Dealing With Sensitive Content in the Himmelheber Archive

Hans Himmelheber's archive, consisting of objects, images, and texts, was created during the colonial period and reaches far into the post-colonial era. In his archive, we are confronted with different forms of the N-word – either in its German iteration, or the English translation “N*gro.” It can be found in Himmelheber's letters, manuscripts, and publications until the 1970s and beyond. Today, the use of the German N-word is forbidden in any case. We do not want to expose anyone to this word and therefore do not quote it in our texts – the same goes for similar offensive terms in English. If it cannot be avoided, as in the case of book titles, we replace it with N- for the German word and its English translation.

Himmelheber Photo Archive Guidelines

The photo archive contains 15,000 photographs taken by Hans Himmelheber between 1933 and 1976 in Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Mexico, Sudan, and the USA. We adhere to the following guidelines when making the photographs available digitally:

  • Wherever possible, the people depicted in the photographs have been identified and their names recorded.
  • In order to clarify the contemporary historical context of the photographic moments, the most precise possible information regarding the date and location of the photograph has been added.
  • Photographs in which the persons depicted have their dignity violated have expressly not been included. This includes situations in which the persons depicted lacked agency while being photographed, such as photographs of prisoners, dying people, or people who were subjected to violence.
  • Furthermore, photographs have not been included that were taken at locations and/or depict objects that, in the original context, were only accessible to a small, specially-initiated circle of authorized persons. These contexts include, for example, rituals or rooms reserved for initiates only.
  • Photographs of women and girls depicted in an eroticizing manner and photographs of unclothed children are also not accessible.
  • Original notes by Hans Himmelheber on individual photos are indicated by quotation marks. We have deleted offensive or discriminatory words.

We are constantly updating our records, as well as adding to and improving content. We welcome your feedback and any questions or concerns you would like to share. Please feel free to send us an email with any comments you may have.