First Use of Zettelkasten in an English Language Setting?
The idea of having and maintaining a Zettelkasten has become increasingly popular since the »Zettelkästen. Maschinen der Phantasie« exhibition at Marbach in March 2013 and the appearance of the website zettelkasten.de in late 2013 and has grown significantly with the Cambrian explosion of a variety of digital note taking tools since 2018.
But here’s a fun little historical linguistic puzzle:
What was the first use of the word Zettelkasten in a predominantly English language setting?
In my own notes/research the first occurrence I’ve been able to identify in an English language setting is on Manfred Kuehn’s blog in Taking note: Luhmann’s Zettelkasten on 2007-12-16. He’d just started his blog earlier that month.
Has anyone seen an earlier usage? Can you find one? Can you beat this December 2007 date or something close by a different author?
Google’s nGram Viewer doesn’t indicate any instances of it from 1800-2019 in its English search, though does provide a graph for German with peaks in the 1850s, 1892 (just after Ernst Bernheim’s Lehrbuch der Historischen Methode in 1889), 1912, 1925, and again in 1991.
For those who speak German, what might you posit as a motivating source for the rise of the word in the 1850s or any of the other later peaks?
(Originally published on https://boffosocko.com/2023/03/11/first-use-of-zettelkasten-in-an-english-language-setting/ with aggregated commentary.)
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