Beyond History Blog

German Archive Day 2018

Avatar of Andrea Bentschneider Andrea Bentschneider - 02. March 2018 - Archives, Societies, Museums, General, Germany, Historical Documents

Since 2001, thanks to the initiative of the Verband deutscher Archivarinnen und Archivare e.V. (VdA, Organization of German Archivists), German Archive Day takes place every two years. It is to display the multifaceted purpose of the archives to the public and appears since 2006 under different mottos. In 2018 Archive Day took place on 03 and 04 Mar carrying the motto "Democracy and Civil Rights".

Participating German archives across Germany are opening their doors. On the program are for example guided tours, lectures, exhibitions, and book flea markets. You can find the full program here (in German).

As genealogists we are not just dependent on archives and the support from archivists. Naturally we also know that archives are not just dusty, boring institutions, but contain exciting treasures. They document the past and make it accessible to the public. That goes for information about our ancestors as well as for information about political and societal changes.

In the past several years events both domestic and abroad have played out in a way that shows the topics of democracy and civil rights have a new importance. They are not just a matter of course, something to be taken for granted, but must be discussed, negotiated, and defended again and again, and therefore looking into our past helps. Archives store relevant sources: files about city rights and citizenship in the Middle Ages and the early modern age, about protest movements, elections, the right of assembly, the right to strike, and the freedom of the press. The history of the Weimar Republic is documented as is the history of National Socialism, the former West and East Germanys (BRD & DDR), and the Reunification. Therefore 2018's motto is an exciting one for archives of all kinds.

What do archives mean to you personally? Is it the same for you as it is for us and you love going to the reading rooms to work with interesting files that offer new perspectives? Or maybe you have made an especially exciting discovery? How were the lives of your ancestors influenced by political and societal changes? We would love to hear about your experiences so feel free to share them with us.

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