The Bäumgartner letters: an archive of Reformation

The storage and selection of records is a process of remembering and forgetting which can have the same polemical and ideological power as any other form of collective biography. Taken primarily from the papers of the Bäumgartner family of Nuremberg, this collection of correspondence is both a personal and civic archive and a repository of Reformation memory. Many of the letters are addressed to Hieronymus Bäumgartner [d. 1565] (perhaps best known as the first suitor of the woman who became Luther’s wife, Katharina von Bora), his son and others associated with the Reformation in Nuremberg. The collection includes letters dating from between 1516 and 1746, although most are sixteenth-century. The correspondents include such figures as Philip Melanchthon, Georg Spalatin and Martin Bucer. The inclusion of engraved images of some of those whose correspondence is preserved here, such as this brightly coloured portrait of the Lutheran theologian Georg Major, points to the multiple purposes of such a collection: not just a neutral repository of knowledge but a celebration of lives through records. CL

German letters 1516-1746, portrait of Georg Major; letter from Georg Major (1549).

CUL: Add MS 712

Further Reading

Liesbeth Corens, Kate Peters and Alexandra Walsham, The Social History of the Archive: Record-Keeping in Early Modern Europe (Past & Present Supplement 11; Oxford, 2016).

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