Heinrich Zschokke (1771–1848) was one of the most important progressive thinkers in modern Switzerland. We hold 252 letters from and to Zschokke which we have digitised and published on e-manuscripta.ch.

To mark 250 years of his birth, the letters were transcribed and edited using the e-manuscripta.ch transcription tool. For some letters, unpublished transcriptions were already available and had to be transferred to the platform. For the others, reading skills were required. The work by 18 Citizen Scientists has now been published online on the platform.

A short video tutorial offers an introduction to transcribing on e-manuscripta.

The project falls within the Zentralbibliothek Zürich’s strategic focus area of citizen science.

Zschokke’s correspondence

The 252 letters in our holdings involve some 35 different correspondents, although Heinrich Zschokke did not of course correspond equally with all of them. We have two large sets of letters in the ZB: Zschokke exchanged 105 letters with Paul Usteri (over a 35-year period from 1796 to 1831) and 81 with Johann Heinrich Füssli (over a 20-year period from 1797 to 1817). The remainder are smaller exchanges.

Correspondence between Zschokke and Paul Usteri (1768–1831), 96 letters from the years 1796–1831:

Zschokke’s most extensive correspondence in our holdings is with the politician, journalist and botanist/physician Paul Usteri. The two mainly discussed political issues and journalistic projects: his experiences as head of the educational institution in Reichenau, Graubünden; political developments during the Helvetic Period and, in later years, their joint work in various journals such as “Isis” (see correspondence with Füssli) and the “Contributions to the history of our time”.

Correspondence between Zschokke and Johann Caspar Lavater (1741–1801), 8 letters from the years 1798–1801:

Zschokke tried to persuade Lavater to contribute to “Der aufrichtige und wohlerfahrene Schweizerbote”, of which he was the editor. In one letter, he sets out for the first time the concept of the influential “Swiss messenger”, while in others the pair critically discuss an article in the journal about the conservative constitutional law expert Karl Ludwig von Haller from Bern.  

Correspondence between Zschokke and Johann Heinrich Füssli (1745–1832), 81 letters from the years 1797–1817:

In their letters, the pair chiefly discuss journalistic projects, such as “Isis. A monthly publication by German and Swiss scholars”, which Zschokke had published by Füssli. What started out with immense commitment and enthusiasm sadly ended in an argument over money and differences on what direction the journal’s content should take.

Correspondence between Zschokke and Johann Jakob Hottinger (1783–1860), 5 letters from the years 1829–1830:

The two correspondents were chairmen of the Helvetic Society, which in 1850 counted many liberal contemporaries among its members. As such, Zschokke wishes to “publicly recognise the most praiseworthy deeds accomplished in any canton through the power of Swiss virtue and love of country”. He therefore had them printed up in the “Proceedings of the Helvetic Society”.

Other correspondents

Our collection contains a further 42 letters that Zschokke exchanged with various Zurich personalities. Among them are such well-known people as the pedagogue Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, the politician Johann Jakob Hess (1797-1857), the school reformer and co-founder of the University of Zurich Johann Kaspar von Orelli (1787-1849) and the poet Salomon Tobler (1794-1878).


Final ranking list


 No. of pages

Hausheer, Yvonne


Strassmann, Ruth


Hertach, Fritz


Donat, Alexandra


de Morsier-Fritz, Claudia


Manz, Matthias


Bronner, Monica


Mistrello, Daniela


Brändli, Sebastian


Bickel, Daniel


Hesse, Jochen


Ort, Werner


Scherm, Ilona


Zschokke, Rosa Martha


Kropf, Thomas


Lahmer, Nicole






müller, metta



We organised two transcription workshops during which we selected and transcribed various exchanges of letters between Zschokke and personalities from Zurich. We have now made extensive progress. Many thanks to everyone involved!


If you have any questions or comments about the project, please contact us.