Helga Merits (independent researcher and filmmaker)

The Labyrinth and the Library

The paper will be about the search of non-digitised material, trying to trace it, walking roads and facing dead ends, as well as the study of digitised material.

The search for and the tracing of documents, pictures and footage is always a long one, as still so much material and information is not digitised. I am going to give an idea of two researches I have done to show how I, as a filmmaker, work to find material. One is the tracing and finding of the Baltic University archive (not yet digitised, but I try to find funds for this). Second is information concerning the Geislingen archive – not found (only traces). This will make clear the importance of making lists of what is to be found in archives, digitise what is there and even publish the missing parts, so the archive might perhaps be completed again.

But I’ll also give examples of some of the archives I worked with which have their collections digitised and how this made extensive research possible without leaving my study, whether it is Bad Arolsen archive, the Herder Institute archive and Minnesota archive. When something is digitised, I can send it through to people I work with and see if it brings back any memories. I work with elderly people and therefore it is very important they can see the material on their home computer. 

It will make clear how important the digitisation is, though at the same time it is important for filmmakers and others to keep an eye open for the non-digitised material.

The presentation is followed by my film The story of the Baltic University (52 minutes).