Launched by Her Majesty The Queen in 2015, the Georgian Papers Programme (GPP) is an interdisciplinary partnership to conserve, digitise and catalogue 425,000 pages of material held by the Royal Archives and Royal Library relating to the Georgian period, 1714–1837, encompassing the reigns of the five Hanoverian kings (George I, George II, George III, George IV, and William IV). The papers include private, official, and financial material pertaining to the monarchs and their families, papers of various courtiers and ministers, and in addition records which relate to the running of the Georgian royal households. The papers are invaluable in all areas of eighteenth-century study, for they shed light on matters of political, social, economic and military history, as well as international relations and medical knowledge in the Georgian period.
The Georgian Papers Programme is expected to take ten years to complete, with the core cataloguing work taking place within the walls of Windsor Castle, in the Royal Archives and Royal Library. The Programme’s principal partners are the Royal Archives and Royal Collection Trust (RCT), King’s College London (the academic lead), the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture (lead American partner), and the College of William & Mary. The Programme has taken an ambitious approach to developing an integrated workflow that simultaneously supports access, cataloguing and dissemination of digital facsimiles and transcriptions to create a virtuous feedback loop between the expertise of archivists and academics. The Programme has two ultimate ambitions: to optimise public, freely available access supported by enhanced metadata and interpretation; and, to provide a collaborative workspace in which scholars may explore, interrogate and manipulate data using a variety of online tools.
The German Bundesarchiv (Federal Archives of Germany) launched the portal „Weimar: Die erste deutsche Demokratie“ [Weimar: The First German Democracy] in March 2018. The portal offers access to thousands of digitized records, maps, photographs, films, audio recordings, and posters from the Weimar Republic, with new materials being added on an ongoing basis. Href interviewed Vera Zahnhausen* about the portal, which is one of the major recent digital initiatives of the Bundesarchiv. –Editorial note, href.
What sparked the development of „Weimar: die erste deutsche Demokratie”?
We realized that the upcoming centennial of the November Revolution of 1918 and subsequent centennial anniversaries commemorating the Weimar Republic would draw considerable public attention to this period in German history.
Though the Ottoman empire controlled a significant portion of the Balkan region in the early modern era, the historiographical traditions established by historical texts created in the region during that period has received comparatively little attention as a research topic. To fill this gap in research and to make the resulting data publicly available, the Historiography in Ottoman Europe project was developed with the support of the German Research Foundation (DFG) to create a database that would include metadata for several hundred primary sources from the years 1500 to 1800 and over 3,600 secondary works on the history of Ottoman Europe. The project’s funding is coming to an end this year, but the site will remain active and invites feedback, partnerships and additional submissions of relevant data.
The project is a collaboration between the office of the Chair for the History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey (Lehrstuhl für Geschichte des Osmanischen Reiches und der Türkei, ORT) of Ruhr University Bochum and Bochum University Library. Both institutions brought their specific expertise to the project and worked in synergy to create fresh research data and conceptualize a customized, optimized way of presenting these findings for added utility. The team members from the ORT office conducted research in libraries and archives worldwide to locate, examine and describe neglected sources and to compile relevant secondary material on these documents. Team members from the library oversaw the project’s web presence and entered data collected by the research team members into the jointly conceptualized system. They validated the information and complemented it with links, filters and further metadata to create the specific data sets that characterize the HOE corpus.
As part of the Year of German-American Friendship 2018/19 (Deutschlandjahr USA), the German Historical Institute Washington (GHI) is cooperating with the Deutsches Auswandererhaus, Bremerhaven, on a joint project entitled Crossing the Atlantic/Bridging the Divide. Co-sponsored initiatives include a digital exhibition of maps of Germany and America; workshops on German-American family history in three U.S. cities; and the launch of an English-language online portal for documenting German-American family history. These planned initiatives align with the primary themes of Deutschlandjahr, which include German heritage and German language, and digitization and innovation.
Last month, the GHI began work on its core contribution to the joint project: an online exhibition provisionally entitled Mapping Germany and America. The exhibition is being developed in partnership with Vanderbilt University’s Center for Digital Humanities, which is led by Prof. Helmut Walser Smith. Beginning with Martin Waldseemüller’s world map of 1507, the exhibition will feature approximately sixty maps: thirty maps of America by Germans and thirty maps of Germany by Americans.
The GHI benefits tremendously from the help of its many talented interns. The following post was written by GHDI project intern Milena Kagel, who first learned of this website at the Defining Black European History conference at the GHI in June 2018. — Editorial note, Href
By Milena Kagel
Every spring, Kira Thurman teaches an undergraduate course on “Germany and the Black Diaspora” at the University of Michigan. Since 2016, this course has included a digital history component – Thurman and her students have worked to construct a visual representation of the history of Black people in Central Europe by recording figures, objects, and events related to that history. Each student is required to contribute five entries to an online mapping project entitled Mapping Black Central Europe.
The map currently features around two hundred pins, each of which is connected to a detailed profile on a person, object, or event. The pins are geographically widespread, with the greatest concentration appearing in Germany.
One of the contributors to our new German History Intersections project brought our attention to this important project, which touches upon many areas of current research at the GHI, including the histories of migration, knowledge, and religion. We thank our colleagues in Halle for this article. — Editorial note, Href
By Wolfgang Splitter
The Francke Foundations in Halle are currently at work on a DFG-funded project entitled Halle Pastors in Pennsylvania, 1743–1825. A Critical Edition of Sources Relating to Their Ministry in North America. The editors are Mark Häberlein, Thomas Müller-Bahlke and Hermann Wellenreuther.
Whereas research on the history of the Lutheran Church in North America up to the early nineteenth century has concentrated so far on the journals and correspondence of Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg (1711-1787), this project will transcribe and edit the extant curricula vitae, journals, and correspondence of Mühlenberg’s pastoral colleagues – i.e.
The Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (MEGA, for short) is a project whose goal is to publish the complete legacy of Karl Marx (1818–1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) through producing a complete critical edition of their publications, manuscripts and correspondence.
MEGA consists of four sections denoted by roman numerals: the first and second sections offer works, articles and drafts, with the second section focusing on Marx’s magnum opus Capital. The third section comprises the correspondence between Marx, Engels and their many correspondents all over Europe and North America; the fourth section presents Marx’s and Engels’ excerpts and notes. MEGA started as a series of printed volumes, with each MEGA-volume consisting of two books: the first presenting the texts from Marx and/or Engels and the second offering extensive commentaries on these texts.
Mass digitization of cultural heritage objects is an urgent need: In Germany, this is the common ground on which stakeholders from multiple fields have formulated a “wake-up” call to political decision-makers. Whether perceived as the last chance for the preservation of soon-to-be-lost culture, as in Syria (e.g. the Syrian Heritage Archive Project), or as an opportunity for education and inspiration through free access to museum objects (e.g. Europeana), digitization enables people to see and use cultural material beyond its physical limitations.
As research on these objects is a key factor in achieving these goals, digitization methods should meet academic quality standards and the large scale of the work to be done demands coordination. Within the humanities research community, the combination of digitized sources and digital technologies has propelled innovations and led to new methods which have been grouped under the term digital humanities.
The bilingual (German/English) online source edition “Key Documents of German-Jewish History” (http://jewish-history-online.net/), which is published by the Institute for the History of German Jews (IGdJ) in Hamburg (http://www.igdj-hh.de/IGDJ-home.html), uses primary sources, so-called key documents, to highlight central aspects of Hamburg’s rich and multifaceted Jewish past from the early modern period to the present. The project currently includes seventy-five sources with new materials being added on a regular basis. The project focuses on Hamburg but is outward- rather than inward-looking. Put differently, the project uses the city as a case study to examine topics and trends whose significance is not just local but also national, transnational, and even global. Generally speaking, the “key” sources featured in the project are meant to “open doors” to understanding larger developments and issues in (German-) Jewish history.
The digital revolution has, without doubt, changed the way that young people research history. Previously, students pored over books and printed encyclopedias; today, with Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube, access to a broad range of historical source materials – including multimedia files – is only a mouse click away. On the one hand, this makes it easier for students to research topics that would have been difficult to investigate only twenty years ago; on the other hand, it also raises completely new questions.
During my internship at the German Historical Institute Washington DC (GHI), I conducted work relating to the review and expansion of the digital volume Nazi Germany, 1933-1945, which is the seventh volume in the website German History in Documents and Images (known as GHDI). Presently, the volume includes transcriptions of German historical documents (with English translations), images, and maps. As part of the GHDI relaunch, document facsimiles will be added to the Nazi Germany volume for the first time, along with audio and video clips. Adding facsimiles and recordings to the existing document transcriptions will ultimately make the site livelier and more attractive to users, particularly for younger researchers like myself.