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Catherine Liptak, Internship report

 Three Months at the Universitätsarchiv

Catherine Liptak-300During my time as a student at Heidelberg University, I was able to complete a three-month internship at the Universitätsarchiv. After studying history in the United States, I was very excited at the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the field of History during my time abroad in Germany.

One of the most exciting things for me was the sheer plethora of information and records held in the Universitätsarchiv. I primarily worked on projects dealing with newspaper clippings from the 1960s, researching information pertaining to previous students and employees ranging from the 1500s to 1900s, as well as the history of German-American relations at Heidelberg University. I was surprised to discover how large of a role Americans and the United States played in the history of this University, and I was able to delve into this complex history by reading and summarizing correspondence between University presidents and the rector, student exchanges, as well as visits from U.S. citizens to Heidelberg University. While I certainly anticipated learning about German history in the archives, I unexpectedly also learned a lot about the history of my own country’s international relations as well.

I was also surprised to see the amount of requests for information and research that the archives received daily. I was responsible for conducting research and responding to requests in both English and German. This particular aspect of my internship was very exciting for me because it allowed me to use my German skills, which I had been eager to use in a professional setting, and it brought the history contained in the archives to life. I researched the history of people’s ancestors from all around the world who worked, researched and studied at Heidelberg University over the past 500 years. Looking through old student files and records from the Rector gave these old documents a personal meaning and was always an exciting endeavor. I was lucky enough to even assist some English-speaking researchers when they personally came to the Archives to look through particular records. This part of my experience was for me a reminder that history continues to have great importance in the present day.

The best part about an internship in the Archives is that there are such a variety of fields in which I can work in. Heidelberg University has had strong international relations for a long period of its history, and there are plenty of opportunities to combine one’s personal research interest with the needs for specific tasks at the Archives. 

Catherine Liptak


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