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invenio - how to research, order and cite archival material


invenio - registration

The Political Archive uses the research application invenio of the National Archives of Germany as a stand-alone database. Therefore, a separate registration is required and a research across archives is not possible.

Gaining access to the invenio of the Political Archive depends on whether you are consulting the Political Archive for the first time or whether you are already registered as a user:

  1. If you are using the Political Archive for the first time, go to “Zur Registrierung” on the main page of invenio and fill in the mandatory fields. Afterwards you will receive an e-mail with the login details.
  2. If you have already viewed files at the reading room of the Political Archive, upon request we will provide you with your user ID (Kennung) and password for logging into invenio.

After you have logged in you can change your password in the menu “Benutzerdaten”.

Searching for records

In invenio you can search for records using either the “Navigierende Suche” (navigating research) or keywords, which can also refer to specific record groups, and view digitised files.

You can find out which files have already been digitised here (in German). All information on how to conduct a search is available in invenio in the menu “Hilfe” (help). Our research guidelines (in German) also offer useful tips.

Especially concerning the question of which record groups might be of relevance to you we recommend that you, apart from doing a keyword search, also consult the additional information on each record group, which you can find, for example, under “Bestandsgeschichte" (history of the record group) or “inhaltliche Charakterisierung" (subjects of the files).

Please note that not all finding aids of the record groups are available online yet. In these cases, a search solely done in invenio will not lead to the file you are looking for. You can actively search in relevant record groups for files that have no description yet to find out whether a research covers all files of a record group. To do that, please use the “Erweiterte Suche” (advanced search), narrow the research to one record group (select one record group on the left side and then use “Suche eingrenzen?”) and check the box “auch unbewertete Unterlagen”. The search result will show files that have no description yet with the title “ohne Titel”. If you come across such search results please contact the Political Archive, we will send you the complete finding aid of that record group.

On the internet, via invenio you can only search for files that are accessible within the Federal Archives Act. A research in files that are not accessible yet will be possible at PCs in the reading room (after being registered). If your subject might cover records that aren’t accessible yet (because they are younger than 30 years or relate to a person), please contact us and we will gladly help you.

Ordering files and other archival material

Due to the protective measurements concerning COVID-19 visits to the reading room of the Political Archive are only possible by prior agreement. After it has been granted to you, you can order files that are only available in its original form through invenio.

For ordering files via invenio you can use your own laptop/tablet/smartphone as well as the PCs in the reading room. You need to order files (max. of 40) at least one working day in advance (until 2pm) through invenio. Per day you can consult 20 of the ordered files when you are in the reading room.

The archivist you have been in contact with will help you with ordering files that, due to restrictions, you can’t order yourself.

Citing archival material

To identify the files of the Political Archives correctly and explicitly you need to cite the name of the archive, the record group and the number of the item. All three components result in a distinctive reference code to a file or other archival item. Every file cover of the Political Archive shows the item number and possibly the record group (see picture gallery).

If you use files of the Political Archive as a reference, please always cite them in the following order: 

Archive           Record group              Item number

You can find the current form of citation of a record group (and its files) under the provided information in invenio. Just click on the record group (1) and invenio will show you the recommended citation (2).

To complete the reference of the files include the item number after the last slash.

 You can also find the whole citation of a file at the detailed view (Einzelansicht), column “Archivsignatur” (archival reference code).

For the complete reference code please put the abbreviation of the archive and a blank space at first position: PA AA M 72/14594.



Important information

Alternative citations

With the implementation of invenio the way of citing material of the Political Archive has changed. The information about record groups and item numbers given on file covers might differ from the information you can find in invenio. You will also find former ways of citing material in publications, mostly done with commas between the different parts. The example given above used to be cited in this way: PA AA, MfAA, ZR 145/94.

You can search for old reference codes using “Alte Signatur” (old reference code) in invenio (marked yellow in example 2).

You can still cite reference codes with commas, if it is more convenient for you, as long as the citation contains the new definition of the record group and the item number as you can find them in invenio: PA AA, M 72, 14594

Changed citation methods for files of the German Reich (files until 1945)

Due to the implementation of invenio the reference codes for ordering and therefore citing files until 1945 has changed. In principle, reference codes of files until 1945 consist of a record group code (files of the headquarter: “RZ” + three digits; files of missions abroad: “RAV” + three digits), followed by the item number.

The item number of files of the headquarter is still the same as it had been before invenio was implemented, but the leading “R” has fallen away. For example, the correct reference code isn’t “R 71286” anymore but is now “RZ 206/71286“.

The easiest way to get to the current reference codes is to use the field “Signatur” (reference code) in the menu Suche (search) in invenio. Type in the formula RZ*former item number (for example, RZ*71286) and invenio will show you the current reference code in the according finding aid online.

Do you have any questions?

We are very glad to advise you where we can. Please contact our staff in the reading room or write to us.


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