Zürcher Ratsmanuale 1700-1798

The Zurich Council Manuals contain the minutes of the meetings of the authorities from the old city-state of Zurich until 1798. They represent the central series for the study of Zurich’s history in the pre-modern era. The manuals from the 18th century have been processed by the State Archives of Zurich using Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR).

About the content

Political alliances, marital conflicts, crimes: the issues that the council of the old city-state of Zurich negotiated are very diverse. The Zürcher Ratsmanuale contains the minutes of the council meetings of the authorities of the old city-state of Zurich up to 1798. They represent the central series for research into Zurich's history in the pre-modern era.

The council manuals contain the resolutions of the council meetings of Zurich's state decision-makers, the Zurich authorities. This was made up of the large and small councils. The small council was the central decision-making body and the large council was its extension. The two mayors and the Councilors of the Small Council were elected by the "Burger” (the members of the Great Council). The remaining councilors were guild masters and constaff gentlemen, who were appointed directly by the guilds and the constaff society. Women and non-citizens had no opportunity to have a say. The The small council was divided into two council halves, each with 24 councilors and a mayor, who alternated in office every six months on John's Day in June (John Baptista, hence "Baptistal Council") and in December (John the Evangelist after Christmas, therefore "Natal Council"). The incumbent half of the council appears in the council manuals with the designation g «New advice». However, it often happened that the new and the old council (acting council of the previous half-year, also “standing council”), i.e. “both councils” met together.

For each half of the council, a separate, narrow-format volume of minutes was kept every six months. In addition, a distinction was made between the manuals of the town clerk and those of the signer, which led to four volumes of minutes per year.

With regard to the manuscripts, a heterogeneous picture emerges over the approximately 300 years for which the council manuals have been handed down. In addition to the city and signers, the hands of their deputies and other scribes from the city chancellery are certainly also found. In this way, the For this project, text recognition models trained a wide range of handwriting within the pre-modern Zurich chancellery. The handwriting has not yet been assigned to individual scribes.

Project background

The State Archive of the Canton of Zurich (StAZH) has long been making its central series and important individual documents on the history of the canton (from 1803) and the old city-state as its legal predecessor (until 1798) available digitally. The central series on Zurich's history in the pre-modern era the Ratsmanuale. As part of the pilot project Premodern Sources (PVQ) in the years 2019 to 2022, the protocol volumes of the 18th century were mostly with automatic handwriting recognition, partly also through manual transcription, for the attention of the prepared for the public.

On average, two pages per volume were transcribed manually as training material for the handwriting models. In these, people, places and organizations were also tagged. The other pages were automatically recognized with handwriting models. The quality of the preparation of the individual pages can therefore vary Due to the mentioned heterogeneity of the fonts, the automatic handwriting recognition has an error rate of 5 to 8 percent, which usually ensures both good searchability and good legibility.

Project background

With the preparation of the council manuals of the 18th century (1700-1798) (interrupted by the Helvetic epoch), the central series of the Protocols of the Canton Council (legislature) and the Government Council Decisions (Executive) re-extended from 1803.