The historical department contains the official archival holdings of Berlin's Academy of Sciences from its foundation day on 11th July 1700 until 1945. This rich fund of archival sources from almost 250 years of academy development is divided into a series of individual record groups.
The central academic registry consists of two archival holdings, one of which includes the records of the academy from 1700 until 1811, while the other contains the academy's archival sources from 1812 to 1945. 1812 is the caesura between these two central archive holdings when, as a result of the Stein-Hardenberg reforms and the foundation of the Berlin Friedrich-Wilhelms University in 1810, the fundamental re-organisation of Berlin's Academy of Sciences was finalised with the statute of 24th January 1812. In addition to the two holdings of the central academic registry there are, apart from files, over 270 manuscripts of academy lectures, more than 700 scripts entered by candidates in response to essay competitions held by the academy between 1744 and 1939, and over 200 scripts sent to the academy for other reasons.
The holdings of the historical department accommodate, in addition to those of the central academic registry, the records of over 20 places of employment in the academic projects of the academy. From 1815 onwards, these were established in the academy as the new main form of academic work and managed by academic commissions under the chairmanship of a full member of the academy. In addition to the academy members who had been appointed commission members, work was predominantly done in these large community projects by scholars who, employed for this particular purpose by the academy, worked in their respective positions in the academic projects. For the most part, these places of employment produced files of their own in addition to the academy's central files. Further archival sources, which are still required as working material for research activities, are presently being used for particular academy projects of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (Inscriptiones Graecae, Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, Ancient Egyptian Dictionary).
Individual holdings or parts of holdings of scholarly societies which were academically and personally closely connected with the Prussian Academy of Sciences also fell into the custody of the academy archive and its historical department.
Finally, the historical department also accommodates the historical holdings of some scientific institutions closely associated with the academy, some of which were incorporated into the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin after the Second World War.