Discovering delights and the resources of the archives of Gdansk’s institutions are full of fascinating subjects. The library of Gdansk University of Technology has in its digital resources unique journals from the travels of Nathaniel Jacob Gerlach from 1727-1730. They tell the journey from Gdansk through Kashubia and Pomerania to the Rhine and the borders of the Netherlands. The City Culture Institute, which has already published, among others, coloring books with German-Polish phrasebook from the 17th century or the collection of colorful engravings of Mateusz Deisch from the 18th century, that continues the search for historical pearls. Thanks to cooperation with the Gdansk University of Technology’s Library, there begins work on giving a second life to mysterious travel manuscripts.
Nathaniel Gerlach’s journals written by Christian Gabriel Fischer are observations about fauna, flora, but also mathematics, machinery, economics and literature written in German. In fact, that’s all we can say about them. Only as much as one can gather from the library description and a cursory review of the illustrations. Further work requires reading logs, analyzing the language, maps and illustrations.
– Manuscripts belong to those collections that intrigue us humanly. They are personal, objective and true. They give us the impression of looking over the author’s shoulder. We feel like explorers. Our enthusiasm can unfortunately quickly weaken and we will settle on the pictures … Unfortunately, the handwriting is extremely difficult to read. Additionally, if it is a foreign language – the difficulty is doubled. Now, that access to digital collections of culture is ever wider and search engines are commonly also searching among content, manuscripts are still unavailable to computers. Their content is impossible for the computer to read, and they themselves remain a mystery and surprise – says Karina Rojek from the City Culture Institute.
On the initiative of Kamila Kokot from the Pomeranian Digital Library (project implemented by the Library of Gdansk University of Technology), the cooperation of two institutions begins with reading and showing in a new, creative way the journals from the journey of Nathaniel Gerlach. The first stage of actions involves transliteration and translation of manuscripts. The plans include accompanying events revolving around themes: calligraphy, neo-Gothic writing, historical fonts, reading neo-Gothic, writing journals, blogs, drawing from nature, herbariums, illustrations …
– At the Institute, we have been searching for Gdansk themes available in the public domain, promoting them and publishing publications since 2013. At that time, among others, “Sophisticated” souvenirs from Gdansk with motifs from old Gdansk advertisements developed, the website www.szukamy.org provides us with new materials for downloading and processing, after all public domain resources are free. We have published coloring books with German-Polish phrasebook by Mikolaj Volckmar from the 17th century or colorful engravings by Mateusz Deisch with Gdansk developers from the 18th century – says Karina Rojek, who coordinates public domain projects at IKM.
What will we learn from journals about Gdansk and contemporary Europe? The City Culture Institute together with the Library of Gdansk University of Technology will inform about discoveries from Nathaniel Gerlach’s travel journals written by Christian Gabriel Fischer. Meanwhile, the UoT Library has provided several illustrations from journals in the form of jpg. They can be downloaded and freely processed!