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Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus

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Westfalen: Landeskirchliches Archiv der Evang. Kirche > Kirchenkreis Dortmund-Mitte-Nordost > Dortmund, St. Reinoldi > Taufen 1769-1808, Trauungen 1769-1791,Beerdigungen 1769-1809,Taufen 1809 Band 5, Bild 26

Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus

Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus was born in Dortmund on 04 May 1772. Following his father’s wish, he started a commercial apprenticeship at the age of sixteen but broke it up for lack of interest. Brockhaus was an eager reader, and the more he read the more he wanted to know. After one year of studies in Leipzig, he established a company that specialized in English merchandise.  Due to a breach with his business partners, Brockhaus moved to Amsterdam where, in 1805, he opened the bookstore “Rohloff & Co” together with J.G. Rohloff. Basically, the bookseller Rohloff only gave his name for this purpose, as Brockhaus, being German, could not become a member of the Amsterdam book guild. From the start, Brockhaus not only acted as a bookseller but also as a publisher. The acquisition of the “Konversations-Lexikon” in 1808 proved to be the most important step in his career as a publisher, as this lexicon, of which some volumes had already been published, finally formed the basis of the Brockhaus encyclopedia. In 1811, Brockhaus moved the principal office of the company to Germany and changed its name to “Verlagsbuchhandlung F.A. Brockhaus”, followed by the move to Leipzig, the centre of booktrade, in 1818 and the establishment of his own printshop. Brockhaus continuously expanded the encyclopedic portfolio and integrated his children into the growing company. With his death on 20 August 1823 in Leipzig, he bequeathed the foundation of a true empire of knowledge that still exists, even though in modified form.

In 2006, the 21st and last printed edition of the Brockhaus was published. Due to the rise of free online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia, the sales of the Brockhaus publishing products, now under the umbrella of Bertelsmann, was finally discontinued in 2014. One year later, the license was sold to the publishing house of the Swedish National Encyclopedia whose German subsidiary developed the online edition of the Brockhaus Encyclopedia. Since 2015, not only online reference works but also digital teaching contents, materials and videos in English have been available - an online offer primarily directed at schools, libraries, and media companies.