Hereditas Baltica – “Virtual Reading Room” for Baltic Archive Records (HerBalt)

In March 2011, the document collection team launched the joint project “Hereditas Baltica”. This long-term, modular project, is made up of several sub-projects and has been set up with the aim of establishing a portal, in collaboration with our partners in Germany and abroad, that will allow access to the digitalized archive collections of the Herder Institute. The work involves gathering essential material from sources that are of central importance to the political and personal history of the Baltic region, digitalizing this material, and making it available online.

Project Leader: Dr. Peter Wörster, Dorothee M. Goeze M.A., Indrek Kuuben, Tõnis Türna
Project Staff:
Dr. Peter Wörster, Dorothee M. Goeze M.A., Indrek Kuuben, Tõnis Türna, Sonja Hauptmannl M.A., Sven Lepa
Project Partner:
Estnisches Historisches Staatsarchiv (Eesti Ajalooarhiiv) in Tartu

In 2003, the first module of the digitalization project Hereditas Baltica was completed. It had been carried out in collaboration with the Estonian National Archive, the state archive in Tartu, and was co-funded by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media and private German-Baltic donors. At the completion of the project in February 2013, a symposium was held in Estonia. Organized by the Estonian National Archive and the Herder Institute, the event was given the name “Recording, Digitalizing, Using: Baltic archive records online – status and perspectives of joint projects” and took place at the Alatskivi Castle conference center. Participants came from Estonia and Germany, as well as Latvia, Sweden, and Russia. The conference was led by both specialists and users, including archivists, librarians, historians and family researchers.

Saaga-Portal: (registration recommended)

Projektbild HerBalt
German-Baltic Dictionary

Leader: Dr. Peter Wörster, Dr. Reet Bender
Staff: Dr. Peter Wörster, Dr. Reet Bender, Piret Rääbus, Dorothee M. Goeze M.A.
Partner: Institute of German Studies at the University of Tartu, supported by the Ministry of Science in Estonia

Materials on the German-Baltic dictionary can be found in the document collection (Signatur: DSHI 180 DBW). This dictionary is one of a number of archive holdings that have long been overlooked in linguistic and cultural-historical research on the Baltic region. In it, we can see a reflection of the shared German-Baltic-Estonian-Latvian cultural history (also taking into account the German-Russian contact).

Deutschbaltisches Wörterbuch
Questionnaires, Literature and Index Cards of the German-Baltic Dictionary (DSHI 180 DBW)
Kurland Soul Revisions

Leader: Dr. Peter Wörster, Dorothee M. Goeze M.A.
Staff: Dorothee M. Goeze M.A., Sonja Hauptmannl M.A., Valda Kvaskova
Partner: Latvian National Archive (the historical state archive of Latvia) in Riga, supported by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock

The document collection contains a large inventory of replicas of Baltic archive records on microfiche, produced during the resettlement of the Baltic Germans. Some of the original material, which was copied in 1940, went missing at the end of the Second World War, so it seems an obvious move to replace these lost documents with the Marburg copies wherever possible. In this way, the archive holdings that existed up until the Second World War can at least be reconstructed virtually. The lists of Kurland soul revisions from 1797 to 1834 (Signatur DSHI 550 KSL) belong to this collection of replicas. The particular recording technology that was used in 1940 made it necessary to reprocess the Marburg microfiche collection, which the Max Planck Institute in Rostock agreed to fund. Their decision to support this work rested on the fact that the Institute is carrying out a long-term research project for which the Kurland soul revision documents constitute the most important archival source.

Kurländische Seelenrevisionslisten
A page from a soul revision list from 1811 for the Blankenfeld estate (near Mitau), archive reference number DSHI 540 KSL
Archive of the Brotherhood of Blackheads in Riga

Leader: Dr. Peter Wörster, Dorothee M. Goeze M.A., Valda Kvaskova
Staff: Dorothee M. Goeze M.A., Sonja Hauptmannl M.A., Valda Kvaskova

This is a joint German-Latvian digitalization project, financed by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media. The aim of the project is to bring together, in virtual form, the archive of the Brotherhood of Blackheads, which was divided up during the resettlement of the Baltic Germans in 1939. The outcome of the collaboration is to set up a shared online portal, where these archival materials may be accessed for research.  On the German side, the re-established “Compagnie of the Riga Brotherhood of Blackheads” in Bremen is working closely with the Herder Institute’s document collection team, while the Latvian National Archive is leading the project from the Latvian end.

The oldest part of the archive was relocated to Germany in 1940 during the resettlement of the Baltic German population, before being moved to Marburg in 1952. The archival materials that were not taken to Germany are held in the Latvian State Historical Archives (LVVA) in Riga.

Compagnie der Schwarzen Häupter
Agreement signed by the Brotherhood of Blackheads in Riga and the Great Guild of Riga, dating from the 16th of November 1637 (DSHI 120 Brotherhood of Blackheads, Uk. 10; the original held in the Archive of the Compagnie in Bremen)