Archive for German Polar Research (AGPR)

About the AGPR

The mission of the AGPR is to secure the written and oral tradition of German polar and maritime research, a 150-year-old scientific venture with deep roots in the federal state of Bremen. Founded in 2011, the AGPR archives records and other material of this research field following Bremen archive law. Although these activities refer to all of the historical and present German states and state resembling bodies, their main focus concentrates on the AWI.

The archive - as a part of the institute's library - provides science journalists, laypersons and scientist of all disciplines within as well as beyond AWI with historical information on German polar and maritime research. The same task it performs with regard to the institute.

The AGPR also supports a historically informed public discussion about German polar and maritime research and about the AWI, and it promotes the identification of the AWI's employees with the institute.


Contact Person

Dr. Christian Salewski, Dipl.-Arch.

Am Alten Hafen 26

27568 Bremerhaven

E-Mail: Christian.Salewski[at]

Phone: +49 471 4831-2273

Fax: +49 471 4831-1919

Using the Archive

Who may use the Archive?

Everybody who can demonstrate a legitimate interest is entitled to use the archive, e. g. scientists, science journalists or laypersons.

Under which conditions can the AGPR be used?

In order to use the AGPR, you have to file a user application. In the corresponding form you have to specify your name, adress, your subject and the nature and your purpose of your research. By signing the application, your are obliged to comply with the archive access regulations, with the valid Bremen Archive and Data protection laws as well as with the valid general German personalilty right.

The Bremen Archive law specifies for certain archivalia retention periods and exemption clauses to use this material before the expirations of these periods. Therefore, you have the right to make an application for a reduction of these periods of time. Once your application is approved, you may use the documents, which you have specified in the corresponding form.

In detail, you can read the use and data protection rules in the AGPR access regulations and in the Bremen Archive law (both only available in German).

Which costs will arise for the user?

The use of the AGPR is free. However, the archive charges fees for copies. These fees are fixed in the table of charges. You find it as attachment to the AGPR access regulations (available only in German).

The AGPR is also pleased to answer your inquiries in writing. But if a longer and thorough research is necessary, the archive will charge you a fee of 80 Euro per hour.

What are the opening times of the archive?

You can visit the AGPR during the week between 9. 30 a. m. and 5.30 p. m. To make an appointment, please contact Dr. Salewski.

How are the holdings are structured?

The archival holdings of every archive are arranged according to the principle of provenance (after latin provenire, i. e. to come into being). Applying this principle, means to assume that every agency of an organisation produces records and that it files them according to a defined arrangement system. The archive forms holdings out of the records from this agency and adopts as well as maintains - whenever possible - the agency's order.

By applying the principle of origin, the archive avoids to file the archivlia according to a complex system of ordering, i. e. according the principle of pertinence - a task, which it usually cannot fulfill due to the lack of personal ressources. By working in this way, the archive circumvents at the same time the problem to adapt its arrangement system to the - from its point of view - fast changes of world views, on which their are based on, or even to develop new systems according to modern perspectives and questions. Furthermore, the archive escapes the task to reorganise its holdings according to these new insights, which can be accomplished every time only with considerable efforts.

As an archive user you benefit from the work of the archive with the principle of provenance, since you obtain a persistent access to its documents. Moreover, you receive information about the creation of records, about the work of the agency which has created them and about its history. However, by applying this principle you are requested to put aside your user expectations and habits, which are shaped by the use of libraries and internet search engines, when you are working in the archive. In fact, your are expected to orientate towards the archive's own ordering system.

How can the archivalia be retrieved?

Taking into account the principle of provenance you should start searching by reading the AGPR's guide to its holdings or by visiting its plan of records groups. This plan you can find in the AGPR's search engine under "Bestände" and "Tektonik". Thus, you will get an impression, if the archive's records and collections will be helpful to answer your questions. If you have identified a suitable holding, you will receive more information by searching for its description in search engine under "Register" and "Bestandsbeschreibung". In both cases some command of Geman might be useful.

In a second attempt you should browse the archive search engine for the description results, which the AGPR has made available for the internet. At the moment, only a few holdings can be browsed in this way, but these results are continually extended and updated.

The third path to obtain information on the AGPR's holdings leads your directly to the Archive. Its staff will be pleased to answer your questions with regard to contents of the archival documents. Prepared thus, you can order the archivalia by specifiying their reference numbers and titles inside the AGPR.  In its user- and administrations area three working places are available, where you can look at this material. The archivist there will be happy to advise and assist you in your research efforts.

How should the archival material be used?

The AGPR is preserving unique documents of German polar and maritime research and of the AWI. When you use them, you are always run into danger to damage these archivalia. Please treat them therefore only with greatest care and caution.

Further Information

Information and Knowledge Ressources



Users can now obtain information about both the archival holding of the AWI's Board of Directors and the documents of its Board of Governors. Detailed descriptions of these holdings can be looked up at the AGPR online search at "Register/Bestandsbeschreibung". Although written in German, the descriptions can give English readers with some knowlegde of German a greater insight in the history of the intitute's main governing bodies and in the contents of their records.


The German version of the AWI's chronicle is online.


The AGPR kindly asks all polar and maritime scientists and all the people inside the AWI to donate to the archive their old documents and material concerning the history of German polar and maritime research and and concerning the institute's development.