Two weeks ago, we brought you the story of Johann Peter Oettinger, a seventeenth-century German-speaking barber-surgeon who in 1693 journeyed to Africa and the West Indies on behalf of the Brandenburg African Company. His journal from that period captures the height of German participation in the transatlantic slave trade.
Today, we bring you the story of the journal itself and how two historians, Craig Koslofsky and Robert Zaugg, found the manuscript independently of one another in the Berlin archives.
The journal’s history is as important as its contents. How we interpret the history within it means we need to know something of its origin. And for more than a century, what historians thought was Oettinger’s authentic journal, wasn’t the real journal at all.
On today’s show, Koslofsky and Zaugg weave together a tale made of paper scraps, lost manuscripts, family revisions, and plain dumb luck to reveal the journal’s true origin, and how what could have resulted in the academic equivalent of fisticuffs turned into a wonderful collaboration.
Koslofsky and Zaugg are the co-editors and translators of A German Barber-Surgeon in the Atlantic Slave Trade: The Seventeenth-Century Journal of Johann Peter Oettinger (University of Virginia Press, 2021).
Our friends at UVA Press are offering a 40% discount on this published edition of Oettinger’s journal. If you’d like your own copy, use discount code 10BARBER on the press's website.
About Our Guests:
Craig Koslofsky, Ph.D, is Professor of History and Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Roberto Zaugg, Ph.D., is is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.
About Our Host:
Jim Ambuske, Ph.D., leads the Center for Digital History at the Washington Library. A historian of the American Revolution, Scotland, and the British Atlantic World, Ambuske graduated from the University of Virginia in 2016. He is a former Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia Law Library. At UVA Law, Ambuske co-directed the 1828 Catalogue Project and the Scottish Court of Session Project. He is currently at work on a book about emigration from Scotland in the era of the American Revolution as well as a chapter on Scottish loyalism during the American Revolution for a volume to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press.
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