Current Projects

Mapping Africa and Asia

Sydow-Wagner's Methodical School Atlas. 17th ed. and suppl. ed. Gotha 1923

The project “Cartographies of Africa and Asia (1800–1945)”, situated at the University of Erfurt and administered by the Centre for Transcultural Studies / Perthes Collection and Gotha Research Library, is concerned with the digitization of historic African and Asian maps included in the Perthes collection in Gotha. The project is featured in the eHeritage funding program of the BMBF for two years.

The aim is to introduce the vast array of some 35,000 objects to the international scientific community and to stimulate research related to the extraordinary collection situated in Gotha. The Justus Perthes publishing house, whose surviving archives comprise the Perthes collection held by the Gotha Research Library, was one of the world’s leading cartographic publishers in the 19th century and beyond. All digitized items will be published via Digitale Historische Bibliothek Erfurt/Gotha (DHB, digital historical library).

The digitization effort includes maps of the African and Asian continents and individual Asian or African regions, which were produced in Gotha by the Justus Perthes publishing house itself. Also included are maps, which the company bought and collected, often to serve as source material for their own products. This notoriously busy publishing house was responsible not only for the production of maps but also for maintaining a closely-knit network, consisting of researchers, explorers, and scientific geographical societies (among others). Its periodical “Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen” quickly became the most trusted outlet of geographic and cartographic news in 19th– and early 20th-century Germany.

Project term: 02/2021–01/2023

Patrons: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Funding amount: € 370,000

Project group
Leadership: Prof. Dr Iris Schröder (Director of the Centre for Transcultural Studies / Perthes Collection and Professor of Global History at the Department of History, University of Erfurt)
Dr Petra Weigel  (Curator of the Perthes Collection Department, Gotha Research Library)
Editor: Claudia Berger
Digitisation: Karl Franz Hutter

Gothaische Zeitung - Digitisation and Online Presentation (1850-1918)

As the historical regional library of the territories of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the Gotha Research Library collects the regional print production in as complete a form as possible, catalogues it and makes it publicly accessible. As seat of princely power in Thuringian it was an important media location from the 17th to the beginning of the 20th century. The “Gothaische Zeitung. Gothaer neueste Nachrichten” was the most important and longest-running regional periodical, which also had a supra-regional circulation. The daily newspaper was published by Friedrich Christoph Perthes and Mevius-Verlag and, in addition to current news from home and abroad, also carried the contents of the "Government and Intelligence Gazette" in its main section from 1854. At times, the newspaper, which was closely associated with the government, had the title of an “Official Gazetteer for the Duchy of Gotha” and published the duchy’s law texts. The advertisement section is also a valuable source of political, social and economic history information.

The Gotha Research Library preserves the only completely preserved collection of the “Gothaische Zeitung” in 69 volumes from 1850 to 1918, the political end of the duchy. In order to be able to take the unwieldy newspaper volumes, some of which are threatened by paper decay, out of use and at the same time make them more accessible, they are being completely digitalised and made available in open access in the periodicals portal Journals@UrMEL of the Thuringian University and Jena State Library.

Project term: 1 August 2020 until 30 April 2022

Patrons: State Chancellery of the Free State of Thuringia

Project partners: Thuringian University and Jena State Library

Project group
Leadership: Dr Dietrich Hakelberg (Head of the Inventory Development and Indexing Department)
Cooperation: Dr Hendrikje Carius (Deputy Director of the FBG / Head of the Department of Use and Digital Library), Evelyn Pätzold, Anke Seifert
Digitisation: Andreas Pügner

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Digitisation of Medieval Manuscripts

Astronomical Treatise (around 1460): Diagram to distinguish between Venus meridionalis and septentrionalis

The Gotha Research Library of the University of Erfurt preserves a remarkable collection of 525 mediaeval manuscripts. It is mainly composed of inherited possessions of the Ernestine ducal house of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1640-1825), captured and purchased during the Thirty Years' War, as well as acquisitions of the (Ducal) Library of Gotha from 1826 until the first half of the 20th century.

The mediaeval manuscripts, which are heterogeneous in terms of content and provenance, primarily reflect the bibliophilic and scholarly interests of the ducal house of Gotha, which until the end of the 18th century was the largest and politically most influential of the princely houses of the Ernestine dynasty. They also bear witness to the pronounced collecting interests of Gotha librarians in the first half of the 20th century.

From the library’s total holdings, the mediaeval manuscript collections are to be digitalised that have been in particularly high demand by researchers in recent decades and whose in-depth indexing has therefore been funded by the DFG or whose descriptive information has been recorded to the extent of the standardised short entry according to the inventory list procedure contributed by the library.

Over the course of the project, the Gotha Research Library will create a total of 83,800 digitalised copies of 247 manuscripts, which will be made completely and permanently available in open access.

Project term: February 2020 to September 2021. Total duration: until January 2022.

Patrons: German Research Foundation

Project group
Leadership: Dr Kathrin Paasch (Director of the Gotha Research Library), PD Dr Monika Müller (Head of Department of Collections and Conservation)
Digitisation: Martina Schröder

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