Ark of the University – Since 1388
On February 8th, 1388 — barely two years after the founding of the University of Heidelberg — the first rector, Marsilius von Inghen, began what would become the University Archives with a small box (parva archella) in the university chest (archa universitatis) behind the main altar of the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. Since then, it has lost none of its relevance. The University Archives is dedicated to the preservation of documents concerning the history of the University and its legal securities. The current Archives collection contains around 4,400 meters of documents.
As a department of the rectorate, the current Archives preserves more than just documents dating back to the 1300s. It is also dedicated to the acquisition of administrative papers and records, which are no longer needed by departments and offices for administration, research or teaching, but are of lasting value to the “university's memory.” After being deemed archive and preservation worthy, documents are made available for academic research and to the public. In this way, the Archives also incorporates a public reference library focusing on University history.
The Archives does not only focus on archival “classics,” such as official books, certificates, and student and exam files, but also on personal papers, photographs, political pamphlets, plans and museum pieces, so long as they pertain to the history of University of Heidelberg.
Preserving digital documents presents a special challenge. In cooperation with archival committees and the University IT department, we are working on a solution to ensure that these documents will be readable and secure against forgery in the future. When handed down to future generations, the information on the “Digital Age” should not be more incomplete than that on centuries before.
The University of Heidelberg Archives and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics jointly delve into audio recordings, word lists, and photos of the ethnologist Friedhelm Scholz.
University of Heidelberg Archives scan photos and drawings from the local Inn “Zum Roten Ochsen” (The Red Ox Inn)
Historical photographs and drawings document Heidelberg student life