Heinrich August Pierer

Portrait: Heinrich August Pierer
Heinrich August Pierer, lithography by Heinrich Schieferdecker, circa 1850
www.digitale-bibliothek.de / Wikimedia Commons

Heinrich August Pierer

Groundbreaking lexicographer of the 19th century

Should someone desire to know something about an object but cannot recollect its name, (...) the systematic index will provide the information ...

Heinrich August Pierer im Vorwort der zweiten Auflage seines Universal-Lexikon der Gegenwart und Vergangenheit, 1840

Heinrich August Pierer, a graduate of Landesschule Pforta (“Schulpforta”), was the son of a doctor and publisher. As a young man he was in the Lützow Free Corps, was wounded in 1813 in the Battle of Leipzig and took part in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Beginning in1820, he worked in his father's printing company.

From 1824 to 1837, Pierer and August Daniel von Binzer published the Universal-Lexikon der Gegenwart und Vergangenheit oder neuestes encyclopädisches Wörterbuch der Wissenschaften, Künste und Gewerbe in 26 volumes. A second printing of the encyclopaedia was published in 1840-1846 in 32 volumes and was notable not only for its 17,000 pages but also for its clear editorial policies. Every entry was assigned a defined space and the articles were linked through references that enabled users to quickly and reliably find their way.