Speaking to One's Superiors

Petitions as cultural heritage and sources of knowledge

Professor Maria Ågren, Uppsala University
Link to project: http://gaw.hist.uu.se/petitions/
Contact: maria.agren@hist.uu.se

The purpose of this project is to enhance accessibility to and knowledge of a relatively little-used historical source—petitions—and to use this source to answer questions about people’s ways of supporting themselves and claiming rights in the past. The project focuses on eighteenth-century material from Swedish central state archives. The project will: 1) photograph and make publicly accessible a large volume of handwritten eighteenth-century petitions; 2) make high-quality indexes to the petitions; 3) strategically select a number of petitions for refined analysis of form, language, content and context; 4) contribute to the history of everyday politics and micro-level economy; 5) contribute to digital philology and the development of automatised historical text analysis The project will use standard archival metadata, the verb-oriented method, methods of computational stylometry and word-spotting and writer identification techniques. The project will also create a research infrastructure, combines insights and skills from several scholarly and scientific fields, and is an example of collaboration between university and archives as well as an example of digital humanities.