Our team of history and archiving experts from the company Firmenhistoriker spent three months sorting through documents, photos and many other artefacts from the press archive at MANN+HUMMEL to mark the company’s upcoming 75th anniversary. During this time, we couldn’t not pay a visit to the company’s filter museum, given that it is the home to some rather special gems from the company’s history. As the team leader, I, Roman Krüger, would like to use this blog post to tell you all about the wonderful things we stumbled upon during our work in the MANN+HUMMEL basement.

Although there’s no denying that the filter museum is a real treasure trove, very few employees and visitors have seen all it has to offer. Whilst we were working at MANN+HUMMEL, all of the documents, including photos, drawings, purchase orders and brochures, were moved from the museum and a related smaller archive to the press archive, where they were then catalogued and archived. The exhibits will continue to be housed in the filter museum for now, until they are transferred over to the new museum, which will be located in the technology centre currently under construction. Thanks to the hard work of the many dedicated employees who have built up and maintained the museum’s collection over the years, these historical gems are being kept safe for the future. Here are some of our best discoveries:

The briefcase

Hidden under a layer of dust in one corner of the basement, we found a leather briefcase, which turned out to be an accessory with quite a story – it was only a favourite possession of the company’s founder, Adolf Mann! For years he carried it round with him every day, using it to transport important documents, and it soon became his trademark. Luckily, its symbolic value has enabled it to survive all these years and it now provides an emotional link to the late company founder, who sadly passed away back in 1971.

The songs from the past

During our time in the MANN+HUMMEL basement, we came across many items you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find amongst all the files and documents. One such example was a fine Chinese dinner set, which was no doubt a gift from a business partner. But even that wasn’t our most extraordinary find! There was also a collection of old vinyl records; whilst these clearly didn’t come from some far-flung land, they are in fact original recordings of the factory choir. The records have now been digitised so the MANN+HUMMEL stars of times gone by can continue to be enjoyed by listeners in the future.

The ravioli factory

Younger employees will probably only have heard stories about this chapter of MANN+HUMMEL history, but when we interviewed Roland Hagmann, a former chef in the company canteen, as part of our book research, he told us that he remembers ‘Ravioli Fridays’ only too well. Up until the 90s, MANN+HUMMEL mass-produced ‘Maultaschen’, a traditional German pasta much like ravioli, alongside its filters and other products for the automotive industry, and this Swabian speciality was prepared by the canteen staff on Thursdays. Employees could even pre-order ravioli to take home and use in their own dishes. No wonder there was uproar when this service stopped!

The textile mill

One of the nicest series of pictures from the huge photo archive is from the days when MANN+HUMMEL was still involved in the textile industry, with its textile mill which produced fedoras – a popular accessory even today! At the end of the 1940s, the company launched its own full fashion collections under the trade name ‘Pamina Mann’, which were naturally in keeping with the style of the time. Employees would quickly transform the factory premises into a catwalk and show off the latest fashions to much applause from the audience.

This period has been captured wonderfully in the photos. Although MANN+HUMMEL sold its fashion division to Schiesser back in 1974, Pamina Mann is still a part of the company’s history, and in turn its identity.

The work of us company historians shows time and time again that history is about so much more than just pieces of paper and photos. As well as giving us a better understanding of the structures that have evolved over time, history can be used as the basis for effective advertising campaigns, a starting point for exciting corporate timelines, and a way to provide customers with information that will build their trust in a company. It is just sad that lots of experiences are lost when people leave a company, memories fade and precious knowledge is forgotten forever. Nonetheless, MANN+HUMMEL’s history is now preserved in its press archive and timeline, meaning it can live on for years to come. 

The team from Firmenhistoriker would like to thank everyone for the warm welcome and all of the help and support we received in Ludwigsburg during this large archive project. We wish MANN+HUMMEL all the best for their anniversary celebrations in 2016 and hope they are able to add many more folders full of wonderful memories and tales of success to their archive in the future.

Many more exciting posts about MANN+HUMMEL’s history and how the company has evolved over time can be found in our blog series ‘MANN+HUMMEL: then and now’.