Signed, Sealed, and Undelivered
A collaborative international project with Nadine Akkerman (Leiden), Rebekah Ahrendt (Utrecht),
Daniel Starza Smith (King's College, London) & Jana Dambrogio (MIT Libraries).
In 1926, a seventeenth-century trunk of letters was bequeathed to the national postal museum in The Hague (today Sound & Vision). It belonged to one of the most active postmasters of the day, Simon de Brienne, and contains an extraordinary archive: 2,600 letters sent from all over Europe to this axis of communication, none of which were ever delivered. The trunk freezes a moment in history, allowing us to glimpse the early modern world as it went about its daily business. The letters are uncensored, unedited, and 600 of them even remain unopened. The archive itself has remained virtually untouched by historians until it was recently rediscovered. Our international and interdisciplinary team of researchers has now begun a process of digitization, preservation, transcription, and editing that will reveal its secrets for the first time – even those of the unopened letters.