Seminar: Jezzica Israelsson

  • Date: –11:30
  • Location: Carolina Rediviva Tidskriftsläsesalens inre del (TLS)
  • Lecturer: Jezzica Israelsson
  • Organiser: Digital Humanities Uppsala
  • Contact person: Matts Lindström
  • Seminarium

Speaking to One’s Superiors: Petitions as cultural heritage and sources of knowledge

Archives in Sweden and elsewhere are packed with petitions – applications from individuals to different authorities – that in and of themselves are evidence of people in the past trying to influence their lives in various ways. Despite this, petitions have relatively seldom been used in Swedish historical research. One reason for their limited use is the lack of efficient search tools, in combination with their sheer numbers.

Recently however, petitions have been incorporated into several projects that also aim to digitize them, thereby making them more accessible. In the Gender and Work (GaW) project, researchers manually transcribe petitions and then process the information in an open-access database, in order to find out more about how people provided for themselves in past times. Within the GaW project, I specifically work with eighteenth- and nineteenth-century petitions to a regional authority (landshövdingeämbetet) with the aim of increasing our knowledge about the resources women and landless groups used to support themselves, and the constraints they faced in this endeavor. In the so-called Supplication project, launched this year in collaboration between historians, archivists and computational linguists, regional petitions are put center-stage with the goal to make them easier to work with and to enhance our knowledge about them. In this presentation, I will explore how petitions are used in these projects and how we work with them digitally, to show how they can help us learn more about the women and men who used this form of communication to claim their rights.

For more information about the GaW project and the Supplication project, please visit our homepage: