DigiPortA – Digitalisation and indexing of pictorial materials in the archives of the Leibniz Association

Project Leader: Dr. Wilhelm Füßl (Deutsches Museum)
Project Coordination
: Dr. Dietmar Popp
Co-Coordianation: Dr. Peter Wörster, Dorothee Goeze M.A., Thomas Urban M.A.

Funding: Senatsausschuss Wettbewerb (SAW) Leibniz Association
Project Staff
: Dr. Agnese Bergholde, Dieter Wintergerst M.A.
: 05/2012 – 04/2015

Project Website: http://www.digiporta.net/

Hochzeit von Dorothea geb. Baronesse von Drachenfels, Dokumentesammlung Herder-Institut
Hochzeit von Dorothea geb. Baronesse von Drachenfels, Dokumentesammlung Herder-Institut, Signatur: DSHI_190_Kurland_BA_Personen_I_0149

DigiPortA is an inter-disciplinary project with the aim of linking nine Leibniz archives and to make their portrait collections of around 33.000 pictures available for research and publication using an innovative approach. With a focus on portraits of people from the 19th and 20th centuries, a comprehensive range of original historical source materials are being verified and made newly available for biographical research. The fundamental goal behind the project has been, in the case of portrait sources, to enable the cooperative acquisition, digitalisation and presentation of image sources as well as to highlight the significance of archive holdings in the participating Leibniz institutions. The inclusion of pictures from the bourgeoise, from various historical and modern professions, from science and engineering, and from both urban and rural populations has enabled a broad entry-point for socio-historical research. Even if pictures have been, until now, predominantly treated and interpreted as individual prints, a particular focus of this project is to maintain a record of their original context within the archive holdings. This is achieved by proving their origin and through the description of the wider collection.

By maintaining uniform standards during the process of acquisition, implementation of the jointly used authority file of the German National Library and geoinformation data, access is currently, or will be, made possible to national portals as well as links to higher-level databases (the digital picture index at the picture archive for photography, Marburg, the biography portal).

Pastor Erhard Doebler
Pastor Erhard Doebler, Bildarchiv Herder-Institut, Inv.-Nr. 5c1

In the department “Scientific collections” (including an image archive, map and document collections), the Herder Institute archives treasures of Eastern Central Europe’s cultural heritage. Around 2.000 pictures in the picture archive as well as 3.000 in the document collections bear relevance to the DigiPortA project as they draw attention, in particular, to the German part of this region’s cultural history. These are mainly graphic prints, photographs and photo-postcards, while the majority of image sources depict people from the Baltic. The graphic prints of people from the Baltic region are often the only remaining pictorial representations of certain individuals; a large number of painted portraits were destroyed or went missing during the course of the Second World War. In the light of this, the gathering of these cultural and historic treasures, and their accessibility to a wide user base, are major concerns of the project. Pictures are sourced from prominent Baltic collections, from Riga’s cathedral museum, from the former Kurland museum, the provincial museum in Mitau, as well as from the archive for Baltic knighthoods and other Baltic archives. Also accounted for are picture collections and estates from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. In the process, a further section of the Herder Institute’s collection is being systematically opened up for the first time and if possible – without copyright infringement – being made accessible to users via the communal online database of the DigiportA project. The biographical information generated by the picture collections in relation to the professional and private structures of the population stand alongside the digital reconstructions of cultural areas (for example Gdansk or Mitau) and artistic landscapes (like Silesia). Together, these allow for a more consolidated understanding of the multi-national, social and cultural diversity of the region’s environments, which were in existence until fairly recently.

Over and above this, an opportunity has arisen for a trans-national link to Eastern European digital picture collections like the picture database of the National Library and State Archive in Latvia “Latvijas kultūras vēsture attēlos”. Sērija A: Portreti” and „Portreed Tartu Ülikooli Raamatukogus“ of the University of Tartu (in German: Dorpat, Estonia) as well as the Estonian and Latvian biographical archive resources Saaga and Raduraksti.

Project partners:

  • The archive of the Deutsches Museum (Munich)
  • Archive of the German Maritime Museum (Bremerhaven)
  • The Montanhistorical Documentation Centre (montan.dok) at the German Mining Museum in Bochum
  • The German Art Archive of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum (Nuremburg)
  • Senckenberg German Entomological Institute (Müncheberg)
  • The Archive for Geography at the Leibniz Institute for Area Studies (Leipzig)
  • Archive of the Library for Educational History Research at the German Institute for International Pedagogical Research (Berlin)
  • Scientific Collections of the Leibniz Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning (Erkner)
Armin Baron von Foelkersam, Dokumentesammlung Herder-Institut
Armin Baron von Foelkersam, Dokumentesammlung Herder-Institut, Signatur: DSHI_190_Kurland_BA_Personen_I_0293