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Universitätsarchiv Leipzig

Page history last edited by Paul Keenan 10 years, 6 months ago

Date of tip: September 2006

Source: Christopher Wiley, cjw5@georgetown.edu 


Archive: Universitätsarchiv Leipzig (Archives of the University of Leipzig)


Location: Oststrasse 40/42, D-04317 Leipzig


How to get there: It depends entirely on where you’re coming from, but it is easily accessible by foot if you are in walking distance of a few miles, by bike, or by public transportation (bus or streetcar, followed by a short enough walk). I always walked myself, but coming from the Hauptbahnhof, one could take the tramline to Gutenburgplatz and walk south to Oststraße (then head East), or take the S-Bahn and get off at either Anger-Crottendorf or Stötteritz stations, and then walk to Oststraße (go south or north, respectively). The archive is just south east of the center of town, so use that as a reference point


Language: German (it is possible that someone there speaks English, but don’t count on it)


Getting started: One does indeed have to register with the archive before going, as the reading room is quite small and you must reserve a spot; It is also requested that you tell them how long (weeks, months, etc.) you intend to be there working on your project. This is as simple as writing them an email, stating your name, your affiliation, your project, and what sorts of documents you are interested in seeing. You are also asked to bring in a letter from the supporting professor or advisor of your home institution. I forgot to bring mine on the first day, but they didn’t mind. I simply had to bring it ‘eventually’. There are only a handful of archivists there who are responsible for enormous swaths of time, so do not expect the person ‘assigned’ to your project to be in any way an expert on your topic. It will help you immensely to have a good idea as to what you are looking for prior to arrival. Luckily, the finding aids are mostly online and quite helpful, so you can do some good groundwork before actually getting there


Opening Hours: Operating hours are typically German, at 9am to 3pm Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with Tuesday oddly given a nine hour limit, at 9am to 6pm


General working conditions: For being the largest archive of its kind in all of Germany, it certainly sports a particularly small reading room, with only 8 or so small desks, and four microfilm machines (on separate desks). Lighting was generally not a problem, as there are large windows at the very front of the reading room that allow for lots of sunshine. As far as I know, there is no library on-site in a traditional sense, but there is access to the Dienstbibliothek, which, as part of the document collections, comprises copies of most of the publications of the University of Leipzig for the better part of the last 200 years.


Consultation: The ordering forms have room for 10 items, but there was no published or otherwise stated limit on the number of items you could have out at one time, or how many you could order in one day. I tended not to order any more than 10 a day because they came very quickly, and I was normally kept busy by those 10 for at least the whole day if not the following day as well. Do plan according to how many dossiers you have left before ordering more, as you can take good advantage of the turn-around time by ordering another ten when you have but two or one sets left from your previous order


Policy on technology: You are allowed to bring in your own laptop(s). I sometimes had two at a time, and this was no problem. Thankfully, there is also wifi in the reading room, but it does require you fiddling with your computer a bit to make it work. Nevertheless, internet access is not an issue. This is, however, the extent of allowed use of technology at the archive. Use of digital cameras is not allowed, nor use of scanners (pen scanners included), and the microfilm machines do not appear to have printers attached to them. I suppose one could try to bend these rules but I would not recommend it, as the reading room is observed through glass at all times


Photocopy policy: Photocopy services, while by no means cheap, are certainly not as shocking as at many of the archives within the Bundesarchiv system: there is a flat rate, one-time fee of €2,50 for any copy job (meaning, build up a stack before you initiate a copy order), and then copies of documents can be purchased per page at varying costs depending on your materials. Loose paper copies cost €0,25 per page for A4, €0,50 for A3; costs for bound materials are slightly more expensive (at €0,60 and €1,20 respectively). Colour copies can get pricey at €2,00 and €4,00 per page. The only downside is that this only applies to orders of 30 pages or less, after which may be a surcharge based on how long it takes to finish the job


Particularities: To my knowledge there is absolutely no on-site cafeteria, there is certainly no coffee machine, nor is there even a lounge or anywhere outside of the reading room where one can satisfactorily take a break for lunch, fresh air, or just relaxation, barring straight up leaving the building and lunching in the ‘hinterhof’ of the building. I usually just went out to eat in a nearby park just off of Eilenburgerstraße (go west on Oststraße for 20 yards or so, then turn right on Rubenstraße… it’s quite easy to find and it’s a very large and pleasant park). However, should you not be in the position to bring a bag lunch, the archive is not terribly far from nearby shops and cafes, and there is even a brewery right around the corner! Given that you only have six hours to work four out of five days a week, you can also plan on small snacks whilst on-site, and then take bigger meals before and after work


How to apply for classified files: The only paperwork one would need to bring beyond the introductory letter mentioned above becomes necessary in the event that you wish to view the personal records of an individual (i.e., former students and professors), in which case you must provide a signed, notarized letter from the individual you wish to investigate (stating that they approve of your investigation), or if the person is already dead, an official statement confirming that the individual has been dead for more than ten years. I don’t know how strictly that is enforced with all cases, but I was able to access the records of a professor who had died in 1977 without any letter(s). Such files, while not necessarily ‘classified’ in the strictest sense, are protected by Germany’s Datenschutz laws, which accounts for the restricted access to them. Should you get the required information, accessing the documents should not take any longer than getting access to the unrestricted files (which, oftentimes, can be as fast as 10 minutes – given the size of the archive, there is not usually a very long turn-around time after ordering, especially if you order early in the morning)


Contact name in case of questions regarding classified files: Any such questions should be directed to the archivist assigned to you upon arrival


Etc: Though almost wholly unnecessary, .pdf versions of all the Findbücher are available for download at a cost of roughly €22 per Findbuch. But given the free online searchable database, this only makes sense for those who wish to meticulously survey the University’s archival holdings 

Beyond anything else, I can recommend the archives as a great spot for anyone in East German studies and should be considered a must-do stop off if you are working on anything related to the GDR. 


Places to Stay: Depending on how long you wish to stay, there are a variety of hotels and hostels located in and around the city centre – an area which is not at all far from the archive. Beyond that, finding a short-term lease on an apartment is also quite easy and, depending on where you live, extremely reasonably priced (for example, my rent for one month in an apartment 10 minutes walking distance north of the Hauptbahnhof was a mere 137 euros, including all utilities)


Forms: All necessary forms can be acquired at the archive


Funding: I am unaware of any funding opportunities available through the archive

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