9 September 1999

City of Heidelberg Foundation supports cooperative project between University Library and University Archives: Exploring the documentary bequest of Dr. Marie Baum

City of Heidelberg Foundation supports work on the posthumous papers pertaining to one of the most important personalities of 20th century Heidelberg – 65,000 marks for work on hitherto undiscovered correspondence by and with a major figure in the German women's movement

Among the some 120 literary and documentary legacies in the possession of Heidelberg University Library, the material on Dr. Marie Baum can legitimately claim to be something rather special. It is one of the few documentary bequests pertaining to a woman; also, Dr. Marie Baum is a figure with unusually close ties to the city of Heidelberg itself. Given the importance of the material, work has now begun (as of 1 September 1999) on a scholarly perusal and evaluation of the documents in question. On completion, a reference guide is planned for publication in the Library's own series Schriften der Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg.

The 65,000 marks from the City of Heidelberg Foundation for the cataloguing of the material mean that as of 1 September library scientist Petra Schaffrodt has been able to begin with the formidable task of sifting the documents. Ms. Schaffrodt is seconded to the University Archives, thus ensuring the fullest cooperation between Archives and Library. This cooperation is something entirely new and Archives director Dr. Werner Moritz deserves much gratitude for the part he has played in supporting it. In times of straitened financial resources such cross-departmental teamwork is likely to be vitally necessary in future.

The documents in Dr. Marie Baum's nachlass were entrusted to the Library in stages. The papers in her possession at her death were left to the University Library in her will. In 1997 the Library received an extremely significant holding from friends of Marie Baum, much of it hitherto unknown correspondence including letters between Marie and her mother Florentine (Flora) Baum.

Dr. Marie Baum was born in Danzig in 1920 and must certainly be reckoned among Heidelberg's most important 20th century figures. In 1949 she was made an honorary citizen of Heidelberg. Her professional career was anything but typical for a woman of the age. She was one of the first women ever to attain a university degree and was awarded a doctorate in chemistry in Zurich in 1899. Working as a chemist for only three years, she switched her attention in 1902 to social affairs, acting as a factory inspector in Baden until 1907. This was followed by a 9-year stint as director of the Society for Infant Care in Düsseldorf. From 1919 to 1926 she returned to government service in Baden, acting as divisional head of welfare services in the Ministry of Labour in Karlsruhe.

In the 1920s, her immense fund of practical experience and her sociological publications qualified her for a post as associate lecturer at the Institute of Social and Political Studies of Heidelberg University. The advent of the National Socialists in 1933 spelled the end of her academic teaching career, which she however resumed after the war until 1949. Marie Baum was one of the leading figures in Germany's women's movement. She was on friendly terms with a number of famous fighters for women's rights like Gertrud Baum, Frieda Duensing and Marianne Weber and various letters in the nachlass bear testimony to these relations. She had a very close friendship with the writer Ricarda Huch, whose posthumous papers she edited for publication.

Her links with Heidelberg, where she lived for 40 years, were also very close. As a member of Max Weber's circle and founder of the Friesenberg Independent Student Association she played an active part in the cultural and political life of the city. In her youth Marie Baum was much drawn to the ideals of socialism, representing the liberal left-wing DDP party in the Reichstag as one of the very few female deputies in that assembly. After 1945 she briefly joined the Christian Democrats, moving on from there to the non-party "Heidelberg Action Group for Free Socialism".

Marie Baum's biography reflects her major social, cultural, academic and political significance for 20th-century Germany. The detailed exploration of her documentary legacy will provide access to new material on her achievements and life story. The systematic examination of this fund of invaluable information by the City of Heidelberg, the University Library and the University Archives is not least a token of high esteem for one of the city's most courageous and distinctive citizens.

Inquiries can be addressed to:
Dr. Armin Schlechter
University Library
phone: 06221/542399

or to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: +49 (0) 6221/542310, fax: 542317

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Updated: 22.09.99