Introduction is the semantic Digital Library developed by the European Research Advanced Grant Project EUROCORR (Grant Agreement n. 249483, June 2010–May 2015) and coordinated by Prof. Maurizio Ghelardi (Pisa, Scuola Normale Superiore). The platform hosts the critical edition of the letters written to Jacob Burckhardt, reconstructing in open access one of the most important European correspondences of the 19th century. Save a few exceptions, these letters are all unpublished. On a later stage, the project aims to publish also Jacob Burckhardt’s letters.
The editing process has been carried out using Muruca semantic digital library framework. The Muruca framework has been modified over the project, as the requirements of the philological researchers emerged more clearly. The results are stored in and accessible from the front-end of the platform.

Jacob Burckhardt (1818-1897) was born in Basel, where he began his studies in theology. After a few semesters he changed subject and joined the University of Berlin. Here he attended lectures by Leopold von Ranke, the most important exponent of source-based history. Under Franz Kugler he studied art history, at the time just emerging as new field. Burckhardt spent a part of 1841 at the University of Bonn, where he attended Gottlieb Friedrich Welcker’s Greak literature and Heinrich Sybel’s history lectures. After his degree, from 1855 to 1858, Jacob Burckhardt was chair of Archeology at the EidgenössischeTechnische Hochschule (ETH) Zürich. Then, he returned to Basel for the professorship in history, held until 1886. From 1874 to 1886 he also lectured art history, while from 1886 until his retirement in 1893 he taught esclusively this discipline.
Burckhardt’s interests focused on Renaissance as a cultural and art-historical age: He treated this period in its entirety, «with regard not only for its painting, sculpture and architecture, but for the social institutions of its daily life as well» (S. Giedion). Indeed, he is considered one of the discoverer of this age and one of the major progenitors of cultural history. His best known publications are: Der Cicerone. Schweighauser’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1855; Die Cultur Der Renaissance in Italien. Schweighauser, 1860; Geschichte Der Renaissance in Italien. Ebner & Seubert, 1868.

The platform hosts letters from about 400 writers who were in regular or in occasional contact with Burckhardt. Even if correspondents social stratification is manifold (this is particularly evident in female epistlers), the majority of these senders belongs to a same or to similar classes: they are all educated persons, i.e. the 19th century European intelligentsia. The high number of art lovers is conspicuous, and it is no accident that the contemporary community of art historians is almost completely present.
The correspondence covers a time span from 1843 up to 1897, a crucial period in European history and culture, marked by serious civil disorders in France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, as well as by the Franco-Prussian War and by the birth of Italy and Germany nation-states. Indeed, the letters large corpus represents a valuable source bearing witness to the significant moments in the development of a new European identity. In this archive, created by correspondents, the debate also includes many social and cultural issues of the second half of the 19th century: for instance, writers shed a light on the advance of industrial culture and its impact on neo-humanist ideals of education, and on the growth of the modern concept of democracy. This correspondence attests the exchange within the scientific community, in particular between contemporary art historians and Burckhardt. So the addressee proves relevant in the establishment of art history as an autonomous discipline, separate from history or archaeology, and has an active role on Museums policy. Moreover, these letters reveal the importance Burckhardt and his correspondents awarded to photographs in art history.

The whole corpus of letters to Burckhardt consists of about 1100 documents. The majority is written in German, while another great part are Italian letters, there are also some letters in French and in English. At the moment (April 2016) are visible 700 missives, but more letters are being uploaded once every two weeks. Generally, a letter will be available online when the «Semantic edition», the «Philological version» and the «Metadata» are «validated», this impies that also XML and images are ready, while the annotation procedure is still going on. This last case will appears on the «Semantic edition» as «Annotation in-progress». The Digital Library offers two versions for each letter: the default visualisation is the «Semantic edition» i.e. a running text with semantic annotations added through the Pundit software package, designed to identify persons, places, dates, bibliographic sources, and related art works. The scientific proof of the art works is provided by a link to the Bildarchiv Foto Marburg. Further annotations like references to Burckhardt’s collection of photographs, as well as «free text» annotations can be visualised by clicking on the red button («Click here for further annotations»).
On the other hand, the «Philological version» presents the transcription with all the authors’ variants and editors’ decisions. Thanks to the original scan, displayed next to the «Philological version», editors’ decisions are accessible and transparent.
Eventually, a special section is dedicated to «Metadata», where an extensive number of metadata establishes the letters context.
Epistles are interconnected among the four sections of the platform – images, texts, critical commentary and metadata. For an easy and fast access, the platform provides an abstract for each letter.
Images illustrating metadata (people and places) come from external links and may not be contemporaneous to the letters. Similarly, art works images come from the Bildarchiv and could therefore show a conservation status different from the one coeval to the letters.
The so-called “Collections” suggest a thematic navigation through the Digital Library. Indeed, the website hosts six anthologies selected to stress different themes particularly remarkable in the whole correspondence to Burckhardt:
1. Potnia is dedicated to Women social condition in the second half of the XIX Century.
2. The Bode collection presents the correspondence between Burckhardt and Bode, for the first time in its complete version.
3. The one on music gathers the letters from the circle of friends who shared with Burckhardt the same passion.
4. Faraway includes sixteen letters sent by notable learned men from around the world.
5. The Europe collection provides important evidence on the major European events during the second half of the nineteenth century.
6. Photography sheds a light on both the didactic side, and the photography market.
Special Highlights are both in the Homepage and in the Collections. In the first case, a selected portfolio of particularly significant letters is extracted from the whole corpus, while single Collection’s Highlights offer a small choice among of missives inside the corresponding collection.
Access to single letter is easy: a single click opens the equivalent missive in its dual versions (Semantic and Philological). The same objective can be achieved through a different procedure, i.e. with the Search tool. Users accede to the facet Browser, where all the information previously added find their concrete formulation and use. On the left side of the screen a traditional filter refine a search through the metadata, while on the right side a new and extremely useful Filter is able to retrieve all the information added through annotation, and branched into Persons, Places, Artworks and Bibliographic Citations. Thanks to the autocompletion and suggestion software, the Search tool offers several hints: users can explore both text and annotations, thus building individual researches.

Geographical Search: the map displays only those letters having both sending and receinving place, while further geographical indications can be found in the Metadata section.

Due to copyright reasons, manuscripts original images of Paul Heyse’s letters are currently not visible. However, transcriptions (Semantic Edition, Philological Version) and Metadata are present on the platform in their complete form.

For the best accessibility and navigation of Burckhardtsource we recommend using Chrome as internet browser.

Please refer to this edition as follows: To quote an individual letter, use the appropriate button.


Project Documentation

This website hosts the documentation of EUROCORR ERC AdG “The European Correspondence to Jacob Burckhardt”: it is conceived to help understanding the criteria, methodologies and tools adopted by the research team involved in the project.

The Compendium part includes the definition of editorial criteria of the critical edition.

The section Protocols collects all the  rules followed during the different elaboration phases, ordered and divided in single codes:

The protocol specific for the Philological Version illustrates authors’ variants and editorial decisions for transcriptions. Besides, another protocol presents the different editorial decisions taken in order to differentiate the previous version from the Semantic Edition layout.

The Semantic Annotations Protocol highlights the different criteria adopted during the semantic annotation.

The ODT Protocol proposes the Guidelines for the use of the ODT Model, specifically conceived for Burckhardtsource.

In the Metadata Protocol editors explicits the set of metadata associated to each letter and their standard organisation within the platform backend.