Ad fontes: Teaching paleography, archival research, and analysis of historical sources

Tobias Hodel's picture
Online Digital Resources
Subject Fields: 
Archival Science, Digital Humanities, Early Modern History and Period Studies, Educational Technology, Medieval and Byzantine History / Studies

Relaunch of the Ad fontes e-learning project

The University of Zurich has relaunched its digital Ad fontes project with a new website and new tools designed to teach students how to navigate archives and work with historical documents.


The project provides a set of tutorials that provide information about how archives are organized, how to find documents and other sources in an archive, and also how to read and analyze documents, including fundamental auxiliary skills like paleography and diplomatics. The core of the redeveloped site is a set of interactive exercises that allow users to practice the skills they’ve learned, like recognizing scripts, calculating dates for different dating systems, describing the parts of a charter, recognizing standard orthographical variations, or analyzing historical photographs.


Another key part of the new Ad fontes is a large and growing number of transcription exercises that cover scripts from the 7th century to the 20th. The transcription exercises, many of which are user generated, are based on images of original sources from repositories across Europe and North America, with most coming from Switzerland and France.


The exercises and resources are available in German, French, and often English. Students who are working with documents in archives for the first time and researchers who want to refresh their skills before a trip should benefit from the material. Ad fontes is free to use, and you can create a free login to save and track your progress at any time.


Preparing and publishing your own exercises, tutorial, and resources

The new version of Ad fontes also allows teachers and researchers to create their own learning resources. The editorial environment is easy to use, and both static pages and interactive exercises (especially transcription exercises) can be created. Contact the Ad fontes team for more information about making your own pages.


Visit to get a sense of what’s new. Or, send us an e-mail, we’re always happy to talk about the project:

Contact Info: 

Ad fontes
Historisches Seminar
Universität Zürich
Culmannstrasse 1
8006 Zürich

Contact Email: