Monika Eisenhauer: Transformation of Economic Data into Modern Digital Media – The Report of Abbot Heinrich Libler from the Year 1640. Abstract # 11 (random order)
“Economic data are contained in quite different sources. Quite obviously we find them in account books, receipts, etc. But there are also sources aiming for different intentions at the first sight which can provide us with information of economic situations.
The legislative records of the Bursfelde Congregation belong to these kinds of sources. Being the recorded documentation of the annual general assembly they attest not only to their member’s movements, decisions and political involvements but also to the of economic situation of the union in many places.
The Bursfelde Congregation was founded in 1446 as a union of the reformed Benedictine monasteries in the German regions. For many centuries the number of its members had been growing according to the rate of reforms occurring in the abbeys with the intention of renewing monastic life. Simultaneously the organization’s structure strengthened and formed a compact body over the years. The consolidation of the administration structure can be read off the recorded economic data.
In 1640 in the middle of the Thirty Years’ War abbot Heinrich Libler presented his report documenting several years of economic activities to the general chapter at the annual general meeting. The report details the revenues and expenses of the economic years 1628-1640. Though the report reveals the basic approach to a structure, it does not correspond to today’s forms of accountancy. Therefore we need an analysis with a following transformation to register and to chart the given procedures of the 17th century.
This transfer to the digital field can be arranged as the following:
Identification: First of all digital charting demands identifying the data as economic data and asking the question of which type of data is on hand, e.g. if it is comparable to a cash account book or to a calculation.
Transformation: In this context it means a circumscription of the early modern period’s text, what means the rearrangement of the shape. The presentation can often be given according to the structure of the double-entry book-keeping system by extrapolating the missing contra-accounts.
Analysis: After having identified the data as economic data within their function and having performed the transformation they can be digitalized and analyzed for example by consulting Excel or a modern book-keeping program.
I was able to identify the numerical data of revenues and expenses given in the written form in the processed report as indications of a cameralistic annual account, which could then be transformed into a modern digital form. Charting this form you can then build relative parameters and integrate the results into history’s context in the last step. Heinrich Libler’s report revealed the noticeable finding that the investment activity was particularly high, probably caused by the long war. Especially the distribution of the costs uncovers not only economic information but also the political activities of the Bursfelde Congregation.”
Monika Eisenhauer (Koblenz)
Presentation: Oct 23, 11.25 – 11.45 a.m., University of Regensburg, Großer Sitzungssaal des Philosophikums (PT 3.0.79) [PROGRAMME]
Picture credits: By Merian , hochgeladen von AxelHH (Merian) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons