Mapping Black Central Europe: Digital History in the Classroom

The GHI benefits tremendously from the help of its many talented interns. The following post was written by GHDI project intern Milena Kagel, who first learned of this website at the Defining Black European History conference at the GHI in June 2018.  — Editorial note, Href

By Milena Kagel 

Every spring, Kira Thurman teaches an undergraduate course on “Germany and the Black Diaspora” at the University of Michigan. Since 2016, this course has included a digital history component – Thurman and her students have worked to construct a visual representation of the history of Black people in Central Europe by recording figures, objects, and events related to that history. Each student is required to contribute five entries to an online mapping project entitled Mapping Black Central Europe.

The map currently features around two hundred pins, each of which is connected to a detailed profile on a person, object, or event. The pins are geographically widespread, with the greatest concentration appearing in Germany. As a whole, the map creates a powerful visual representation of the significance of Blackness and Black people as historical players in Central Europe. Professor Thurman plans to expand Mapping Black Central Europe by continuing to plot new pins each year with her students.

Map from Mapping Black Central Europe

Continue reading Mapping Black Central Europe: Digital History in the Classroom

Halle Pastors, German Settlers, and Lutheran Congregations in North America

One of the contributors to our new German History Intersections project brought our attention to this important project, which touches upon many areas of current research at the GHI, including the histories of migration, knowledge, and religion. We thank our colleagues in Halle for this article. — Editorial note, Href

By Wolfgang Splitter

The Francke Foundations in Halle are currently at work on a DFG-funded project entitled Halle Pastors in Pennsylvania, 1743–1825. A Critical Edition of Sources Relating to Their Ministry in North America. The editors are Mark Häberlein, Thomas Müller-Bahlke and Hermann Wellenreuther.

Whereas research on the history of the Lutheran Church in North America up to the early nineteenth century has concentrated so far on the journals and correspondence of Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg (1711-1787), this project will transcribe and edit the extant curricula vitae, journals, and correspondence of Mühlenberg’s pastoral colleagues – i.e. those Lutheran pastors who were sent from the Francke Foundations in Halle, Prussia, to Pennsylvania between 1744 and 1786. Among other sources, the project will feature letters and reports from the New World sent by these pastors to the directors of the Francke Foundations in Halle and to the Lutheran Court Preacher in London. By moving away from a singular focus on Mühlenberg and considering a larger circle of pastors, this project will substantially expand the base of published documentary materials relating to the Halle pastors’ North American ministry and thereby lay the groundwork for new insights into the history of Pietism in the Atlantic world. The materials shed light on the spread and development of Lutheran congregations in North America, the significance of those congregations to German-speaking immigrants, and the place of the Lutheran Church within the multi-confessional mid-Atlantic region (Pennsylvania and its neighboring colonies or states). They also show how German Protestants in the Old and New Worlds perceived each other. Continue reading Halle Pastors, German Settlers, and Lutheran Congregations in North America

Economic Texts and Letters – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Go Online

[Editorial note: The idea for this article emerged in the course of the April 2018 symposium Marx at 200, which the GHI hosted in collaboration with the Friedrich- Ebert Stiftung and the Goethe Institute Washington, DC. Dr. Jürgen Herres, a research fellow at the BBAW, was one of the panelists, and introduced us to MEGAdigital and to Dr. Roth. Professor Jürgen Kocka’s Keynote address on Marx and the History of Capitalism will be published in the GHI Bulletin in the fall of 2018.]

By Regina Roth*

The Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (MEGA, for short) is a project whose goal is to publish the complete legacy of Karl Marx (1818–1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) through producing a complete critical edition of their publications, manuscripts and correspondence.

The Editor is the Internationale Marx-Engels-Stiftung (IMES), an international, politically independent network, with the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) in charge, together with the International Institute of Social History (IISG, Amsterdam), the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History (RGASPI, Moscow), and the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (Bonn) as members. The Marx-Engels papers are preserved in the archives of the IISG in Amsterdam (roughly two thirds) and at the RGASPI in Moscow (about one third). IMES was founded in 1990 to continue work on MEGA which had begun in the 1970s in Moscow and Berlin, GDR.

Continue reading Economic Texts and Letters – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Go Online

A Call to Action on Digital Cultural Heritage in Germany

Mass digitization of cultural heritage objects is an urgent need: In Germany, this is the common ground on which stakeholders from multiple fields have formulated a “wake-up” call to political decision-makers. Whether perceived as the last chance for the preservation of soon-to-be-lost culture, as in Syria (e.g. the Syrian Heritage Archive Project),[1] or as an opportunity for education and inspiration through free access to museum objects (e.g. Europeana), digitization enables people to see and use cultural material beyond its physical limitations. Continue reading A Call to Action on Digital Cultural Heritage in Germany

From Source to Document: “Key Documents of German-Jewish History”

The bilingual (German/English) online source edition “Key Documents of German-Jewish History” (http://jewish-history-online.net/), which is published by the Institute for the History of German Jews (IGdJ) in Hamburg (http://www.igdj-hh.de/IGDJ-home.html), uses primary sources, so-called key documents, to highlight central aspects of Hamburg’s rich and multifaceted Jewish past from the early modern period to the present. The project currently includes seventy-five sources with new materials being added on a regular basis. The project focuses on Hamburg but is outward- rather than inward-looking. Put differently, the project uses the city as a case study to examine topics and trends whose significance is not just local but also national, transnational, and even global. Generally speaking, the “key” sources featured in the project are meant to “open doors” to understanding larger developments and issues in (German-) Jewish history.

The target audience for this source edition is students, researchers, and teachers, as well as the interested public. In keeping with the broad nature of the audience, the edition includes a wide range of secondary-source texts and commentaries: general texts, for example, offer background information on important topics, such as “Memory and Remembrance” or “Family and Everyday Life,” whereas source-based interpretative texts develop argumentation on the basis of close textual analysis. Continue reading From Source to Document: “Key Documents of German-Jewish History”

Goebbels’ “Total War” Speech – Which Is the Primary Source?

The digital revolution has, without doubt, changed the way that young people research history. Previously, students pored over books and printed encyclopedias; today, with Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube, access to a broad range of historical source materials – including multimedia files – is only a mouse click away. On the one hand, this makes it easier for students to research topics that would have been difficult to investigate only twenty years ago; on the other hand, it also raises completely new questions. Continue reading Goebbels’ “Total War” Speech – Which Is the Primary Source?

Read All About It (Online)! Accessing Digitized Historical German Newspapers

Articles from historical newspapers typically play an important role in primary-source document collections in both printed and digital form. GHDI is no exception: it presently includes hundreds of texts from German newspapers dating from the early nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries. During the course of the relaunch, scores of new German newspaper articles will be added to this existing base. Likewise, newspaper articles will feature prominently in the German History Intersections project.

Central Institute for Journalism and Journalistic Studies at the University of Leipzig (Das Zentrale Institut für Publizistik und Zeitungswissenschaft der Universität Leipzig). Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-10739-0008.

Many German research libraries have recently completed ambitious newspaper digitization projects, often with the support of the German Research Council (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft or DFG). These projects offer new access to German historical newspapers and thus make it possible for students, scholars, and researchers from all over the world to work with these sources firsthand. Continue reading Read All About It (Online)! Accessing Digitized Historical German Newspapers

Welcome to Href

Published by the German Historical Institute (GHI), Washington, DC, Href is a new blog dedicated to the use of digitized primary source materials in studying, teaching, and researching German and global history. The name Href points to the blog’s dual purpose, which is to spread awareness about source-based digital projects in German and global history (in HTML code, href is the attribute used in an <a> tag to generate a hyperlink reference), while serving as a general history reference.

The launch of the blog coincides with the start of the DFG-funded relaunch of German History in Documents and Images. This being the case, Href will report on interesting developments as work on the project proceeds. Additionally, it will highlight the contributions of various project participants, both inside the GHI and within the broader profession. The blog will also introduce other GHI digital initiatives, such as the new German History Intersections project and the up-and-coming German History Portal for Online Research and Teaching. Interesting projects by other institutions will feature prominently as well.

The focus of Href is broad: some blog posts will offer practical tips on locating and accessing digitized historical sources; others will discuss issues regarding translation, reproduction, and provenance; and many will pose critical, case-specific questions relating to the use of digitized source materials in historical interpretation. Insofar as the blog will address not only research but also academic teaching, considerable attention will be given to source-based assignments and curricula.

The GHI welcomes relevant contributions to its new blog from members of the historical profession, in the widest sense, from information professionals, from teachers and students at any level, and members of the interested public. Ultimately, Href aims to function as a link between digitized primary sources in German and global history and the scholarly community that engages with them.