Non-academic careers: Doctoral students in conversation - Part 2
There are many ways out of the BGHS. But where do postdoctoral paths lead? In the summer semester, we talk to doctoral students who are already gaining professional experience outside the university during their time at the BGHS. Stefanie Haupt talked to us about her work for the edition "Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der europäischen Juden durch das Nationalsozialistische Deutschland 1933 - 1945".
Talking: Ulf Ortmann (project coordinator) and Stefanie Haupt Photo: BGHS
Stefanie, you are working for the edition „Judenverfolgung 1933 – 1945“. Where are you working at exactly?
Stefanie Haupt: This is a project that publishes a 16-volume source edition on the Holocaust. This long-term project has been funded by the DFG since 2005 and is based at the University of Freiburg and the Institute of Contemporary History. The institute has its headquarters in Munich and two departments in Berlin. I work in one of these departments, in Lichterfelde in the project office of the Edition. This is a collection of sources that uses contemporary documents to illustrate the Europe-wide dimension of the Holocaust: Over 200 archives are represented with documents in the edition.
For the different geographical and temporal focal points, there are tape editors* - mostly freelance historians* - who search for sources in the various archives and comment on them. In addition, there are translators spread across Europe, scientific editors, translation editors, proofreaders and graphic artists. These different stakeholders are coordinated from the project office.
What does your work - status: now - look like?
Stefanie Haupt: Well, I've worked as a student assistant for the edition before. And now, as a scientific project assistant, I'm actually doing less research than I did as a student assistant back then: At that time I concentrated on a single volume and, for example, researched documents in archives or worked on footnote commentaries. Now, as a scientific project assistant, I coordinate the work on the overall project together with my colleague: for example, we network the translators with the translation editors and the tape editors. Or we take care of the contracts of the student assistants and the finances. I'm doing a lot more administrative work now.
What are the main tasks you have at work?
Stefanie Haupt: The aim is to coordinate the project: to ensure that project plans are adhered to; that texts go from A to B; that invoices from freelancers are paid; or that contracts are concluded with the translators. We also organise book presentations: For each volume of the edition there is at least one event after its publication in which the book is presented to the public. Twelve of 16 volumes have now been published - and four volumes still have to be published until the end of the project in April 2020.
Stefanie at her working space Photo: Stefanie Haupt
What knowledge and skills do you bring to your work as a historian?
Stefanie Haupt: On the one hand, these are all contemporary sources, which are edited, commented on and made accessible to a larger audience through the edition. This is the core competence of historians: that you can work critically with historical sources and classify them. On the other hand, through my studies and my activities during my studies, I know the subject of "National Socialism" and the archive landscape.
When a document facsimile goes through my hand and "NARA" is written on my back and nobody knows: Where did this come from? Then I can say: This is the National Archives and Records Administration, the US Federal Archives. Or, to give another example: We create the registers for the edition, and the institutional register, for example, is very complex. It helps if I know what an extermination camp is and what a concentration camp is. So what is the difference; which camps I classify into which categories; and how the register is then structured.
What I lack for my job, however, is that I didn't learn how to file. That's a challenge when so much writing accumulates: How I file and structure it so that I can still find the information after two years. I don't bring that with me as a historian, and that's learning by doing.
What tips do you have for colleagues who are looking to get started in your industry?
Stefanie Haupt: So, on the one hand, practical experience is useful in archival work. I'm working at a non-university research institute where I worked as an assistant during my studies. And at that time, for example, I was entrusted with archive research or inventory listing. When I took up my position, I didn't need a long familiarization period: neither in the archive nor in the institute, nor in the editing project. For those who are interested in working at non-university research institutions, I recommend looking at the job portals of the umbrella organisations, such as the Leibniz Association. There are always job offers to be found.
Stefanie, thank you very much for the interview!
You can find the complete interview as PDF (german) here:
Further information on the project "Non-academic careers":