Series: “The story of a single ball”

Sometimes people happen to ask me how you can find certain information about balls from the past. The next few weeks I will post a series in which I will gradually show some ways of finding links in as many as possible different sources about a certain ball from the past. In this case study I will dive deeper into the meaning of isolated sources, such as ball programms as well as the more systematical views offered by administrative archives containing often a surprizing amount of information.

The ball I chose to document was organised on the 20th of August 1861 in the Antwerp Variété Theater at the so called “Champs the Malines” today Mechels Plein. The annual Festival of Fine Arts (Kunstfeesten) in a exceptionally splendid edition, offered many remarkable events and occasions organised all over the city. The many rich sources about it were unearthed over the years rather by chance than by organised planning. Taking digital photographs systematically from every archival piece I encountered and after classifying all the information afterwards, cohesion started to appear like out of thin air after a while.

A little help from software programms like Copernic Desktop Search or Recoll which indexes all texts on you computer proved most valuable. Such a programms search laterally accross all sources on your hard disk, running in the background of your operating system. And then, after years and years Copernic shows you the light, relaying documents and information about them you would never had dreamt of, let alone you would be able to remember them within the relative confined possibilities of your brain. And so beatifull or surprizing stories about balls from the past, such as this one from 1861, are writen automatically and mechanically, offering a quite impressive view, the more astounding as it is complete.

Part 1 – You find the dance programm

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