Legal Dissertations of the 16th-18th Centuries from the Universities of the Holy Roman Empire
The dissertations project undertaken by the library has involved systematically recording and categorizing the content of a large quantity of legal dissertations dating from the early modern era.
The subject matter comprised several exceptionally rich collections of dissertations, disputations, treatises and occasional pieces dating predominantly from the 17th and 18th centuries, in all a total of 72,690 scripts – including numerous duplicates resulting from the differing provenances of the collections. Virtually all of the universities of the Holy Roman Empire are represented in the collections. However, the majority of texts originate from the old-established universities of northern Germany that are traditionally of importance for legal history, such as Halle, Wittenberg, Leipzig, Helmstedt and Jena. Around 8,000 documents were cataloged in a scientific project in the 1980s. The work now completed to fully record all of the collections is of huge benefit for researchers, not just in the field of legal history but in other disciplines with a historical bias. The project broke new ground in bibliographic analysis: The data records are much more formalized than is otherwise typical in library usage and contain numerous additional items of information such as, for example, the dedicatees, contributors and the place of origin of the respondent.
The bibliographic metadata were supplemented by digitizing what are termed key pages. Information can be gleaned from the images of the digitized title pages that would typically not be found in a simple catalogue record of the title. In addition, the dedication pages were also digitized. Without leaving their workstation, researchers who are not content with bibliographic data such as author, title, printer, publisher, year and place of publication, date of doctorate, etc. can switch by a click of the mouse to a full color image of the title and dedication pages. The additional information that can be accessed in this way provides a more precise picture of the document without having to examine the original.
The bibliographic data contained in the library’s webOPAC online catalogue can be searched via the Internet and the scanned images called up directly. The digitized pages are also available as color images via the Digitale Bibliothek which offers the convenience of extensive search facilities, for example via indices.