Happy Birthday! Ten years of ETHeritage

At the beginning of February 2008 the first post on this weblog was published. Ten years later, ETHeritage is an established and popular platform for insights into the holdings of the ETH Zurich’s collections and archives. This first decade of the weblog was marked by dedicated bloggers and continuous development.

Birthday cake from former Swiss national airline Swissair’s catering service, around 2000 (ETH Library, Image Archive, LBS_SR04-041756)

ETHeritage as a corporate blog

ETHeritage started as an experiment in 2008. Under the name “Special Collections Digital”, highlights from the holdings of the ETH Zurich University Archives, the image archive and the rare books and map collections of ETH Library were presented in weekly posts. At that time, numerous companies were already successfully using corporate blogs for online marketing and public relations, but institutions like libraries and archives were still cautious. Today, after more than 500 published posts, it is clear: Rare or even unique documents and objects from archives and collections are particularly suitable for a brief presentation in a weblog. The individual posts become actual beacons. They are clearly visible, and thanks to modern weblog software they can be designed and shared relatively easily and attractively. The growing number of posts is attracting considerable interest from our readers: in 2017, ETHeritage registered a total of more than 300,000 visits.


Of course, the success of a corporate blog depends crucially on its bloggers. As far as ETHeritage is concerned, around 20 employees of the participating collections and archives are currently blogging on a regular basis. They write as voluntary and competent experts about their respective collections and archives. This expertise means that ETHeritage has been functioning very well since its inception ten years ago without formal editorial management and the associated intervention in text production. The bloggers also have different writing styles. By now, the individuality of the post has become an important feature of ETHeritage.
However, the renunciation of an editorial office does not mean the lack of any form of structure and support for bloggers. Roland Lüthi, a member of the ETH-Bibliothek’s image archive and co-initiator of ETHeritage, is not only available for practical questions concerning the use of the weblog software. He also coordinates adaptations and updates of ETHeritage.

Continuous development

Since its launch in 2008, the weblog has evolved in various ways. Contentwise the circle of the participating collections and archives expanded. The integration of the Max Frisch Archive, the focusTerra Earth Sciences Research and Information Centre, the Graphic Collection and the Thomas Mann Archive into the ETH Library first ensured this. Accordingly, “Special Collections Digital” was renamed the broader “ETHeritage” in summer 2013. ETHeritage has been open to all ETH Zurich collections and archives since April 2016. Since then, the weblog has also offered insights into the Archives for Contemporary History or scientific object collections of ETH Zurich, such as the Entomological Collection, in addition to the archive and collection holdings of the ETH Library. In the same year, we began translating selected posts into English in order to make the offer available to an international audience, at least in part.
A graphic facelift was carried out in 2015, with the focus on two innovations. On the one hand, the entry page has been made visually more attractive. On the other hand, ETHeritage has been optimally presented on mobile devices since then thanks to the switch to a responsible design.
The holdings of the ETH Zurich collections and archives contain exciting content for almost unlimited numbers of further posts. That’s why we at ETHeritage will be happy to continue in the future. Join us on this fascinating journey of discovery through our holdings.

Among others, the following ETHeritage posts are available in English:

School maps in the 19th century
Colourful tile flooring: stoneware or cement?
Johannes Kepler: Mysterium Cosmographicum (Tübingen, 1596)
“Hallelujah!” – Albert Einstein’s cry of joy on 2nd February 1912

==> More posts in English

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