Reading: Digital Gatekeeper of the Past: Delpher and the Emergence of the Press in the Dutch Golden Age

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Digital Gatekeeper of the Past: Delpher and the Emergence of the Press in the Dutch Golden Age

Author:

Michiel Van Groesen

Leiden University, NL
About Michiel

MICHIEL VAN GROESEN is Professor of Maritime History at Leiden University. For his NWO-Vidi project Covering the Ocean, he studies Atlantic news in printed newspapers of the early modern Low Countries.

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Abstract

Launched in 2013, Delpher has developed into arguably the most successful digitization project in the humanities in the Netherlands. However, success comes at a price. Because of the seemingly exemplary methodology of making historical newspapers openly accessible, Delpher has inadvertently encouraged several important misconceptions by scholars and general users alike. Few users realize that the database is not exhaustive, and that some of the choices underlying Delpher distort our current understanding of the role of printed newspapers. Common misconceptions are not actively discouraged by Delpher, and this should change. Based on the digitization of two seventeenth-century newspapers – both “pioneers of the Dutch press” – this essay argues that Delpher is a database that should be used with care. Although it opens new avenues of research, it obscures potentially more fruitful strategies of gaining a better understanding of the emergence of the printed newspaper in the Netherlands.

DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ts.340
How to Cite: Van Groesen, M., (2015). Digital Gatekeeper of the Past: Delpher and the Emergence of the Press in the Dutch Golden Age. Tijdschrift voor Tijdschriftstudies. (38), pp.9–19. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ts.340
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Published on 07 Dec 2015.
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