This research project served as an attempt to develop a historical account of disaster research and expertise in various contexts. Disaster research, historically, has been responsive to emergent risks and the consciousness of risk and disaster in society. As such, the trajectory and timing of disaster research deviates quite frequently from the “normal” pathways of disciplinary knowledge formation. Locating disaster research involves looking both within normal disciplinary traditions, but also tracing the emergence of interdisciplinary work, often at the interface of engineering, natural science, the military, and public policy. One focuses is on the formation and elaboration of disaster research centers in Germany - often in universities, government research labs, law enforcement and the military, and private firms/organizations. These centers come in and go out of existence according to their ability to react to societal demands for “disaster knowledge”—they are embedded in larger national historical contexts of war, industrialization, environmental change, and political economy. Tracing the ways that disaster knowledge makes its way (or does not make its way) into the built environment and public policy is a key aim of this historical project.