ABSTRACT

We recently discovered in the regional record office of North Rhine‐Westphalia (Landesarchiv Nordrhein Westfalen) in Duisburg (Germany) numerous original documents organized and distributed during the nineteenth century by the Prussian authority. These documents constitute a series of completed surveys very similar to present‐day macroseismic questionnaires that were ostensibly used to gather information about felt earthquakes in the Kingdom of Prussia. This article presents an overview of these documents and discusses their importance for broadening the knowledge base of nineteenth‐century earthquakes in this part of Europe. Indeed, for some earthquakes, answers to the questionnaires furnish original historical sources that were never scientifically exploited; for other earthquakes, the surveys formed the basic source of information, utilized but not referenced in two nineteenth‐century scientific studies. Detailed examination of a small sample from these historical documents definitively demonstrates the necessity for a reevaluation of the nineteenth‐century earthquakes.

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