The Iselin family archive, Basel

The reading room of the Iselin family archive contains several paintings of family members.
Picture by David Hänggi–Aragai.

Locating Isaak Iselin – Comment

Isaak Iselin–Roulet's archival paragraph number is § 103.

Weiss–Frey's genealogical book situates Isaak Iselin in a longer family history. It records that he was the fifth of six children to his parents, having two sisters and three brothers, and that he himself had eleven children with his wife Aimée Jeanne Susanne Emilie Iselin (1793—1873), née Roulet. What is more, by looking at the family tree depicted on the last page, you note that Isaak Iselin–Roulet is the direct ancestor of most of the Iselin family members living today in Basel.

The short biography of Isaak Iselin mentions—amongst other things—the aforementioned economic and family networks between Basel and New York, and it outlines his career as teleological success story, including a political career at the end of his life in Basel.

Isaak Iselin's dossier in the family archive, stored amongst those of other family members, gives the impression of a determined and very straightforward life. As with all the other Iselins in the archive, he is labelled, sorted, filed and thereby given a discursive position in a family history of ever growing social, economic, political and cultural influence and success. This is underlined by the narrative of Weiss–Frey.

To open the file of Isaak Iselin, however, is to discover more complex ways of seeing the world in the early–nineteenth century.