Nobel Media

History

The Nobel Peace Prize and the other Nobel Prizes where established by the Swedish inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel through his last will.

When the Swedish businessman Alfred Nobel passed away in 1895, he left behind what was then one of the world’s largest private fortunes. In his last will Nobel declared that the whole of his remaining fortune of 31, 5 million Swedish crones was to be invested in safe securities and should constitute a fund "the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind"

Will

The will specified in which fields the prizes should be awarded – physics, chemistry, medicine or physiology, literature and peace – and which criteria the respective prize committees should apply when choosing their prize recipients. According to the will the Nobel Peace Prize was to be awarded “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”

Norwegian Nobel Committee

Alfred Nobel’s will declared that the Nobel Peace Prize was to be awarded by a committee of five persons selected by the Norwegian Storting (parliament). The Storting accepted the assignment in April 1897, and the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Storting was set up in August of the same year. Read more about the Norwegian Nobel Committee (as it is now known) here.

Nobel Foundation

In Sweden, however, Nobel's will triggered a lengthy legal battle with parts of the Nobel family. It was not until this conflict had been resolved, and financial matters had been satisfactorily arranged through the establishment of the Nobel Foundation in Sweden in 1900, that the Norwegian Nobel Committee and the other prize-awarding bodies could begin their work.

First award

The first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901. The Peace Prize for that year was shared between the Frenchman Frédéric Passy and the Swiss Jean Henri Dunant.

Timeline

1901

First Nobel Peace Prize awarded

to Jean Henry Dunant and Frédéric Passy.

1904

Norwegian Nobel Institute established

to occupy Henrik Ibsens gate 51 (current address) from 1905.

1937

Change in criteria for Nobel Committee members

Turbulence around the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Carl von Ossietzky moves the Norwegian parliament to decide that sitting members of government may no longer sit on the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

1947

Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony moves to University of Oslo Aula

The Grand Hall at the Norwegian Nobel Institute has reached its capacity, and the Award Ceremony is moved to the much larger University Aula.

1978

Change in criteria for Nobel Committee members

The Norwegian Parliament decide that incumbent members of parliament may no longer sit on the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

1990

Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony moves to Oslo City Hall

Yet again the Award Ceremony outgrows it's venue. It is moved to Oslo City Hall which seats 1000 people.

1991

Research fellow program

The research fellow program is established.

2005

Nobel Peace Center

The Nobel Peace Center opens.