Johann Jakob Spreng’s «Allgemeines Deutsches Glossarium» (approximately 1743-1768)

Project information

The University Library Basel has one of the most important works of German-language lexicography history: the manuscript of the Allgemeines Deutsches Glossarium by Basel theologian and linguist Johann Jakob Spreng (1699-1768), which was not printed during his lifetime. Had it been published, it would have become the largest German-language dictionary of the 18th century; instead it lies in Spreng’s academic bequest in the University Library as a manuscript of twenty thick, self-glued volumes and a plethora of neatly-arranged pieces of paper.

In the last few years, the slumbering vocabulary has been kissed awake and is now to be made accessible to the public and for research as a classic print or online publication. This includes the conservation treatment of the manuscript, the complicated digitisation – many thanks to the Sophie und Karl Binding Stiftung – as well as the transcription and formatting of the approximately 100 000 word articles, written in Spreng’s neat Kurrent script – the latter is being done by a team of volunteer transcribers, under the direction of Germanist Prof. em. Dr. Heinrich Löffler. Generous project funding provided since the beginning of 2019 by the Christoph Merian Stiftung has provided added impetus towards the completion of the project. The project is expected to be completed by December 2021.