The methodology for publishing the Jesuit literae annuae in the form of a digital edition was created within the project Telč a jezuité, řád a jeho mecenáši/Telč and the Jesuits, the Order and its patrons, realised in the years 2016-2020 and funded by the Programme Programme to Support Applied Research in the Area of the National and Cultural Identity (NAKI II) of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic (project code DG16P02M043). The methodology is described in detail in the certified methodology "Metodika evidence dokladů hmotné kultury v narativních pramenech se zaměřením na zpřístupnění kulturně historických informací v cizojazyčných pramenech/Methodology of evidence of references of material culture in narrative sources with a focus on access to cultural and historical information in foreign language sources " applied as one of the project outputs.


  • Methodological bases
  • A digital edition makes digitalized versions of an original manuscript available at one place, together with a scientific, textually critical and commented edition of a text and necessary descriptive metadata. Digital editions of LA are processed in the international XML TEI standard that on one hand captures the exact structural, formal and content aspects of a source including records and administration of various versions of individual manuscripts, while at the same time it can efficiently supplement a given edition with superstructural, interpretative information from a specialized database or possibly from other sources without the need to interfere in the original text. At the same time, the process of a preparation of an edition and the filling in of the database are interconnected in both directions. This means that entries in the database are created or extended within the process of an edition preparation and the other way around – information that is added to the database later from other sources is retroactively reflected in annotations.

  • Text processing
  • While working with the texts, methods commonly used for a creation of an edition are applied regardless of the form in which it is made accessible. This means that in the beginning, the quality and availability of individual manuscripts is assessed, and the main manuscript is chosen. After that, a qualified copyist copies the text and based on the state of preservation of manuscripts a collation with at least one or multiple manuscripts is done. As for the actual edition work, two forms of processing were defined:

    1. Full textually critical edition
      1. it makes a text available based on a collation of all available manuscripts
      2. it creates a full, textually critical apparatus reflecting various types of differences between the manuscripts
      3. it creates a full, textually critical apparatus reflecting various types of differences between the manuscripts
    2. Interpretative edition with a reduced critical apparatus
      1. it makes a text available based on a collation with at least one of the side manuscripts
      2. its textually critical apparatus does not reflect types of captured variants
      3. it does not reflect orthographic variants with the exception of proper nouns and toponyms
      4. it does not capture authorial deletions
      5. it creates commentaries for easier understanding of texts and indexes for searching

    The first type of edition is beneficial to literae annuae only if more significant differences exist between the manuscripts or if drafts of the reports including corrections made by a writer or more often by a corrector, possibly a rector of a college, have survived. This means that the prevailing form of the LA edition will be the interpretative edition with a reduced critical apparatus, enriched with interpretative elements and interconnected with a specialized database that will make further research work easier. Rules for transcription and editing of the literae annuae texts are based on existing essays dealing with editions of early modern texts, while at the same time they also reflect specifics of Jesuit documents, as well as the needs of the users of an edition.

  • Annotations and creation of commentaries
  • Besides the standard textually critical apparatus, a fairly extensive system of content commentaries is being created for the digital edition of LA as well. It is in the TEI format and at the same time, is also serves as a basis for indexes and other search functions. Each commentary is interconnected with the corresponding entry in the database, based on which a corresponding index entry is generated. The visualization software then enables a researcher to directly access not only the textually critical commentaries, but also the superstructural information directly from the edition. When interpreting the texts, attention is paid especially to:

    1. Persons
    2. this pertains to both persons directly mentioned in the texts, as well as to persons identified based on their functions or roles related to the time period and place described in the source. For instance, if the reports name representatives of the Church or the Jesuit Order, general designations such as “decanus Telczensis”, “decanus Slavonicensis” or “praepositus Neoreschensis” are linked to particular people who held these functions in the given year. Similarly, if the texts mention activities of the foundress or the nobility, names of members of the ruling family are traced back for the general terms “fudatrix nostra” or “illustrissimus hujatus dominus”.

    3. Corporations
    4. include institutions, corporations and specific organizations (e.g. study foundations) which are either directly mentioned in the texts or labelled with substitute terms, or those to which the texts pertain. For instance, the musical seminary founded by Františka Slavatová is labelled in the source with the following terms: “seminarium musorgorum”, “convictus musorgorum”, “convictus Angelicus”, but also simply “seminarium nostrum” or “convicus nostrus”.

    5. Places (geographic terms)
    6. including an identification of a given location up to the level of the GPS coordinates that enable to display these places on a map.

    7. Events
    8. these include religious festivities (festive masses, processions), theater performances, but also construction activities (construction of a granary, founding of a pond), repairs of building (reconstruction of roofs, painting of rooms, planting of forests or orchards), buying and selling of homesteads, formation of contracts, settlement of disputes, acquisitions and repairs of movable assets (books, furniture, liturgical objects and clothes, works of art). If an event relates to movable or immovable objects, a reference to the given object or building is provided as well.

    9. Buildings and structures
    10. encompass all immovable monuments, including small sacral architecture, farm buildings and its parts, also those that were being constructed gradually within larger building complexes. They are captured as venues of various events, seats of corporations, objects of construction activities or victims of disasters. This category of “buildings” also includes elements of cultural landscape and various types of cultivated land (gardens, fields, orchards). Given the fact that many of the buildings are mentioned as “venues”, they are also understood as a specific type of location.

    11. Objects
    12. include all movables from liturgical objects, clothes, and furniture up to church equipment. They also encompass books, although independent rules for their recording exist. It is so, because most of the mentioned books cannot be identified with a particular extant copy; a similar method as for other objects is therefore applied and a standard cataloguing entry is used in the case of identified books.

    13. Terms
    14. all terms that appear in the texts are captured, with the aim of creating their index that would be searchable both using terms in the language of the original text, as well as their Czech equivalents. They usually concern names of functions, objects, activities, religious holidays and other facts that appear in the texts under many synonymic names which are united under the most common term (for instance the term “concionator” includes synonyms “encomiastes”, “pangeyrista”, “sacer orator”, etc.) which also includes an explanation of its meaning.

  • TEI encoding
  • Within the academic community, the XML TEI format serves as a generally accepted standard, especially for processing electronic texts and digital documents from the field of humanities. Its basis is the universal markup language XML (eXtensible Markup Language). The TEI format is created and administered by professionals associated in the Text Encoding Initiative. The structure of the TEI format (last version P5) as defined in the TEI Guidelines focuses on describing the content structure of a document and its metadata. It contains a complete set of elements (marks) and corresponding attributes (properties) for encoding a wide spectrum of texts of various nature, age, and formal organization (prose, poetry, drama, dictionaries, manuscripts, old prints…). Using cascading styles (Cascading Style Sheets) and transformation (for instance via XSLT ), the final XML document ca be adapted to various output formats (web, printed media, pdf, epub).

    In addition to general marks for descriptions of metadata (<teiHeader>) and formal structures of texts (paragraphs, notes, bibliographical quotations, references1), especially parts of TEI definitions designed for working with manuscript texts and representation of primary sources. For interconnecting a transcription and a facsimile, the method of Parallel Transcriptionis used. The reference system of the critical apparatus is created using the Parallel Segmentation Method with a preference of a positive apparatus, i.e. elements i.e. elements <lem> and <rdg> are listed for all items of the critical apparatus <app>. Given the nature of the project as well as the work with commentaries, elements labelling content elements of a document the so-called Named Entities are important. Besides basic elements such as <name>, <date>, <place> the following marks are used within the project as well: <orgName> for labelling corporations, <event> for labelling events, <objectName> for labelling objects and <term> for labelling terms. Corresponding index lists are created with the help of <list> elements, for instance <listPerson>, <listOrg>.

    One independent XML file is created for each year of the LA existence; the file also includes encoding of variant manuscripts using the <listWit> element and the @wit referencing attribute. Examples of encoding for the pilot years of the edition LA 1702 (a full textually critical edition) and 1729 (an interpretative edition with a reduce critical apparatus), as well as a detailed overview of types of textual variants, semantic commentaries and index entries, as well as their representation using the TEI elements can be downloaded as attachments no. 3, 6, 8, 9, 10 of the certified methodology.

  • E-edition
  • Since a direct encoding of texts in the XML editor seems difficult for the majority of colleagues, the tool E-edition, is used for editing. This tool was developed by the staff of the Department of Language Development of the Czech Language Institute and it is described in "Metodice pro přípravu a zpracování elektronických edic starších českých textů" [Methodology for Preparation and Processing of Electronic Editions of Older Czech Texts].The E-edition is installed as a template (eEdice.dotx) and a supplement of the MS Word text editor and it is used for marking relevant parts of the source text and for creating textually critical and content commentaries. The paragraph and sign styles defined in the template are automatically converted to corresponding elements of the TEI P5 format in the subsequent steps. The template also includes an introductory table for recording metadata. The original version of the template was adjusted to our needs – this means that it was adjusted for working with variant manuscripts and an interconnection with the database was additionally programmed, so that it is possible to simultaneously process a text of an edition and to interconnect and update entries in the database.

    Upon finishing, the word documents are – in cooperation with colleagues from the Czech Language Institute –, via a series of XSLT transformation, converted to XML files that subsequently undergo a final revision in the Oxygen editor. An overview of the used styles and their conversion to TEI as well as examples of editorial work in the E-edition template for the pilot years 1702 (a full textually critical edition) and 1729 (an interpretative edition with a reduce critical apparatus) are available for downloading as attachments no. 1, 2, 5 of the certified methodology.

  • The BBDR Database
  • As for a database for storing data used in the E-edition, or rather data excerpted from edited texts, the Bio-Bibliographical Database of Members of the Religious Order Living in the Czech Lands in the Early Modern Age (BBDR) is used. The database was created in 2010 and it is designed as a place for gathering information on life in monastic communities. Its basis is the modified Clavius library system respecting international librarian standards MARC21 and UNIMARC. Initially, biographical information and its sources were accentuated. Subsequently, the database developed into two main modules: the database of main authorities (= database of 17th and 18th centuries members of religious orders in the Czech Lands, that is biographical) and the catalogue of manuscripts (= database of narrative historiographical sources of 17th and 18th centuries monastic provenience, that is bibliographical). Other bibliographical modules are the catalogue of old prints and the catalogue of books which fulfill only a supportive function, though.

    In addition to the above-mentioned modules, the digital edition also uses modules of geographical authorities and corporations. The module of subject authorities was newly adapted, so that terms and functions connected with the life of the Jesuit community (including for instance recording of religious holidays), as well as information pertaining to buildings and other movable and immovable property mentioned in the annual reports, could be registered in the database as well. All entries in the database have a sophisticated system of aliases, so that it is easier to search not only according to synonymic terms in Latin, but also according to their Czech translations and various variants of local and personal names (aliases). For instance

    1. Telč - Telcz - Teltsch
    2. Ignatius de Loyola - divus Patriarcha Noster Ignatius - Sanctus Patriarcha Noster - Ínigo López de Loyola - Ignác z Loyoly
    3. Daemon - Diabolus - Ďábel - Malignus spiritus - Spiritus malignus
    4. seminarium musorgorum - seminář svatých andělů - hudební seminář - convictus musorgorum - convictus Angelicus
  • Preparation of digital images of the manuscript
  • If allowed by the existing legislation, the electronic edition of litearae annuae also contains digital copies of the individual preserved manuscripts. The applied visualization system EVT enables interconnecting a text with a digitalized picture of the original, either at the level of pages (with the help of the <pb> element), or at the level of lines (<lb>). However, digitalized versions obtained or acquired at memory institutions must be formally adjusted and unified for the purposes of web publishing. An open-source program Scan Tailor is used for this purpose – this program is used for batch processing of visual data and it enables to perform the following operations:

    1. to adjust page orientation (by turning it by 90 or 180 degrees)
    2. to divide a folio into separate pages (a two-page is split into two independent pages)
    3. to detect and cut empty edges around a text
    4. to align lines thanks to a slight turning of a picture
    5. to set output parameters of pictures (format, size, DPI resolution)

    The chosen program has the advantage that it can detect adjustments of a picture on its own and apply them to all files within a folder. If some of the files contain non-standard elements, the individual steps can be adjusted manually.

  • Publication and visualization
  • In order to publish a literae annuae edition, an open-source visualization tool Edition Visualization Technology (EVT) – developed by a team led by Professor Roberto Rosselli Del Turco at the University of Pisa – is used. The EVT is a simple and easily modifiable application for making digital editions created according to the XML TEI standard available online. It offers its users a comfortable research environment, enabling them to easily perform content and index searches, as well as tools for a collation of individual manuscripts and for working with a textually critical apparatus. How to work with the EVT, as well as its functions, are described in more detail on an independent page.

Download the text of the methodology

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