Author:Dobrochna Futro

Winners Of Round Four Of The T-AP Digging Into Data Challenge 2017

We would like to congratulate our three COST Action members: Eero Hyvönen (Aalto University), Bruno Emanuel da Graça Martins (Universidade de Lisboa), and Patricia Murrieta-Flores (University of Chester) for being awarded funding in the 2017 DiD funding scheme!


Map of Oaxtepec, Morelos from the Relaciones Geográficas (1580)


The Trans-Atlantic Platform for the Social Sciences and Humanities along with sixteen international research funders jointly awarded approximately (US) $9.2 million to international teams investigating how large-scale computational techniques may be applied to answering research questions in the humanities and social sciences. These teams will be pursuing research in numerous areas, including musicology, economics, linguistics, political science, and history.


Two of the fourteen winning projects are led by our COST Action members:


HJ-253524. Mapping Manuscript Migrations: digging into data for the history and provenance of pre-modern European manuscripts.
Abstract: An international collaboration mapping the movement of pre-modern European manuscripts. The project links disparate datasets from Europe and North America to provide a view of the history and provenance of these manuscripts. Funders: Finland (AKA); France (ANR); United Kingdom (AHRC/ESRC); United States (IMLS). Principal Investigators: Toby Burrows (University of Oxford); Eero Hyvönen (Aalto University); Lynn Ransom (University of Pennsylvania); Hanno Wijsman (Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes).


HJ-253525. Digging into Early Colonial Mexico.
Abstract: An innovative international collaboration to study Relaciones Geográficas, a 16th century compilation ordered by the Spanish crown that gathered vast amounts of information about the New World through multiple records, both in Spanish and indigenous languages. Using a Big-Data approach, this project applies novel computational methodologies to study this important source for the colonial history of America. Funders: Mexico (CONACYT); Portugal (FCT); United Kingdom (AHRC/ESRC). Principal Investigators: Diego Jiménez-Badillo (Museo del Templo Mayor, INAH); Bruno Emanuel da Graça Martins (Universidade de Lisboa); Patricia Murrieta-Flores (University of Chester).



Per Pippin Aspaas: Astronomia disciplina maxime oecumenica?


In the period 19 February – 2 March 2017, I stayed in Basel as a STSM grantee. My host was Dr. Fritz Nagel of the Bernoulli-Euler Zentrum, whose office is located at the Universitätsbibliothek Basel.


The main task of my stay was to go through the surviving correspondence of the Basel-born savant Johann III Bernoulli, who served as Astronomer Royal of Berlin during the 1760s, 1770s, and 1780s. In investigating his Nachlass, I was looking for correspondence dealing with astronomy, not just any kind of learned, or private, exchange of information. Thanks to generous guidance from Dr. Nagel and extraordinary services provided by the staff at the Sonderlesesaal, I managed to go through all letters that one could expect to deal with astronomy. Brief abstracts of a substantial number of letters were made on the spot, whereas others were photographed for further study at home.


The STSM grant enabled me to go through unique materials of this member of the Bernoulli family, whose correspondence has not been studied, nor edited except for very small fractions, until now. The expected outcome of the STSM is twofold. Firstly, a number of letters will soon be exported from my excel files and uploaded into EMLO. Secondly, an analytical article will be prepared by Thomas Wallnig and myself, exploring to what extent astronomers cross confessional boundaries in their scientific correspondence. Johann III Bernoulli will be one of several astronomers whose correspondence will be analyzed for our article.



Justine Walden: The Wealth of Early Modern Italian Letters

Italians wrote more letters than any other early modern group: against a backdrop of merchant letters from the 13th and 14th centuries and letters exchanged between humanists and literary figures in in the 15th, collections of printed vernacular letters poured from Venetian presses in the 16th.  A vast quantity of letters was exchanged between doctors, astronomers, physicists, literary figures and musicians in 16th-century Italy, and intersecting with this outflow were courtly, facetious, and scientific letters from academicians; circulars describing natural and ethnographic phenomena written by Jesuits; advisory letters written by traveling diplomats, and spiritual letters written by religious figures. Many of these letters were widely copied, circulated, published and republished. Yet records of early modern Italian correspondence and the letters themselves, however, can be difficult to locate, in part because the letters are dispersed across so many different repositories and in part because of the wide diversity of types of finding aids and inventories (e.g., .pdf, handwritten, typewritten, and online inventories and data sources).


An Early Modern Italian Letters Census


This short-term scientific mission (STSM) consisted of canvassing early modern Italian letters sources with an eye to the requirements of a more comprehensive census. The project consisted of forays into Italian archives and a residence in Oxford so as to understand EMLO data requirements. The project confronted challenges both technological and prosopographic. On the technical side, there were issues of undigitized catalogues and integrating diverse data sources and bibliographic formats. On the prosopographic, basic biographical metadata was collected for several hundred letter-writers to ascertain whether they fell within EMLO’s temporal remit. Other challenges included the problem of duplicate records, database organization, and questions of translation.



The STSM resulted in two projects: 1) a report to help future researchers find early modern Italian letters and 2) a database of Early Modern Italian Letters, or EMIL, which contains information on 128 letters repositories, metadata on 4,700 early modern Italian letters sources, and metadata on 2,700 individual letters. Database categories consist of the name of the letter-writer, their biographical metadata and profession, the name of the archive and shelfmark and a link to the source where possible, whether the source is in manuscript or print format, whether it is early modern or modern, whether it is in catalogue or item format, and where applicable, notes on the size of the letters collection or other factors.


Dirk van Miert receives 2 million euros for research into the Open Science ideals of early modern knowledge networks

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded a Consolidator Grant of 2 million euros to one of our COST Action members, historian and Latinist Dr Dirk van Miert, to conduct research into the ideal of sharing knowledge within early modern scholarly networks in Europe.

The Consolidator Grant will allow Dirk van Miert to set up his own team of researchers and study the pre-history of Open Science during a five-year period (2017-2022).


Early Stage Researcher (PhD and Postdoc) Funding Opportunity

Cost actionWe are pleased to announce a fifth call for applications for short term research visits (“Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs)” relating to the EU COST Action IS 1310: Reassembling the Republic of Letters, 1500-1800.


This funding promotes international mobility between COST Countries participating in this Action, particularly for Early Stage Researchers.


Most successful applications will contribute directly to fulfilling the agendas of one or more of the Action’s six Working Groups, each of which is described under its own heading on this site. A list of abstracts from previously funded STSMs may be reviewed on the COST Action’s website.


Interested researchers are advised to follow the directions provided below and submit their application and supporting documents to the STSM Coordinator Vanda Anastácio  by the deadline of 19 December 2016.


The proposals must cover activities taking place between 3 January 2017 and 31 March 2017. All STSM activities must be entirely completed within these dates. In addition, a written report on the activities carried out during the STSM is due within 30 days of the end of the research visit.


Purpose of a STSM

STSM are aimed at strengthening existing networks and fostering collaborations by allowing researchers to visit an institution in a participating COST country. A STSM should contribute to the specific research objectives of the COST Action, while at the same time learning new techniques or gain access to specific expertise, instruments and/or methods not available in their own institutions.


In the specific case of COST Action “Reassembling the Republic of Letters”, this call explicitly addresses persons who deal with the digital processing of (early modern) learned correspondence, from different professional perspectives: librarians and archivists; scholars; IT specialists; digital humanities and media experts.  For detailed information on COST Action IS1310, please see the Memorandum of Understanding.


STSMs are especially (although not exclusively) targeted at persons at early stages of their professional career (defined as eight years since the award of the PhD or equivalent). We also particularly encourage the application of women, and/or persons from “inclusiveness countries” (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, FYR Macedonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey).


Further information regarding the STSM programme and the eligibility criteria can be downloaded here. For full details on the COST STSM funding rules the COST Vademecum.



Deadline for applications to be submitted: 19 December 2016
Notification of application outcome: 23 December 2016
Period of STSM: between 03 January 2017 and 31 March 2017
All STSM activities must occur in their entirety within the period specified above.


Contact person for clarifications:
Prof. Vanda Anastácio (STSM Coordinator)
University of Lisbon
Faculdade de Letras
Alameda da Universidade
Lisboa 1600-214  Portugal

Rethinking the Republic of Letters – Annual Conference in Warsaw

The Annual Conference of the COST Action IS 1310 “Reassembling the Republic of Letters” took place at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw, Poland from 11 to 15 June 2016.

Having previously explored scholarly work from the perspective of shared technical standards, the Warsaw conference pursued the opposite path: digital functionality was discussed from the perspective of current scholarly strands about the Republic of Letters.READ MORE

Working Group 4 meeting: Cataloguing standards for manuscript letters.

On Friday 4 March 2016 a meeting of WG4’s sub-group on metadata of manuscript correspondence was held in Dr Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin.


manuscript letters cataloguing standards

The meeting was followed by a tour of the Edward Worth Library, given by Dr Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian of the Edward Worth Library.


Convened by Dr Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian of the Edward Worth Library, Dublin, and Leader of Work Group 4, the workshop included presentations by Dr Gerhard Müller (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin) on the Kalliope Union Catalogue; Dr. Ad Leerintveld (Koninklijke Bibliotheek) on CEN (Catalogus Epistularum Neerlandicarum); and Ms Miranda Lewis on EMLO (Early Modern Letters Online).


The function of the workshop was to agree metadata standards for the description of manuscript correspondence. International Cataloguing standards were circulated in advance of the meeting and agreement was reached on the vast majority of elements. It was agreed that further research needed to be undertaken on a small number of problematic elements and that these would be discussed at subsequent meetings of WG4. It was decided that WG4’s session at the Warsaw conference in 2016 would address the issue of how we define letters.