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3 Swiss-German Self-Narratives: The Archival Project as a Rich Vein of Research

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Chapter Summary

In recent decades, self-written documents have become established in early modern historical research as a useful and serious resource. For a long time researchers were concerned only with a few known self-written texts (e.g., Thomas and Felix Platter, Josua Mahler, Johann Kaspar Lavater). When, in the middle of the 1990s, Kaspar von Greyerz proposed a Swiss archival project, it first required a one-year pilot study just to prove that the Swiss archives and libraries held a large number of unknown self-written documents from the early modern period. The archival project involved reading through an extensive range of resources, not only the 870 self-written documents which found their way into the database but also many other resources - perhaps two or three times as many - which were not included. The diary, family book and autobiography are the major forms of self-narrative in the data-bank of Swiss-German self-narratives.

Keywords: autobiography; diary; family book; Kaspar von Greyerz; self-narratives; Swiss archival project; Swiss archives



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