The European Correspondence to Jacob Burckhardt in the DH Awards 2015 short list

“The European Correspondence to Jacob Burckhardt” led by Prof. Ghelardi at the Scuola Normale Superiore is one of the finalists of the Digital Humanities Awards 2015, Best DH Data Visualization section. Voting closes on Saturday, February 27.

Jacob-Burckhardt_Photo(1)The Digital Humanities Awards are annual prizes in the field of Digital Humanities, organised by an international committee chaired by James Cummings, University of Oxford. This year the finalists of the Best DH Data Visualization section counts also the project “The European Correspondence to Jacob Burckhardt” led by Maurizio Ghelardi at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. The winners, chosen by the public through online vote, will be announced after the voting deadline (February 27).

The platform “”, final outcome of prof. Ghelardi’s and his team’s work, is a Digital Library collecting the entire corpus of the letters to Jacob Burckhardt, i.e. approximately 1100 manuscripts. The semantic Digital Library conceived and developed by the EUROCORR ERC Advanced Grant Project provides access to an extremely remarkable correspondence of the XIX Century. Jacob Burckhardt has been one of the most important historians of the century: critical spirit, he developed an autonomous historiographical approach, known as Kulturgeschichte (history of civilization), intended to reconcile the various dimensions of the political-historical, spiritual and cultural phenomenon within a single framework. His most important works were dedicated to the analysis of critical periods or important transitions, including the now classic The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy. The correspondence collected on the platform covers a time span from 1843 to 1897, a crucial period in European history and culture, marked by serious civil conflicts in France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, as well as by the Franco-Prussian War and the birth of Italy and Germany as nation-states. The archive therefore represents a valuable source shedding light on the birth of a new European identity and testifies how intense the exchanges within the scientific community of the time were, particularly among historians and Burckhardt.

The platform is designed to be intuitive and easy to use. Access to the letters is guaranteed both by the metadata search, t.i. through year, sender, departure and arrival place, but also by semantic contents, sorted by people, places, art and bibliographic references. The section ‘Collections’ suggests a thematic navigation through the digital library. Eventually, a special section is dedicated to the Highlights, pointing out particularly relevant letters, while the “Metadata” share offers a large number of information about the letter context. So far, 700 letters are visible, while others will be added periodically: indeed, the remaining letters will be published once every two weeks.