On March 23, 2022, at 10 a.m. Eastern time (3 p.m. Central European time), the German Historical Institute Washington is excited to present the official launch of its new website Migrant Connections. This online research platform will bring together three projects which combine the institute’s long-standing interest in migration history with its research focus on digital history. One component of the site will be “Mobile Lifeworlds in German-American Letters,” the institute’s long-running project to collect and make accessible in digital form German immigrant correspondence (also known as “German Heritage in Letters”). The site will also feature “Traveling Texts in German-American Newspapers,” a digital humanities project which uses computational and qualitative methodologies to examine the circulation of ideas, literature, and consumer information in the German-American press. Finally, it will provide an online home for “Writing Across Borders,” a citizen-scholarship initiative to make migrants’ narratives documenting their travels accessible for research.
The launch event will include remarks from the deputy director of the German Historical Institute, Axel Jansen, as well as the embassy of Germany in the United States, and the Goethe-Institute which helped to oversee the “German Heritage in Letters” project through the “Wunderbar Together” initiative funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
Following a preview of the new website and its component projects moderated by Atiba Pertilla, Jana Keck, and Daniel Burckhardt (Team Digital History of the GHI) the launch event will include a roundtable with a cross-section of participants illustrating how Migrant Connections draws on both traditional academic research as well as the new possibilities of citizen science. Prof. Dr. Ursula Lehmkuhl of the University of Trier will explain the importance of immigrants’ letters as sources for historical research into “everyday” lives. Carl-Henry Geschwind, whose great-great-grandfather’s letters are part of the project, will discuss the role of family historians as researchers of their immigrant ancestors’ past. Bettina Hess, librarian of the German Society of Pennsylvania, will discuss the collections the library has shared with the project and the library’s online, binational “Transcription Tuesday” citizen science group. One citizen scholar, Regina Kunz, of Homburg, Saarland, will discuss her work with a self-organized group of colleagues to transcribe several dozen letters of the Fischer family of Württemberg. Finally, university student Clara Willmann will discuss how she is combining her transcriptions of a collection of letters sent to an immigrant family in California with local research in northwestern German archives to learn more about the impact of migration on families on both sides of the Atlantic. The event will conclude with a period for questions and answers from the audience, The roundtable and discussion will be moderated by Jana Keck.
The event will take place on Zoom, for registration information, please see the link: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_qR7mt0TUQzeXGhxzA8ci9A.