Researching József Répászky

Researching József Répászky July 24, 2018

I am long overdue to return to family history research, and I expect to focus on one particular individual when I do, and not just the long genealogical chain with little detail that characterizes most family history research (at least, of the sort that I’ve done). I am referring to József Répászky, the Slovak theologian who was canon of the cathedral in Košice during part of the 19th century, and who appears in my family tree. It’s a topic in religion and so it isn’t too much of a stretch, and it would be quite wonderful to make the family history research I long to do simultaneously an academic project that I am working on.

I finally converted a number of Répászky’s books (which I paid a genealogist to photograph in a library more than a decade ago) into pdfs and uploaded them to the Internet Archive. You can find them there either by linking from here, or by simply searching under the author’s name.

Although automated translation has many severe limitations, it is often incredibly useful nonetheless. Take for example this online brief bio and list of publications in Hungarian. My Hungarian is limited, and the sense of most of what is written as it appears in the automated translation by Google built into Chrome is reasonably clear: poor parents, educational opportunity, becomes a priest, educator, gets involved in politics, etc. It has been interesting to perform OCR on the pdfs of his scanned books and use a translator on them. Much of the text gets garbled in the OCR process, but even without going through and correcting it, segments of intelligible text emerge and make an impression on me across this gulf of time and language.

The big question now is whether I am going to work on improving my Hungarian, and also learn Slovak, so as to pursue this project properly. I also wonder whether I’ll be able to track down copies of all of Répászky’s publications. Some, such as his two-volume systematic theology, interest me greatly, but I’ve not found a copy for sale anywhere yet, and only one library seems to have it in their holdings in complete form (i.e. with both volumes present and intact). If the library does not provide a digitization service, I may hire a researcher to take digital photos of the book’s contents.

So, here I am again, looking into the possibility of pursuing research with a personal connection on more recent historical people and events than I usually do. As with the project about my church that I mentioned the day before yesterday, if this doesn’t evolve into a book or even an article, but only remains a Digital Humanities project of preservation and documentation, I think that’s fine. Some scholars preserve manuscripts and make them available online. Sometimes it is completely different scholars who then translate, analyze, and publish articles and books about the contents. If someone else writes about Répászky as a result of my pursuing this and making materials available, and then I get to read it, that will be enough for me!


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