Pioneer against her will

By Pascal SteinwachsLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

The profession of archivist still has a slightly dusty image: A person with thick glasses and a sallow complexion, sitting alone in a cellar, cataloguing old papers day in, day out. Jill Steinmetz, an archivist at the Ministry of State, was able to convince us that this is not the case.

There's no mistaking that Jill Steinmetz is passionate about her job. When we visit her at her workplace in the State Ministry on a Monday morning, the explanations about her job just bubble out of her. "People sometimes think that archivists are introverted. In fact, the exact opposite is true: you have to be extroverted in this job and approach people, even if you can't get everyone interested in the subject. Being an archivist is a varied job, and for me it's clearly my dream job. However, being in this ministry makes me particularly happy because we have so many different departments here: A department for cultural affairs, a department for the memory of the Second World War, a department for medals and more."

When she started at the State Ministry in July 2019, she was the very first archivist in the ministry. "So I didn't have a predecessor I could have asked for advice. You have to get in touch with the huissiers (ushers, ed.) because they are usually the ones who know what's going on, who are aware of where things are." In a way, Jill Steinmetz is a pioneer against her will.

Until a few years ago, archives in this country had a rather neglected existence. Luxembourg, for example, was the last EU country to adopt an archive law in 2018. Before that, each administration could decide what to keep and what not to keep as it saw fit. As a result, even the NATO Founding Act signed by Luxembourg's then Foreign Minister Joseph Bech in 1949 was destroyed.

You want more? Get access now.

  • One-year subscription

  • Monthly subscription

  • Zukunftsabo for subscribers under the age of 26


Already have an account?

Log in