Deutsches Tagebucharchiv (DTA, German Archives for Diaries) collects and stores autobiographical documents from the German-speaking world, to ensure these are not lost to history. It was founded in January 1998 by Frauke von Troschke after she discovered that Germany lacked an institution devoted to the compilation of personal memoirs.
DTA is a registered non-profit association of public interest and is led by an elected volunteer executive board consisting of a president, a vice-president, a treasurer and up to three more committee members.
The primary objective of DTA is to collect unpublished autobiographical texts — including diaries, memoirs, letters — written by “ordinary” people of all social classes. The archives preserve these documents and make them available for both researchers and the general public. DTA ego-documents range from the mid-1700s up to the present time, and comprise a stock of more than 23,000 archival documents written by nearly 5,000 authors.
The association operates with only three paid employees, and its budget relies heavily on donations, membership contributions, and minor project grants, as so far it has not received any permanent public funding. DTA activities are supported by an advisory board representing various scientific disciplines from different universities.
University-affiliated researchers make use of the archives’ collection for their projects, but studies of primary sources are also carried out by journalists, writers, and even high school students and teachers.
DTA produces several publications on a regular basis:
- A brochure containing the texts of their annual Public Readings.
- An annual brochure “Lebensspuren” (“Paper Trails”) containing brief summaries of the approximately 200-250 submissions they receive each year.
- A quarterly newsletter with up-to-date information.
The small museum of DTA opened in 2014. The present exhibition of “Lebenslust – Lebenslast – Lebenskunst – Tagebücher erzählen” (“life’s passions – life’s burdens – art of living – tales from diaries”) provides an insight into the DTA treasure trove.