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Archiving the Archive: Scribal and Material Culture in 17th-Century Zurich

Archiving the Archive: Scribal and Material Culture in 17th-Century Zurich

Chapter:
(p.209) 9 Archiving the Archive: Scribal and Material Culture in 17th-Century Zurich
Source:
Archives and Information in the Early Modern World
Author(s):
Sundar Henny
Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266250.003.0009

This contribution is an exercise in amalgamation: it seeks to blur the distinctions between archival and scribal culture, between form and content, and between the history of the book and history of material culture. Three leading figures of 17th-century Zurich—a clergyman and two magistrates—are spotlighted as they take respective measures to secure their memory. Although these measures and the corresponding archival situations differ quite significantly, it becomes obvious that in all of these cases materiality played a crucial role in the process of conservation. Written remains were referred to as relics, treasures, and monuments. To reduce those non-governmental collections to a cult of autographs, however, would miss the point. Copying also flourished and was thought of as a necessity as well as an act of asceticism. The argument is that ‘information’, narrowly understood, does not convey what early modern archives were all about.

Keywords:   archival studies, materiality of writing, early modern Zurich, relics, chests, memory, conservation, Reformed orthodoxy, manuscript culture, scribal culture, material culture

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