This day has a special significance in the cultural life of Hungary, as it is the day when Hungarians celebrate the Day of Hungarian Culture, in memory of the day Ferenc Kölcsey revised his manuscript of the Hungarian National Anthem in 1823. However, on this day of remembrance, the National Archives of Hungary wanted to commemorate not only Hungarian cultural values, but also the common European values, historical and ideological experiences that link Hungary with other European countries.
European Discoveries: from the New World to New Technologies is a digital exhibition dedicated to the latter, which presents European discoveries in three pillars, covering medical science, industrial achievements and transport and traffic, preserved in the archives of Malta, Montenegro, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Serbia and Hungary, through documents of historical value.
In addition to the printed panels, the 43 manuscripts and records presented in the exhibition can also be seen in a digital catalogue, according to the unified project concept. The National Archives of Hungary presents some original archival material on the exhibition site as well. Visitors of the exhibition space can also see some designer products inspired by the documents – with a separate description of the source of inspiration – and play an RPG game and quiz based on the documents presented in the project, in the dedicated game space.
The European Discoveries exhibition at the Castle Garden is attracting a lot of interest. In addition to the digital descriptions, visitors can browse through the exhibition with a handy English and Hungarian catalogue to learn more about the documents on display.
The multilingual nature of the exhibition helps our visitors from abroad to learn more about the European archival material. Our exhibition venue is one of the best exhibition spaces of the Castle Garden. The highly equipped hall and its digital facilities provide a suitable place for all visitors to access and explore digital content.
The first exhibitions actuality – European Discoveries – is attracting many group visits; we are getting high engagement in the requests from schools, universities and other institutions.
Our professional Public Education team offers guided tours at the exhibition site as well, for registration please contact: email@example.com
The exhibition is open until the end of April 2022, at the beautiful site at the foot of Buda Castle.
Written by Szabó Dorottya, Archivist, National Archives of Hungary and Palcsó Anna, Public Education Officer, National Archives of Hungary
The document, also known as “The Sharrer Parchment”, discovered in 1990 at the Torre do Tombo Archive, includes musical notation, found for the first time in love songs, and is the oldest known register of Portuguese secular music.
The love songs take us back to a cultural tradition of the European medieval courts, where courtly love was favored, that is an amorous compliment aside from patrimonial, family, and political pressures that were inevitably present in marriage alliances.
King D. Dinis was a prolific and well-known author of troubadouresque poetry of Iberian tradition: 137 poems were identified, 75 love songs, 11 satirical songs and 51 amigo songs. This king developed his musical and poetic genius in the context of the confluence of European cultivated courts to which he was linked by family and cultural bonds: his father, King Afonso III, spent his youth in the court of the king of France (Louis VIII), and married the Countess Mathilde de Boulogne, knowing the cultural atmosphere of the French court.
One of the educators he chose for his son Dinis was Americ d’Ébrard, of Aquitaine, who introduced him to the culture from beyond the Pyrenees and to the troubadouresque schools. On his mother’s side, he was the grandson of Alfonso X, the Wise, King of Castilla and Leon, the author of a vast poetic work, including the well-known “Cantigas de Santa Maria”. Later, D. Dinis married Isabel of Aragon, from a court that cultivated poetry. There was great proximity between Aragon and the South of France and their troubadouresque courts.
The troubadour poetry of courtly love emerged in the Iberian Peninsula, influenced also by the pilgrimage routes of the Way of St. James, under a strong Provencal influence, considering minstrels and troubadours constituted an international and migratory brotherhood, traveling from one court to another in the Peninsula.
If the amigo songs, where the troubadour embodies a female voice, are part of an Iberian tradition of popular origin, the love and satirical songs belong to a troubadouresque tradition of European courts and feudal lords, of Provencal origin, between the 12th and 14th centuries.
In love songs, the troubadour, a noble man and author of the melody and the lyrics, expresses his passion for “his lady”, a woman of unique beauty and virtue that, according to the canons of this ritualized love, isn’t identified. Only the submission of the troubadour is exposed, who expects a reward, that could be a present, a look or something significantly more physical, being the service and the suffering of the lover the biggest proof of his love. This “service” of loyalty and love for the lady mirrors, in the romantic relationship, the dependence relations that united vassal and lord in the feudal system.
What is the human reality hidden behind these rituals and conventions? What is the point of all these secrets and precautions? In most love songs the “servant” expects to receive a favor of the lady, but keeps the favor a secret. For the Portuguese Culture historian António José Saraiva, we have to consider that these protagonists are frequently feudal lords, kings and sons of kings, the songs’ theme is clandestine love, outside of marriage, so the secrecy is a precaution, not literary fiction. Clandestine love and adultery are a recurrent theme of medieval love literature and of the great romantic couples that the Middle Ages have left us: Tristan and Isolde, Lancelot and Guinevere, …
Click here to listen to one of the 7 love songs: A tal estado me adusse, senhor. In this song, the troubadour tells his lady about the state her beauty and qualities have left him in: nothing gives or will give him pleasure, until he sees her again.
Written by Maria Trindade Serralheiro (text) and Ana Isabel Fernandes (trad.) Senior Technicians, General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, Portugal.
The first speech was held by Kerstin Arnold who has been working in the archives domain for more than 15 years! Having been part of various projects creating and establishing Archives Portal Europe, Kerstin is now the initiative’s acting COO in the role of the APEF Manager. She holds a Master degree each in Communication Science and in Library and Information Management and also is a member of the Technical Subcommittee on Encoded Archival Standards (TS-EAS) at the Society of American Archivists.
Abstract. Archives Portal Europe is a comprehensive and open resource on archives from and about Europe, that currently holds archival descriptions from more than 30 countries and in more than 20 languages. Following traditional approaches of archival description, the portal allows users to access the documents via the contextual entities of the records creators and the holding repositories, next to a general keyword search. To evaluate options for subject- or topic-based access points, Archives Portal Europe is working on an automated cross-lingual topic detection tool that aims at enabling users to identify relevant documents related to a topic well beyond the narrowness of direct keyword matching. Synergising different approaches for concept-based and entity-based topics, the tool then also is meant to allow for active topic tagging in order to improve coverage of topic-based relations between the heterogeneous and multilingual documents present in Archives Portal Europe. Building on the current status quo in the portal, this paper presents the tool’s set-up, initial results from the proof-of-concept phase, and next steps envisaged during alpha and beta development of the tool, which will be made available as Open Source to also be of benefit for other, similar initiatives in the cultural heritage sector.
You can watch the whole session on YouTube here and read the manuscript paper here!
Written by Kerstin Arnold & the European Digital Treasures Team.
The first from the series of three exhibitions was inaugurated at the National Archives of Malta (Rabat, Malta) last Friday, 28th of January 2022. Within the framework of the European project European Digital Treasures, the first exhibition is titled: ” The construction of Europe – History, Memory and Myth of Europeanness over 1000 years”.
The narratives displayed here combine different technological tools that allow us to get to know our written past through multiple channels. On the basis that these documents have the remarkable ability to tell the micro-stories that made possible the great construction of Europe, these innovative products allow visitors to experiment and play, to learn and share, as well as to feel moved by our common past.
The opening was attended by partners of the project from Spain, Hungary, Norway, Portugal and Austria!
With the objective of evaluating the impact of the exhibition “European Discoveries: from the New World to the New Technologies”, which took place in Lisbon, at Torre do Tombo National Archive (ANTT), from July 22 to October 30, with the Portuguese public, the information collected in the scope of the guided tours carried out by ANTT was used. The limitations resulting from the pandemic affected the number of visitors, reducing the impact of an event with these characteristics. In the current year 2021, the total volume of visitors to ANTT, compared to the same pre-pandemic period, dropped by 35%. Nevertheless, between September and October 2021, it was possible to carry out a total of 13 guided tours to groups, involving 125 visitors, broken down as follows:
• 4 groups from secondary education (15-17 years): 49 visitors;
• 6 higher education groups (17-25 years): 58 visitors;
• 3 groups of other visitors (over 45 years old): 18 visitors.
The exhibition was also seen by 730 individual visitors, 13 of whom shared comments in the “Visitors’ book”. Among the latter, there are two professors and an archivist from Brazilian Universities.
Having characterized the universe of visitors, there is nothing better than listening to the testimony of the person responsible for conducting the visits, Maria Trindade Serralheiro, ANTT-DSIEQ technician.
Interviewer: Generally speaking, and from the point of view of visitors, what are the advantages of conducting guided tours of this type of exhibition?
Maria: The great advantage lies in the fact that the information transmitted can be directed to different audience profiles, allowing the visitor to enjoy mediation that meets their cultural interests, their knowledge or even their perceptions of matters related to the exhibited documents. As an example, visits aimed at groups of students can be more directed towards a specific curricular content, pre-established when scheduling the visit with the responsible teacher. In this specific case, it could focus on knowledge of primary sources and themes such as bioethics, human rights, public health, European citizenship, etc.
This is an innovative exhibition, given that it is a collaborative production carried out by European archives, whose thematic scope should be highlighted by the mediator, as it can contribute to reinforcing the awareness of identity belonging, both national and European. The archival documentation, properly framed, referring to different times and spaces, can contribute to sustain the affirmation of a shared memory.
Interviewer: Given the visits made to previous exhibitions, did this one stand out?
Maria: Yes, the visits stood out for their access to a great diversity and types of documents, only possible in a collaborative protection such as “European Digital Treasures”. In addition, alignment with the curricular programs at different levels of education was not only possible but also advantageous, as it enabled integration in a European context, which, although it has always existed, is not always highlighted with the deserved relevance in national school curricula. It should be noted that European History is present in the curriculum of History, but in a very discontinuous way, not allowing the establishment of belonging, an identity rooted in a European context.
Interviewer: Did the other activities carried out within the scope of the EDT project with teachers and schools, in the context, for example, of the “Course of Literacy in Archives”, have an impact on the number or profile of visitors?
Maria: Except for a single specific case, it was not found that the activities developed with the professors through the “Literacy in Archives Course” had worked as a motivational factor for a visit to this exhibition. In fact, as the Portuguese teachers participating in the course stated, it will only have an impact when translated into the mother tongue of students and teachers, as is, in fact, expected in European projects.
Visitors to this exhibition fit the usual profiles: secondary school students (10th, 11th and 12th grades) and groups of students starting university education who come to know the ANTT’s potential for research .
Interviewer: What knowledge did visitors reveal about European History?
Maria: They revealed some knowledge, very fragmented, favoring emblematic and high-impact facts, such as the European Wars, for example, but with little relation to the European political, social and cultural space as a whole.
Interviewer: Is it important that students have some preparation for the visit or, on the contrary, is it better that there is no prior preparation?
Maria: When they are motivated and curious students, preparation doesn’t make much difference. It is important that the school proceeds with the exploration of the contents covered in the exhibition, through the respective catalog, the information accessible through QR-CODE or the website of the promoters.
The contact with such a great diversity and typologies of documents from European archives is very stimulating to broaden horizons and to develop the awareness that archives are fundamental to interconnect peoples, times and places through the construction of a collective memory and that everybody can access it freely, through digital platforms. In this European approach, there is a phenomenon of cultural relativization between the “I” and the “other”, which proves to be very healthy.
Interviewer: Of the various exhibition centers – medicine, energy and industry, transport and navigation – which ones aroused the most interest?
Maria: It was undoubtedly the “pillar” of medicine, the theme of combating the disease, because in a context of public health crisis caused by the pandemic, scientific discoveries in the area of medicine are front-page news. In front of an exhibition that highlights the creativity of European scientific discoveries and technological innovations, the curious and creative young visitors said that if they were allowed to make a scientific discovery to improve the quality of human life, it would be in the area of medicine that they would like to make their contribution.
This nucleus also allowed some reflection on scientific knowledge. The work of Garcia de Orta, a Portuguese physician who wrote about plants and other medicinal products from India (1563), was a pretext to question the nature of scientific knowledge, based on his phrase “What we do not know today, we will know tomorrow”. In times of uncertainty in the face of a pandemic that confronts us with the fragility of knowledge about a new virus, we see how in the past, in similar contexts, scientific discoveries were able to save lives and bring relief; the recognition of ignorance – “what we do not know today” – as a condition for discovery and, on the other hand, optimism in human capacities – “tomorrow we will know” – as a horizon of hope. And also about the obsolescence of scientific knowledge, based on a Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded to a practice of psycho-surgery, prefrontal leucotomy, which was later banned.
The centers (energy and industry, transport and navigation) also deserved special interest, depending on the training areas of the visitors. Students at the Aviation School, for example, “felt at home” in the face of pioneering aviation experiences and the complex and risky challenges of contradicting the law of gravity…
Interviewer: Did the fact that many documents are not physically present have an impact?
Maria: Yes, document reproductions are at a great disadvantage compared to originals. In future exhibitions, it would be good to improve the quality of the reproductions, so that they can compete with the originals. In this domain, but extending to all selected documentation, it would be important to improve contextualization, which is not always accessible to a non-specialized audience.
Interviewer: What is the impact of video games?
Maria: In a 45-minute group visit, the exploration work focused on the exposed documents, leaving this resource to be explored in the next visit or, eventually, at home or at school.
Interviewer: What is the impact of merchandising products?
Maria: The products’ creativity and aesthetics were highly valued, but the fact that they could not be purchased following the visit was disappointing, taking on the role of prolonging the visitor’s fascination.
Interviewer: What are the positive aspects to highlight?
Maria: For young people, Europe is, above all, a space without borders and a space of choice: where to live, where to study and where to practice your profession. Exhibitions of this nature are a resource that archives can make available to support decision-making based on knowledge of the multifaceted history of European culture.
In the visitor satisfaction survey, 85% rated the theme of the exhibition as “Very interesting”. The students who registered comments in the “Visitors’ book” used phrases such as: “Bué gira”, “I really liked it”, “Very cool”. Regarding the contents, phrases such as: “Very interesting”, “Very enlightening”, “Historically rich” stand out. As for the relevance of the themes in general: “Relevant themes”, “it never hurts [the European approach to History]; “The approach to the European dimension was lacking in secondary education”, “the exhibition multiplied my interest”.
Interviewer: What are the aspects to improve?
Maria: The dissemination strategy, which would benefit from being more aimed at schools, through, for example, promotional videos.
Written by General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, Portugal.
The Holy Right Hand is a Hungarian national and Catholic relic, which is believed to be the naturally mummified right hand of Stephen I, first king of Hungary, referred also as St. Stephen.
St. Stephen (in Hungarian Szent István) was born around 970-975 in Esztergom. He was a member of the Árpád dynasty, born a pagan but was baptized as a Christian. In 996, he married Gisela of Bavaria, sister of the future Holy Roman emperor, Henry II. After the death of his father, Grand Prince Géza, Stephen combated an insurrection led by his cousin, Koppány, who claimed the throne in accordance with Árpád succession rules. After defeating Koppány, Stephen was crowned as (the first) king of Hungary with a crown received from Pope Sylvester II.
His coronation took place around 1021 years ago, on Christmas Day in 1000 and it signified Hungary’s entry into the family of European Christian nations. Stephen treated the church as the principal pillar of his authority, dispatching missionaries throughout his realm, founding bishoprics and abbeys and making the building of churches mandatory. He died in 1038 and became Hungary’s patron saint.
The king’s naturally mummified right hand is one of the most significant Hungarian national relics, found when his stone grave was opened on August 20th, 1083, in Székesfehérvár. (The identification mark of the right hand was the king’s ring, which adorned the hand.) The relic saw a few adventures in its time. During the Turkish occupation, it ended up in Ragusa (today: Dubrovnik, Croatia), where it was guarded by Dominican friars, attracting a growing number of pilgrims to the city.
Queen Maria Theresa (1717–1780), late successor of St. Stephen on the Hungarian throne, negotiated the return of the Holy Right Hand in 1771, offering to the historical city of Ragusa her protection against the threat of Russian invasion in return. In her charter decree, she set out how the relic, St. Stephen’s mummified hand is to be respected throughout the country.
The charter issued by Queen Maria Theresa on 7th August, 1772 in Vienna is a parchment volume, sealed with the greater Hungarian secret seal and consists of 10 pages. It is kept by the National Archives of Hungary, in Budapest (under the reference code HU-MNL-OL – C 90 – № 11).
The record is showcased in the first thematic exhibition of the European Digital Treasures project, entitled Construction of Europe – History, Memory and Myth of Europeanness over 1000 years.
Written by Dorottya Szabó Senior Archivist, National Archives of Hungary
In autumn 2021, the National Archives of Hungary announced a unique paleographical volunteering opportunity for the general public for the first time. Applicants were able to take part in an exciting 21st century project full of modern challenges. Within the framework of the European Digital Treasures project, between 1st of October and 15th of November 2021 it was possible to participate in the daily, professional work of the Archives!
Using Artificial Intelligence, the transcription of the names of taxpayers on the census rolls of the free royal towns of the 1828 national census was completed in the summer of 2021. The Archives carried out a review of this transcription with the help of volunteers. Through this work, the handwritten text recognition capability of the software has been improved and the final results became more accurate.
After the publication of the call, the great social interest was evident in two days, registration had to be closed as the number of participants was completely full! During the crowdsourcing activity, altogether 70 enthusiastic volunteers working from all over the country and even from across the border provided assistance for the publication of a name-searchable database of the conscription.
Looking at the census samples made public by the archives, applicants could test their knowledge of palaeography and decide whether to participate. The approval and possible correction of the names transcribed by the algorithm could be done online from any location at any time during the six-week programme. Volunteers undertook to transcribe a minimum of 50 pages each, though many of them had processed significantly more by the end of the programme. Extra tasks were typically undertaken by more experienced family history researchers. The end result was 6787 pages checked by the volunteers. The Silver Generation was represented by 26 people, and the senior prize went to a 76-year-old lady, who transcribed 309 pages. A history teacher from the Trans Carpathian region alone checked 580 pages of County Ung of the conscription.
The algorithm and the validation software, which has an English interface, were developed by Transkriptorium, a Spanish IT company linked to the Valencian University of Technology. The volunteers were supported by archivists with an on-site demonstration, a downloadable palaeographic example book, discussions and numerous quizzes, puzzles and games to make their work even more enjoyable. A Facebook group was set up specifically for this purpose, where lively professional discussions and useful tips to help the work were exchanged.
As a token of thanks and appreciation, the Archives presented more awards than originally planned, given the large number of volunteers and the quantity and quality of their work. In addition to the grand prize of the DNA test, two online journal subscriptions and five European Digital Treasures prize packs were also given as special prizes. In addition, all participants received a commemorative certificate and a small gift.
After closing the online crowdsourcing activity volunteers responded to an anonymous questionnaire evaluating the programme, which they praised, and the vast majority of them said they would like to participate in similar activities in the future. This successful programme, which exceeded expectations, has many winners: the participants, the Archives and the Hungarian culture!
Written by Ildikó Szerényi National Archives of Hungary.
Within this project, the National Archives of Malta and the Times of Malta, Malta’s largest media house, joined forces to develop Malta Hidden Treasures. This is a series of articles and video productions (uploaded on the paper’s online platform) inspired by records from the National Archives and from other archives.
The aim is two-fold: to allow readers to gain an insight into Maltese history, society through our archives and to develop the popular awareness of the archives.
The first production was published on Sunday 14th of October and dealt with the dynamics of the impact of the British Empire and goats in Malta. These include considerations of health, war, nutrition, politics, and economics.
December 2nd is celebrated as the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. Although it seems a distant reality, the Global Slavery Index of 2018 reports that, in 2016, around 40.3 million people were in conditions of modern slavery, the vast majority being women (71%). Of these, 24.9 million were in conditions of forced labor and 15.4 million in forced marriages.
The historical process that led to the outlawing of human trafficking and slavery in the light of Human Rights was long and tortuous: By the law of 1761, D. José, king of Portugal, declared free all male and female slaves brought from Asia, Africa and America that disembarked in Portugal. This law did not translate, however, into the end of slavery, since, in addition to the existing slaves, there were also all those who were born of a slave mother and who, for this reason, remained slaves. Twelve years later, in 1773, a new law was passed, known as the Law of the Free Womb. It determined that children born to a slave mother became free and that all slaves whose great-grandmother was already a slave could be freed.
Portugal, a pioneering European country in globalization, stands out for having had, during the history of its long colonial period, an important position in the global trade in slaves from Africa. Between 1450 and 1900, it will have trafficked around 11 million people. In 1444, the first shipment of private initiative of 235 slaves from Africa arrived in Lagos, Algarve, probably giving rise to the first European slave market of the modern era. In mid 16th century Lisbon, African slaves represented about 10% of its population.
Despite the 1761 law, the illegal entry of slaves from the colonies persisted. With the independence of Brazil, many Portuguese who brought their slaves returned to Portugal. Upon arrival in Portugal the slaves were to become free, but the king granted their owners a special privilege to keep them. However, the 1761 law is a law of modernity that begins a slow chronology, made up of advances and setbacks, towards the definitive abolition of the slave trade and slavery. Portugal was one of the first European countries to prohibit the entry of slaves, but also one of the last to abolish, in 1869, slavery in its colonies.
Maria Trindade Serralheiro (text) and Ana Fernandes (trad.) Senior Technicians, General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, Portugal.
Yesterday, 25th of November, the second of the three transmedia exhibitions included in the European Digital Treasures project, “Exiles, Migration Flows and Solidarity”, was successfully opened at the Documentary Centre of the Historical Memory (Spain).
This exhibition analyzes how migrations and exchanges have contributed particularly to building cultural diversity in Europe through the documentary treasures kept in European archives. And it is the outcome of the European cooperation, a clear example of the combination of the capacities, heritage, diversity, value, and inspiration of all those who have made this project possible.
The narratives displayed here combine different technological tools that allow us to get to know our written past through multiple channels. Visitors can interact with: 9 original documents from 4 different archives, 21 facsimiles from 7 countries, 18 digital reproductions of documents from 6 countries, displayed in interactive booths, 1 quiz game for people who love challenges, 1 memory matching game to encourage observation, 1 infinite running game to reward speed by catching archival documents, 1 interactive RPG game to learn how to work on an archive, 4 augmented reality experiences to explore parallel worlds and videos presenting the project and its merchandising products!
Through the selection of 44 documents from the archives that participate in the project, European migrations are narrated from a historical perspective. In a Europe that is currently facing one of its most important migration crises, the relevance of this exhibition is key. The narrative has been structured through three thematic pillars: Work-related Migration; War- related Migration; Political Uprising, Turmoil and Persecution.
The stories combine different tools and technological solutions, with which the public will be able to access the written past through multiple channels that will allow them to experiment, play, learn and share, with that unique ability that documents have to tell personal stories (letters, images, boarding passes, visas, certificates, etc.) behind the European migration figures.
The opening was chaired by Severiano Hernández Vicente, Head of the Spanish State Archives, by María Oliván, Head of the Transparency, Document Management & Access to Documents Unit of the European Commissio, by Manuel Melgar, Director of the Documentary Centre of the Historical Memory, and by María Encarnación Pérez Álvarez, Government Sub-delegate in Salamanca. It was also attended by representatives of the University of Salamanca, of different archives of the province of Salamanca, by the members of the ‘European Digital Treasures’ project and a representation of the Spanish State Archives.
The exhibition can be visited until March 13th, 2022 in Spain, with capacity restrictions and hygiene and safety measures established by health authorities to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.