The aim of this project is to establish a comprehensive online database of the letters written by or addressed to academically trained physicians in the (historic) German language area between 1500 and 1700. Such letters, written mostly in Latin or in German, have been preserved in numerous archives and libraries in Germany and abroad.
They range from scholarly communication and medical consultations to patients’ requests for medical advice and physicians’ correspondence with their family and friends and with printers, patrons, and authorities. The gamut of topics covered is accordingly wide and reaches far beyond the strictly medical realm.
The Akademienunion’s First Digital-Only Project
As the first digital-only project funded by the Akademienunion, the project and its database so far provide access to more than 50,000 letters with their basic data (sender, recipient, place, date, owning institution) and offer a detailed summary of the contents for thousands of them.
There is a parallel English language user interface and the summaries of the contents of the letters are in the process of being translated into English as well.
The project has received funding for a period of 15 years, since 2009, within the academies’ programme of the Union der Deutschen Akademien der Wissenschaften (Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities). It is carried out by the Institut für Geschichte der Medizin der Universität Würzburg under the auspices of the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities).