The German Archive for Diaries

Das Deutsche Tagebucharchiv (DTA)

Who we are

The Deutsche Tagebucharchiv (DTA) collects diaries, memoirs, and letters of the German language area. The German Archive for Diaries in Emmendingen is a place of preservation of personal diaries, life stories, and correspondence between private persons.

The Deutsche Tagebucharchiv is a registered non-profit association of public interest and was founded in 1998 by Frauke von Troschke. It is led by an elected volunteer executive board consisting of a president, a vice-president, a treasurer and up to three committee members. Basic financing is primarily secured via membership fees, donations, rent-free office space, and minor public grants.

Bild eines Tagebuchs

What we hold and what we do

Since the foundation of the Deutsche Tagebucharchiv a continual stream of documents from all parts of Germany and even from abroad have been submitted. More than 20.500 documents by about 4,500 authors have been filed, transcribed, read and registered by about 100 volunteers (as of May 2019) . The content varies from a very small booklet with drawings, up to a box full of letters, or even 100 diaries written by one person.

A  contract  made with all submitters. An attempt is made to find out as much personal information as possible about the author (date and place of birth, CV and profession).  Many texts are read and discussed by the reading group consisting of 40-50 people (including external readers) who meet once a month to present the texts that they have read. The readers have volunteered for this work because of their interest in biography. An exact note is taken of the content and a questionnaire several pages long is filled out for each document – the main subject matters are: e.g. childhood and youth, education, occupation, teaching, travelling, parents, family conflicts, social conflicts, diseases, wars, experiences in POW camps, and many more. A note is also taken of the relevant dates concerning the diary: first, the time described in the diary, and secondly, the author’s dates. After this, a note is taken of the place names in the text and what well-known personalities and events are mentioned. All information that the readers have noted in the questionnaires is entered into a browser-based database (Axiell Collections), so that simple or advanced searches can be made (the Web-OPAC – online catalogue – is anonymized). Our main intention is to make as many as possible of our documents available for scientific research. We are constantly updating our „PDF Collection“ to make the documents available for a full text search.

In our special annual event “Journey through Time”, the archive offers the opportunity for the public to learn more about the content of our documents by presenting a reading on a theme that varies from year to year.


Since 2010 the archive has been located in several rooms with a total of 200 sqm in the historic town hall.  We provide two computer workplaces for undisturbed research by visiting professors and students and also have enough office space for our own volunteering and salaried staff (1.5 full-time employees). To research in the archive, please read our fees and terms of use.

However, further space is still required for the archiving of physical documents and in 2018 we had to rent a second record office to store 50% of our collection (more than 200 meters of shelf space) in 10-minutes walking distance.

Bild eines Tagebuchs

Advisory council

An advisory board representing various disciplines from Freiburg University supports the activities of the archive.

Museum im Deutschen Tagebucharchiv

A small museum was opened in 2014 with an exhibition on WWI. Visitors can look at the original diaries and read information from a media wall about the work and the collection of the DTA in general and about the exhibition in particular.

Cooperation at European level

We have taken full advantage of the pioneering role of the Italian archives (ADN) and are working closely with the Association pour l’autobiographie et le Patrimoine Autobiographique (APA), which has, for example, resulted in the joint project “Franco-German Autobiographical Days” held in Strasbourg and Emmendingen in May 2014. In 2018, the DTA was invited to present our collection, discussing the sheer variety of correspondence kept in the archive and the issues involved in receiving these donations of letters in terms of copyright law, and deciphering the authors’ handwriting.

In June 2015 the European Diary and Archives Collections Network (EDAC) was founded. EDAC aims to exchange best practices, data and expertise between the different diary archives in Europe and to promote academic research on diaries, life stories, and correspondence. The EDAC Secretariat is hosted by the Dutch Dagboekarchief, Amsterdam (2015-18  – cf. EDAC).

Bild eines Tagebuchs

Museum im Deutschen Tagebucharchiv

A long-term plan to create a small museum for the exhibition of outstanding documents and special themes was realized by the end of 2014.

The German Archives for Diaries in figures

as of May 2019
stock of texts 20.810
authors 4.608 54 % male
42 % female
3 % anonymous
1 % multiple authorship
type of material diaries 15.614
memoirs 3.166
collections 2.848
letters 183.661
script German script (Kurrent) 5.625
shorthand 219
Latin 12.494
typewritten 5.953
digitised documents 3.393
visitors 60 to 70 per month
guided tours 4 per month
salaried employees 1,5
volunteers ~ 100
members of the association ~ 600

Bild eines Tagebuchs