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Web Portal Archive Guide to German Colonial History

On 1 July 2017, a research project on German colonial history was launched in cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office. The aim was to set up a web-based online portal on the topic, which would, among other things, enable the recording of the file situation in the successor states of former German colonies. The project was carried out in collaboration with the project management team by research assistant Uwe Jung, who previously worked for the Goethe Institute in Cameroon and is a recognised information and library scientist.

Logo des Forschungsprojekts "Webportal Archivführer deutsche Kolonialgeschichte"
Abreise des Gouverneurs auf der Landungsbrücke in Lome, Togo. © Bildbestand der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft
Research project
Digital Transformation – Urban Futures
Organisational Unit:
Cooperation partners:

Federal Foreign Office

Federal Foreign Office

Basically, the compilation of information is derived from a central question: What information can help visitors who are interested in any aspect of the topic of "German colonies"?

The core of the web portal is a thematic, cross-institutional inventory of sources. This means that users can find out where which files or holdings are kept, what their provenance is and how they can be utilised for research. Of interest here are not only the relevant holdings of colonial administrations and organisations, but also personal testimonies of persons involved who worked in the former colonies of Togo, Cameroon, German South-West Africa, German East Africa, German New Guinea, Samoa and Kiautschou or in the German Reich between 1884 and 1919.
In a broader sense, archival records relating to the preparation and winding up of the German colonial empire have also been catalogued.
A full-text search of the entire catalogue is possible as well as specific
search options such as a geographical, hierarchical or thematic search. Content for the hierarchical search is imported from the Wikidata database. The fact that content from the free Wikidata database is referenced also opens up the option of collaboration by third parties, which is expressly desired. In order to minimise the effort involved in setting up a network, existing networks are used. This includes the national citizen science portal and, in particular, the various Wikimedia projects.

The portal is aimed both at the specialised community of humanities research, explicitly historical research, and at the interested public and thus at all social groups as well as teachers and students at colleges and universities. An important concern is that the public from the almost 19 successor states of the former German colonies should also benefit from this offer. The information is therefore available in German, English and French.

The web portal was publicly launched in November 2019 and has since been available at the following link:

Project management

Prof. Dr. Susanne Freund
Professor of Archival Science
Project Manager Graduate Distance Learning Archive
Project Manager of the Degree Programme Archival Science (MA)
Project Manager of the Further Education Programme "Archive im Informationszeitalter"

Additional participants


  • Uwe Jung