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Digitization of German-language press from Eastern Europe. Indexing the New, Quality Assurance of the Old, Researching the Unknown

Project manager:  Tillmann Tegeler
Project coordinator:  Albert Weber
Project duration: 7/2021—6/2023
Cooperation: Digitales Forum Mittel- und Osteuropa (DiFMOE)
Funding: Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media

This project, funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, continues the series of periodical digitization projects carried out at the IOS since 2011 (German-language periodicals from Central and Eastern EuropeDigital collection consolidation and documentation of German-language periodicalsJewish German-language periodicals). By digitizing historical newspapers from the Tsarist Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy, and Greater Romania and by recording thousands of bibliographic records, the project contributes to the indexing of the German-language press landscape in Eastern Europe. Research, teaching, and the interested public are thus provided with diverse, yet easy-to-use source materials and aids for the investigation of the culture and history of German minorities from the eighteenth century to the interwar period.

The project has four primary objectives: First, 150,000 pages from national German-language newspapers are to be digitized and made freely available for unrestricted use on the Digital Forum Central and Eastern Europe (DiFMOE). Among the newspapers selected for the project is the St. Petersburg Zeitung (1727–1914). The newspaper was published over a 188-year period and yet only a fraction of its issues have been digitized so far, despite its importance for the Russian Germans. In addition, there are titles on the DiFMOE that are frequently requested by researchers but could only be partially digitized in earlier projects. The digitization of these publications is now largely completed. These include the Siebenbürgisch-Deutsche Tageblatt (Hermannstadt, 1874–1941) and the Banater Deutsche Zeitung (Timișoara, 1925–1941), both leading newspapers and equally important communication platforms for the Germans in Transylvania and the Banat. The provision of the Banater Deutsche Zeitung in digital format is currently of particular relevance in view of Timișoara being chosen as European Capital of Culture 2023.

Second, further digitizable and relevant holdings, especially of periodicals by and for Russia Germans, are being identified and their future digitization being prepared in cooperation with local partners. Part of this research also involves adding newspapers, issues of which are scattered across the various institutions that own the holdings, with the aim of making important titles available to users in their entirety for the first time through the digital consolidation of the holdings.

The third goal is to expand the image database on the DiFMOE by including more images selected from the periodicals digitized as part of the project, and postprocessing and indexing them. The focus will be on portrait photographs that are not preserved elsewhere and thus represent significant biographical source material.

The fourth goal is to create a bibliographic data set based on the four-volume bibliography of German-language periodicals from Eastern Europe, compiled by the project editor Albert Weber in an earlier project. Integrating the freely usable data on more than 5,600 titles in Wikidata will make it possible to build up a database of the historical German-language press in Eastern Europe. In the long term, this can be expanded into a comprehensive press encyclopedia and thus an important platform for press research on ethnic Germans in Eastern Europe.

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