Globalization and Local Knowledge: Collection-Related Research on the Publishing House Justus Perthes

"Globalization and Local Knowledge: Collection-Related Research on the Justus Perthes Publishing House" is intended as a pilot project that will for the first time comprehensively demonstrate the research potential of the cartographic-geographical "Gotha Perthes Collection" acquired by the Free State of Thuringia in 2003. In addition, it is intended to contribute to the further development of the collection's holdings and to establish a virtual map laboratory "GlobMapLaboratory". Until now, the Gotha Perthes Collection has been perceived by scholars and the general public primarily as a collection of maps. Maps undoubtedly formed the center of Perthes Verlag's production, but map production made up only a small part of the publishing activities. From Gotha, geographical knowledge was not only mapped, popularized and sold, Perthes was at the same time an institution in which knowledge from all areas of geography and natural research was collected and processed in a wide variety of media. Even for contemporaries, Perthes was not a passive distribution channel for geographic products, but - comparable to a university or scientific research institution - one of the most important and lively hubs of the "geographic scholars' republic," especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The central position of the publishing house in the scientific landscape of the time is still reflected today in the Gotha Perthes Collection. As a working tool of the publishing house, it contains not only the map collection but also groups of material that have received less attention up to now and that lie like a chain between the first field observations and the cartographic end products: Survey notes, field notes, map sketches, travel diaries and correspondence, cartographers' work diaries, copper plates, company archival records such as account books, an extensive specialized geographic library, and loose-leaf collections of detailed information by the meter. However, the interplay of the most diverse groups of materials, which is unique in this density of supply, has hardly been noticed by cultural-historical research up to now. The Gotha Perthes Collection is also, in international comparison, one of the few archives that was not organized as a university or as a library, but as a business and at the same time acted as a decisive driving force for scientific research. There is hardly a comparable collection that can be used to trace the economy of knowledge in such a density and complexity as in the Gotha collection. Using case studies, the project examines the uniquely interlinked material groups of the collection in their context and, building on this, develops longer-term strategies for innovative collection-related and third-party research. Closely linked to this, the GlobalMapLap will be established, through which selected materials and results of the case studies will be presented and map holdings of the Gotha Perthes Collection will be made available digitally. As a result, the profile of the Gotha Research Centre is to be expanded to include the focus "Collection-related history of knowledge and science of globalization in modern times", the existing infrastructure is to be strengthened, and the map laboratory is to be transformed into a virtual research environment for network-based scientific work in research and teaching. The project is intended to make an important contribution to the development of Gotha into the Baroque Universe, which is being vigorously promoted by the Free State of Thuringia as the second cultural heart of Thuringia alongside Kosmos Weimar, and to a supra-regional and international profiling of Thuringia's scientific collection and research landscape.


Prof. Dr. Martin Mulsow, Director of the Gotha Research Centre

Prof. Dr. Susanne Rau, Professor of History and Cultures of Spaces in Modern Times

Dr. Kathrin Paasch, Head of the Gotha Research Library and deputy director of the UFB

Dr. Petra Weigel, Research Officer of the Gotha Research Library for the Gotha Perthes Collection

Working group

Norman Henniges, M.A. (07/2014 - 02/2016)

Dipl.-Inf. René Smolarski B.A. (for the GlobMapLap, 01/2014 - 02/2016)

Dr. Nils Güttler (09/2012 - 03/2014)

Oliver Gondring, M.A. (11/2012 - 10/2013)


Thuringian Ministry for Education, Science and Culture, since 12/2014 Thuringian Ministry for Economis Affairs, Science and Digital Society: approx. 300.000 EUR

Publications and press articles

2012 Gotha als Knotenpunkt in der Welt der Geografie (TLZ, September 26, 2012), URL: http: //

2013 Gondring, Oliver and Rau, Susanne: Designing the GlobMapLab: Using maps as an entry point to the Perthes Collection, in: e-Perimetron, Vol. 8 (2013), No. 3, pp. 133-145. URL: http: //

Güttler, Nils: Invisible hands: the colorists of Perthes Verlag and the scientification of cartography in the 19th century, in: Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens, Vol. 68 (2013), pp. 133 - 153.

2014 Güttler, Nils: Ubique terrarum: Gelehrtenportraits und ein Blumenstrauß für den Verleger, 2014.

2015 Henniges, Norman: "Natural Laws of Culture": The Viennese Geographers and the Origins of "Folk and Cultural Land Theory," in ACME. An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies 14 (2015), issue 4, pp. 1309-1351, URL: http: //

2016 Henniges, Norman / Meyer, Philipp Julius: "Das Gesamtbild des Vaterlandes stets vor Augen" Hermann Haack (1872-1966) und die Gothaer Schulkartographie vom Wilhelminischen Kaiserreich bis zum Ende des Nationalsozialismus. In: Journal for Didactics of Geography (2016), issue 4, pp. 37 - 60.

Henniges, Norman / Rau, Susanne / Smolarski, René / Tzschach, Heiko: More than just maps. The Virtual Map Lab (GlobMapLab) as Access to the Gotha Perthes Collection. In: Journal for Digital Humanities(2016), URL:

Güttler, Nils / Heumann, Ina (eds.): Collection Economies. Berlin: Kadmos 2016], URL: http: //

Smolarski, René: The Making of an Atlas - Step 1: The Concept, in: ProMissKa, 2016, URL: http: // (online article).

Smolarski, René: 'Crowdsourcing' and 'Citizen Science' in the 19th Century'. In: Oswald, Kristin / Smolarski, René (eds.): Citizen Arts Science. Citizen Science in Culture and the Humanities. Gutenberg: Computus 2016, pp. 71 - 87, URL: http: //

"GlobMapLab": an interview with Prof. Dr. Susanne Rau about the Virtual Map Lab at the University of Erfurt, URL:


Further Information

Project page "GlobMapLab" (FZG)

Project page "GlobMapLab" (FB, Gotha Perthes Collection Gotha)