Tracing, Cataloguing, Indexing : Reflections on the Joachim and Petra Heidrich papers in the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient Archive

The Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) was established in 1996. Its predecessor institution, the Forschungsschwerpunkt Moderner Orient, emerged in 1992 from the Institute for Universal History (Institut für Allgemeine Geschichte) of the Academy of Sciences (Akademie der Wissenschaften) of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The ZMO library and archive consist of significant collections of private papers besides hosting multifarious and extensive literature on historical, anthropological and political themes engaging with the Middle East, Asia and Africa as its regional focus. The private papers’ holding of the archive comprises collections by three eminent East German scholars – Horst Krüger (1920–1989), Joachim Heidrich (1930–2004) and Petra Heidrich (1940–2006) – who researched on South Asia related themes. In the case of these three scholars specifically, the archival holding consists of research related papers and no personal diaries or other ego documents of the individuals. Temporally, their collections commenced in the 1960s and continued through the Cold War years (the themes researched have files that date back to colonial India of the early twentieth century).

In a seminar organised within the framework of the BA and MA courses offered at the Department for South Asian Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (one of the three partner institutions of the MIDA project), the team and the attending students studied, catalogued, indexed and digitized the papers of Joachim Heidrich and a part of those of Petra Heidrich. This entry will outline the theoretical and methodological considerations which inform the process of cataloguing a private collection. It is organised along three primary axes and utilizes the collections as an illustrative case study for revisiting larger questions on archival architectures. The main objective of the post is thus to transparently share the process of cataloguing a collection into a database with readers and initiate a discussion on questions related to the entangled nature of archival collections and how researchers de-and re-constitute their architecture.



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