The Hessian State Archives
For many centuries now have the three state archives in Hesse served as the memory of society and administration. Since early modern times have they been collecting and preserving documents that can help protect legal claims or improve the transparency of administrative work. Any person is granted access to the archive material for scientific historical research or for genealogical and private research purposes.
The historical material in the three state archives in Hesse is archived according to the Hesse state borders of the 19th century. After 1945, this structure was reflected in the division of Hesse into districts, the so-called "Regierungsbezirke", Darmstadt, Kassel and Wiesbaden, as they existed until 1968. And since 1945 up to now, this division has laid the foundation for collecting and maintaining our records.
Three million Hessian archive items to be searched online.
The Hessian Archive Documentation and Information System Arcinsys is the online research database for the Hessian State Archives (https://arcinsys.hessen.de). It is publicly accessible on the Internet.
Arcinsys currently comprises datasets for 6 million archive items and 8,000 archive inventories. And the database continues to grow. New documentation from the participating archives is available on the Internet and searchable in a matter of seconds. In addition, Arcinsys contains short descriptions for approximately 270 archives in Hessen (including addresses and other communication data). Other Hessian archives may also publish their documentation data on Arcinsys. Please note that we can only process your online order if you have already submitted a request or if you already have a user number.
Who can use the archive material of the state archives and in which ways?
According to the Hessian Archives Act everyone may use the archives. Someone wanting to find out more about Hessen's history or that of her or his family may turn to the archives. Users and enquirers are scientists from diverse subject areas, private persons and also public authorities and courts. The archived material may either be used during a visit at the reading room or when information is supplied in writing. In either instance, there are archivists on the premises who will provide assistance. The more accurate and detailed the enquiry is, the more accurately will we be able to search our inventories.
In preparation of an enquiry or a visit at the archive it is possible to search the federal state archives inventories in the joint online database Arcinsys. By no means have all inventories been entered there yet, so it is still advisable to enquire at the archive, even if the search in Arcinsys has provided no evidence with regard to your enquiry. Up to the early 20th century, older documents were often preserved as manuscripts that were written in a manner that was typical for the time. If you are familiar with the so-called Sütterlin writing, you will have fewer problems reading old German scripts.
The full details are specified in the Hessian State Archives user regulations.
Archive material: Accessible after a certain period of time. Archive material that is younger than 30 years or that refers to interests worth being protected of the person concerned is not generally accessible. The personal period of protection usually is 10 years after the person's death. For some documents there are other terms. In some instances the Hessian Archives Act is applicable, in others the Federal Archives Act or other regulations at federal level.
Under certain circumstances and in individual instances the protection period may be shortened. There is a special form of application that needs to be filled out and signed by hand and then either sent to the appropriate archive by post or handed in there. If the shortening of the period is authorised, there are usually certain conditions to be met, but the archive material will be accessible earlier.
What are the costs for using the archives?
You will be charged fees for using the services of the Hessen State Archives. This applies in particular to research work in connection with written enquiries, the use of the reading room and for making copies.
Research work by archivists is charged according to time input; user and reproduction fees are fixed. The costs are laid down in the official list for administrative costs by the Hessen Ministry for Sciences and Arts.
The use of the archives for educational purposes or for scientific (also patrimonial or local) studies that will benefit the general public are free of charge. This also applies if the results are not explicitly and initially intended for publication. Costs for reproductions are also reduced for these purposes. As Houses of History, the Hessen State Archives are actively involved in the research of the state history and in studying and teaching politico-historical education. They cooperate closely with historical commissions and societies.
The research activities result in numerous publications. The State Archives moreover organise various events, in particular exhibitions, lectures or activities in the context of the nationwide Day of Archives.
Twice a year, the Hessian State Archives, together with the Association of German Archivists/Hessen Chapter and the Association of Hessian Municipal Archives publish the magazine "Archive News from Hessen".