The Gerda Henkel Foundation was established in June 1976 by Lisa Maskell (1914—1998) in memory of her mother Gerda Henkel (1888–1966). Lisa Maskell was a granddaughter of factory owner Fritz Henkel, who had set up the company Henkel & Cie in Aachen in 1876. In 1878 the corporation relocated to Düsseldorf, where Henkel AG & Co. KGaA is now headquartered. The Foundation’s office is domiciled to this day in the home of the founder’s parents on Malkastenstrasse 15 in Düsseldorf.
The Gerda Henkel Foundation is an incorporated foundation under civil law pursuant to section 1 of the North Rhine Westphalia Act on Foundations. Support is primarily provided for the historical humanities, in particular to support research projects in the following fields:
Historical Islamic Studies
History of Law
History of Science
Prehistory and Early History
For a number of years, the Foundation has also increasingly addressed issues of great relevance to contemporary life and the future, above all as part of its special programmes “Islam, the Modern Nation State and Transnational Movements” and “Security, Society and the State”. As part of the Lisa Maskell Fellowships, since 2014 the Foundation has been supporting young scholars in the humanities in both Africa and Southeast Asia. Starting in 2015, the Foundation has with its “Patrimonies” funding initiative focused more strongly on the preservation of cultural heritage, specifically in regions experiencing crisis. The Gerda Henkel Foundation is active both inside and outside Germany.