The task of the Research Centre is to select the edition of the manuscript estate of the important explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769 - 1859), the complete edition of his dependent publications, and the historical analysis of the scientific heritage. Extensive collections of copies of letters from and to Humboldt as well as of his travel diaries have been created for this purpose. These and other collections are constantly being supplemented and prepared for documentary purposes. The research results published by Humboldt's staff are essentially based on these principles, as is the international information and advisory activity of the Research Centre, which has grown noticeably in recent years.
The results of the work were reflected above all in the volumes of the “Beiträge zur Alexander-von-Humboldt-Forschung” (Berlin: Akademie Verlag). In 1981, the “Union Internationale d'Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences, Division d'Histoire des Sciences” declared this series of publications worthy of support. So far, letters, travel diaries, two anthologies with scientific essays, the chronology of Humboldt's important life data, bibliographies and a monograph on Humboldt as a member of the Berlin Academy of Sciences have been published. Smaller works and lectures on Humboldt's life and work are published in the series “Berliner Manuskripte zur Alexander-von-Humboldt-Forschung” published by the Research Centre.