Sources on German Colonial History online

Frankfurt University Library digitized some of the books and journals originally collected by the German Colonial Society (Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft). The journals Deutsche Kolonialzeitung, Amtlicher Anzeiger für Deutsch-Ostafrika, Amtsblatt für das Schutzgebiet Deutsch-Südwestafrika, Amtsblatt für das Schutzgebiet Kamerun, Amtsblatt für das Schutzgebiet Togo and several books including even a colonial cook-book are available online.

Administration & everyday life in German colonies

DKZAt the beginning of 2016 we could acquire digital black-and-white copies of

some official gazettes, like

and some more important historical sources like

German colonialism in books and images

SchwabeTogoSf17-44-afterpage24Additionally, some deluxe editions containing several images also in colour have been digitized:

Some older accounts are documents of the pre-colonial and general history of colonialism:

  • Caput bonae spei hodiernum : das ist: vollständige Beschreibung des Afrikanischen Vorgebürges der Guten Hofnung von Peter Kolben (1719)
  • 3. Afrika, Die Länder und Völker der Erde oder vollständige Beschreibung aller fünf Erdtheile und deren Bewohner von Johann Andreas Christian Löhr, Leipzig (3rd edition 1819)

    Die Länder und Völker der Erde oder vollständige Beschreibung aller fünf Erdtheile und deren Bewohner, Teil 3. Afrika / Johann Andreas Christian Löhr, 3., nach dem jetztigen politischen Stand der Dinge neu umgearb. Aufl., Leipzig : Fleischer, 1819, before page 269

    Die Länder und Völker der Erde oder vollständige Beschreibung aller fünf Erdtheile und deren Bewohner, Teil 3. Afrika / Johann Andreas Christian Löhr, 3., nach dem jetztigen politischen Stand der Dinge neu umgearb. Aufl., Leipzig : Fleischer, 1819, before page 269

Some of the works inter-relate with the Colonial Picture Archive:

  • WohltmannSq17-99-page14120 Kultur- und Vegetations-Bilder aus unseren deutschen Kolonien von Ferdinand Wohltmann (1904) shows images also available in the image archive. The caption below the pictures in the book offer much more detailed information than the meta-data in the Colonial Picture Archive, e.g. the image on page 14 shows the “Theobroma Cacao Linné” and explain details of cacao farming: “Man pflanzt ihn in Kamerun im Verband von 5×5 oder 5×4 oder 4×4 Meter und hat demnach 400 bezw. 500 bezw. 625 Bäumchen auf 1 Hektar.”

Further individual works were digitized in lower quality during the course of the preparation for interlibrary loans. Finally, the Deutsches Kolonial-Lexikon by Heinrich Schnee (1920) has been completely digitized. This invaluable contemporary source – published in 1914 and 1920 respectively by the Governor of German East Africa – is full-text searchable and the index words are linked by hypertext (click on “Deutsches Kolonial-Lexikon 1920” at the website of picture archive).

The Special Collection

During the second half of the 19th century numerous societies arose that concerned themselves with caring for German emigrants, and spreading of colonial ideas. The colonial library consists of the libraries of several colonial societies. The most important was the “German Colonial Society” (Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft, DKG) founded in 1887. For their propaganda activities its members collected not only books (ca. 18,000) and journals, but also more than 50,000 photographs (mainly lantern slides), which were used to illustrate their publicity lectures in Germany. The Colonial Picture Archive is already online since 2004, and includes also the collection of photographs, photo albums and postcards owned by the Sam Cohen Library, Swakopmund, Namibia.

The special collection “Colonial Library” with the signatures S 17, Sq 17, and Sf 17, stemming mainly from the library of the German Colonial Society and the Imperial Colonial Office, is completely listed in the Online Catalogue and can be searched by means of the original subject classification. In addition, the catalogue of the Colonial Library is available online as a PDF file: Volume 1 contains the alphabetical division and Volume 2 the division according to the arrangement of the catalogue of the German Colonial Society library.

The books in the collection suffer a lot of acid deterioration (see an example). Therefore usage of the books is restricted to the special reading room.

Please note: Due to German copyright restrictions and other contractual obligations some of the digitized works can only be accessed at the premises of Frankfurt University library.

Specialised Information Service for the African Studies in Germany granted

africa_colored__frankfurtULFrankfurt University Library is most happy to continue its special collection on Africa in the new era of the “Specialised Information Services” funding programme.

In 2014 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Special Subject Collection “Africa South of the Sahara” funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG). In the last three years the nationwide co-operative acquisition scheme in Germany has been restructered. This december the DFG accepted the proposal to set up a Specialised Information Service for the African Studies from 2016 onwards.

The Specialised Information Service (SIS) will support a broad range of academic disciplines in the humanities, social sciences and cultural studies. Academics working in this field are represented by the German African Studies Association (Vereinigung für Afrikawissenschaften in Deutschland e.V.).

The first main task is to co-ordinate the relevant institutions providing information on African studies in Germany (libraries, archives, research collections, …) in order to develop a sustainable information infrastructure adhering to international professional standards. In close cooperation with the German ASA the project will give an overview about the expertise scattered amongst a multitude of institutions and bring these different knowledge centers together in workshops. The SIS will advise especially smaller departmental libraries e.g. in the fields of Open Access, scientific data and information literacy.

CoverCollageFIDThe second main purpose is to acquire research literature published in Africa. Local academic debates and lots of empirical data are published by local publishers in printed books or in academic journals edited by small university departments. The academic community in Germany aims to undertake research on an equal footing with African scholars. Therefore it is necessary to get access to local academic publications published in Africa. Due to the difficult acquisition this literature is not available at every institution in the same scope and in the same quantity. Finally, the SIS helps to balance the unequal presence of African research output in the sciences dominated by the Anglo-American research community.

More information by the DFG:

dfg_logo vad_logo

Africa on the move – new perspectives on development / Frankfurt

A series of lectures organised by Frankfurt University, ZIAF, GTZ, SID and KfW taking place in Frankfurt from October 2010 to February 2011. Uta Ruppert and Rainer Klump invited prominent speakers like Patrick Chabal, Andreas Eckert or Dieter Neubert among many others. The topics include China and Africa, Regionalism, climate change …

See the full programme as PDF or the website for place and dates.




New German book series – young writers from Africa

The German “Wunderhorn Verlag” publishes a new series of contemporary African literature in German. It is a courageous endeavour to translate young writers from Africa.

The first titles are

  • Lebogang Mashile: Töchter von morgen – Gedichte (2010) [In a Ribbon of Rhythm, 2005]
  • K. Sello Duiker: Die stille Gewalt der Träume  (2010) [The Quiet Violence of Dreams«, 2002]

There will be published three books a year, the next one of Shimmer Chinodya…

more information