Project partner: 
The Folklore Commission for Westphalia at the Regional Association of Westphalia-Lippe (LWL)

Founded in 1928, the Folklore Commission is one of six scientific commissions of the LWL, one of the two largest municipal associations in North-Rhine-Westphalia. 72 scientists are organised in it on an honorary basis. The commission is responsible for three series of publications and a scientific journal. Alongside a large, publicly accessible specialist regional studies library, there is also an extensive archive, which preserves, opens up and researches (digitalised) everyday-history sources from the collection’s activities, which in the meantime go back over 70 years. The commission publishes the results of its research in public cultural work as well as in the scientific field.
Further information and contact addresses can be obtained here

Project B1

As if made for us?!
Second-hand property and family-specific conceptions of housing and living.

Houses outlive their builders. Correspondingly, they are passed on to the next generation or they are sold. Sub-Project B researches second-hand family houses and the everyday life of their users.
Each of these houses passes down social, political and family-specific features of the past. With the first use, house biographies develop that are closely associated with the life stories of the families and are now continued by the new owners under different conditions. The family that has newly moved in appropriates the house, revivifies it and develops individual forms of use. What interests us is the extent to which the acquired second-hand house is appropriated and transformed. Because the requirement for the sustainability of forms of housing and living will in future become more important, cultural-analytical insights into the use of stock are a major issue. In contrast to the static understanding of property, we research these second-hand properties as objects in circulation in their re-use, further and multiple uses.


Copyright: Bildarchiv der Volkskundlichen Kommission für Westfalen, LWL, 1979
Copyright: Bildarchiv der Volkskundlichen Kommission, LWL. Fotograf: Hartmut Platte. Soest, 1998
Copyright: Bildarchiv der Volkskundlichen Kommission für Westfalen, LWL. Fotograf: Hartmut Platte. Soest, 2002
Copyright: Bildarchiv der Volkskundlichen Kommission für Westfalen, LWL. Fotograf: Hartmut Platte. Soest, 1998

Project B2

The Way to Home Ownership?
German building societies: between house-building policy and the realisation of housing desires.

For many people a “home of one’s own” is the main dream in life, which is associated with the need for protection, status and continuity. Its realisation, however, represents an enormous financial burden, which is intended to be covered by building finance planning. Traditionally, building societies have played a major role in this planning. For some 90 years they have been soliciting the trust of potential savers. Starting from small associations organised as cooperatives they have developed into complex businesses that, through advertising over the years, participate in the construction and handing down of “housing desires” and “home-ownership dreams”.
Alongside the historical perspective on the institutions we investigate the histories of the savers. What dreams and conception did they have when they were signing the building-society contract? What roles do the building societies play in construction financing and is there a change in the perception of them from outside?

Süddeutsche Zeitung from 9.02.2017: Lose aus der Suppenschüssel

The team


Cantauw M.A.


After my degree in modern history, folklore studies/European ethnology and social anthropology I worked as a research assistant with the Folklore Commission for Westphalia in Münster, where together with Dietmar Sauermann I conceived an exhibition on “Tourism in Sauerland”, which was shown in 1990 in the Arnsberg Sauerland Museum. Since March 1990 I have been working as a scientific adviser to the Folklore Commission and have been its scientific manager since 2005. Among other things, since 1997 I have been responsible for the project for the digitalisation of the image archive here, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. As part of a project supported by the DFG, between 2006 and 2012 I was able to develop further the digital archive of the Folklore Commission. My research interests in publications, lectures and as a lecturer at the Seminar for Folklore Studies/European Ethnology of the WWU are in the fields of photography, tourism and custom from a historical and contemporary perspective. 

portraet mlejnek

Marius Mlejnek M.Sc.


I studied geography, landscape ecology and geoinformatics at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster. Building on that I completed the master degree in “Humangeographie – Raumkonflikte, Raumplanung, Raumentwicklung” (human geography – spatial conflicts, spatial planning, spatial development). During my studies I focused on questions of rural spatial development, urban development and planning, renewable energy as well as on the markets of real estate and housing. I took part in project work about the future of single-family homes and the consequences of this legacy for cities and municipalities, e.g., “Was wird aus den Traumhäusern?” (What’s going to happen to our dream houses?) in winter semester 2013/2014 under the direction of Dr. Christian Krajewski. I finished my MA studies in July 2017 with a thesis about housing and the housing market in rural regions in the context of demographic changes. Since August 2017 I am responsible for the project “Wie für uns gemacht? Gebrauchtimmobilien und familienspezifische Wohn- und Lebensvorstellungen” (As if made for us? Second-hand property and family-specific conceptions of housing and living) as a research assistant at the Folklore Commission for Westphalia.

Smigla-Zywocki M.A.


From 2010 to 2015, alongside my degree course in modern and contemporary history, folklore studies/European ethnology and medieval history in Münster, I was already working freelance at the Villa ten Hompel Historical place. In the same year I began my advisory work for the Franz-Hitze-Haus Academy in Münster, here focusing in particular on the organisation and realisation of memorial journeys. As an adviser for the mobile consultancy in the government district Münster, in addition, from 2011, I was able to conceive and hold seminars for police officers against right-wing extremism and for democracy. From winter 2013 to spring 2015 I participated in research in Polish archives and through scientific work in the redesign of the long-term exhibition in the Villa ten Hompel. Since April 2015 as research assistant at the Folklore Commission for Westphalia, LWL, I have been working among other things on the project “The Way to Home Ownership” in the BMBF research association.

I am junior researcher at the University of Münster, Seminar for Folklore Studies/European Ethnology since October 2016.

Widholm M.A.

Researcher 04/2015 to ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ 03/2017

I studied folklore studies/European ethnology, sociology and political science at the University of Augsburg. I completed my master’s degree in 2012 with a work on the life of Augsburg factory workers in the early 20th century. While studying I worked as a scientific assistant on the then developing Augsburg State Textile and Industry Museum under Dr. Karl-Borromäus Murr. This cooperation gave rise to cultural history essays on regional issues.
Following the degree, I worked as a assistant curator at the Landesmuseum Württemberg in Stuttgart. In the specialist department for folklore studies I was involved for two years in the reconception of the long-term exhibition in the Museum for Everyday Culture entitled “Housing Worlds”. In the process, among other things I documented the transformation in housing and curated several thematic areas in the “housing needs” exhibition area.
In 2014 I founded the company Ostritsch & Widholm GbR, which develops as a scientific service-provider exhibition and research projects for cultural history museums.

Liebsch B.A.

Student assistant 04/2015 to 06/2017

I have been studying at the Westphalian Wilhelms University since winter term 2011/2012 and as part of my degree on cultural and social anthropology and history have been working as a student volunteer at the Folklore Commission of the LWL. My tasks in the research association on the single-family-home include research work and transcription of interviews.
Currently I am working on my bachelor thesis on the subject “The invisible made visible? Ultrasound images in pregnancy in the historical-cultural context.”