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Visual Sources of Popular Culture in Saxony – The Digital Picture Library

Editors: Marsina Noll, Philipp Eller, Robert Badura

ISGV ’s picture collection is one of the basic long-term projects in the department of cultural anthropology. It contains a unique inventory of photographs, drawings, prints etc. on Saxony that is continually expanded, digitally recorded and made accessible to the public via internet. The inventory of the picture library contains objects taken over from its predecessors by the newly established institute, as well as objects that have been produced in the framework of research projects of ISGV.

Among the historical parts of the picture library, the collections of the “Heimatwerk Sachsen” and the materials of the former “Landesbildstelle” (containing about 15 000 originals), should be emphasized. Among the inherited inventories, there is also a museum documentation of about 20 000 recordings that constitutes the oldest part of the photographic collections of ISGV. The collections are completed by ca 3000 graphic works and photographs from the assets of various cultural anthropologists working in Saxony. For example, the graphic collection of Adolf Spamer on the issue of “War” (containing about 100 objects – leaflets, military letters, postcards and other printed material from the time of the First World War) have been made accessible, as well as his collection of postcards on the festivals of the seasonal cycle or the picture material concerning Easter traditions, traditional costumes, popular theater, and the pictures of the Dresden suburb “Friedrichsstadt”, from the private archive of Siegfried Kube.

A large group of the visual sources recorded in the data base dates back to the first years after the political turn. Between 1994 and 1996, the transformation processes due to the turn (“Nachwendezeit”) have been observed, and with about 22 000 photographs, important testimonies of the economic and cultural changes in Saxony have been produced. Furthermore, various traditional crafts and trades have been documented. Next to those parts of the collection that dominate quantitatively, there are historical and newly acquired visual sources on the complete topical spectrum of regional and cultural studies in Saxony.

In October 2001, the first phase of the constitution of the digital picture library at ISGV, financed by the Volkswagen Foundation Hanover, had been completed. At this point in time, the inventory consisted of about 85 000 visual documents. Up to today, is has been extended to about 150 000 objects, with 60 000 objects presently freely accessible in the internet. Next to acquisitions from private collections, photographic documentations are continuously carried out and incorporated to the inventory. The picture library cooperates closely with the project “Lebensgeschichtliches Archiv für Sachsen”.