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Press Release No. 58 | 14 December 2020
“GEPRIS Historisch”: Research and Research Promotion between 1920 and 1945 Is Made Visible and Perceptible in a New Information Portal

Detailed information about 50,000 approved and rejected funding proposals, applicants and research facilities / Various topic pages and a comprehensive image archive

“GEPRIS Historisch” is the new comprehensive information portal provided by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) that makes the history of the DFG and of research between 1920 and 1945 publicly accessible. The online content comprises approximately 50,000 approved and rejected proposals submitted to the “Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft” (Emergency Association of German Science) and its successor organisation DFG. “I am very pleased that by publishing ‘GEPRIS Historisch’, we are able to make a piece of DFG history publicly available and transparent in our anniversary year. With our new portal we also wish to contribute to an increase of scientific exploration of research and research promotion in the eras of the Weimar Republic and of National Socialism,” says DFG President Professor Dr. Katja Becker on the occasion of the launch of the information portal.

The portal is based on the DFG-funded work of a research group dedicated to exploring the history of the German Research Foundation. Under the leadership of Dr. Sören Flachowsky (Humboldt University of Berlin), a “scientific review of the historic records of the DFG kept in the Federal Archives (Berlin/Koblenz)” was performed as a project for which around 7,000 records were analysed between 2006 and 2012. To complement this data that also includes information about around 13,000 individuals and more than 2,500 research facilities, “GEPRIS Historisch” incorporates further sources, such as the Deutsche Biographie online portal (www.deutsche-biographie.de) that is also funded by the DFG, the Integrated Authority File (GND) by the German National Library, and the Federal Archive’s inventory of historic DFG records. The links to Wikipedia and Wikidata proved to be particularly effective: Information about many individuals documented in “GEPRIS Historisch” and their research facilities, and even about a small number of projects could be found here.

Sören Flachowsky said about “GEPRIS Historisch”: “The database and the aggregated information it includes allow for a very clear overview of the DFG’s entire research funding activities in this period.” DFG President Katja Becker added: “Research funding is and always has been our central task. ‘GEPRIS Historisch’ re-traces the early history of the DFG and the portal therefore allows for better research into scientific administration and research funding in the 1920s to 1940s.”

These years were characterised by huge crises and transformations. 13 topic pages are dedicated to classifying the funding proposals within these rapidly changing general conditions. These pages deal with issues such as “research funding in the National Socialist era” or “displaced applicants”, as well as “Nobel prize winners funded by the DFG” and “women in science”. The topic pages highlight particular points of interest and invite users of the portal to start exploring.

In addition to the topic pages, the database also features a search tool that allows users to filter for specific periods of time, as well as lists of all recorded individuals and facilities. Dr. Jürgen Güdler, Head of the Information Management division at the DFG Head Office that initiated and implemented the project, names historians as the target group: “They will find interesting information about DFG-funded activities of many researchers, and references to records kept in the Federal Archive.” He also hopes that the information portal will reach target groups that are interested in the history of the research facility they work for, since many of the institutions on record are now members of the DFG. Furthermore, he believes that “GEPRIS Historisch” can enrich teaching content for schools. Information about individuals funded by the DFG who used to work as teachers, can be a starting point for students conducting research into their school’s history.

The DFG does not think of the information portal as concluded. Güdler explains that the portal is designed as a system that is alive and that will be expanded and improved based on user input. With “GEPRIS Historisch”, the DFG aims to invite users not only to follow the tracks that are already on record, but also to add their own findings to the system.

This could be content such as photos of researchers or information about their work between 1920 and 1945. For history-related reasons, there are gaps. The “GEPRIS Historisch” team has already closed many of these with portraits and images from publicly accessible sources, libraries and archives. In addition to providing a diverse range of facts, the portal is also meant to make the period addressed visible and perceptible.

Further Information

“GEPRIS Historisch” is available online:

Contact:

The “NDB Online” project of the historic commission at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences is available here:

The Integrated Authority File (GND) by the German National Library can be found here:

Go to the federal archive:

Go to Wikipedia: