Inventing the Archive: Testimony and Virtue in Modern Historiography

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This article investigates the emergence of the archive as the primary venue for the production of historical knowledge in the 19th century. The turn to archival research, the article argues, may be considered as a response to the discussions about the problems of testimony that dominated 18th- and early 19th-century German writings on the methodology and epistemology of historical research. These discussions, especially regarding the epistemic virtues of witnesses, also helped create the particular culture of knowledge-making within German historical scholarship that enabled the archival turn. The article illustrates these developments through the examples of Johann Peter von Ludewig, who was one of the most prominent historians of the early German Enlightenment, and Leopold von Ranke, who is normally considered the founder of the modern historical discipline and the most important advocate of the 19th-century archival turn.
TidsskriftHistory of the Human Sciences
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)8-26
StatusUdgivet - 2013


  • archives
  • epistemic virtues
  • historical epistemology
  • historiography
  • testimony

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