The Berlin History Workshop was founded as a non-profit organization in 1981. 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 local quarters like Schöneberg or Lichtenrade, local traces of Jewish life, resistance against Nazi dictatorship, forced labour during World War II, private pictures of Russian soldiers or the immigrant minorities’ history since the 1960’s were and still are central subjects.
The Berlin History Workshop was among the first, working with new methods like Oral and Micro History. This filled the gap between academics and ‘normal’ citizens simply interested in the history of their street, school or company. At the same time these projects were intended to work for a peaceful living together with Germany’s neighbors and to combat growing nationalist and racist sentiments. Research results have been made available to the public through exhibitions, catalogues, books, lectures, smartphone apps and guided city tours. Furthermore the Berlin History Workshop is engaged in debates about historical memorial sites or reinterpretations of German history.
During the last decades an intensified interest in the theoretical and methodological background of Micro, Mentality and Oral History led to more specialized publications. Since the 1980’s approaches were developed for the historical interpretation and adequate archivation of interviews and private photography.
The practical use of new sources led to the installation of a specialized archive for biographic and local-history interviews and photographs. Using conventional and electronic tools, this documentation centre shows clearly the specific functions of private, biographic material. It preserves the local and biographical context via the use of different media like interviews, text documents and photographs. The centre also 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 supported by membership fees and donations; each individual project – apart from the city tours – depends on external fund-raising.
New members or sponsors are welcome.