Freiburger Zeitung


Freiburger Zeitung – a historic source for reconstruction of climate and environmental history (deutsch)


General Aspects of the Journal “Freiburger Zeitung”

The journal “Freiburger Zeitung” is an important local journal of the area/ region Freiburg im Breisgau. It was published almost daily over a long period of time (1784 to 1943). As part of a digitalization project of the university library of Freiburg, all volumes were scanned and digitized. Now all volumes are freely available online and can be recalled under the following Link.

The content of the journal provides a large insight into political, economic or social developments. More importantly for historic climate scientists, the journal can be used as a source for climate or environmental studies. As part of ongoing research the data is analyzed in the context of Citizen Science Projects at the Department of Environmental Social Sciences and Geography at the Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg under supervision of Dr. Dirk Riemann.

Contentual Structure of the Journal

Depending on the political situation and the current affairs, the structure of the journal varies. In the early years of publication the journal was rather an entertainment paper for the reading society, whereas during the years 1788 and 1792 it served – under the name “Vorderösterreichische Provinzialnachrichten” – as an instrument for new regulations and instructions made by the authorities. Between 1804 and 1807, with the new title “Allgemeines Intelligenzblatt für das Land Breisgau und die Ortenau“ and likewise between 1808 to 1810 with the title „Großherzoglich Badische privilegierte Freyburger Zeitung“ the journal contained country based columns with current news about politics, economic and culture. Additional two columes – namely “Obrigkeitliche Nachrichten” (authoritarian news) and “Private Nachrichten” (private news) – served as a platform for house disposals, for sale of commodities or for forced liquidations.

From the 1st of November 1810, according to orders from the authorities, all political news were excluded from the daily news (e.g. volume 31.10.1810, S. 1062). From then on, the journal was published under the name “Freybourger Wochenblatt” and the volume was reduced from a daily appearance to two issues a week. This restriction had also an effect on the suitability of the journal as a source of climate and weather data, because descriptive climate data was marginally mentioned. Only in the 1820s political news were again subject of the daily commentatorship. From that point on the journal was organized in columns for foreign affairs (usually citation of other newspapers), followed by short reports about proceedings on the territory of nowadays Germany and local proclamations (advertisement, auctions, housing market) around and about Freiburg im Breisgau. Apart from temporarily restrictions or modifications of the columns, the journal retained this character until its cessation. Only the volume frequency and the length varied. 

Information about Weather- and Environmental History

Since official observing networks only became more important in the late 19th century, up to that point, there was no steady information about meteorological measurement in the Freiburger Zeitung. Nevertheless, climatic data was published unregularly even bevor this point. In this context, especially the time period 1822 to 1831 should mentioned, since at this period almost daily meteorology observations (about temperature, air pressure, wind and weather) were published.

But beside from these temporarily published meteorological data, information about weather are spread out descriptively in all articles of the journal. There is no special column dedicated to the topic "weather". Instead they can be found sporadically as an additional description of current proceedings. In times of political censorship, socio-economic information about coping strategies of the population could be gained from corn-price-tables, which were published regularly in the journal. But those are not the only data, used as an indirect source (proxy data) for weather or climate in the historic climatology science. Also precise details about wine-, crop yield/harvest or phonological observation are listed and published in the journal.

In the course of graduation work at the Department of Environmental Social Sciences and Geography at the Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg a range of volumes of the Freiburger Zeitung were systematically read through.