What is archived here?
Apart from professional historians, the Hesse State Archives are open to non-professionals, too. This includes private persons and members of public and private institutions conducting research on regional, local, corporate, or family history.
If you do not wish to publish the results of your research, you may nevertheless access the archival documents and the relevant literature in order to find out about the history of Hesse or of your hometown. We also offer support and access to records for public authorities, courts and citizens who are looking for evidence in private legal claims.
Initially, archive users might find the filing system at the archive rather intricate. Therefore there are inventory lists, reference catalogues and repertories to give an overview of the archived material. A few years ago we additionally started entering the archival description of the State Archives into the Hessian Archive Documentation and Information System HADIS, which can be accessed on the Internet.
Archive inventories: Extent, origin, structure
All in all, the Hesse Main State Archives currently preserve material to the extent of approximately 50,000 metres of shelf space, organised in over 2,000 individual inventories and comprising historically valuable documents from the 10th century up to the immediate present.
The archived material originates predominately from the record offices of public administrations and secularised religious institutions. Increasingly, we also receive records from non-governmental sources, especially documents from associations and private persons.
The individual inventories are referred to as archive inventories. They are exclusively organised by the principle of provenance and accordingly usually contain documents from one certain record creating office (public administration, corporation, association, company, person etc.). A subdivision according to types of archive material is only made if required for storage purposes or practical reasons. In these instances we however seek to preserve the context of provenance by having a common department number.
The online research database HADIS (Hessian Archive Documentation and Information System) offers a complete index of the existing inventories with inventory descriptions. In HADIS you will moreover find the item descriptions of the material in these inventories, provided they have already been entered into the database and the data is not excluded from publication for legal reasons.
Tectonics of the Hessen Main State Archive
In archival lingo, the historical organisation of an archive is termed "tectonics", alluding to geology, which uses this term to describe the sedimentation of different rock layers on top of each other. The consecutive historical layers at the Hesse Main State Archives in Wiesbaden are:
The Holy Roman Empire (until 1806)
Territories and inventories that were passed over to the Duchy of Nassau between 1806 and 1815, in particular:
- The counties of Nassau
- Parts of the territories of the electorates of Mainz, Trier and Pfalz
- Small dominions
- Imperial cities
- Imperial Chamber Court
The Duchy of Nassau (1806 to 1866)
Public authorities and institutions from all administrative levels of the Duchy of Nassau
Prussia (1866 to 1945)
Public authorities and institutions from all administrative levels of the Prussian District of Wiesbaden (1867 to 1944) and the Prussian Province of Nassau (1944 to 1945)
The Federal State of Hesse (since 1945)
- Federal state ministries
- Central public authorities at state level
- Subordinate departments of the Federal State of Hessen as well as the Federal Republic of Germany within the archive district of Wiesbaden
- American and German institutions of the transition period after 1945
- Courts and professional institutions
Cutting across these layers in chronological tectonics, there are further divisions:
- Municipal documents from some districts, cities and municipalities
- Political parties
- Associations and societies
- Chambers and professional associations
- Bequests from scientists, artists, politicians and other public figures
Special inventories according to the type of archive material
It is mainly for conservatory reasons that we store some information carriers separately. These are in particular:
- Manuscripts and cartularies
- Printed matter and scripts
- Approximately 130,000 maps and plans
- Picture and sound material
- Seals and stamps