Dear user,

The following guide is intended to help you get along with the online finding aids of the Archives of the Max Planck Society and conduct successful searches.
Please find an explanation of the individual steps to follow below.

The search

There are two ways of conducting searches for archival materials.

Search based on the summary of holdings (plan of record groups)

The plan of record groups (structure of holdings) is displayed on the start page of the online database of our Archives. You can also access the plan of record groups via the upper navigation bar. Our holdings are subdivided into eight groups (departments, abbreviated “dept.”) in the plan of record groups, to which the associated holdings (repositories, abbreviated “rep.”) are subordinated. Within the departments, the individual repositories are numerically organized.
Click directly on a department to view the holdings pertaining to it. If you click on a holding, the associated finding aid (marked by a symbol with a red border) is displayed. If no finding aid is displayed, an online finding aid for this holding is not yet available. If you only would like to view holdings that already feature an online finding aid, we recommend the direct “Search in the holdings” to be found at the very top of the navigation bar.
Note: Apart from the finding aids, you will come upon “Details for this description” under each holding. This is detailed information such as size, term and background information on the respective holding. Holdings already equipped with an online finding aid offer this information directly in the finding aid.

Search by means of the online finding aids or search by headwords

You have the possibility of searching directly for an existing finding aid. By clicking on “back to search in the holdings” in the upper navigation bar, you get back to all available finding aids of the Archives. They are sorted by groups in the plan of record groups (departments) and repository numbers. If you find this too confusing, you can search for a holding by entering a headword in the upper left search field. However, the headword must be entered accurately. Example: It is only possible to get to the finding aid of the Silesian Coal Research Institute by entering “Coal Research Institute”, “Coal research” alone being insufficient.
In addition to the relevant finding aid, all further finding aids of other holdings, which contain the searched headword in any units of description etc., are also displayed here.

The online finding aid

Structure of the finding aid

Each finding aid is subdivided into three information areas: “Holding”, “Introduction” and the actual description data of the holding.
Holding: Here you will find general information such as the retention period of the holding and, if applicable, the holding’s former reference number.
Introduction: As in traditional analogue finding aids, details on the history of the holding and the record-creating authority are available here. You can access this information by clicking on the appropriate field (“Details for this description”, see above).
Units of description of the holding: The name of the respective holding is indicated here (e.g. KWI for Silicate Research). If you click on it, you will be directed to the units of description. The majority of the holdings offer a classification scheme (view: tree structure, as in the summary of holdings) to guide you through the finding aid. If you extend the individual items of the classification scheme, either further sub-classification items or the description units will be displayed.
By clicking on the unit of description, additional important information, such as the type of archival material, notes on the contents, the retention period and, if applicable, the former reference number of the archival material, is displayed, besides the file title and the reference number.
As in the summary of holdings, you have the possibility of orientating yourself by the classification scheme, or of conducting direct a search for headwords using the search field in the left upper corner.

Ordering archival materials

The reference number marked in bold is decisive for ordering files. Please only state this reference number (without “AMPG, however) in your order!
The reference number (e.g. AMPG, I. Abt., Rep. 1A, Nr. 1 ) is composed of
the name of the Archives: Archives of the Max Planck Society – AMPG
the number of the group in the plan of record groups: Department – I. Abt.
the holding number: Repository – Rep. 1A
and the number of the unit of description, Nr. 1
As soon as appropriate technical preconditions have been created, there will be an ordering function for the units of archival materials. Until then, please write us an email to, stating the order numbers of the materials you would like to view in our Reading Room. If you have any further questions or suggestions, please also contact us at the above-mentioned address.
The Team of the Archives wishes you a successful search.
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