Organization of archival material
As a rule, an archive search must be based on the order structures of the archive. Why is this not the other way round?
There are two main obstacles to the desirable organization of the archive according to the questions and the world view of the users. On the one hand, the classification of archival material into complex systems of order (or ontologies in the sense of computer science) is usually not possible within the usual resource framework for archives. On the other hand, the world view behind systems of order and the questions of research change rapidly - at least from the perspective of archives created for an indefinite period of time. Experience with user-oriented attempts at factual systematic order (pertinence principle) has shown that the systems of order created become obsolete and force considerable corrective work when people's thinking and the order of the world change.
Since the order of archives usually cannot be kept up to the systems of order that are in a state of long-term change, archival material is usually arranged according to the principle of provenance. This means that the documents created at a particular location also form a "stock" in the archive. Whenever possible, an order that has grown with the holdings is maintained.
In addition to the holdings formed according to the principle of provenance, there are also collections that are first put together in the archive and ordered according to their own systematic order.
1. Which holdings are available for viewing?
Users should first view the overview of holdings to understand how the archive is organized (= tectonics, Tektonik) and then decide which holdings are of interest to them. A search by keyword often does not lead to success in the overview of holdings, because the emphasis here is on providing an overview and relatively little detailed information is offered, such as names of persons.
2 Which archival materials do I want to see?
The archival documents (e.g. files, pictures, etc.) combined in the holdings are described in finding aids, some of which are presented in online finding aids. The archival records can be searched according to the classification structure of the holdings.
Users can also enter search terms. When entering search words, it is important to bear in mind that the finding aids only show some of the persons and objects mentioned in the archive records. For example, a scientist may be named in a file, although the description of this file (e.g. "acquisition of the computer Electrologica X8") does not show this.
According to legal regulations, only a part of the finding aids available in the archive can be made visible for online research. The offer is also limited by the fact that not all the finding aids have been prepared for online display. The online finding aids will be expanded step by step as work on preparing the finding aids progresses and after the protection periods have expired. If the online finding aids do not produce a successful search result, it is often worth making an additional inquiry to the archive. It may also be possible to obtain information on unprocessed acquisitions that do not yet appear in the holdings overview.
Tip: A larger number of holdings appear in the overview of holdings than in the online finding aids, since the overview also contains descriptions of holdings whose archival units may not yet be freely displayed due to protection periods. For research projects, however, protection periods can be shortened and access can be granted in individual cases.
1. On-site viewing
Access to archival records is subject to our Terms & Conditions. We do not loan archival material to individuals. The archival records found in an online research can be ordered through e-mail by indicating the holding number and signature (e.g. 10001/1234). An appointment is necessary for viewing. Appointment requests are subject to approval and a case-by-case examination for any applicable protection periods.
For those unable to research on site, the KIT Archives can carry out searches for a fee of 15.00 Euro per quarter of an hour or part thereof. Please discuss your research request with us and we will, of course, try to minimize your costs as much as possible. A search for individuals in the student registry takes roughly half an hour. Written enquiries about the type and extent of archive material, however, are free of charge.
The KIT Archives produce digital reproductions of archival material on order according to the fee schedule of the Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg. An excerpt with the most common types of fees can be found on the fees page of the KIT-Archives. You are welcome to communicate your reproduction request by e-mail.