The archive is responsible for conserving and researching the estate of art historian and humanist William S. Heckscher (1904–1999). The archival material not only documents Heckscher’s publishing activities but also provides insights into his working methods. His approach to collecting was similar to Warburg’s, whom he felt was a kindred spirit. He collected all kinds of documents, from studies of sources from classical antiquity and their reception to humanistic works from the 16th century, and excerpts from contemporary journals and newspapers. He established links between the works by using a classification system that organizes them both according to theme and in a chronological order.
The extensive correspondence and the archive put together by Heckscher span almost 70 years and are of considerable international interest due to Heckscher’s emigration from Germany to the USA as well as his wide network of contacts. Both as a student and friend of Panofsky and through Heckscher’s own research on cultural studies and iconology in the tradition of Warburg, it is also of great significance to the history of science and scholarship. The collections are divided between the following departments: the archive of biographical documents on Heckscher and other emigrants, documents on Heckscher’s published and unpublished research, and the correspondence archive with approx. 15,000 letters and boxes of note cards belonging to Heckscher.