Digital humanities project on early modern mercantile correspondence
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This repository is a Digital Humanities project on the correspondence network of Daniel van der Meulen.

Daniel van der Meulen (1554–1600) was a wealthy merchant from Antwerp who lived his entire adult life in the middle of the political and religious conflict of the Dutch Revolt. Like so many other Calvinist merchants, Daniel and his family left Antwerp and went into exile after Spanish forces captured Antwerp in 1585. The uniqueness of Daniel van der Meulen derives from the large archive that has been preserved at the municipal archives in Leiden, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken.

The the center of this extensive mercantile archive is a collection of approximately 6,600 letters that Daniel van der Meulen received from 1578 until his death in 1600. This project uses the R programming language to map and analyze this early modern mercantile correspondence network. The goal is to create both static and interactive maps, as well as other visualizations in order to better understand the workings of a mercantile network in the early stages of the Atlantic World and on the cusp of the Dutch Golden Age.

The collection of letters preserved in the Daniel van der Meulen archive can be divided into two periods: before and after September 1591. In September of 1591, Daniel moved to Leiden after a six year stay in Bremen following the fall of Antwerp. After Daniel moved to Leiden in 1591 his correspondence grew at a rapid rate. The current repository contains information on all of the letters to the end of 1591. The vast majority of the letters that Daniel received between 1592 and 1600 — approximately 6,000 — still needs to be added to the analysis.

You can see the current early phase of the project at the projects page on my website

To be done

  • Data entry of letters, 1592–1600: This is underway, but it is a slow process
  • Geographical analysis with the R Simple Features package
  • Analysis and visualization of more aspects of the data including characteristics of the correspondents