Eastern Turki Materials in European Archives Part II


Eastern Turki materials in European Archives

Part II of II:

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz. Berlin, Germany


Bibliothek der Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen – Anhalt, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg. Halle, Germany

In a previous post, I began introducing archives I recently visited while putting the finishing touches on a book manuscript about pilgrimage and manuscript culture in Chinese Turkestan. Both of the remaining archives, which I will describe here, are important to the study of Chinese Turkestan for their holdings of material donated by the German philologist Martin Hartmann [website] (1851-1918). Hartmann visited Chinese Turkestan in 1902-3, and material related to that visit is now split between two German archives. The Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin houses Hartmann’s Eastern Turki manuscript collection and parts of his lithograph collection, while unbound documents, transcriptions, and Hartmann’s diaries are preserved at the library of the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft in Halle, about two hours by train from Berlin. In both archives, Hartmann’s collections appear to represent the entirety of the Eastern Turki holdings. Neither archive has, to my knowledge, undertaken any digitization of these holdings.

The Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, known colloquially as the “Stabi,” has a reputation for unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles and inefficient management of the collections, but if you’re prepared you can get in and out without too much trouble. The only problem I found was in establishing internet access, and the librarians I encountered were all very kind as they tried (unsuccessfully) to help me navigate the arcane process. If you’re only after manuscripts, it’s probably worthwhile to contact the Orientabteilung [website] and try to request materials in advance. Otherwise, your first day will be wasted, as manuscript orders are only fulfilled the day after they’re placed. Items from the main collection, which includes Hartmann’s lithographs, take three hours to arrive, as long as they’re ordered before 5pm. All of Hartmann’s collections in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin are housed in the location at Potsdamer Straße 33, a beautiful (on the inside at least) late-60s vision of the future. Hours are extensive [see here], but be sure to note that the Orientabteilung, where the Hartmann manuscripts are kept, has its own more restrictive hours.

There are two things you absolutely must have in order to access the Stabi: identification (for non-Germans, a passport) and a one-euro coin. Without the coin you won’t be able to use a locker for your bag, and without storing the bag you won’t be allowed to enter the library. Aside from a machine that gives two one-euro coins for a two-euro coin, there is no way to make change in the lobby, and the Stabi’s café, which does give change, is inside the library, where you cannot enter without putting your bag in the locker. I ended up on 20-minute detour to the nearest S-bahn (subway) station on my euro-coin quest. Your passport is equally important. It will allow you to register and pay either 10 € for a month-long reader pass or 25 € for a one-year pass.

When you register for a reader card, you will be given a user account that allows you to call up ordinary books from any location via the internet. After downloading special software through a restricted wireless connection, you may also set up a wireless user account for you own computer. Note that these are two entirely different accounts. Confusion on this front cost me a good hour of frustration. You can’t set up your wireless account until you’ve gone online and changed the password for your main user account. This means you’ll first have to enter the library and use one of their internet-enabled desktops to access your main account online.

Hartmann assembled what was probably the world’s best collection of Turki lithographs from Chinese Turkestan (along with a fine collection of lithographs from western Turkestan). In a way, this isn’t saying much, since very few lithograph editions were produced in Chinese Turkestan, but Hartmann appears to have collected at least one example of each known edition from the first twenty years of printing in Xinjiang. The Hartmann lithograph collection has simply been folded into the main Stabi collection, meaning you’ll have to find each work by its title in the computer catalog using a German-based transliteration system. Hartmann’s article, “Buchwesen in Turkestan und die türkischen Drucke der Sammlung Hartmann” is a helpful but imperfect guide in guessing the transliterations. I found at least one title in the library that was not catalogued in Hartmann’s article, and at least one title listed in the article (the manual on silk production) seems to be missing. This may be a result of the disruptions to the collection during and after World War II, but perhaps the book is hiding under an unusually idiosyncratic title transliteration.

Because Hartmann’s lithographs are scattered throughout the main collection, they are treated as ordinary books, meaning photography should be no problem. You’ll also get to experience the Stabi’s strange book retrieval system, in which you’re given a personal number that directs you to a particular shelf in a special temporary shelving room, where you retrieve your own order. Note that if you want to hold any books for another day after retrieving them, you should not return them to the shelf where you found them but to a separate holding area in the same temporary shelving room, which uses the same number system.

Hartmann’s collection of 133 manuscripts is intact, and items are much easier find than the lithographs. Photography is strictly forbidden, though black-and-white images can be ordered. For calling up manuscripts, it’s best to bring your own copy of Hartmann’s article, “Die östtürkischen Handschriften der Sammlung Hartmann.” The catalog numbers have changed, but I’ve provided an annotated copy of Hartmann’s article with new catalog numbers here [see here]. Orders are placed using paper slips.

The Stabi building on Potsdamer Str. is a wonderful place to work, with plenty of space, natural light, electrical outlets, and well-maintained 1970s furniture. Like most places in Berlin, it’s conveniently reached by public transportation. The library café is decent and reasonably priced.

The library of the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft in Halle [website] is a much smaller operation. In order to access Hartmann’s material here, you’ll want to make an appointment with the special collections librarian, Laila Guhlmann. I contacted Ms. Guhlmann in advance and she was very helpful. However, she is only available during limited hours on certain days (these do not seem to be regular), and it is apparently not possible to access the Hartmann papers without her help, so be sure to plan far in advance. Orders for materials are made on paper slips using numbers from a paper catalogue in the library. The catalogue entries include very little in the way of description. All materials I requested were delivered within about 15 minutes.

In order to make best use of the Hartmann papers, it’s helpful to first read Hartmann’s published monograph on Chinese Turkestan, as many of the items in the Halle collection are mentioned therein, and the monograph reflects much of what is in Hartmann’s travel journals. The journals are divided into volumes, and, within each volume, numbered entries. Other documents, such as a passport, calling cards, and transcriptions of oral performances, are numbered according to the journal entry to which they relate. Hartmann’s numbering system is partly preserved in the library’s system, meaning that once you’ve figured out the how the two systems are correlated, you can use the diaries as a guide for calling up other material, and, conversely, find contextualizing notes about a given document within the journal. Unless your German is excellent, the handwriting will present a challenge in many places. On the bright side, struggling through the diaries will familiarize you with Hartmann’s transcription habits, knowledge that is useful for finding lithographs at the Stabi.

Photos are strengstens verboten, but you can pay the library to make images for you [see here], pending approval from the higher-ups. It took about two weeks for the library to send me a quote on my image requests, which amounted to 0.75 € per page plus a 7.50 € fee for conservation. You’re likely to have the reading room to yourself in the morning, and the few people who trickle in the afternoon are very quiet. The library stays open through lunch, and there are plenty of eateries on nearby Bernburger Str. The easiest way to get from the train station to the library, at Mühlweg 15, is a taxi. Otherwise, take tram 7 in the Kröllwitz direction, change to number 8 in the Trotha direction at Marktplatz, and get off at the Mühlweg stop. Be sure to have the address handy, as taxi drivers and staff at information booths in the train station are not familiar with the library.

Rian Thum
Department of History
Loyola University New Orleans

Image: Photo of interior of the Staatsbibliothek reading room, by Rian Thum

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