Detailed indexing of the photo archive of the Free Austrian Youth (FOEJ)

Project Duration: 30.01.2017–15.08.2017
Project Supervision: Michaela Pfundner (Picture Archives and Graphics Department, Austrian National Library)
Project Team: Karin Kaltenbrunner, Sebastian Schlembach
Project Partners: Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for History and Society (LBIGG), Municipal and Provincial Archives of Vienna (WStLA), Free Austrian Youth – Movement for Socialism (FOEJ-BFS)

This project, the final project of the “Library and Information Studies” course in 2016/17 at the Austrian National Library, focused on the systematic organization of the Free Austrian Youth (FOEJ) photo archive. The collection comprises a total of 1,244 individual photos spanning from 1945 to approximately 1985. As a result, it reflects not only the activities of the FOEJ during the decades of its association with the KPOE but also, to a lesser extent, its later involvement within the context of the New Left movement.

The entire FOEJ archive had already undergone examination, sorting, and comprehensive indexing in the previous project “Secured, Processed, and Indexed the Archive of the Free Austrian Youth“. While the collection had been digitized entirely, a significant portion of it was stored in acidic, non-archival quality envelopes, posing a potential threat to its long-term preservation.

Through a collaborative effort between LBIGG, the Vienna City and Provincial Archives (WStLA), which assumed responsibility for the original archive holdings in autumn 2017 for long-term preservation, and the FOEJ itself, which retained ownership of its photo collection, systematic indexing and conservation measures were applied to individual photos within the archive. By the conclusion of the project in August 2017, the core holdings of the collection, consisting of 776 photos from 44 volumes spanning the years 1945 to 1969, had been rehoused in acid-free and unbuffered archive sleeves provided by WStLA. They were also comprehensively described in an Excel spreadsheet. This enhanced level of information pertaining to content and formal aspects of the collection significantly expands the utility of the FOEJ’s photo archive.

Both the original photos and their digital copies, along with indexing data, were transferred to WStLA in autumn 2017. WStLA will integrate this data into the Vienna Archive Information System (WAIS), making the photo holdings accessible for research as part of the overall archive collection. A duplicate set of digitized files remains at LBIGG for research purposes.