The "reel houses" in Wuppertal-Unterbarmen. The right building houses the city archive.
The "reel houses" in Wuppertal-Unterbarmen. The right building houses the city archive.
Land Surveying Office of the City of Wuppertal

The city archive is the historical memory of the city. It ingests the archive worthy documents of the city administration, which are no longer needed, and supplements the archive material with historically relevant private documents such as estates and collections. It works with schools, universities, cultural institutions and associations to explore and convey the history of the city. Every citizen has the right to use the city archive. But many do not even know the existance of an archive. The aim of this essay is to make the function of the archive more accessible to interested citizens, students, teachers, etc. and to facilitate its use. They should learn how to prepare their visit to the archive, how and in which finding aids they can research, how they can read and evaluate primary sources, and in which other institutions they can further research.


Brucher Platz in Wuppertal with birthplace of Friedrich Engels
Brucher Platz in Wuppertal with birthplace of Friedrich Engels
Land Surveying Office of the City of Wuppertal

There are many secondary sources for every historical, contemporary or current topic: in newspapers, on the Internet, on television, radio etc. We tend to believe the secondary sources uncritically. But if we want to know and correctly understand the true events, circumstances, facts and background of a topic, it is necessary to study the primary sources, i.e. the original documents about an event. We find these original sources in an archive. Now look under the button "Documents" for an example of a research in the Wuppertal City Archive. This task is about the famous revolutionary Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), who comes from one of the richest entrepreneurial families in the textile industry in Wuppertal. Try to solve the task.


What does a visit to the city archive look like for you? Take a look at the explanatory films on how to use the archive under "Videos". What can you learn from these films? In the button "Documents" under "Exercises" you will find some recommendations on how to prepare your visit to the archive and how the visit to the City Archives should proceed.



Your essay should be clearly laid out and ideally include only one page, and make comments on the specifics that you encountered in your archival research.


Learning Outcomes

  • You will learn how to deal with primary sources
  • You will learn to critically question the truth of secondary sources in relation to the primary sources

Knowledge Acquired

  • You will learn to do an archive research independently
  • You will learn to comprehensively and critically evaluate the material
  • You will expand your historical knowledge with every visit to the archive

Skills Acquired

  • You will be able to distinguish important information from unimportant ones
  • You will learn to show or present your results in written or oral form

Competences Acquired

  • You will be able to interpret original documents so that you can capture historical facts correctly and objectively
  • You will be able to take your personal point of view on historical events and to critically compare with previously published information.