A new textual and historical research of the manuscripts of Anne Frank

New scientific research into Anne Frank manuscripts

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The Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Huygens ING) and the Anne Frank House are to collaborate on a new textual and historical research of the manuscripts of Anne Frank. The research will focus on Anne Frank’s development as a writer and on the events she described. The results of the research will be published in due course, in five years’ time according to expectations, in a web edition in Dutch and English.

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The research will cover Anne Frank writings. The most well known is her diary with its red and green checked cover, which she was given as a present from her parents on her 13th birthday on 12 June 1942, just before she and her family went into hiding. In the ‘secret annexe’ Anne quickly filled her first diary, and continued writing in notebooks. Two of these notebooks have been preserved. In addition to these three diaries, there are 215 loose sheets on which Anne rewrote her diaries in 1944 with a view to their publication after the war. As well as her diaries, Anne also wrote short stories and copied out quotations from the books she read during her time in hiding. This ‘Tales Book’ and ‘Favourite Quotes Notebook’ will also be analysed in the new research.

Research

Thanks to the innovative techniques and expertise in textual analysis of the Huygens ING, the manuscripts of Anne Frank will be analysed in great detail. The historical background research will be carried out by the Anne Frank House, and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies will also be contributing to the investigation, so increasing knowledge of Anne’s development as a writer and providing insights into the events she described.

Textual analysis

Anne Frank's texts will be analysed, including deletions, improvements and even inkblots. What did Anne remove from her diaries for the ‘novel about the Secret Annexe’, as she on 29 March 1944 described the book that she hoped to have published after the war. Which passages did she leave out, which did she change, and how? How did Anne develop from a candid diarist at the age of 13 into an inspired literary talent at the age of 15?

Historical aspects

Alongside this purely textual analysis, the historical aspects, cross-references and backgrounds of the texts will also be investigated. What did Anne write about her life before and during the period in hiding, and what do we know about them from other primary sources? How was day-to-day life in the secret annexe organised, and how were supplies and finances arranged? What do we know about the helpers, the neighbourhood or the education followed by Anne, Margot and Peter? How and when did Anne hear about the roundups of Jews and the extermination camps?

Results

The investigation will last for around five years, and its results will be published in web edition in Dutch and English aimed at school students from the fourth grade of pre-university education, further and higher education students, fellow researchers and other interested parties. Any publishing will always be done within the legal frameworks.

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