The project originated from Professor Michael Stolberg‘s many years of experience in manuscript research in numerous libraries and archives in Germany and abroad. In the course of this work, he identified thousands of letters – some of them bound together by the hundreds in letter collections – written by early modern physicians and/or addressed to them, whose existence was previously unknown to historical research.
This finding led to an idea, which was still very new at the time, namely to assemble these widely scattered sources in a virtual repository, to write an extensive summary for as many letters as possible and to make the results of this work freely available via OPAC. It was apparently the first digital-only project funded within the academies’ programme of the Union of the Academies.
Since then, database projects on various letter collections and types of letters have been established elsewhere. Yet with more than 50,000 letters in the data base and in terms of the number of letters that have been analyzed in depth and supplied with an extensive summary, this project holds a leading position in the world to this date.