In the 18th century the Reformed Church’s Békés Diocese stretched from the valley of the Körös rivers to border region in the south of Hungary, covering a very big geographical area. Presently the former congregations are located in three countries and five dioceses. From the end of Rákóczi’s War of Independence up until the administrative reform of the Transtibiscan church district the Békés Diocese was unified in terms of its territory: there were no congregations quitting the diocese, what is more, new ones joined. This is rather lucky from a historical research perspective because this era can be considered a homogeneous period. In the research project our objective is to learn about the everyday life of people living in the Reformed Church’s Békés Diocese in the 18th century. We intend to collect information from various archives and to publish them in print and electronic form. From the project’s perspective we differentiate three groups of documents: documents related to religious life belong to the first group. Some of the topics that fall into this category are the following: religious life, holidays, church disciplinary matters, religious worldview, religious values, religious tolerance, conflicts between denominations. We put the external and internal relations of the congregation into the second group and the third group is for educational and cultural issues. When studying the system of relationships we examine the relationship between pastor and congregation members, settlements’ contacts with the church, conflicts between the parish and the diocese, and the communication between lay authorities and the church. Since in the Békés diocese there were German-speaking communities as well, it is worth shedding light on the connection with foreign churches, too. As for learning about educational and cultural matters, we examine how various intellectual trends were received, how prosperous peasants participated in the literary life and what kind of set of values they stood for (e.g. the public opinion about reading or pox vaccination, etc.). In the course of studying the fields mentioned above we plan to analyze documents in each congregational archive of the Békés diocese, where probably presbyterial minutes and correspondence will be the most useful sources.
We are going to make digital copies of the sources uncovered during the research and these copies will be placed in a repository. Traditionally repositories are databases that contain full texts but in the case of 18th-century manuscripts digital images cannot be expected to be converted into text files automatically. While processing we will assign metadata to sources and will make excerpts before finally transcribing the whole manuscript. By working this way already from the beginning of the research work we meet the Open Access requirements as the documents become available on the internet. By the end of the project we would like to have a print ready collection of sources too, but the Departement of Cultural Heritage will ensure the working of the repository even after funding of the project has come to an end.