We are the DDB: The Institut für Stadtgeschichte in Frankfurt am Main - “The memory of Frankfurt”

Das Institut für Stadtgeschichte (The Institute of Urban History) (ISG) preserves a unique collection of sources on more than 1100 years of Frankfurt, German and European history. Its holdings range from the 9th century to the present. As the municipal archive of the city of Frankfurt am Main, it takes over, evaluates and makes accessible historical and legally significant documents of the municipal offices. This includes not only files, but also maps, plans and pictures. It also systematically collects estates, newspaper clippings and testimonies from Frankfurt associations and companies

Eingang Institut für Stadtgeschichte, ISG FFM, Foto: Markus Häfner
Entrance to the Institut für Stadtgeschichte (Institute for Municipal History), ISG FFM, photo: Markus Häfner

The Institute is dedicated to preserving and making accessible the historical heritage of the city of Frankfurt am Main. It takes over the files that arise in the city administration and also collects all documentation materials that are important for the history of the city, such as estates and collections of associations or companies. Despite great losses in the Second World War, its holdings are still among the most important of the German municipal archives in terms of volume and weight. In total, it preserves around 25 shelf kilometres of files, as well as more than two million illustrations and photos, around 18,000 portraits, around 40,000 documents, more than 70,000 maps and plans, around 25,000 postcards and 400 estates of important Frankfurt personalities, as well as 1.5 shelf kilometres of company files. One of the most precious archives is the Frankfurt copy of the Golden Bull of 1366, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2013.
In addition to the archive work, the ISG conveys the history of the city in changing exhibitions as well as through a diverse range of events including lectures, courses, scientific symposia and narrative formats with contemporary witnesses. In addition, the didactically sound presentation of the Carmelite monastery, the only surviving monastery complex in Frankfurt with a medieval appearance, is one of the Institute's tasks. Every year, around 100,000 visitors come to the events or use their holdings.
The archive database can be accessed at www.stadtgeschichte-frankfurt.de to order archives in the reading room or to inform yourself about the programme of events. Since 2014, the institute has owned a digital long-term archive and is increasingly taking over urban documents in electronic form.

In this way, the Institute shapes the historical identity of the city and performs an important information function within a democratic society.

The photographs of Gottfried Vömel

One of the most important photographic estates in the Institut für Stadtgeschichte is the photographs by Gottfried Vömel (1879-1959). They offer invaluable insights into the cityscape and everyday life of Frankfurt in the early 20th century. Century and invite you to explore the history of the city 100 years ago. In the Institut für Stadtgeschichte, there is the plate archive with almost 4000 photographs, which show the cityscape before the structural changes during the Weimar Republic. Thanks to the federal funds from the project „Nutzerorientierte Neustrukturierung der Deutschen Digitalen Bibliothek“ (User-oriented restructuring of the German Digital Library) in the rescue and future program NEUSTART KULTUR (NEW START CULTURE) of the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media, 2,564 paper prints were digitized and permanently secured, which were created by the glass plates in the 1980s.

A high-speed locomotive broke through in the main station Prellbock and wall to the dining room, 1901 ISG FFM, order. S7Vö No. 2300 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Vömel was born in 1879 in Frankfurt am Main and belonged to a generation of amateur photographers who developed an increasing interest in documentary shots due to technical development. Vömel first gained his knowledge of the fundamentals of photography during an internship with the photographer and publisher Karl Friedrich Fay in his "Kunst-Anstalt für Fotografie und Lichtdruck" (Art Institute for Photography and Collotype), which was founded in 1877 and was known in Frankfurt above all for its architectural photography. After studying chemistry, Vömel initially continued his father's factory for surgical sutures in 1908 and served in the military in the First World War in 1917. Returning from there, he mainly used the income from the expanding factory to continue to devote himself to photography.

His motifs in the collection include family and social portraits, architectural photography, and document contemporary events. Vömel hardly staged his paintings; his gaze was more influenced by the desire to depict the given situation. In addition, Vömel has reproduced photographs by older photographers such as Mylius, Fay, Stamm or Hertel, which are often only handed down this way.

Presentation of the photographic legacy of Gottfried Vömel on the ISG websiteInstitut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt - Stadtgeschichte - Digital Presentations - Photographic legacy of Gottfried Vömel (stadtgeschichte-ffm.de)

Preparation room in the old Senckenberg Museum at the Eschenheimer Tor, 1906 ISG FFM, Order. S7Vö No. 1229 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Institut für Stadtgeschichte in the Deutschen Digitalen Bibliothek (German Digital Library) and in the Archive Portal D

In 2015, the Institut für Stadtgeschichte set the cataloguing data for four holdings in the Deutschen Digitalen Bibliothek with almost 18,000 entries. The older series of the Magistratsaktei (Magistrate's Office) from the years 1868 to 1930 can be mentioned as a central tradition. Furthermore, the records of the welfare office from the years 1841 to 1958 as well as the treaties of the Free City of Frankfurt – such as state treaties, national agreements and treaties with the German Customs Association – with a term of 1814 to 1866 can be found there. The Constituent Assembly of the St Paul's Church of the years 1848/1849, which contains, among other things, printed minutes and entries of citizens, has also been discontinued. Further data will follow soon.
Holdings of the Instituts für Stadtgeschichte in the Deutschen Digitalen Bibliothek

The photographic legacy of Gottfried Vömel in the Deutschen Digitalen Bibliothek

Holdings of the Instituts für Stadtgeschichte in the Archiv Portal-D

Contact data:
Institut für Stadtgeschichte
Münzgasse 9
D-60311 Frankfurt am Main
Phone: 069-212-37 914 or 069-212-38 425
Fax: 069-212-30 753
General inquiries: info.amt47 [at] stadt-frankfurt.de
Web: www.stadtgeschichte-ffm.de