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The origin of the press archives at the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA)

In 1908, the Hamburg Colonial Institute was established. This marks the beginning of the history of the HWWA and its press archives. The purpose of the Colonial Institute was

Because of the ever growing demand of Hamburg’s business community and the Institute’s teachers and students for information about global business, politics and society, the original thematical limitation to German colonies and other overseas countries was abandoned. The archive now covered the whole world.

When the archived material reached a critical mass, Heinrich Waltz, the head of the archive at the time, invented the “Hamburg System” in 1911. It was used, with slight modifications, until 1998. Themes, products and country designations were structured with classifications and notations. These notations were assigned to individual press articles, thus indicating their content. Articles were filed chronologically within a given notation which also served as shelf mark for the physical dossiers.

The Colonial Institute was wound up after the First World War when Germany lost its colonies. The Institute was transformed into the University of Hamburg in 1919; and the Central Agency became the “Hamburg Institute of International Economics”. Its new mission was to collect economic-empirical information and make it available to Hamburg’s business community. In 1928, the press archives already utilised more than 50 national and international newspapers and more than 100 specialist journals. The archives grew by approx. 1,200 clippings every day.

From 1908 until 1998 the press archives contained four sub-archives:

Helmut Leveknecht