University Archive

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Universität Bielefeld > University > Departments > Weitere Einrichtungen > University Archive

History and Remit of the Archive

Plans to establish an archive date back nearly as far as the founding of the University itself in September 1969, built with the ideas and influence of Helmut Schelsky to bring about wide ranging reforms in higher education. The formation of a 'hochschulpolitisches Archiv' (an archive to reflect higher educational policy) as a basic collection of materials was envisaged as early as 1972. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the University in 1987, the Rektorat sought to establish a new series of publications with the title 'Universitätsarchiv' (University Archive). Published annually, the aim was to produce a series reflecting the University's history and also to include personal portraits. Eventually, the former chancellor and honorary senator of the University, Dr. Eberhard Firnhaber, urged for the establishment of a permanent and professionally managed University Archive in the mid 1990s, because he believed that, due to the increasing time since its establishment, there was a danger that knowledge about the University's foundation, basic founding principles and realisation could be lost. Following a decree of the Rektorat from 25 March 1996, the University Archive was founded on 1 July 1996 in accordance to the legislation of North-Rhine Westfalia concerning archives.

The Archive at Bielefeld University fulfils its remit as a public archive on the basis of the archive legislation of North-Rhine Westfalia from 16 March 2010 (ArchivG NRW), the archive legislation and regulations on fees of North-Rhine Westfalia from 15 June 2010 (ArchivNGO NRW) as well as the University's own "Regulations on the storage, selection, archiving, and destruction of files" from 9 December 2003. It abides by these regulations by collecting documents and publications which are produced by the bodies and institutes of Bielefeld University and show historical value. Accordingly, the archive keeps these safe, supplements, preserves, maintains, indexes and makes them available for use and carries out and publishes research itself. In addition, the archive supplements its official collections through the acquisition of bequests and papers of associations from Bielefeld and its surroundings as well as the through the creation of archival collections in relation to the University (photos, placards, leaflets, sound and film documents etc.). At the same time, the University Archive is a service that prepares and makes available information for various groups of users within and external to the University (students, scientists, staff, people interested in history etc). In addition, the Archive advises the University on questions of file management, maintaining files or disposal. Finally, the Archive should take an active role in shaping tradition and promoting an identity with the aim of anchoring the University through its history in the public awareness of the region.

The University Archive is assigned to the Communication Office in the organisational structure of Bielefeld University.

Use of restricted archive material

As a rule, there is a 30-year restriction from the date a document is produced on inspecting archival material. Furthermore, and in specific cases, this period of restriction can be longer. Confidential documents may only be disclosed for inspection after 60 years. Documents containing personal information may only be seen ten years after the death, or 100 years after the birth of the respective person.

The University Archive can make exceptions to these regulations under certain conditions. A 'Sondergenehmigung' (special permission) can be granted if the inspection serves a scientific purpose or legal interests, provided that the legitimate interests of the individual are accomodated in appropriate ways.(Factsheet on the use of restricted archival material and reducing protection periods). To apply for permission to research restricted materials please use this form.

Literature on the University Archive:
Martin Löning, Aufbauphase des Universitätsarchivs Bielefeld abgeschlossen,
Der Archivar, Jg. 52, 1999, S. 137f.
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