The Kalliope Union Catalog

Kalliope is a Union Catalog for collections of personal papers, manuscripts, and publishers' archives and the National Information System for these material types.

Founded by the Berlin State Library - Prussian Cultural Heritage with financial support from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) in 2001, Kalliope superseded the Central Register of Autographs (Zentralkartei der Autographen, ZKA), which was established in 1966.

The joint cataloging in Kalliope is based on established archival and librarian description and cataloging guidelines and relies heavily on authority control processes. Kalliope is therefore not just another data aggregation service, but rather a digital environment that establishes and provides new instruments and processes to create, modify, and to access data about personal papers dispersed in many libraries, archives, and museums.

The initial data base of Kalliope was formed by 1,2 million catalog cards of the ZKA that had been provided by 450 institutions over a period of more than 30 years. The conversion of these cards into a machine-readable format was completed in 2006. The following printed directories were also converted:

  • Denecke, Ludwig/Brandis, Thilo: Die Nachlässe in den Bibliotheken der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Boppard, 1981
  • Deutsch, Jan-Georg/Halene, Ingeborg: Afrikabezogene Nachlässe in den Bibliotheken und Archiven der Bundesländer Berlin, Brandenburg und Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Berlin, 1997
  • Jaenecke, Joachim: Verzeichnis der Musiknachlässe in Deutschland. Berlin, 2000
  • Hanisch, Ludmila: Verzeichnis der Orientalistennachlässe in deutschen Bibliotheken und Archiven. Halle, 2000
  • Niggemann, Elisabeth (Hg.): Literarische Nachlässe in Nordrhein-Westfalen. Ein Bestandsverzeichnis. Wiesbaden, 1995
  • Spalek, John M./Asch, Adrienne/Hawrylchak, Sandra H.: Verzeichnis der Quellen und Materialien der deutschsprachigen Emigration in den USA seit 1933 . Charlottesville, 1978
  • Spitzer, Gabriele: Die Nachlässe in den Bibliotheken, Museen und in weiteren Einrichtungen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in den Ländern Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Sachsen, Berlin, ehemals DDR, Thüringen. (unpublished directory of collections in the former East German Bundesländer)

Moreover, the catalog service was extended step by step to provide access to collections of personal papers in Austria and Switzerland as well as personal papers of persons from German speaking countries kept in libraries and archives abroad, particularly in the United States of America.

Since 2001 cultural heritage organizations can make full use of a client-server based cataloging application including full access to the Integrated Authority File (Gemeinsame Normdatei, GND) of the German National Library. The Union Catalog takes an active role in the operation of this national cataloging resource and adds greatly to it by identifying entities that are only known via unique materials as are described in Kalliope.

The cataloging client conforms to the German Guidelines for the description of personal paper and manuscript collections (RNA – Regeln für die Erschließung von Nachlässen und Autographen) which are in turn compatible with ISAD(G) - General International Standard Archival Description. As of May 2015, 102 organizations use the Kalliope cataloging client - compared to 54 in 2010.

Additionally, standardized data (EAD – Encoded Archival Description) from local applications can be made available for retrieval in Kalliope. Currently the database provides access to 19,300 collections with a total of more than 3 million units of description originating from more than 950 institutions, including letters, manuscripts, personal documents, albums, diaries, lecture notes, photographs, posters, movies, screenplays, music, notes, and even some famous ringlets.

The database includes around 600,000 name records, 253,000 of which describe individualized persons distinguished by a unique identifier of the Integrated Authority File, and more than 90,000 records of corporate bodies, with 24,000 of these having a unique identifier of the Integrated Authority File.

The team of the Kalliope Union Catalog at the Berlin State Library - Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation will be happy to answer any question you may have.