Content Analysis of Johann Heinrich Zedler's Universal-Lexicon

In Cooperation with the Bavarian State Library (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek)


The Universal-Lexicon also contains engravings within the text,
here the "Lufft-Thermometer" in vol. 18 (1738)

Johann Heinrich Zedler's Universal-Lexicon is by far the biggest general dictionary of the eighteenth century. The present project aims at establishing a table of contents for the more than 68.000 pages in 68 folio volumes, printed between 1732 and 1754. According to the title page the dictionary treats subjects from more than 33 different disciplines. The Bavarian State Library (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek) has digitized the Universal-Lexicon ( enabling all ca. 288.000 entries (as well as the ca. 270.000 cross references) to be searched online. What we do not have, however, is an overview of the disciplinary structure of the dictionary.

The project is being conducted in co-operation with the Bavarian State Library which will run statistical analysis of the database established for digitization. This electronic evaluation will be linked to many other criteria for content analysis in order to find out appropriate subject headings for whole groups of entries. Identifying the subject matter of the Universal-Lexicon will make it possible to break it down into several smaller, virtual dictionaries. The content analysis of this largest eighteenth-century dictionary should yield information on specific and relevant areas for future research.

Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation)
Project Directors: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Johannes Schneider (Leipzig), Dr. Markus Brantl (Munich)
Researchers: Matthias Weiss, Nico Dorn, Stefan Hillger, Lena Oetjens (Wolfenbuettel), Dr. Thomas Wolf-Klostermann (Munich)