Early Scientific and Literary Journals

Explore scientific and literary journals
from the 18th century in german language.
Use the graph or search for people, publishers, journals and their relations.

Christos Bintsis, Raphael Hackl, Katharina Hoffmann, Michael Hafner

Many libraries provide access to digitized copies of early scientific journals. Catalogues provide metadata. Research provides details about single journals, people or specific groups. 
What is missing, is a quick and easy overview about who collaborated with whom, which cities or publishers where hotspots over time. Here are different attempts to provide an overview of the 18th century scientific and literary publishing bubble. 

Main Sources

Libraries and catalogues

Gelehrte Zeitschriften; Akademie der Wissenschaften Göttingen 
ANNO, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
Universität Bielefeld

Additional sources

– Wilke, Jürgen. Literarische Zeitschriften des 18. Jahrhunderts (1688-1789). Teil I: Grundlegung. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1978
– Wilke, Jürgen. Literarische Zeitschriften des 18. Jahrhunderts (1688-1789). Teil II: Repertorium. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1978.
– Schock, Flemming. Polyhistorismus und Buntschriftstellerei. Populäre Wissensformen und Wissenskultur in der frühen Neuzeit. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2012.
– Schock, Flemming, und Claire Gantet, Hrsg. Zeitschriften, Journalismus und gelehrte Kommunikation im 18. Jahrhundert. Bremen: edition lumière, 2014. 

Making Of

Collect Data

Starting point

  • collect metadata from libraries and catalogues (initially scraping, but then copying and typing)
  • structure data in a Google Sheet
  • add links to digitised versions (often from different sources then the metadata)
  • metadata for 350 journals

Initial challenges

  • inconsistent data (“Gotth.Ephr. Lessing” vs. “Gotthold Ephraim Lessing”, “Das Neueste aus der anmuthigen Gelehrsamkeit” vs. “Das neueste aus der anmutigen Gelehrsamkeit”, “Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht” vs. “Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht” etc.)
  • copying/scraping from various sources with various tools -> various encodings (especially with blanks!)
  • normalizing data (firstname, lastname)? – up to 4 firstnames; some people with a “von” -> switched back to just one name field 
  • hardly any contributors listed (only editors and publishers) – only some sample contributors added

Data modeling

  • Neo4j & MySQL
  • main target: make connections visible, be ready to add more detailed information (eg contributors, owners etc.) 




  • connect persons to journals: initially, there where only editors (so no further description necessary); as we added contributors, this needed more detail
  • connect cities: makes sense to connect them to publishers, but for some journals the publisher is unknown, but the city is known – anonymous publishers (id only) 
  • ids as varchars, not as int (needed for the network visualisation): works technically fine, but is a potential source of trouble with foreign keys
  • combine and reorder columns from Google Sheet (firstname/firstname/firstname/firstname/lastname -> name; several editors and cities per journal); recommendation: exploratory.io
  • create (and keep!) a clear structure in your files



  • relationships are easy here
  • we started with the data prepared for MySQL; what was the id in MySQL is now an additional property (initially planned to delete, but we keep it for quality and consitency checks)
  • same issues with missing publishers and connection to cities; we created them as “nn” (distinguished from each other through the “pub_id”-property)

Network visualisation (Gephi) 

  • basically the same data as for MySQL, combined in two files
  • main tables -> nodes
  • connecting/foreign key tables -> edges
  • thats why we needed the ids as varchars in order to differentiate between people, publishers etc. and in order to have unique relations in the edges list
  •  export for web with the sigma.js template

How to – Use and publication

  • make networks and connections visible
  • prepare interfaces to explore connections and networks

Network (Gephi)

browse, click and zoom trough the network or use the search 

tools: Gephi



search for people, publishers, journals or cities and explore connections and collaborations; search terms are not case sensitive and masked with % (searching for parts of words is possible); in order not to run too many queries, you need to click on “submit” to start a search

tools: AWS RDS free, Retool



use the visual query editor and prepared search phrases in Neo4j Bloom; search terms are case sensitive and exact matches
Due to licensing restrictions, a password is required. To request access, get in touch

tools: Neo4j Aura free 


To access a full documentation and access to data, get in touch.