By the time Bosch set up its corporate archives in January 1933, a lot of treasures from the company’s early days had unfortunately already been lost. But why? The decision to set up the archives was prompted by two anniversaries due to be celebrated in 1936: the 75th birthday of company founder Robert Bosch and the 50th anniversary of the company’s founding. So, one of the most important tasks of Dr. Friedrich Schildberger, the first archives director, was to search out documents, photographs, advertising posters, and products. For example, he found a magneto ignition device from 1887, the first ever to be built by Bosch, as well as components from the first Bosch automotive lighting system of 1913. In fact, these were the first pieces for the trasure box.
From the basement to above-ground
In the first decades of the archives’ existence, most of the associates who worked there were engineers. Their main task was to collect materials and products for the archive. Back then, they still looked just like stereotypical archivists. They were dressed in gray lab coats, they sorted objects in the basement. They probably even wore arm garters. Today, historians prepare information and present it to the public in appealing publications and exhibitions. The gray lab coats are a thing of the past. Following the company exhibition’s move from a basement in Feuerbach to an above-ground space in the heart of Stuttgart, the archives have also received a contemporary makeover.
From Bosch letters to advertising mascots
The Bosch archives are now home to some 100,000 historical photographs, 2,000 films, 150,000 pages of technical documentation, 16,000 products, 2,000 posters and other examples of advertising materials, and files that would cover a distance of 2.5 kilometers if placed end to end. Valuable originals of letters written and received by company founder Robert Bosch are stored in the archives, alongside the almost life-size advertising figures “Otto-Karl” and “Karl-Otto” from the 1950s.