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. Furthermore, it carries out small research projects.


Head Archivist

Dr. Christian Salewski, Dipl.-Arch.

Am Alten Hafen 26

27568 Bremerhaven

E-Mail: archive[at]

Phone: +49 471 4831-2273

Fax: +49 471 4831-2342

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 regulations and in the Bremen Archive law (both only available in German).

What are the costs for using the archive?

The use of the AGPR is free. However, the archive charges fees for copies. These fees are fixed in the ordinance of charges (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.

When using the archive, how your personal data are protected

Data Protection Statement for the Use of Archivalia

According EUDATAP Article 13 Paragraph 1 we inform you that we collect and utilize your personal data. This is because we have to make sure that you can use our archivalia (provision of archive material, replies to your questions etc.).

The legal ground of this proceeding is arises from EUDATAP, Article 6, Paragraph 1 e) in conjunction with Bremen Archive law § 1 Paragraph 1 and § 12 Paragraph 1, point 1 in conjunction with the AGPR access regulation, part 1, §§ 2 and 3.

Information on the processing of your personal data according to EUDATAP Article 13, Paragraph 2 (available only in German) you can obtain here

What are the archive's opening times?

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 German 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



Call: The AdP asks all polar and marine researchers and all institute staff to hand over to it their old documents and material related to their work and/or with reference to the AWI.


AGPR's online research engine: Users can now obtain information about more than 50 archival groups, personal papers of German polar researchers and collections. Detailed descriptions of these holdings can be looked up at the AGPR online search at "Register/Bestandsbeschreibung". Moreover, they can there search for approx. 2,100 data sets, containing more details of the contents of holdings on a document level.

Although written in German, these descriptions can give English readers with some knowlegde of German a greater insight in the contents of the AGPR.


The AdP publishes 2nd edition of the AWI chronicle: After a short time the archive has just published the 2nd edition of the synopsis of the historical development of polar research and the AWI. In addition to a comprehensive history of polar research since the 16th century and the 40-year history of the Institute, the text now also offers readers an overview of the Institute's activities completed in 2020 under the auspices of the corona pandemic, such as the MOSAiC expedition.

The chronicle is published in German under the title ""Das Alfred-Wegener-Institut in der Geschichte der Polarforschung. Eine Einführung und Chronik, 2., überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage" as volume 748 of the Reports on Polar and Marine Research.