Luhmann‘s Zettelkasten online in clickable form

In the beginning of 2020 I decided to visit our University here in Bielefeld to see the original Zettelkasten in the flesh - errm paper. Then we all know what happened.


Did you know that the University is digitizing the Zettelkasten step by step?

6000 Zettel are already scanned. Lots of them transcribed, the Meta Data extracted and you can click through whole Zettel-Strecken.




Here is the the Link to Zettel 1


The Tutorial

Until now it is all in German

But I think it is still very usable with a translation service.

And even without it translation it is just a lot of fun to click through Luhmans work

I did not find anything about the project about the beginning digitization of Luhmanns Work, so I hope that it is helpful for some here.


Using Chrome you can select to always auto-translate German to English and it will do so every time you click a link in the page.

Note this is Luhmann’s FIRST slip box, aka “Slip Box I”. He had two. The first was built IIRC over his first ten years and contained 108 top-level categories. (the entry point notes)

His second was constructed after that first decade or so and contained only about 11 top-level categories. Reportedly there was very little linking between the two boxes.

What I gather from this is that his second slip box represents a refinement of his thinking into the nature of sociological systems as well as a refinement of his process in general. So I’d love to see the similarities and differences when they apply this process to his second slip box as well.

EDIT: Oh cool! I had a suspicion but wasn’t sure until now. It turns out Luhmann’s prior education in the law led to him using standard legal introductory signals e.g. see, see also, but see, etc. These provide a disciplined way of contextualizing inter-note links. Glad to see this since I had previously adopted this method as well.

Cross-posting since it is relevant: