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BMBF Joint Project: “Alexander von Humboldt’s American Travel Journals”

Sandra Ewers

Coordination of the Joint Project

State Library of Berlin - Prussian Cultural Heritage

 

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Potsdamer Straße 33
10785 Berlin

 

The BMBF joint project, "Alexander von Humboldt’s American Travel Journals," is a cooperative undertaking between the University of Potsdam and the Berlin State Library - Prussian Cultural Heritage. From 2014 to 2017, both institutions are conducting sub-projects that research, index, and render accessible Humboldt’s American travel journals.

  • Sub-project “Genealogy, Chronology, Epistemology”(University of Potsdam)
  • Sub-project “Securing, Contextualization, and Digitalization” (Berlin State Library - Prussian Cultural Heritage)

These closely affiliated projects are being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and are directly associated with the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation’s acquisition of the journals in 2013. The acquisition was made possible primarily by public funding provided by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and the Berlin Lotto Foundation, along with generous supplemental support from additional donors.

Sandra Ewers

Coordination of the Joint Project

State Library of Berlin - Prussian Cultural Heritage

 

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Potsdamer Straße 33
10785 Berlin

Sub-project

“Genealogy, Chronology, Epistemology” (University of Potsdam)

Dr. Julian Drews

Project coordinator

Universität Potsdam

 

Universität Potsdam
Am Neuen Palais 10
14469 Potsdam

 

A team of five doctoral students and post-docs, led by  Ottmar Ette, is conducting a research project that pursues an integrative research approach across various disciplines, offering profound insights into models of knowledge influenced by Humboldt.

Humboldt’s American journey (1799–1804) was the first such expedition to serve purely scientific purposes, which is why it is understood as one of the historical founding moments of modern science. A reappraisal of the previously unexplored diversity and volume of his observations certainly constitutes one of the most important desiderata in research on the nineteenth century. In addition, Humboldt’s travel journals form the foundation of his scientific works with their numerous notes, excerpts, tables, sketches, political reflections, initial attempts at creating theories, and drawings. They are the point of departure for his Voyage aux régions équinoxiales du Nouveau Continent, written between 1805 and 1838; Humboldt even draws on the materials and sources here in his work on Cosmos (1845–1862). The original documents will now facilitate precise research on the American journals.

Project director

Prof. Dr. Ottmar Ette
Chair of Romance Literary Studies at the University of Potsdam

Project coordinator

Dr. Julian Drews
Academic Staff

Dr. Julian Drews

Project coordinator

Universität Potsdam

 

Universität Potsdam
Am Neuen Palais 10
14469 Potsdam

Digitalization and Contextualization

The American travel journals, the Humboldt estate papers, and the Humboldtiana collections as digital artifacts in Kalliope and the digital collections of the Berlin State Library - Prussian Cultural