The Historical Archives of the City of Cologne are among the most important municipal archives north of the Alps. They serve as Cologne’s collective memory and information storage for global science and research. The charters and documents of local government from the Middle Ages to the present along with a considerable number of estates from eminent personalities and other collections form a dense body of data providing answers to numerous questions on the history of Cologne and the Rhineland.
The archives have remained vibrantly active throughout the centuries, have managed to avoid partiality and thus today boast an almost unique ensemble of inventory items. The archives are an extraordinary reflection of the political and judicial sphere as well as the world of culture, everyday life, religion, economy, social life, education and more – spanning a collection history of more than 1,000 years relating to Cologne and much further afield.
The Historical Archives see themselves as a “citizens’ archives” and are open not only to traditional academic users, but also to the citizens of Cologne conveying the city’s history in a proactive and attractive way. The archives’ programmes range from theme-specific exhibitions and fascinating talks to guided tours and they continue their traditional role of providing educational projects for school groups and senior citizens. The archives’ Facebook page gives information on day-to-day activities and offers insights into the history of Cologne.
The collapse of the building on 3 March 2009 confronted the archives with an unprecedented challenge. As a result of this collapse, the salvaged items have been torn out of their logical context. Each and every file needs to have the ubiquitous concrete dust removed and be reintegrated into its proper context before it can be used again. Some of the items have been severely damaged and require more complex restoration work.
Primary aim of the archives is to make the largest number of items available again in the shortest time possible. The archives’ inventory is available for inspection on www.historischesarchivkoeln.de and in the reading rooms at Heumarkt and in the Cologne district of Porz. Staff will be happy to provide information on the use of the archives and on source-related, specific topics. Appointments can be made by telephone (+49 221 221-23669).
The new building on Eifelwall is expected to be completed by 2019 and will finally reunite the archives’ inventory – currently widely scattered over various different locations – under one roof.