The former imperial city’s archive holds municipal records dating back to 1241 as well as extensive collections (including a photo collection, estates, council and consistory library). There is evidence of an imperial city archive since the late Middle Ages. The existing archive was reorganised by Johann Adam Erhard around 1700. From 1803 to approx. 1810, large parts of the archival holdings were handed over to the state (Reichsarchiv, later Hauptstaatsarchiv München; Kreisarchiv, later Staatsarchiv Nürnberg). In the 19th century the remaining collection was neglected until it was reorganised in 1884/85. Until its move to its own building in 1960 (to the Büttelhaus – former prison), the archive was housed in the town hall. It has been staffed full-time since 1997.
There is a wide range of records on Rothenburg’s musical life in the files, summarised among other things in an anthology documenting mainly the 16th and 17th centuries, another volume running from 1778 to 1804, and a special file on the organ builders (1514-1676). Here, too, applications, requests for salary supplements and complaints about competitors and colleagues attest to the difficult working conditions of musicians in their time. Unlike in the Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen records, names known beyond the region appear here more frequently, for example noblemen who wanted to book the Rothenburg town pipers for their wedding celebrations, or also the instrument maker Erasmus Schnitzer (died 1566) represented in the exhibition, who had made a name for himself as a brass instrument maker in neighbouring Nuremberg. How well staffed and equipped with instruments the Rothenburg town music was in the second half of the 17th century is shown by a list of the instruments handed out and their players.