Publicly archived material can be viewed by all members of the public, provided that archival terms of copyright are safeguarded. This means that historical research can be conducted in these public archives – resources which also act as important information providers within a democratic society. The Institute for the History of Frankfurt is a major point of contact for academic historians, family history researchers, local historians, students at schools and universities (especially history students), though also for certain professional groups such as probate researchers, architects, journalists, teachers and doctors. The Reading Room attracts around 900 visitors each year, many of whom come several times. In addition, we are receiving an increasing number of enquiries – currently about 4,000. Such enquiries range from simple ones, e.g. the home of someone’s grandparents or certain personalities in the history of Frankfurt, to more complex questions such as the development of Frankfurt City Council or how the city has mastered specific social crises in its history.
One major function of our archives is to help and advise users wanting to select and handle the available analogue and digital resources. This includes giving search tips for effective enquiries and helping users find the relevant domains or subdomains. However, we regret that we cannot offer help in conducting searches, reading the archived material or carrying out the actual research work. If you have a standard question, e.g. on the use of civil registry archives or on the irrigation plans of the Frankfurt Construction Inspectorate, please feel free to ask our staff in the Reading Room. They will be pleased to provide advice during normal opening hours. No appointments are needed. For most of the work or research, however, we would recommend contacting the relevant in-house expert or specialist. Alternatively, you can email your enquiry to the Institute directly, providing all your contact details. When you ask your question, please also state your specific purpose in using our archives and how your question relates to your research. This is the only way we can make appropriate suggestions that will suit your purpose.
Most of our stocks are available online now, with the exception of some material in our Ancient Archives, some recent additions, most photographs and any personal documents and archives that are still under copyright. In such cases you will need to consult with our staff. We are currently preparing to retro-convert any resources that are still only available in analogue form. If your research is in the public interest, you may want to apply for a reduction of the term of copyright. In-house experts and specialists will be pleased to advise you over the phone, by email or in person, upon appointment.