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The Institute was founded in 1931 in St. Gabriel’s near Vienna by Fr. Wilhelm Schmidt, who was the founding editor of the Anthropos journal. The first statutes urged the members « to share in the discovery and description of the mysterious workings of God and the restless searching of the human spirit in the history of peoples and cultures. » The founding members of the Institute, in addition to Schmidt who became director, were Frs. Koppers, Schebesta, and Gusinde.