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Research Projects of the University of Cologne‘s Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Astrolabium. Image: Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, Meier, Wolfgang F., 2009, rba_d015453 HAStK, Best. 155U, U 2/56/1, 1637 July 2, Dresanus (Minten): Henricus Glimbach, Licentiate of the Holy Scripture. Notary Theodorus Mappius Rückstoßrad. Physical measuring instrument. Image: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, 1976/1980, ba_c000445

Research and Digital Knowledge Transfer

The “Physical Cabinet“ from the Collection of the Cologne Jesuits, the Founding of the Kölner Gymnasial- und Stiftungsfonds and the History of Donating in and around 1800

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Gudrun Gersmann | Chair of Early Modern History

Funded by the Kölner Gymnasial- und Stiftungsfonds (KGS)

This new research project under the supervision of Prof Dr Gudrun Gersmann has a duration of four years (2018-2022). It is part of a broader funding initiative of the Kölner Gymnasial- und Stiftungsfonds (KGS) to explore and digitally document the historical heritage of the Cologne Jesuits in the context of the founding of the KGS in and around 1800. Other Cologne institutions such as the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum and the USB Cologne are also involved in the initiative within the framework of individual sub-projects.The project at the Chair of Early Modern History will focus on two content-related aspects: on the one hand, the thus far insufficiently explored “Physical Cabinet”, its acquisition, the contained objects and their use. The “Cabinet” with its scientific instruments was an integral part of the Jesuits’ collections which came into the possession of the KGS after the dissolution of the order in 1773 due to the transformation of the educational system during the French Period. This teaching collection, which has its origins in the beginning of the 18th century and was then gradually expanded over the course of the following decades, has been used for the education of science students for many years at the University of Cologne. Therefore, this project contributes not only to the history of the collection and its objects but also to the exploration of the history of the University of Cologne and the history of sciences.The second focus will lie on another thus far unexplored aspect, namely the foundation of the KGS during the Napoleonic Era which documents its transition from a charitable group of individuals to a professionally administered civil foundation. This research will be complemented by a dissertation project which will examine the history of donation during the crucial period in and around 1800. The findings of the project will be published within the framework of publications and anniversary celebrations: a digital publication about the “Physical Cabinet” will be become available in 2019 on the publication platform, which is funded by the University of Cologne, subsequent to the planned exhibition of a collection of the Cologne Jesuits’ drawings at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum. A printed text on the founding of the KGS will also be published for the “Napoleon-Year” 2021 and the anniversary of the KGS in 2022 respectively coupled with a second digital publication that will present the fundamental research material and findings. Finally, the dissertation will be published.Outstanding young academics will be involved in the digital publications – this has already proved successful in previous projects (see Walraff digital) – promoting their visibility through digital publishing at an early career stage. Furthermore, the research assistants will acquire the ability to convey historical research to the general public in a media-based way. In doing so, this project combines research with the digital transfer of knowledge and the promotion of young researchers and can be seen as a contribution from the humanities to the on-going development of the “Third-Mission Strategy“ of the University of Cologne.

Text: Christine Schmitt


Chair of Early Modern History
Prod. Dr. Gudrun Gersmann

Researchers: Elisabeth Schläwe, Henrike Stein

E-mail fruehe-neuzeit(at)