- Nov 2023
- Feb 2023
The two sections of the index, then, went different ways: when Marcus opened‘branches’ of his archive in Los Angeles, New York, and Jerusalem, he microfilmedportions of his archival collections and also the Americana part of Deutsch’s cards. Bycontrast, the remaining cards were left to languish at Hebrew Union College’s Cincinnatilibrary.
Moststriking, though, was Marcus’ appropriation of Deutsch’s cards when he extracted thoserelating to America, installing them in the reading room of the American JewishArchives where they remain to this day.
As a graduate student, hemaintained a card index of his own. When Marcus’s friends wrote of his travels abroad,they declared that ‘When we think of that card index by now we shudder. What propor-tions it must have assumed’. 18
Example of a student who saw/learned/new a zettelkasten note taking method from a teacher.
Shortly after Deutsch’s death thealumni of the Hebrew Union College purchased his index for the seminary’s library.15
As a result, hisindex is simultaneously a relic of research and a reminder of the pitfalls of all such effortsto create systematic knowledge, regardless of the underlying technology – paper, digitalor otherwise.
in 1917 he celebrated his fifty-thousandth card with an article titled ‘Siyum’, referencing the celebration upon conclud-ing study of a tractate of Talmud (Deutsch, 1917b).
Did he write about his zettelkasten in this article?! Deutsch, G. (1917b) ‘Siyum’, American Israelite, 8 March, 15 March.
Gotthard Deutsch celebrated his fifty thousandth card in 1917. ᔥ
The fact that Deutsch’s students saw their teacher’sindex as a monument to his historical genius
At once intended as a foundationfor a systematic history of the Jews, it was deeply unsystematic; meant to be a means ofproductivity, in the end Deutsch was essentially unproductive.
An example of a zettelkasten, meant for productivity in most settings, being called unproductive in Gotthard Deutsch's case.
Of course this calls to mind the definition of productivity and from who's perspective. From Deutsch's written output perspective it may have been exceptionally low in comparison to the outputs of others like Niklas Luhmann, S.D. Goitein, or Roland Barthes. But when viewed from the perspective of a teaching instrument and influence on his students, perhaps it was monumentally productive?
Deutsch’s index and his ‘facts’, then, seemedto his students to embody a moral value in addition to epistemological utility.
Beyond their epistemological utility do zettelkasten also "embody a moral value"? Jason Lustig argues that they may have in the teaching context of Gotthard Deutsch where the reliance on facts was of extreme importance for historical research.
Some of this is also seen in Scott Scheper's religious framing of zettelkasten method though here the aim has a different focus.
one finds in Deutsch’s catalogue one implementation of what LorraineDaston would later term ‘mechanical objectivity’, an ideal of removing the scholar’s selffrom the process of research and especially historical and scientific representation (Das-ton and Galison, 2007: 115-90).
In contrast to the sort of mixing of personal life and professional life suggested by C. Wright Mills' On Intellectual Craftsmanship (1952), a half century earlier Gotthard Deutsch's zettelkasten method showed what Lorraine Datson would term 'mechanical objectivity'. This is an interesting shift in philosophical perspective of note taking practice. It can also be compared and contrasted with a 21st century perspective of "personal" knowledge management.
- pursuit of all knowledge
- Jacob Rader Marcus' zettelkasten
- American Jewish Archives
- want to read
- Shelomo Dov Goitein's zettelkasten
- On Intellectual Craftsmanship
- Jacob Rader Marcus
- Los Angeles
- card index
- zettelkasten moral values
- unreasonable productivity
- historical method
- note taking transmission
- Jewish history
- mechanical objectivity
- notes per day
- systematic knowledge
- Gotthard Deutsch's zettelkasten
- Jason Lustig
- personal papers
- C. Wright Mills
- Lorraine Datson
- Hebrew Union College
- personal knowledge management
Deutsch (Gotthard) Papers. 1859-1922 (bulk 1900-1920). [MS-123]
- Oct 2022
So there is nothing exaggerated in thinking that Barthes would havefinally found the form for these many scattered raw materials (indexcards, desk diaries, old or ongoing private diaries, current notes,narratives to come, the planned discussion of homosexuality) ifdeath had not brought his work and his reflection to an end. Thework would certainly not have corresponded to the current definitionof the novel as narration and the unfolding of a plot, but the historyof forms tells us that the word ‘novel’ has been used to designate themost diverse objects.
Just as in Jason Lustig's paper about Gotthard Deutsch's zettelkasten, here is an example of an outside observer bemoaning the idea of things not done with a deceased's corpus of notes.
It's almost like looking at the "corpus" of notes being reminiscent of the person who has died and thinking about what could have bee if they had left. It gives the impression that, "here are their ideas" or "here is their brain and thoughts" loosely connected. Almost as if they are still with us, in a way that doesn't quite exist when looking at their corpus of books.
the bottom right of each card was adorned with abbreviated citations,often more than one.
The cards in Deutch's zettelkasten were well cited, typically using abbreviations which appeared in the bottom right of each card, and often with multiple citations.
He was especially enamored with cross-references, which weremarked in red type;
Deutch's zettelkasten is well cross-referenced and he showed a preference for doing these in red type.
If he initially wrote hiscards by hand, the vast majority were typewritten with Hebrew words written in blankspaces when required.
While many of Deutsch's cards were initially written by hand, the majority of them are typewritten and included blank spaces for Hebrew words when required.
In one way, the cards’ uniform size and format was part of Deutsch’sdream to produce a systematic method of research and writing.
Deutsch’s index, then, did not constitute the systematic and overarching view ofJewish history and contemporaneous Jewish issues that Deutsch had initially hoped tocreate. Instead, it was much more personal. It reflected his singular reading regime, and itworked with a certain shorthand: In later years Deutsch often just cited ‘Yiddish papers’or ‘Daily papers’, and in some instances he referred to ‘private information’. The cards,topics, and sources provide a sense of the specific information that interested Deutsch.
Further, very few cards areout of order, suggesting that Deutsch may not have extensively removed sets of cards toshuffle them into novel patterns, as returning them would probably have resulted in out-of-place items.
This would seem to contradict his statements about some of the orderings and chaos earlier.
One must also ask the question about use and curation of the collection following his death?
There is also very limited metadata. Many of the cross-references, referencing cardslike PIUS X or GERMANY, 1848, to give just two examples from this set, provoke one towander the corridors of cards searching for what Deutsch had in mind.
According to Lustig, Gotthard Deutsch's zettelkasten had limited metadata and cross-references didn't always connect to concrete endings. (p12)
This fact can help to better define the Wikipedia page on zettelkasten.
Further, Deutsch triedto instill a certain chronological, geographical and thematic method of organization. Butthis arrangement is also a stumbling block to anyone who might want to use it, includingDeutsch. ACCUSATIONS AGAINST THE JEWS (489 cards), for instance, presents an array ofevents organized not by date but in a surprisingly unsystematic alphabetical order. Insteadof indicating when such accusations were more or less prevalent, which could only beindicated by reorganizing cards chronologically, the default alphabetical sorting, whichshows instances in disparate locations like London (in May, 1921) alongside Sziget,Hungary (from 1867), gives the impression that such anti-Jewish events were everywhere.And even this organization was chaotic. The card on Sziget is actually listed under‘Marmaros’, the publication with which the card’s text began, and an immediately pre-ceding card is ordered based on its opening ‘A long list of accusations . . . ’, not thereference to its source: Goethe’s Das Jahrmarketsfest zu Plundersweilern.
Lustig provides a description of some of the order of Gotthard Deutsch's zettelkasten. Most of it seemed to have been organized by chronological, geographical and thematic means, but often there was chaos. This could be indicative of many things including broad organization levels, but through active use, he may have sorted and resorted cards as needs required. Upon replacing cards he may not have defaulted to some specific order relying on the broad levels and knowing what state he had left things last. Though regular use, this wouldn't concern an individual the way it might concern outsiders who may not understand the basic orderings (as did Lustig) or be able to discern and find things as quickly as he may have been able to.
one recognizes in the tactile realitythat so many of the cards are on flimsy copy paper, on the verge of disintegration with eachuse.
Deutsch used flimsy copy paper, much like Niklas Luhmann, and as a result some are on the verge of disintegration through use over time.
The wear of the paper here, however, is indicative of active use over time as well as potential care in use, a useful historical fact.
All this was listed in alphabetical and chronological order over a total of about 50boxes,
Deutsch's zettelkasten consisted of about 50 boxes and was done in alphabetical and chronological order.
Altogether, one finds an interminable assortment of facts on almost anytopic, with major sections relating to blood accusations and blood libels, fiction andliterature, the Passover Haggadah, memoirs, mixed marriages, orthodoxy, Palestine,periodicals, and universities, but also obscure topics including hunting, Russian Jewishdwarfs, and myths and magic.
Deutsch's zettelkasten seems to have been done in index style using headwords as was common in the older commonplace tradition.
He sometimes pasted newsprint cuttings to present a statistical chart or inserted
Deutsch's zettelkasten has a variety of patterns including cuttings from newspapers, photos, excerpts, some were handwritten while others were typed, (and some showing many of these all at once!).
If in 1908 itcontained 10,000 cards, by 1917 it had ballooned in size to 50,000 items, reaching60,000 in 1919 and nearly 70,000 at the time of Deutsch’s death in 1921 (Deutsch,1908b, 1917b; Brown, 1919: 69). It seems that Deutsch consistently produced 5,000cards per year (about 20 per workday) for the final 13 years of his life.
Look up these references to confirm scope of numbers.
‘He knows everything that’s happened fromB’reshis [Genesis] to today’, it went, ‘and it really isn’t work to him – it’s merely play’,a sentiment later expressed when one colleague wrote of Deutsch’s ‘game of cards’(Margolis, 1921).3
Apparently a colleague wrote about Deutsch's "game of cards" as a description of hit use of a zettelkasten. The play here is reminiscent of the joy Ahrens talks about when doing research/reading/writing (2017).
- geographical order
- material culture
- card stock
- zettelkasten are idiosyncratic
- paper data storage
- Gotthard Deutsch
- group notes
- ars excerpendi
- cards of equal size
- notes per day
- cross references
- handwriting vs. typing
- game of cards
- Gotthard Deutsch's zettelkasten
- chronological order
- topical headings