The Berlin History Workshop was founded as a non-profit organization in 1982. Since then various research teams of the association have studied Berlin history topics which had previously been rather neglected by academic and official research. Women's history, daily life in working class quarters, local traces of Jewish life, resistance activities against Nazi dictatorship, forced labour during World War II, private pictures of Russian soldiers or the immigrant minorities’ history since the 1960’s have been major focuses.
The Berlin History Workshop was among the first working with new methods like Oral and Micro History. This should help bridging the gap between academic professionals and ‘normal’ citizens simply interested in the history of their street, school or company. At the same time, these projects were meant to work for a peaceful understanding with Germany’s neighbours and to combat growing nationalist and racist sentiments. Research results have been made available to the public through exhibitions, catalogues, books, lectures and guided city tours. Furthermore, the Berlin History Workshop has been engaged in debates about historical memorial sites, Berlin’s militaristic street names or recent reinterpretations of German history.
During the past decade, an intensified interest in the theoretical and methodological background of Micro, Mentality and Oral History has lead to more specialized publications. Since the 1980’s approaches to the historical interpretation and adequate archivation of interviews and private photography were developed (see publications list).
The practical use of new sources lead to the build-up of a specialized biographic and local-history interview and photography archive. Using conventional and electronic tools, this documentation centre reflects the specific functions of private, biographic material, allows preserving the local and biographical context via the use of different media like interviews, text documents and photographs,and tries to develop specific archival systems and manuals to reflect the micro-historical and also the gender-specific interest often neglected by traditional archives. As a small but innovative archive it cooperates with other institutions and offers methodological seminars, e.g. on conducting narrative interviews.
The association is being maintained through membership fees and donations;each individual project - apart from the city tours - depends on external fund-raising.
New members or sponsors are welcome.