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Notes on the use of records

All archive searches and viewings of archived material take place in our Reading Room and are free of charge.

Further use of the Archives is subject to the Archive Usage and Fee Regulations of North Rhine Westphalia

On-site access

If you have any questions, our Reading Room Supervisors will be pleased to familiarise you with the routines in the room and help you get started on your research.

We would recommend preparing for your visit. It would be helpful if you could conduct some research in existing studies and publications, as they often contain specific references to archives. This will make it easier for you to research our resources and order relevant material.

AV material (images, aerial photographs, films, videos and audio recordings):

Audiovisual material (images, aerial photographs, films, videos and audio recordings) can normally only be used upon prior appointment, so that you need to contact the Archives before your visit. Just ask the relevant department of the State Archives.

Copies

•    Copying archived material is subject to fees.
•    When you request a copy, it usually takes 4 weeks before you receive it. Depending on staff workload, it may also take longer.
•    You can place your request informally, by email. All we need is the reference number of the record and the format in which you would like to receive the copy.

The Reading Rooms of the State Archives in Duisburg, Münster and Detmold provide free but limited opportunities to photograph archived items, using your own camera. If you’d like to take photos, just ask one of our Reading Room Supervisors. Please note, however, that you first need to submit the material to the Reading Room Supervisor, who will check from case to case whether photography is permitted. You will also be asked to sign a statement in advance, confirming that you are aware of the terms and conditions for photography in the Reading Room.

Written enquiries

We would also be pleased to answer any written enquiries concerning specific documents, events or dates. We can usually provide you with details of the relevant material or parts thereof, so that you can carry out your specific research. If we find that our facility is not relevant to your enquiry, we will try to point you in the right direction.

However, we must ask for your understanding that an answer to your enquiry may take up to four weeks.

Material subject to a closure period

Archived material is usually only released 30 years after it was created. In some cases this closure period may be longer.

For example, any material that is subject to special confidentiality requirements cannot be made public for 60 years.

The earliest time when personal archives can be viewed is 10 years after that person’s death or 100 years after their birth. Under certain conditions, the relevant department of the State Archives may allow exemptions to these rules and grant special permission. This is the case if you wish to conduct research for a specific academic purpose, or if you wish to view archives in order to realise certain legitimate interests, and on condition that appropriate precautions are being taken to ensure protection for the relevant data subjects (Information of the Shortening of Closure Periods). You can submit your request informally.
Regulations on the use of archived material by authorities can be found in our Information for Authorities.
Civil registry records are subject to special closure periods.

Material subject to a closure period

Archived material is usually only released 30 years after it was created. In some cases this closure period may be longer.

For example, any material that is subject to special confidentiality requirements cannot be made public for 60 years.

The earliest time when personal archives can be viewed is 10 years after that person’s death or 100 years after their birth. Under certain conditions, the relevant department of the State Archives may allow exemptions to these rules and grant special permission. This is the case if you wish to conduct research for a specific academic purpose, or if you wish to view archives in order to realise certain legitimate interests, and on condition that appropriate precautions are taken to ensure protection for the relevant data subjects. (See Information on the Shortening of Closure Periods). You can submit your request informally.

Regulations on the use of archived material by authorities can be found in our Information for Authorities.

Civil registry records are subject to special closure periods.