Open Access in the historical sciences

Historians are generally well-disposed towards all forms of open access (OA).

The number of freely accessible journals and, in particular, digital collections in the historical sciences is steadily increasing. However, when it comes to OA for monographs and edited volumes, there is still room for improvement. Besides publications, sources, especially in digitized form, are of great importance in the historical sciences.
Moreover, blogs serve to disseminate scholarly information. The publication platform for blogs in the social sciences and humanities Hypotheses is realised by the OA service provider Open Edition. It provides a platform for a large number of blogs, some of which are devoted to historical, archival management, and auxiliary science topics. The purpose of the German-language portal's Redaktionsblog is to develop and disseminate scholarly information and to create a network. In the areas of the digital humanities that are of relevance to the historical sciences, open source tools (e.g. for text mining) also play a role. Many research funders support OA, increasingly also in the humanities and social sciences.

Open Access journals

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists more than 500 Open-Access-journals under the search term "history" (as of 07/2018).

IASLonline is a free electronic journal that is an offshoot of the print journal Internationales Archiv für Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur (IASL).

AEON. Forum für junge Geschichtswissenschaft

Zeitschrift für digitale Geschichtswissenschaften

theologie.geschichte promotes discussion and the exchange of ideas among researchers of different nationalities and from different disciplines on the cultural influences of the totalitarian movements in the 20th century. is a review platform for European history. It is a joint project on the part of the Bavarian State Library in Munich, the University of Cologne, and the Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) in Mainz, and it is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Sehepunkte - a review journal for history

The journal Zeithistorische Forschungen/Studies in Contemporary History pursues a broad understanding of contemporary history

A list of OA journals in ancient studies can be found at AWOL (The Ancient World online)

InterDisciplines. Journal of History and Sociology

Disciplinary repositories

Content of relevance to the historical sciences can be found both in disciplinary and transdisciplinary repositories, databases and other archiving systems:

PropylaeumDOK is the document server for the special collection (SSG) Ancient Near East. It is operated by Heidelberg University Library within the framework of the virtual library of classical studies Propylaeum.

The DFG project AMAD - Archivum Medii Aevi Digitale for the establishment of an Open Access subject repository started in October 2018.

The virtual library of art history offers academics the possibility of publishing their academic texts online.

SavifaDok is a publication platform for South Asian studies.

Benelux-Doc is a disciplinary repository for Benelux research, and Dutch, Frisian, and Afrikaans philology.

Full texts on the subject of Sub-Saharan Africa can be found at

Social Science Open Access Repository

The document server of the German education portal pedocs

ECHO - Cultural heritage online is the OA sources repository of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG).

OstDok is the central open access and publication platform for interdisciplinary research on Eastern, Central Eastern, and South Eastern Europe.

Monographs and edited volumes

The German-language university presses in the AG Universitätsverlage (University Presses Working Group) expressly support the OA movement. Most of its members publish monographs and edited volumes in the humanities.

The series Historisches Forum offers themed issues with contributions and reports from the historical sciences. The issues are published in cooperation with the partners Clio Online and the Humboldt-Universität Berlin.

The MPIWG's Edition Open Sources makes primary sources available as freely accessible PDFs and e-books. Monographs and edited volumes are published in the Edition Open Access.

Stand-alone publications funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) are made available in OA in the FWF-E-Book-Library. They also include publications on historical topics.

The OAPEN Online Library (OAPEN - Open Access Publishing in European Networks) offers full texts of OA publications, also on historical topics.

The Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) also lists monographs and edited volumes on historical topics.

Gutenberg-e is a programme of the American Historical Association and Columbia University Press. The electronic monographs of Columbia University Press are freely accessible.

Literature searches in the historical sciences

Specialised portals and platforms

Specialised portals offer central points of entry for searches for freely accessible publications, sources, and other material. Clio online is a specialised portal for the historical sciences. It participates in numerous projects such as thematic portals, the specialised portal for contemporary historians Zeitgeschichte online, and, in particular, H-Soz-Kult.

H-Soz-Kult is a specialised forum and moderated information and communication platform for historians. It publishes academic news and publications online.

The internet portal offers historical information., the online publication platform of the Max Weber Foundation - German Humanities Institutes Abroad offers barrier-free access to selected academic findings of the German humanities institutes abroad and their respective cooperation partners. The goal of the platform is to develop and intensify scholarly communication on the basis of the OA principle. It provides access to full texts of journals, reviews, monographs, and conference proceedings.

H-Net - Humanities and Social Sciences online is a network for scholarly communication in the humanities and social sciences

European History online (EGO) publishes scholarly contributions on the history of Europe between 1450 und 1950. The contributions in German and English are linked to a variety of materials

The DFG-funded excellence cluster Topoi (The Formation and Transformation of Space and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations) is an interdisciplinary research network. It has established a publishing house of its own, Edition Topoi. The digital reproductions and publications that are made available to the public may be used according to OA principles.

Databases etc.

European Newspapers: Within the framework of an EU project, approximately 18 million newspaper pages have been scanned and indexed. They can be searched at The European Library.

Census of Antique Works of Art and Architecture Known in the Renaissance is an interdisciplinary research database that focuses on Renaissance research and the reception of antiquity

Arachne is the central object database of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and Cologne Digital Archaeological Library

Wörterbuch-Netz is a project of the Trier Center for Digital Humanities (Kompetenzzentrum für elektronische Erschließungs- und Publikationsverfahren in den Geisteswissenschaften an der Universität Trier)

The goal of the project e-codices is to provide free access to all the medieval manuscripts and a selection of modern manuscripts of Switzerland via a virtual library. The holdings of this virtual library are being continuously expanded.

On the platform, digitized copies of prints from the 15th to the 19th century held by Swiss libraries are made available to the public free of charge.

The Archives Portal Europe - This portal contains inter alia some 61 million descriptive units of archives, in some cases with links to digital objects.

Open Science

The Working Group on Digital History convened under the auspices of the German Association of Historians (VHD) focuses on the potential of the digital humanities for the development of history as an academic discipline and offers a forum for discussion and the exchange of ideas with neighbouring disciplines whose work extends into the field of history. In its blog it documents, for example, a session of the 50th Convention of German Historians entitled "Neue Arbeitsformen in der Geschichtswissenschaft. Was gewinnt und was verliert die historische Forschung durch Science 2.0?" (New forms of work in historical science. What does historical research gain from Science 2.0 and what does it lose?). Many activities in the area of digital humanities are being undertaken in the historical sciences.

Well-known protagonists include Gudrun Gersmann, Cologne, Mareike König, Paris/Vienna, and Winfried Schulze, Munich.


  • König, Mareike (2013): Die Entdeckung der Vielfalt: Geschichtsblogs der europäischen Plattform In: Historyblogosphere. Edited by Peter Haber, Peter und Eva Pfanzelter. Berlin.

Content editor of this web page: Isabella Meinecke, SUB Hamburg