For the third time since I started the project “Berlin intellectuals 1800-1830”, great luck has come to me from descendants’ families. Unexpectedly, material turns out to be recoverable. Letters – answers to other letters we have edited in Letters and Texts – happen not to be lost after all. They are in a box, the box in a cabinet, the cabinet in the home of an elderly lady. And they have been there at least since the first edition (a censored edition, of course) was realised in the 1930s.
The moment when you get a phone call at your office with someone presenting themselves with the last name of an author you edit is a moment of blessing, for many reasons. One of these reasons is that they call you because they found your research online, which means: open science is not a vain word, and the effort of making one’s research easily accessible online makes a difference – for them and for you. With that phone call, new worlds open for your research, like in this case finding the answers to decades of correspondence. We will date better, understand allusions, see how the relationship evolves, grasp contexts. We will put the puzzle pieces back together, something we can do virtually without displacing documents but for the few hours needed to digitize them. Continue reading “Families, I do not hate you”