At Work in the Library: Intellectual and Material Practices of Historians in the 20th Century

At Work in the Library: Intellectual and Material Practices of Historians in the 20th Century

Project Gilbert Trausch, Université du Luxembourg – C²DH & IHist
Université du Luxembourg – Campus Belval, Luxembourg
Gefördert durch
Fondation André Losch
Esch sur Alzette
Vom - Bis
05.03.2021 - 05.03.2021
Wolfgang Freund, Université du Luxembourg – C²DH

How did a historian work in the last century? How did he organise his library and handle his books? What materials else did he use? How did he structure his notes and prepare his teaching and publications? In the context of the history of intellectuals, this workshop intends to exchange ideas situated at the crossroad of historiography and digitalisation.

At Work in the Library: Intellectual and Material Practices of Historians in the 20th Century

Workshop by the Research Group Project Gilbert Trausch at the University of Luxembourg – Campus Belval, 5.3.2021

In July 2020, the Center for Digital and Contemporary History (C²DH) and the Institut d’Histoire (IHist) of the University of Luxembourg started a research project on Gilbert Trausch (1931–2018), a major Luxembourgish historian. The main objectives of this project are the analysis of Trausch’s works – dealing mainly with Luxembourgish and European history – as well as the exploration of his working methods. Whereas the private library of Gilbert Trausch will be inventoried and made accessible in the Luxembourg Learning Centre, the library of the University of Luxembourg, a 3D-model of the library is being created and a selection of documents will be made accessible in form of digital editions. Both elements will be brought together in order to develop a scientific study on the intellectual and material practice of Gilbert Trausch as a historian of the 20th century.

It is of great importance to the research project group to integrate its work with the international research context of the history of intellectuals. With the workshop we intend, at the start of our research work, to exchange our ideas situated at the crossroad of historiography and digitalization with other researchers exploring similar scientific fields. That is why we would like to invite you to participate (virtually or physically) with a presentation in our one-day workshop, during which the following aspects will be explored:
- Libraries of historians of the 20th century
- Book collections as markers of an intellectual culture
- The personal library in the age of mass production of books
- Arrangement of books, classification systems, catalogues
- Material culture in the library: space, shelves, working tools, decoration, …
- The personal library: archive of knowledge, writing place, salon, …
- The personal library, a disappearing species in the 21st century?
Virtual reconstruction of libraries:
- To what aim? Virtual reconstruction of libraries between visual representation and concrete working tool
- Virtual libraries: conserving the past while creating something new
- Reconstructing chaos or organising sense? New possibilities of arranging and exploring book collections by virtual reconstruction
Working as a historian during the 20th century:
- The historian in his/her library: solitude vs. communication / team work
- From the printed to the digital public/private library: what impact on the historiographical work?
- From the pen to the PC: how did historical writing change through digitalisation?
- Did digitalisation kill the national historian?
As the aim of the workshop is to facilitate scientific exchange, presentations will not exceed 15 minutes to ensure that enough time is left for free discussions. The languages will be either English, French or German, according to the personal preferences of the participants. No professional oral translation is planned.

The University of Luxembourg will take in charge travel and accommodation costs as well as a light lunch. Until now, we are confident that the workshop may take place physically, but a virtual participation is also possible.

If you are interested in presenting a project or a reflection paper fitting into the framework of the workshop, please send a brief description in English, French or German before 18.12.2020 (max. 200 words) to