Christmas and New Year’s Message December 2018.
Dear friends and members of the International Rasmus Malling-Hansen Society!
Once again we have seen a year of intense activity for our Society, marked by many contacts with museums and other institutions and a rapid increase in terms of articles and illustrations on our website. Many new documents have been found in archives, libraries and newspapers, and they have been transcribed, commented upon and issued with illustrations, adding to our knowledge and documentation about Malling-Hansen and his achievements. In this endeavor, we have benefited greatly from the ongoing digitalization of newspapers and magazines in Denmark. When the Society was founded in 2006 we had to search painstakingly and slowly in the ancient newspapers themselves or on micro-film. Nowadays, at the Royal Library in Copenhagen, we access the digitalized papers, enter a key search word and the time period in question and ask the search engine to do its work; for instance, if you key in ‘malling-hansen’ and the period January 1, 1850 – December 31, 1890, the search engine (‘Mediestream’) will scan 35,464,204 newspaper pages in a few seconds, covering 51 different Danish newspapers and will show you 1657 hits!!! Do the same with the key word: ‘skrivekuglen’, and you get 441 hits! ‘takygrafen’ will produce 11 hits! This is a fantastic research instrument! After identifying the hits, you can then open and download each newspaper, identify the article and start working on the transcription and comments. I have spent the better part of the last year doing just that.
One of the outcomes of this research is that we have been able to add one more chapter to our documentation, that of Malling-Hansen, ‘The Theologian’ to cater for articles about his views on theological issues. Another new chapter, soon to be published on our site is that of Rasmus Malling-Hansen as a teacher for stutterers, children as well as adults. In August 1873 a German medical doctor, specialized in treatment for stutterers, Dr Denhardt, arrived in Copenhagen and for a couple of months arranged courses to treat and heal stutterers. It is now clear that Rasmus Malling-Hansen, and a colleague of his, were the first Danes to learn Dr Denhardt’s method. At the end of his stay in Denmark, Dr. Denhardt let the Ministry of Education, Church and Culture take over his method and the courses on the condition that only Malling-Hansen and his colleague Sørensen were authorized to carry out the courses. Which they did! So over and above all the other many and diversified achievements, that we have so amply documented in the past, Malling-Hansen was also one of the very first certified and trained practitioners of a logopedic method to treat this affliction! We have found evidence that he continued to do so regularly over at least the following 7-year period – from late 1873 until late 1880.
Seeing how much there is to find in the Danish newspapers from the said period, begs the obvious question how much we will find through a similar search among digitalized newspapers 1850-1890 from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Holland, France, Belgium, Austria, England, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, the United States, Brasil and the Latin American continent? As more and more national libraries and archives digitalize their collections, it will be tempting to dive into their collections. And the beautiful aspect of it is that it can be done from any internet-linked computer anywhere in the world! I am most of the year in Thailand but can effortlessly do this kind of research in the collections of the Danish Royal Library in Copenhagen. Similarly, our esteemed board member Sverre Avnskog, who is responsible for finding and placing the wonderful illustrations on our website, accesses these digitalized collections and delight us with his findings! Thank you, Sverre, for a wonderful research cooperation!
I would like to encourage friends and members of our Society join us in this kind of research efforts!
With these words, let me wish you, on behalf of the International Rasmus Malling-Hansen Society, a very happy Christmas and a prosperous 2019!
Jørgen Malling Christensen