As an organ of communication received throughout the Holy Roman Empire, the Wien[n]erisches Diarium founded in 1703 (known as the Wiener Zeitung from 1780 onwards) played a leading role in the dissemination of knowledge and brought Vienna into focus as a space of representative action. All editions of the (initially) biweekly periodical are available for the entire eighteenth century, which explains its central importance as a source for a plethora of disciplines (media history, art history, history of music, literary studies, the study of ceremony, onomastics, historical linguistics etc.).

The Department of Art History of the IHB is cooperating with the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage (ACDH-CH) of the OeAW in a research project dedicated to producing a digital edition of the Wien[n]erisches Diarium. Some one hundred exemplary issues – spread over the entire eighteenth century – are being made available as carefully edited and secured full text versions in a specially developed DIGITARIUM. Against the background of the Wien[n]erisches Diarium’s development as a periodical in the modern sense, we have sought to present a reference corpus expressing the upheavals and turns in a period of changing political, social, scientific and artistic conditions.

To prepare the full text digitalisation, the scans from the Austrian National Library’s (ÖNB) online portal ANNO are prepared at the ACDH-CH before being transmitted to the TRANSKRIBUS text recognition platform, where their layout (text regions, lines and words) is scanned in page by page and a reading sequence is proposed for the transcription. Using a combination of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR), the individual units are finally scanned in and transformed into machine-readable text. The automatically produced, uncorrected text must then be manually edited in several painstaking steps and in line with the transcription guidelines developed for the project. The textual data reproduce the historical orthography without alterations and the above processing procedure provides 99.7 per cent accuracy.

The initial results of the research project were presented at a conference at the Austrian Academy of Sciences from 24–25 April 2018 and published as part of the Wiener Geschichtsblätter (2019).

The Wien[n]erisches Diarium as a Medium of Habsburg Strategies of Representation

The impulse to found a “quality newspaper” in the German language came from the Imperial court in Vienna in 1703. The Wien[n]erisches Diarium remained closely connected to the court, for instance through its exclusive authorisation to publish court news, which in turn served to legitimise Habsburg rule.

An IHB research project funded by the City of Vienna (department MA7) and entitled “The Wien[n]erisches Diarium as a Medium of Habsburg Strategies of Representation” critically examines the dynamics between the imperial house and the Wien[n]erisches Diarium –with respect to both direct reporting on the Vienna court and the reception of art and culture (duration: January 2019 to February 2020). By considering the example of important annual events such as public dining at the Vienna court and their reporting in the Wien[n]erisches Diarium, the project seeks to understand and analyse how the court steered the flow of information. The aim is to examine what image of the Vienna court was transported when.

The Wien[n]erisches Diarium also played an important role in the artistic and cultural life of the imperial city: by documenting courtly culture, it also covered artistic ceremonial culture and by reporting on cultural and artistic events it contributed to the development of a public audience for art. How did these reports on art resonate with the broader public and how was that affected by the public’s changing understanding of art and increased interest in it?