Sonia Calvi, Jonas Sagelsdorff: Annual Accounts of the City of Basel, 1535-1610. Abstract # 5 (random order)

“The Staatsarchiv Basel holds a wide range of primary sources concerning the medieval and Early Modern financial budget of the city of Basel. These sources cover the period from 1362 to 1799. For almost the whole period there are weekly accounts, for a large number of years there are also quarterly accounts and annual accounts have survived as an almost complete series between 1362 and 1610 (almost 250 years). Between 1909 and 1913, Bernhard Harms published a paper edition of the annual accounts from the beginning of the series in 1362 until 1534.

The digital edition to be presented continues Harms’ series. It covers the years 1535 to 1610. Under the lead of Prof. Dr. Susanna Burghartz, University of Basel, a team of three master students planned and realized this ambitious project in close cooperation with Dr. Georg Vogeler and his team at the Zentrum für Informationsmodellierung located at the University of Graz. The idea was to not only have an electronic reproduction of the original sources but to provide a digital edition that equips the user with additional analytical tools. These tools should combine traditional search functions with the possibility of quantitative analyses. The task was therefore to find a way of editing the sources that fulfilled basic classical editorial requirements as well as modern digital standards.

The annual accounts are bound paper booklets with an average of 100 pages each. They contain the income and expenditure of the main city treasury. These lists show a differentiated structure with several accounts and subsidiary accounts which hardly varied over a very long period. Covering the 76 years between 1535 and 1610, this edition added up to the transcription of around 7500 handwritten pages. The accounts are written in German. During the period covered by the edition the amounts of the single entries switch successively from the Roman to the Arabic numerical system.

The final result is an online edition with open access. As a rule, an analogue edition is printed on paper and completed once it is being printed. Similarly, an electronic edition doesn’t offer much more tools than full text search and online accessibility. By contrast, the digital edition of the Basel accounts opens more opportunities for analysis with digital instruments like statistical exploration and complex full text search: The presentation will demonstrate first experiences of this kind of analysis. Furthermore, the digital edition can be expanded in order to pursue new scientific questions and adapted to technical innovations.

The edition was constructed with the XML/TEI scheme which brings major benefits as well as difficulties. The main benefits are the sustainability and the universality of this scheme whereas the translation of an Early Modern primary source in the strictly hierarchical and consistent structure of the TEI scheme was challenging. In order to do justice to editorial principles, to requirements of modern analyses and to the standard of standard of the XML/TEI scheme we elaborated a structure that takes into account all three levels of prerequisite.

The digital processing of the sources in this edition was laborious and complex. However, web-based handling of and work with our edition aims to be as simple as possible. This shall open our data to as many scholars, students and interested lay persons as possible and to a wide variety of research questions without deterring researchers with technical obstacles.”


Sonia Calvi, Jonas Sagelsdorff (Universität Basel)

Presentation: Oct 23, 9.20-9.40 a.m., University of Regensburg, Großer Sitzungssaal des Philosophikums (PT 3.0.79) [PROGRAMME]



Picture credits: Basel Area map, Abraham Ortelius [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Kathrin Pindl (October 5, 2015). Sonia Calvi, Jonas Sagelsdorff: Annual Accounts of the City of Basel, 1535-1610. Abstract # 5 (random order). MEDEA. Retrieved July 21, 2024 from

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