Would you like to locate digitised maps from old atlases with us? Do you enjoy deciphering old scripts? Is there something missing from your school lessons? Citizen science takes many forms!

We regard it as our strategic responsibility to support and help to shape our collaboration with professional and amateur researchers. Meet people who share your interests, make your knowledge available to the public, and contribute it to research.

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We regularly launch new projects that you can become involved in. If you would like to receive the latest news, join our Facebook group or subscribe to our citizen science newsletter:

Current projects

At the table! Transcribing the «Koch Buch und sonst allerhand Recept»

The «Koch Buch und sonst allerhand Recept», written around 1750 by Marianne Lutz, née Messmer, provides an insight into everyday life in bygone eras. Transcribe this exciting source with us and find out more about the eating habits of wealthy families in the 18th century.

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Adventures in time for schools

We offer free resources for secondary school teachers to complement or consolidate their subject teaching. The individual learning units focus on original documents from the Zentralbibliothek Zürich and its special collections. These are placed in a thematic context, explained and complemented with details of further reading for teachers. The materials are supplied as PDF files. The original documents presented are all available online as well.  

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‘I write to you today with a number of requests’ – transcribing Johann Rudolf Rahn

Johann Rudolf Rahn (1841–1912) is considered the father of Swiss art history and historical preservation. At the same time, he is co-founder of the Chair of Art History at the University of Zurich. Our inventory contains 10,000 pages of his copybooks of his letters from the years 1864 to 1912. You can join us in transcribing and editing the letters in the e-manuscripta transcription tool. In the end, we will publish your work online on the platform.

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Zurich family history – Transcribing the ‘Keller-Escher’

The ‘Promptuarium genealogicum’ is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in Zurich’s cultural and social history, as well as those doing research into their family tree. The seven hefty and painstakingly handwritten tomes have been digitised and published on e-manuscripta since May 2022. Transcribe this monumental genealogical overview with us.

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Completed projects

Magnificent atlases – georeferencing old maps

More than 2,900 digitised maps from the most magnificent atlases of the Maps and panoramas department of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich were geographically located by volunteers. The maps were then automatically adjusted geometrically and can thus be compared with other maps. The referencing was done with a few clicks, mostly easy, but sometimes a tricky challenge.

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‘Rejoice in Life’ – Transcribing Nägeli

Zurich citizen Hans Georg Nägeli (1773–1836) remains one of Europe’s most influential music publishers, composers and teachers to this day. 2023 is the 250th anniversary of the birth of the father of song. In a Citizen Science project, 100 selected letters from Hans Georg and his son and business successor Hermann Nägeli (1811-1872) were transcribed between April 2022 and January 2023. The transcriptions are laying the foundations for deciphering the extensive Nägeli correspondence with the help of artificial intelligence, which a research project at the University of Zurich aims to tackle in 2023.

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“My letter has grown long” – transcribing Zschokke

Heinrich Zschokke (1771–1848) was one of the most important progressive thinkers in modern Switzerland. Our holdings include 260 letters to and from Zschokke, which we have published online to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth. They were transcribed and edited in the e-manuscripta transcription tool as part of our Citizen-Science-project. Thanks to the dedicated participation of Citizen Scientists, these letters and their transcriptions can now be read and searched online on the platform.

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Across space and time

More than 2,500 historical maps of Zurich and Switzerland held by the Zentralbibliothek Zürich’s Map Department have been georeferenced by volunteers. They were then equalised to make them easier to compare with current or other historical maps.

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Zürich film goes Wikipedia

Sixteen new articles on Zurich’s cinema history were compiled and a further six entries revised as part of the ZB’s first ever Wikipedia edit-athon. 

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Digital Day 2021

Digital technology was gaining importance in teaching even before 2020, and the pandemic has accelerated this trend. The Zentralbibliothek Zürich put together an extensive offering of courses and events for secondary school teachers as part of Digital Day 2021.

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