)

Please register to use the Merck Archives and the library. 

The Team

Scientists from a wide variety of disciplines work together in the research center:

  • Sabine Bernschneider-Reif, Pharmacist & Pharmaceutical Historian, Head of Corporate History
  • Stephan Böhm, Historian & Ethnologist
  • Peter Conradi, Historian
  • Bodo von Eberstein, Historian
  • Katja Glock, Historian
  • Timo Gruber, Communications Scientist & Cultural Anthropologist
  • Jutta Schimpf, Assistant

Numerous former managers work as volunteers:

  • Dr. Werner Becker, Chemist
  • Klaus-Peter Brandis, Lawyer
  • Dr. Gabriele Disselhoff, Chemist
  • Dr.-Ing. Rainer Hoffmann, Engineer
  • Dr. Joachim Lindner, Chemist
  • Peter Müller, Engineer
  • Dr. Ingunn Possehl, Pharmacist & Historian
  • Dr. Irmtraut Schläfer, Pharmacist
  • Dr. Ulrich Schönefeld, Chemist
  • Dr. Rolf Strauß, Pharmacist & Economist

Shadow program:

  • Annette Herberz

Do research work with us!

Please feel free to get in touch with us to exchange knowledge and ideas on a regular basis. We welcome the dialogue with you!

Sabine Bernschneider-Reif

Head of Corporate History