Photo Collection Wilhelm Schirp Laabs in Mexico

Friedrich Wilhelm Karl Schirp Laabs (Aachen, 1886 – Mexico City, 1948), migrated into México in 1905, where he worked for the Siemens & Halske electric plant in Mérida, Yucatán. A talented amateur photographer, he capture in more that 300 photos the social, cultural and political events that caught his attention in this new environment. Normal work activities at the electric plant, community reunions, daily and special rituals, day trips, family events, important people of that time, political demonstrations as well as the urbanization process of Yucatán’s capital were thoroughly documented.

Proalmex funding granted to Project on the Schirp Laabs Collection

Augsburg University´s Lehrstuhl für Europäische Ethnologie/Volkskunde (European Cultural Anthropology) was awared a PROALMEX grant from the DAAD for the project entitled "Multiple Perspectives by Cataloging, Contextualization, and Archiving of Shared Visual Heritage: The Case of Wilhelm Schirp Laabs Collection".

PROALMEX is a bilateral cooperation program between Germany and México, sponsored by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) and the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Technología (CONACYT). The program is designed to facilitate the cooperation between academic institutions in both countries, to encourage innovative work, to promote transational scholary networks, and to support the training of young academics. The funding will cover the travel expenses for scholars of the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS) and of the Universität Augsburg - so that these can conjointly adress specific aspects of a project.

PROALMEX funding will make it possible for a group of 10 scholars, coming from four countries, to jointly explore ways to classify, contextualize, archive, and analyze the legacy of Schirp Laabs. They will do so from different disciplinary and cultural perspectives - which include architecture, history, migration and gender studies, visual anthropology, heritage management, as well as Mexican and European ethnology. Additionally, participants will identify forms of preservation and diffusion of photography as shared cultural visual patrimony. Two working session per year are planned for 2015 and 2016; the first two weeks will take place already this fall. Augsburg and Merida, Yucatán, will rotate as locations.



Dr. Victoria Novelo Oppenheim (team leader)

Dr. Laura Machuca Gallegos (assistant)

Arq. Raúl Enrique Rivero Canto

Lic. Ramiro Leonel Arcila Flores

Lic. Abel Rodríguez Carillo

Lic. Emiliano Canto Mayen


Prof. Dr. Günther Kronenbitter (team leader)

Dr. Alma Durán-Merk (assistant)

Leonie Herrmann, B.A.

Susanne Krawietz, B.A.





Katharina Urch

Bettina Lapp

Markus Henze

Andreas Biehl

The University of Augsburg plans to make Schirp Laabs´photographic compilation available online for non-commercial use in 2017. Furthermore, the insights generated by this cooperation will be presented in conferences, in form of scholary essays, and in a photographic exhibit.

For further information, please contact: Schirp-Collections(at)

PROALMEX wird gefördert von DAAD aus Mitteln des Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung


Friedrich Wilhelm Karl Schirp Laabs (Aachen, 1886 – México D.F., 1948), inmigró a México in 1905. Se estableció en Mérida, Yucatán, donde trabajó en varias capacidades para la empresa Siemens & Halske. Wilhelm fue además aficionado a lo que entonces era un nuevo arte: la fotografía. Con gran curiosidad y destreza técnica fotografió eventos políticos y familiares, rutinas y celebraciones y su ambiente de trabajo en la planta eléctrica. También capturó imágenes de una Mérida que en aquel momento era modernizada, documentando su proceso de urbanización. El legado fotográfico de Wilhelm Schirp Laabs, que comprende más de 300 imágenes, será pronto puesto a la disposición de la comunidad científica como parte de las colecciones digitales especiales de la Universidad de Augsburgo.