Haussknecht’s travel diaries

The journeys of the botanist Carl Haussknecht (1838–1903) to the Ottoman Empire and Persia (1865 and 1866–1869). The annotated digital edition of his diaries.

Supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG

Project team:

The internationally renowned Herbarium Haussknecht, founded by the Thuringian botanist Carl Haussknecht (1838-1903) on October 18, 1896 in Weimar, currently located at Friedrich Schiller University Jena, houses among 3.5 million plant specimens thousands of specimens that Haussknecht brought back with him from his journeys in the Ottoman Empire and Persia in the years 1865 and 1866-1869.
A contextual frame to this collection, that will add much to our present knowledge about it, is provided by his travel diaries consisting of 15 octavos and a total of 988 pages, written in Kurrent. The range of information exceeds botany and includes disciplines such as geology, geography, cartography, zoology, but also regional, social, and cultural studies and histories. Selected passages that have been examined and evaluated so far demonstrate the significance of the diaries for the contextual interpretation of the plants collected by Haussknecht. Further, by making use of a variety of archival material, among it an album amicorum (autograph book) and carte de visite photographs, the annotated critical edition of the travel diaries not only enables the contextualisation of the herbariums founding collection. In addition it will help to appropriately acknowledge Haussknechts personality and impact on a national and international level and to appreciate his contribution to systematic botany and the development of Oriental botany. It also has an important contribution to make to the history of science, culture, and reception of the visited regions in the second half of the 19th century. The digital edition that will be realised in cooperation with the Thuringian University and State Library in Jena offers a virtual link of diary records with collectibles as well as archive and library material. The related georeferenced maps allow the precise localisation of the herbarium specimens and the reconstruction of Haussknechts itineraries that differed from the common itineraries at that time.

The interdisciplinary team including botanists belonging to the herbarium and specialists in Middle Eastern studies, mainly the Ottoman Empire and Persia in the 19th century, as well as a number of cooperation partners from additional disciplines, will carry out the identification and critical annotation of plant names, geographical names, people, and local incidents and conditions of high relevance in the history of science and culture.