In the Archives: Research Strategies and Palaeography

Training Course

Organised by Cloe Cavero de Carondelet, Brice Cossart, Laura Mesotten and Luca Scholz
Wednesdays, 10:00-12:00, Sala Mansarda
Starts on 13 January 2016

 

Course Description 


Archival research can be both an exciting exercise and immensely frustrating. The aim of this training course is to assist doctoral students in their archival work and to help them to get the most out of their research missions. The course will train researchers to navigate efficiently through different types of archives and to negotiate their research interests with the available source material. This covers strategies to locate appropriate material, including digital resources, and manage information. Another focus will be on palaeography, providing researchers with tools and assistance to decipher manuscript sources (abbreviations, handwriting styles, etc.) and to deal with various types of documents (letters, inventories, accounts, wills, testimonies, judicial files, etc.). The course, which does not count towards the fulfilment of first and second year seminar requirements, provides a flexible setting in which to address the concrete challenges of archival research.

Session outline 


13 January: Translating the Past: Spanish Palaeography

The aim of this session is to provide basic palaeographic tools for reading Spanish sources. This includes knowledge about the typology and structure of the source, the alphabet, signs, and common abbreviations in early modern Spanish documents - as well as personal advice. Subsequently, different types of documents written in Spanish will be shown and analysed.

 

20 January: Translating the Past: Italian Palaeography

The aim of this session is to provide basic palaeographic tools for reading Italian sources. This includes knowledge about the typology and structure of the source, the alphabet, signs, and common abbreviations in early modern Italian documents - as well as personal advice. Subsequently, different types of documents written in Italian will be shown and analysed.

 

27 January: Translating the Past: English and Dutch Palaeography

The aim of this session is to provide basic palaeographic tools for reading English and Dutch sources. This includes knowledge about the typology and structure of the source, the alphabet, signs, and common abbreviations in early modern English and Dutch documents - as well as personal advice. Subsequently, different types of documents written in English and Dutch will be shown and analysed.

 

3 February: Dealing with Numbers: Mercantile Sources and Accounts

Given the great number of students who are interested in Italian merchant networks, this session is dedicated to the study of mercantile sources, accounts, old currencies and other quantitative information.

 

6 February: Visit to Archivio di Stato di Firenze (interested participants should register with Laura Mesotten)

The visit to the State Archive in Florence includes both a tour of the archive’s deposit and a presentation by the Medici Archive Project on their online platform, BIA, where they have gathered a vast repository of transcribed and contextualized documents. The mission of the Medici Archive Project is to merge archival research with technological innovations for data management. Their online database provides access to an unparalleled range of digitized early modern material. To date, this material comprises over 24,000 transcribed documentary records, 18,000 biographical entries, 87,000 geographical and topographical tags, and over 300,000 digitized images from 292 volumes of the Medici Granducal Archival Collection.

 

10 February: Translating the Past: German and French Palaeography

The aim of this session is to provide basic palaeographic tools for reading German and French sources. This includes knowledge about the typology and structure of the source, the alphabet, signs, and common abbreviations in early modern German and French documents - as well as personal advice. Subsequently, different types of documents written in German and French will be shown and analysed.

 

17 February: The Production of Documentary Sources

The central focus of this session is on how to recognise various types of documents (drafts, minutes, copies, annotations, testimonies, drawings, maps) and on understanding the process of their production. All documents have specific characteristics, which determine their structure and influence their interpretation. In order to adequately read these sources, it is necessary to situate them within a typological framework as well as within the concrete administrative structures that produced them.

 

24 February: Managing Sources and Organizing Information

Aside from locating archives and deciphering sources, one of the key challenges of archival work is finding ways to extract relevant information from different types of sources and to efficiently manage large quantities of data. The session presents different digital tools for this purpose, such as Zotero, databases, digital mind maps, as well as tools for visualising information spatially.

 

Page last updated on 29 May 2020

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