Rudolf Steiner's Gesamtausgabe (GA)

From Anthroposophy

The Gesamtausgabe (GA) - or in English, Collected Works (CW) - of Rudolf Steiner's foundational contribution to spiritual science encompasses some 100.000 pages and consists of over 350 volumes that are hopefully nearing completion by 2025. The majority of the content are the 4550 lectures with notes, from the 6200 lectures given in over 120 cities and 13 countries in the period between 1904 and 1924.

History of the GA


Rudolf Steiner gave more than 6200 lectures in over 120 cities and 13 countries across Europe in the period between 1904 and 1924. The exact number varies depending on the source, as no records are available for about a quarter of all lectures. Hence the figures below should be considered indicative and corresponding to reality, but not necessarily of digital accuracy.

Though he traveled across Europe, analysis shows that the base location from which the majority of lectures were given was Berlin before the first world war WWI (1669 lectures), and moved to Dornach during and after WWI (1813 lectures), with Stuttgart being the third main location especially after WWI (761 lectures). In total 65% of all lectures were held in these three locations Berlin, Dornach and Stuttgart (4274 of 6651). At the peak between 100 and 300 lectures per year were held in these locations, in other years between 30 and 70. The fourth major location is Munich, especially before WWI (302 lectures). So approx 70% of all lectures was held in those four locations (4576 of 6651 or 69%). After this follows Basel and Leipzig also with over 100 lectures in total.

To connect to the atmosphere of Berlin in this period 1900-1910 where Steiner held many important lecture cycles, you can view for example the first 3 minutes of the following movies on youtube - movie A and movie B - of Berlin in the beginning of last century. This site also has a download version of the short excerpt in case the video goes offline.

A second movie - here on youtube - contains similar footage of various European cities. The major cities in this movie that Rudolf Steiner traveled to around this time were Paris (37 lectures 1906-1924) , London (38 lectures 1902-1924, of which 28 in 1922-24) , Amsterdam (14 lectures, of which 7 in 1921), Stockholm (31 lectures in 1908-13).

There are some periods of say twenty seconds in these short 'evocation' movies that allow one to transpose one's mind to this period when Steiner walked around on these streets to his lectures. For people who know they were incarnated in this period, this may arouse a certain soul feeling

For a breakdown of the GA in the various elements both in terms of format and contents, we refer to the sources below. Not focusing on the written works or artworks, the focus on this site is predominantly on the thousands of lectures that constitute the bulk of the available written materials on spiritual science.

Rudolf Steiner's life timeline

Schema FMC00.124 gives an overview on Rudolf Steiner's adult life and especially his lecturing activity in the three main seven year periods (in colour), the three moon nodes (in grey on the left), and some milestones in the right columns.


See also 1923-06-GA258 and more specifically 1923-06-15-GA258 and 1923-06-15-GA258 where Rudolf Steiner looks back on the three periods of seven years, and speaks about the 21 year rhythm in 1923-06-17-GA258. From the synopsis:

  • First period: the development of the basic content of the science of the spirit. View of natural science. The journal Luzifer-Gnosis.
  • The second period: exploration of the Gospels, Genesis, the Christian tradition. Expansion of the anthroposophical understanding of Christianity as such. The spread of anthroposophy into the artistic field through performance of the Mystery Dramas in Munich. Reasons which led to the expulsion from the Theosophical Society. Summary of the first two phases. The opposition which grew in strength after construction of the Goetheanum began. Development of eurythmy. The booklet Thoughts in Time of War and the inner opposition which it provoked within the society. The being of Anthroposophia.
  • The third phase: fertilization and renewal of the sciences and social relationships. The conditions governing the existence of the Anthroposophical Society. A more open-hearted form had to be found for the three objects of the society: fraternity, comparative study of religions and the study of the spiritual world.

The foundational books

The following books written by Rudolf Steiner can be seen as a foundation for anthroposophy or spiritual science in general:

  • 1894-GA004 - Philosophy of Freedom (PoF)
  • 1902-GA008 - Christianity As Mystical Fact (and the Mysteries of Antiquity)
  • 1904-GA009 - Theosophy
  • 1905-GA010 - Knowledge of the Higher Worlds (KHW)
  • 1910-GA013 - Outline of Esoteric Science (OES)

Furthermore, a 'reference' book is the compilation of written essays of 1904 later compiled in book form and first published in German in 1939

  • 1904 - GA011 - Cosmic Memory

The important difference with the rest of the GA is that these are works written by Rudolf Steiner as books (to be read sequentially), whereas the body of lectures covers twenty years of lecturing to the most varied audiences across Europe and these spoken lectures don't always have the accuracy of written works, or may contain errors.

See also online Five Base Books

These five books shed light on different matters, or can be seen as entry points into various dimensions of spiritual science:

  • PoF is the most important philosophical work about Man's epistemology, consciousness and freedom
  • Christianity as a mystical fact is the base work for The Michaelic stream, see also GA087 with lectures of 1901 and 1902

and then the three main books:

Capturing the lectures

There were five official stenographers, not all professional. Rudolf Steiner was concerned that the texts of the lectures should not be taken as the written word. Not only were the lectures in the spoken word very much tuned to what lived in the audience, but the reflections of these lectures cannot taken verbatim. Furthermore rather heavy editing was applied in the course of decades, where new editors made ever new editions.

Schema FMC00.340 is an illustration of original stenographic lecture notes, and shows Helene Finckh, (one of, or) the main stenographer(s) of Rudolf Steiner's lectures.


Schema FMC00.120 provides a high level overview of the lectures of which records are available.


Process and positioning

In one century, many hundreds of people worldwide have worked on the GA.

  • Starting with the stenographers and transcribers who created the typoscripts at the time of the lectures.
  • Then generations of editors that not only produced the lecture texts from all available sources, but also worked on the multiple editions over the decades.
  • Then translators from the German originals to the many languages: English, Spanish, Russian, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, ..
  • And ultimately publishers.

Not forgetting

  • the initiatives by people who scanned and OCR-ed the published text to make them available in digital format on the internet
  • the audio versions in German and English.

The GA itself, as we know it today therefore has passed through multiple generations .. just as there have been many generations of people who have worked and maintained it, and are still doing so today.

Schema FMC00.341 illustrates the process from attending the lecture to publication in the GA


Before the GA

Today we live in priviledged times of 'free flow of information' and with digital media and internet technology, the student of spiritual science has instant access to Rudolf Steiner's teachings. One has to realize though that in the first decades, only the first published lecture cycles were available besides the books. Students exchanged, copied, and collected notes also from personal sources whereever they could find them.

  • Starting 1923 upto her death in 1948, Marie Steiner's took individual personal ownership of Rudolf Steiner's work to organize the publishing and also own the editorials.
  • Adolph Arenson's 1930 listing of the 50 top lecture cycles, see online overview. These cycle numbers were used as lecture reference numbers by anthroposophists before the GA started. So anthro literature upto the 1950-60s will use these cycle numbers. The book 'Leitfaden durch 50 Vortragszyklen Rudolf Steiners' continued to be published until long after the GA, and upto today. The eight edition of 1984 (1000+ pages) contains an introduction of how this initiative came into being after thorough preparatory talks with Rudolf Steiner, and in-depth work between Feb-1918 and May-1925.
  • Leading thoughts. Rudolf Steiner's own initiative to provide a 'dashboard' overview to the contents of his work, arose with the compilation of 185 Leitsätze or Leading Thoughts published as 1925-GA026, see Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts. Regarding In Newsletter to members Nr 31 in 1924, Rudolf Steiner wrote (freely translated here):

    .. the work that is made available in the printed lectures and cycles should not all to be readily be underestimated By reading together and integrating all that can be found separated in these individual lectures and cycles, one can find back the perspectives from which is spoken in the Leading Thoughts.

    For more info see Carl Unger (1878-1929): 'The language of the consciousness soul - A guide to Rudolf Steiner's Leading Thoughts' (2012 in EN, original 1930 in DE 'Aus der Sprache der Bewusstseinsseele: Unter Zugrundelegung der Leitsätze Rudolf Steiners')
  • Schmidt and Mottelli: before the(Gesamtausgabe) or CW (Collected Works) became established, lectures were often referenced by the Schmidt number - see item four in Schema FMC00.039. Hans Schmidt gave each lecture a unique number, similar to how this is done in music (eg for Mozart the KV numbers allocated by Köchel (K) or the BWV numbers for Bach's Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis). For decades, the works by Schmidt and Mottelli (from the 1970s and early 80s ) were the most complete references that were published and available to students.

When studying secondary anthroposophical literature, therefore, one will find that for example Maximilian Rebholz (publishing in the period 1930-1950) referenced the Arenson cycle numbers, Ernst Hagemann (publishing in the 1970s) used the Schmidt lecture numbers.

  • As the GA became established, it became common practice to use the GA volume number and lecture date, the format also used on this site, see more on: RSL references. Today the Arenson cycle numbers and Schmidt lecture numbers are hardly used anymore.

The GA idea, plan and project initiative

  • First ideas from Ehrenfried Pfeiffer in 1947 and first proposal in 1953 by Teichert and Picht
  • Foundational plan for editorial work and publications by Hella Wiesberger in 1961, updated in 1984 (PDF available in references below)

Roll-out of publications

Schema FMC00.072 below shows the number of GA volumes published per year. Upto 1980 the data is based on Mottelli, afterwards no exact data was available. Since the GA2025 the data is again available.

It shows that in the period 1960-1980 (both years inclusive), a yearly average of 13 volumes per year was published for a total of 277 volumes in those 21 years and for a total of 289 volumes in 1980. This of course was able to build on the large volume of material that had been published in the fifty years from say 1910 to 1960, now fitting al the available publications after re-editing and bundling into the new GA framework.

Although no exact data are available for the period afterwards, it's clear that the pace dropped afterwards in the period 1980 to 2010.

Existing volumes were revised and updated regularly with consecutive editions.

Amazingly, key materials only got published very late, examples are GA089 and GA091.


Schema FMC00.073 shows the cumulative number of volumes in the published GA


The Uranos/Steinerdatenbank initiative

The official version of Rudolf Steiner's Gesamtausgabe left certain groups of students with two main concerns, issues or frustrations:

  1. the many editing iterations have caused changes versus the original lecture contents, as generations of editors made changes for various reasons (maybe readability, logical flow, interpretative clarity). The original manuscripts of stenographers and typoscripts were only available in the Dornach archive.
  2. many lectures remained unpublished and were so to speak 'locked up in Dornach' and not available for the community of students of anthroposophical spiritual science worldwide.

Therefore a group of people decided to systematically photograph the originals and make them available online. This huge work had the great advantage of making available original typoscripts, also for unpublished lectures.

In many cases, the earnest student can get great benefits of having multiple original source material texts available instead of just the say ninth edited German version that was then translated to English. Indeed editors need to make choices if different source texts have slightly different wordings, or some contain certain sentences or phrasing and others do not. But clearly there is a great advantage of being able to go back to the originals for certain sentences or paragraphs of key lectures.

The GA2025 initiative

The volume of Rudolf Steiner's work was so large that even after one century not everything was published. In 2015-16, therefore, an initiative was started to finish the publications in one last decade by 2025, 100 years after Rudolf Steiner's death. In the years 2016 to current 2024, previously unpublished materials thereby became available. Whereas some volumes contain different lecture versions of materials already available via other lectures published before (still interesting for the student because of nuances and details), some volumes contained important key materials that are essential for a complete picture in certain areas of study. Examples or eg Volumes GA90A, GA90B and GA091 published in 2018, or GA244 published in 2022.

For more info see the GA2025 page.

Contributions to the GA from Rudolf steiner Verlag

in German: 'Beiträge zur Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe; published by Rudolf Steiner Verlag

for an overview and downloads, see:

Flanker materials

Individual contributions - a few profiles

Certain individuals have played a key role in the process, others stood out for special reasons. There are too many to mention, but some examples to illustrate (section to be completed):

  • Marie Steiner and Hella Wiesberger: instrumental in realizing the Gesamtausgabe
  • Helene Finckh (stenographer)
  • Anna Meuss (translator to English)

Various more

Rudolf Steiner's work as a painter

  • Rudolf Halfen and Walter Kugler (editors): 'Das malerische Werk' (Mit Erläuterungen und einem dokumentarischen Anhang (2007)
  • Reproduktionen aus dem malerischen Werk von Rudolf Steiner
    • Naturstimmungen: Neun Schulungsskizzen für Maler. Pastelle 1922

The English version

History and the first translations

stories from the very early days

The rsarchive initiative

See background and history here: Navigating anthroposophical resources#Note 2 - information about the RSarchive

The Collected Works initiative

Two main publishers of the English CW:

Other publishers in English:

others: Anastasia, Mercury Press, Adonis Press, Completion Press

Practical tips

This section gives some practical tips for students working in English, ao how to get hold of old translations, use of the audio versions, etc

  • Take care to trust only one available version if your study goes deep into something where you base yourself upon one lecture.
    • In some cases the version on rsarchive is incomplete or even erroneous (eg 1906-07-29-GA097 on Wagner and blood at the MoG, or the GA215 cycle), or with terrible old translations. You will find the same if you listen to the audio versions, and then go to look for quotes or sections in the rsarchive.
    • If multiple versions are available, parse more than one.
  • From personal experience .. it is interesting to purchase previous older book versions to get versions of lectures not available on rsarchive, or just better translations. With contemporary tools it is now much easier to scan and OCR these to have a text file for personal study - allowing parsing and annotation. The rsarchive is a wonderful and unique tool, use it but make sure not to stop there.
  • By extension, one can use tools like to find German publications (especially secondary literature) and apply the same process: scan + OCR + machine translation tool. Tools such as deeplwill convert the whole documentso one has a draft work document in English to use for personal study. Of course this assumes one has knowledge of German too, to be able to check the German original as part of the study process.

The audio version


The pioneer of this effort was Rick Mansell who (translated and) read-to-tape some 1900 lectures of Rudolf Steiner between 1939-1981. These are still available from The Rosenkreutz Institute in the US (payable)

Dale Brunsvold started his reading and recording efforts in 1980's. Since 2005 these materials, over 2000 files and over 1200 hours of reading time, are freely available and downloadeable from his website


Some paid versions like:

The GA in other languages

Languages worldwide


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Problems with using the GA

The current Gesamtausgabe is a absolute reference foundation, yet like anything it comes with trade-offs of choices made. The student or spiritual science needs to be aware of certain practical aspects of the materials and tools used as the individual soul work of the student as a human being is central.

Some illustrations are for example:

  • the fact that the GA volume segmentation does not respect chronology or context (whereas Rudolf Steiner sometimes continued on a theme covered days before, these puzzle pieces are now scattered across volumes)
  • in consecutive editions of the GA volumes, individual lectures were moved in out and between volumes. This sometimes makes it difficult to trace or uniquely define a lecture.

This problematic is covered more extensively on: Problem statement regarding the study of spiritual science

And related, see also:

The Blackboard Drawings and original illustrations

FMC00.342 shows that over a thousand of Rudolf Steiner's BBDs have been published and are available in thirty volumes. The GA volume mapping cross-reference is available high level in Schema FMC00.342B.

For more info, see:

FMC00.342A provides illustrations from exhibitions of the Blackboard Drawings


FMC00.342B provides a quick reference table with the mapping of what original BBD drawings by Rudolf Steiner are available in the 30 volumes of the official publications.

For those that are not covered, only the drawings are available of people who attended the lectures and copied the drawing from the blackboard. These are available on steinerdatenbank.


The Notebooks

Rudolf Steiner left approx. 600 notebooks with entries on which he comments himself below. Only some of these have been published as part of the GA volumes, the notebooks have not been published themselves, only one book exists which is hard to find, see references below.

These notebook entries may be cryptic, but some can provide breakthrough clues, some examples:

Rudolf Steiner mentioned in lectures how the notebooks came into being, and what they contained. Below are some quotes (not exhaustive) as illustrations. A first lecture where he mentions this 1923-04-30-GA084.


Hence, allow me in conclusion to say something personal by way of illustration, although this is not meant to be personal, but is meant rather to be entirely objective.

If you really want to capture that which is disclosed by the spiritual world, you need presence of mind, because it slips so to speak, turns away quickly; it is fleeting. That which is to a certain extent advanced through an improvement in the power of memory imprints itself only with difficulty upon the ordinary memory. One must use all of his strength to bring down what he beholds in the spiritual world, to bring this down to ordinary language, to ordinary memory-thought.

I would not be able to lecture about these things if I did not try by all means to bring down what arises in me of what can be beheld in the spiritual world, especially to really bring these thought-words down into physically audible regions. One cannot comprehend with the mere head, because the entire human being must to a certain extent become a sense organ, but a spiritually developed sense organ.

Therefore I attempt every time — it is my custom, another has another one — I attempt every time if something is given to me from the spiritual world, not merely to think it through as I receive it from the spiritual world, but to write it down as well, or to record it with some characteristic stroke, so that the arms and hands are involved as well as the soul organs. So something else other than the mere head, which remains only in abstract ideas, must be involved in these findings: the entire person.

I have in this way entire truckloads of fully-written notebooks that I never again look at, which are only there in order to be descriptions, in order to provide preliminary work in the physical world for that which is from the spiritual world, so that the spiritually beheld world can then really be clothed in words; whereby the thoughts of which memories are usually formed or that usually apply in life can actually be penetrated — Thus one obtains a science that relates to the whole person.


(see also 1923-04-30-GA084)

In order to render it clear that super-sensible knowledge cannot really be a mere head-knowledge, but lays hold upon the human being in a vastly more living and intense way than head-knowledge, I should like to mention the following. Whoever is accustomed to a living participation in ordinary knowledge — as every true super-sensible knower should really be — knows that the head participates in this ordinary knowledge. If he then ascends, especially if he has been active through his entire life in the ordinary knowledge, to super-sensible knowledge, the situation becomes such that he must exert all his powers in order to keep firm hold upon this super-sensible knowledge which comes upon him, which manifests itself to him. He observes that the power by means of which one holds fast to an idea about nature, to a law of nature, to the course of an experiment or of a clinical observation, is very slight in comparison with the inner force of soul which must be unfolded in order to hold fast to the perception of a super-sensible being.

And here I have always found it necessary not only, so to speak, to employ the head in order to hold firmly to these items of super-sensible knowledge, but to support the force which the head can employ by means of other organs — for example by means of the hand. If we sketch in a few strokes something that we have reached through super-sensible research, if we fix it in brief characteristic sentences or even in mere words, then this thing — which we have brought into existence not merely by means of a force evoked through the nerve system applied in ordinary cognition, but have brought into existence by means of a force drawing upon a wide expanse of the organism as a support for our cognition, — this thing becomes something which produces the result that we possess these items of super-sensible knowledge not as something momentary, that they do not fall away from us like dreams, but that we are able to retain them.

I may disclose to you, therefore, that I really find it necessary to work in general always in this way, and that I have thus produced wagon-loads of notebooks in my lifetime which I have never again looked into. For the necessary thing here lies in the activity; and the result of the activity is that one retains in spirit what has sought to manifest itself, not that one must read these notes again. Obviously, this writing or sketching is nothing automatic, mediumistic, but just as conscious as that which one employs in connection with scientific work or any other kind of work. And its only reason for existence lies in the fact that what presses upon us in the form of super-sensible knowledge must be grasped with one's whole being. But the result of this is that it affects, in turn, the whole human being, grasps the whole person, is not limited to an impression upon the head, goes further to produce impressions upon the whole human life in heart and mind.

FMC00.339 shows the Rudolf Steiner's notebooks in the archive in Dornach


FMC00.339A shows some illustrative examples of notebook entries.


Note 1 - Size of the GA or CW

On this site the figure 100.000 pages is mentioned as a purely indicative high level figure, this does not represent an exact figure.

Rudolf Steiner's Gesamtausgabe (GA), or Collected Works (CW), consists of a vast body of texts, including lectures, books, essays, and letters. The total number of pages varies depending on the edition and publication format. Generally, the complete works encompass around 354 volumes, with each volume typically ranging from 200 to 500 pages (for extensive scholarly and philosophical writings). To estimate the total number of pages, we can take an average page count per volume and multiply it by the total number of volumes. Assuming an average of 350 pages per volume, one could estimate 354 volumes x 350 pages/volume for approx. 123.900 pages. Of course this estimate is very rough, as some volumes do not consist of text but are more graphical, eg BBD, paintings, notebooks.

Related pages

References and further reading

  • Hella Wiesberger and Emil Mötteli: 'Bibliographische Übersicht, Das literarische und künstlerische Werk von Rudolf Steiner'(1984)
  • Archivmagazin
    • Die Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe: Aktueller Stand und Abschlussplanung - Archivmagazin Nr 5 Aug 2016
    • Michael Schweizer: 'Zur Qualität der stenografischen Mitschriften von Rudolf Steiners Vorträgen' - Archivmagazin Nr 6 Jun 2017
  • Rudolf Steiner Archiv
  • Martina Maria Sam: Bildspuren der Imaginations - Rudolf Steiners Tafelzeichnungen als Denkbilder (2000)
  • The notebooks of Rudolf Steiner, edited by Etsuko Watari and Walter Kugler, Watari Museum of contemporary art (Tokyo), (2000)
  • Wolfgang Gädeke, Christward Kröner: 'Wortgetreu und unverfälscht? Haben wir in der Gesamtausgabe Texte Rudolf Steiners?' (Flensburger Hefte, 2002) (Kritik an der Editionspraxis der Rudolf-Steiner-Nachlaßverwaltung)
  • Irene Diet:
    • 'Das Geheimnis der Sprache Rudolf Steiners. Vom ungelösten Rätsel des Verstehens' (2011)
    • 'Ist die «Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe» das Werk Rudolf Steiners? Eine historische Studie' (2013)
    • 'Welches Recht hat Rudolf Steiner selbst an seinem Werk? Anmerkungen zum Projekt des Rudolf Steiner Archivs, bis 2025 die Gesamtausgabe abzuschließen' (2016)
  • Friedwart Husemann: 'Rudolf Steiners Schriften: in 50 kurzen Porträts' (2018)