Sheila Barker on The Medici Archive Project

A contribution by 

Sheila Barker

Sheila Barker
Director of the Jane Fortune Research Program on Women Artists at the Medici Archive Project.

Archives give us access to the past with a candor, immediacy, and precision found nowhere else. The information they contain is often grounded in material realities, yet it also holds the traces of an astounding gamut of human experiences and voices that far exceeds the range represented by literary sources. Since 2012, The Medici Archive Project‘s digital platform known as BIA has furnished students and researchers across the globe with online access to the archive of the Medici grand ducal court (1537-1743), one of the world’s most massive and important repositories for historical documents from early modern Europe and the world beyond.

In response to the torrent of discoveries unleashed by BIA’s powerful data-retrieval tools, the Medici Archive Project recognized the need to accompany digital accessibility with meticulously contextualized, rigorous, and far-reaching studies of archival material. To fulfill this aim, a book series was launched with Harvey Miller Publishers in 2015, and in 2016 its first three publications were released: The Grand Ducal Medici and Their Archive (1537-1743);  Women Artists in Early Modern Italy; and The Grand Ducal Medici and the LevantOriented towards interdisciplinary inquiry and enriched by lush illustrations, the books in this series leaven archival research with acute and penetrating insights. Yet they provide more than just food for thought: they also hold the the power to dismantle tired and barren patterns of thinking.

Upcoming publications including Miguel Taín Guzmán’s monographic study on Cosimo de’ Medici III’s travels in Golden Age Spain, as well as a collection of essays from Mary D. Garrard and other renowned experts on Artemisia Gentileschi. With these new contributions, the Medici Archive Project Series continues in its quest to unshackle archival investigation from the footnotes of historiography and to place it front and center in stimulating, exactingly researched explorations of early modern culture, politics, and society.

Now Available:

The Grand Ducal Medici and their Archive (1537-1743)

Edited by Alessio Assonitis and Brian Sandberg


Women Artists in Early Modern Italy
Careers, Fame, and Collectors

Edited by Sheila Barker


The Grand Ducal Medici and the Levant

Edited by Maurizio Arfaioli and Marta Caroscio


In collaboration with: