Opening of the exhibition “Exiles, Migration Flows and Solidarity” at the Documentary Centre for the Historical Memory (Spain)

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.

Games to play!

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.

Opening ceremony.

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.

Practical information: https://www.culturaydeporte.gob.es/cultura/areas/archivos/mc/archivos/cdmh/portada.html

Written by Spanish State Archives.

Opening of the exhibition “Exiles, migratory flows and solidarity” at the Archives House (Norway)

After more than two years of work in the preparation of the three transmedia exhibitions included in the European Digital Treasures project, on 12th of November, the exhibition Exiles, migratory flows, and solidarity was successfully opened at the Archives House (Norway).

This exhibition 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.

Augmented Reality.

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 digital reproductions of documents from nine European countries, a quiz game for people who love challenges, a memory matching game to encourage observation, an infinite running game to reward speed by catching archival documents, an interactive RPG game to learn how to work on an archive, three augmented reality experiences to explore parallel worlds and two videos presenting the project! On display are also merchandising products created by professional designers, inspired by the documents presented in the Digital Treasures exhibitions.

Opening ceremony.
Opening ceremony with Inga Bolstad.

The opening ceremony was led by the National Archivist of Norway, Inga Bolstad. Afterwards, Ole Gausdal, who has been responsible for curating the exhibition, did a guided tour for the guests.

The opening was attended by the General director of the Book, Archives and Libraries of Portugal, Silvestre Lacerda and the Deputy Director of the Spanish State Archives, Severiano Hernández and members of the ‘European Digital Treasures’ project from the National Archives of Hungary, Malta, Spain, Portugal and from ICARUS. From Norway there were many invited guests from the National Archives of Norway and local and regional heritage institutions.

Guided tour with Ole Gausdal.

The exhibition can be visited until January 30th, 2022, in Norway. The same exhibition will open in Salamanca, Spain on 25th November 2021. Later, in 2022, it will open in Hungary, Portugal, Malta, and Austria.

Written by the National Archives of Norway

Some members of the team of the European Digital Treasures project.

Burial is one of the earliest human activities!

Besides being an attempt to bring closure to the deceased’s family and friends and a manifestation of the desire to respect the dead, human burial practices are marked by the religious views of both society and the individual.

With the resurrection of Christ and a belief in the resurrection of the body at its core, Christianity has always ensured that the bodies of the faithful were treated with respect and buried them in a safe place. Christians had less need than their neighbours to appease their dead, who were themselves less likely to return as unhappy ghosts.

Sepulchral cell – National Archives of Malta.

In the second half of the first millennium, graves began to cluster in and around churches. This process shaped the landscape of Western Christendom, with the living and the dead forming a single community, sharing a common space. These developments unified western Europe more around shared rituals than common political structures.

The document shown here is the plan of a sepulchral chapel submitted by Emanuele Luigi Galizia in 1872, to be located at the Maria Addolorata Cemetery in Malta.

It shines a light on the evolution of burial customs in Christianity, in this instance the introduction of extra-mural cemeteries in mid-19th century Malta.

Sepulchral cell – National Archives of Malta.

Unless death was due to a plague or contagious disease, the strong preference of the Maltese was for intramural burial in churches and chapels around their local area. The introduction of extra-mural cemeteries in mid-19th century Malta created a great deal of controversy. The local church was vehemently opposed to both the principle of establishing burial grounds outside the confines of local parishes and the principle of multi-faith interment.

The impetus for change came from a scathing sanitary report on the health risk of continued burials in overcrowded harbour churches, along with the fact that the Protestant burial grounds had reached capacity. The issue was resolved in Malta with the promulgation of the Burial Ordinance in May 1869 prohibiting the burial of corpses within the five harbour cities (Valletta, Floriana, Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua), the most densely-populated areas of Malta. Addolorata Cemetery was opened around that date, growing over time to become Malta’s largest burial ground.

At first, the population refused to use Addolorata Cemetery. In fact, it would take three years before anyone was buried in this cemetery, that eventually became Malta’s largest.

Written by Leonard Callus,
National Archives of Malta

A handful of memories of a revolution

The Hungarian national uprising began 12 days before Soviet tanks and troops rolled up on the streets of Budapest on November 4, 1956 and crushed the uprising for once and for all. Personal accounts are the stories we tell about our lives that usually portray a larger picture of a life in historical context. Every life has its share of joy and sorrow, victory and tragedy. Personal records, such as diaries can be goldmines of historical research. Diaries as such are documents that beside the unequivocal historical facts enlighten us of remarkable experiences and about the effects of important historical moments on people’s emotions in an intimate way and we are able to relive these moments from their perspective.

Photo credit: Baranya County Archives of the National Archives of Hungary, Reference Number: HU MNL BaML XV – 46.

In many ways, diaries and letters are similar: both are archived intimate writings of potential historical value. The following record, the diary of the Hungarian Revolutionary Dr. Ferenc Tésenyi was chosen to be part of the European Digital Treasures second Exhibition ‘Exiles, Migratory flows and Solidarity’.

Can you imagine grabbing a gun as a young pupil to fight for your freedom when a revolution hits in your country? 

Well, for the students of the year 1956 in Hungary, when an uprising rose up against communist rule, the life-changing decision to become a fierce freedom fighter was a question of the nation’s life and death. Regarding one man’s impressions of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and its aftermath, the diary of Dr. Ferenc Tésenyi- who was 18 years old at this time – is a very important source. Tésenyi was a student in the city of Pécs and an active member of the revolutionary group called the ‘Invisibles of the Mecsek Mountains’. The ‘Invisibles’ were a group of armed freedom fighters that resisted even weeks after the defeat of the 1956 revolution, hiding in the mountains of the Mecsek Mountain, a mountain range in southern Hungary (Baranya region).

Tésenyi’s account shows us what it was like for the people who lived through the revolution. His entry for October 23, 1956, for example, records how police officers and officials of the State Protection Authority attacked him and other revolutionaries:

‘They were coming step by step, and when they were only 15 steps away from us, they nailed their bayonets at us and started running towards us. They were stabbing and beating with the stock of their rifles those who were standing in the front line, while they were trying to disperse us into the streets opening from the square. But they did it in vain, the people always returned to the square from the other side.’

In the entry for October 25, he notes the jubilation that accompanied the initial revolutionary victories:

‘[…] the red stars fell down from the theatre and the trade union centre, and they were replaced with Hungarian national flags. By this time, we were already about 40,000 people. At the main square, we sang the National Anthem, and then a loudspeaker spoke up: “My fellow Hungarians”, “my fellow citizens!” It was followed by loud applause, and then the police and the State Protection Authority both apologized…’

The ‘Invisibles’, after surviving many Soviet attacks in the mountains – many captured, some of them executed or tortured- had to flee their base. The Soviets were still on their trail, with no chance left, so at the morning briefing on November 16, everyone was acquitted of their oath and then told they had to head west. Finally at dawn, on November 22, some of the ‘Invisibles’ managed to cross the Hungarian-Yugoslav border at Bélavár (town in Somogy County).

Dr. Tésenyi escaped to Yugoslavia where he has been dispatched to Gerovo refugee camp (today a village in Croatia). He later went to high school in the Federal Republic of Germany before enrolling at the medical school of the University of Zurich, Switzerland. He graduated as a dentist in 1965.

In Tésenyi’s record (a volumed hardback diary on paper, containing 200 numbered pages, 86 pages were written) we can see a pencil drawing depicting the Gerovo refugee camp as it appeared in early December, 1956.  At that time the place was surrounded by a double barbed-wire fence, and was overlooked by watchtowers and sentry boxes. It felt more like a Nazi concentration camp than a refugee camp.

Photo credit: Baranya County Archives of the National Archives of Hungary, Reference Number: HU MNL BaML XV – 46.

In mid-May 1957 the watchtowers and the barbed-wire were removed but the camp still left a lot to be desired. Around 1,400 refugees were packed into buildings designed to hold 600 people. Some families had small rooms to themselves, but most were accommodated in a large common dormitory room along with the others. There was no dining hall at the camp. Some of the refugees made the choice to return to Hungary, others, like Ferenc Tésenyi, stuck it out, and were able to complete the journey to Western Europe or America in order to make a new life for themselves.

Written by Dorottya Szabó, senior archivist,
National Archives of Hungary and
Anna Palcsó, public education officer,
National Archives of Hungary

European discoveries: from the new world to new technologies. Inauguration of one of the exhibitions of the European Digital Treasures project!

After more than two years of hard work, one of three transmedia exhibitions planned in the scope of the European Digital Treasures project will be open in Lisbon under the title European Discoveries: from the new world to new technologies. The event will take place at Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, on 22nd of July 2021.

Nautical chart, Fernão Vaz Dourado

The idea of “discovery” – of exploring the unknown, of finding and trying new things, of creating new objects and artefacts, from innovative to conventional challenges – has been a constant in human and European history.

Over the centuries, its pursuit has united lands and peoples of various European nations in common endeavours. The story of the development of science and technological progress is truly a chapter of international cooperation in the history of Europe.

As the documents in this exhibition so clearly show, discoveries happened in Europe in the most diverse contexts, involving people from many different countries, in all historical periods: from isolated individual ventures to collective and even national undertakings; from the silence and comfort of a library to the controlled chaos of a construction site or a mine; from princely courts to artisans’ workshops. The protagonists and agents of these discoveries were a cross-section of European society. One finds famous intellectuals and anonymous craftsmen; highly skilled academics and almost illiterate sailors; aristocrats and workers, people from all countries and all levels of society.

While some of these documents refer to famous episodes and people who have become famous, others relate to stories that are much less known and almost forgotten. The variety of types of documents in this exhibition also confirms the variety of themes and contexts in which the desire to discover was exercised. One can find letters, books, photographs, X-ray images, drawings, manuscripts, printed leaflets, maps, reports, patent applications and much more, from the early Middle Ages to the 20th century.

Preserving the memory of the world of discoveries and inventions, of scientific progress and technological advances, is to protect one of the most characteristic elements of European identity and heritage.

The exhibition is organised around three pillars:

  • 1 – Medicine
  • 2 – Energy and Industry
  • 3 – Transport and Navigation
Letters, consultations and more works of Alexandre de Gusmão: The aerostatic machine of Father Bartolomeu de Guerreiro
PT/TT/MSLIV/1011

The visitors can interact with:

  • 9 original documents from Torre do Tombo
  • 34 digital reproductions of documents from eight countries distributed by interactive exhibitors
  • 3 documents that allow the visitors to experience augmented reality technology
  • 3 video games
  • 2 videos presenting the project and its merchandising products

The National Archive of Torre do Tombo is a central state archive of national scope. It holds a diverse universe of archival heritage, including original documents from the 9th century to the present day, in a wide variety  of media, fulfilling its main mission to safeguard, enhance and disseminate this heritage.

The building of Torre do Tombo

Torre do Tombo is one of Portugal’s oldest institutions. Since its installation in one of the towers of S. Jorge Castle in Lisbon, in the 14th century, until 1755, it served as the Archives of the king, his vassals, the administration of the kingdom and overseas possessions, also keeping the documents resulting from relations with other kingdoms.

On 1st November 1755, the tower collapsed during an earthquake. The documentation was collected from the rubble and temporarily kept in a wooden hut. On 26th and 27th of August 1757, it was transferred to the São Bento da Saúde Monastery located in the west of the city.

Inside Torre do Tombo


In 1990 the archive was transferred again, this time to a new building, built from scratch to house the National Archive, located on the perimeter of the university city of Lisbon and classified as national heritage since 2012. With a floor area of 54 235m2, it has seven floors, four of which are for storerooms that house 140 linear km of shelving. From around 35 linear km of documentation when it was transferred  to the new building, it has now reached the present day with around 100 linear km.

It is therefore in this magnificent building guarded by its 8 majestic gargoyles that the European Digital Treasures project will take place!

Written by DSIEQ/DGLAB

Crowdsourcing – Bringing together archives and their users

The international consortium of the European Digital Treasures project planned a number of events between 2020 and 2022. However, due to the pandemic situation, these events, such as the opening of transmission exhibitions, international workshops, national tenders and related camps, as well as the Crowdsourcing event, have been postponed. As the opening of the exhibitions, the organization of these community events is only due from mid 2021, in line with the COVID crisis.

The project’s Crowdsourcing activity (Activity 21) deserves special attention because it paves the way for what is unique in each of the participating countries in the project.

What is Crowdsourcing?  

National Archives of Hungary, Lantos Zsuzsanna photography

It is an activity that involves community force in a professional activity, in which very meticulous tasks that require a lot of extra labour and working hours are divided into small details and distributed among many contributors. Crowdsourcing can be financial (crowd founding) or related to software testing (crowd testing). However, in the case of archives, the involvement of community force helps to monitor and, where necessary, improve the results of handwriting recognition by the Artificial Intelligence and transcription automation used as part of the European Digital Treasures project.

A basic knowledge of archival research and a basic knowledge of palaeography is essential for those involved in this community activity. The project aims to specifically motivate seniors for the activity. Crowdsourcing is a pilot program within the European Digital Treasures project that aims to involve 20 participants per partner institution in the correction work.

In preparation for the Crowdsourcing event, the archival partners selected a collection of documents from their holdings that were created in a well-defined period. These documents are highly readable and show strong research interest.

The Torre do Tombo National Archives of Portugal selected the General Register of Mercies, the National Archives of Norway chose the Oslo Register Cards written before the First World War, the National Archives of Malta selected an immigration register from 1905-1966, the Spanish State Archives picked the passport record books from the Spanish Consulate in Buenos Aires from the 1930s, and the National Archives of Hungary selected the National Census from 1828.

The records are transcribed by the Valencian TranScriptorium company’s software using machine handwriting recognition and automated text transcription.

The software is still being tested, and the archivists of the partner institutions, together with the Valencian software manufacturer, are optimizing the maximization of its efficiency, so with as little human effort as possible should be involved in order to improve the transcription results.

The selected collections, due to their extent, will still offer plenty of opportunities from the second half of the year to improve the automated transcripts of them by community work.

With this step, the archives will pave the way for a future which on one hand, brings the intersections of the digital world and the paper-based analogue world close to each other, and on the other hand, opens up a seemingly closed scientific sphere to archive users by involving them in a portion of archival work.

Written by Dorottya Szabó Senior Archivist and
Anna Palcsó Public Education Officer,
National Archives of Hungary

“What we can expect from the Pan-European Movement?”

The following document is the March 18, 1928 issue of the Pan-European Movement’s Hungarian-language periodical, the Pan-European Bulletin, written in English language. It was edited by the Hungarian Ferenc Faluhelyi (October 29, 1886 – December 24, 1944), an international law expert and founder of the Institute of Minorities of the University of Pécs. This record will be on display at the first thematic exhibition of the European Digital Treasures project, entitled Construction of Europe – History, Memory and Myth of Europeanness over 1000 years. You can read more about the exhibitions here.

“What We Can Expect From The Pan European Movement?” (Anniversary of issue, 18.03.1928), Location of original record: National Archives of Hungary Reference code: HU MNL BaML XIV 20 b 38 4

Over the years, the interests of Ferenc Faluhelyi gradually aimed from public and criminal law to international law – which he consistently mentioned as interstate law in his lectures and studies. As a researcher and professor, he had been concerned with minority issues since 1926, proclaiming the principle of the equality of states and, within this, the need for the citizens of individual nations to exercise their fundamental rights. He considered the issue of minority protection as a point of doing.

The Hungarian Pan-European Committee was established in Budapest on June 24th, 1926. Lawyers, economists, and representatives of the economic and financial circles played a prominent role in establishing and promoting the goals of the movement. The pursuit of the Hungarian committee – similarly to the government’s foreign policy – started from the injustice of the peace treaty and fought for its revision.

The Pan-European Movement was an appropriate answer to the issue of the national minorities, since its main feature was the aspiration to reduce the significance of the state borders. A united Europe was important for them, because the continent could only defend itself from the threats of the Soviet Union by the power of unity. The idea was to bring the Pan-European Movement closer to the customs union, with unconditional respect for minority rights, language and cultural development, and free contact between minorities in other parts of the country, especially with their “blood brothers in the motherland”.

Hungarian Pan-Europeanists considered it important to clarify their relationship with the nation and to define the relationship between the European and national elements. Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi believed that the feeling of belonging to a nation – like the religion – could be a private matter, and thus the concept of a European nation could be formed. Hungarian Pan-Europeanists did not accept this position, rejected it, considered it a utopia to strive for uniformity, and saw the uniqueness and strength of a united Europe in the totality, harmonious coexistence and cooperation of individual cultures represented and mediated by different nations.

The Pan-European Movement also attracted significant personalities in Hungary, but was unable to put pressure on government circles that did not recognise – or did not want to recognise – the forum provided by the Pan-European Movement to promote foreign policy goals and seek allies. The Hungarian government, like other European governments, did not want to achieve its foreign policy goals by coordinating them with the interests of other states, in a Pan-European framework, but by balancing them between states, taking advantage of their contradictions. The possible development of the Pan-European orientation of the government – as in the case of the other states – could have been greatly helped by the official establishment of the Franco-German rapprochement and cooperation. By the time the Briand Plan based on this could have been discussed, the economic situation was no longer appropriate and the Pan-European political environment was becoming less and less appropriate.

The achievements of Ferenc Faluhelyi in the field of protection of the minorities were honored in 1933 by the Hague-based Association Internationale Pour les Études du Droit des Minorités, and in that year he was awarded the Badge of the Order of the Crown of Italy for his distinguished knowledge and presentation of Italian international law.

Anna Palcsó
Public Education Officer, National Archives of Hungary

Why use original documents? Why are archives important?

People have always been fascinated by history and already the earliest cultures tried to leave evidence of their existence and their work behind and to document them. This fascination has remained unbroken to this day, and the catchphrase “learning from history” is still often used. This inevitably raises the question of what history actually is or what it is composed of.


Primary sources form the basis of any historical topic, which have often been kept, organized and made accessible in archives for centuries. Archives can therefore justifiably be called the custodians of history, since they keep the documents on which history is based. Archival materials can cover a very broad spectrum and range from classic documents such as files, charters or letters, to tables and other compilations, to cartographic products such as plans and maps.

The “European Digital Treasures” project, funded by the European Commission, took precisely this fact as its starting point and tried in a variety of ways to bring original documents, i.e. archive materials, closer to a wider audience and to make them easier to use.


The intensive and conscious preoccupation with original documents brings history to life and gives laypeople a deeper understanding of the context. Interrogation protocols of the 17th century peasants by the secular and ecclesiastical authorities convey a direct and better understanding of the mass expulsions in the course of the Counter Reformation and the peasant uprisings of the 16th century become more vivid, when one looks at contemporary illustrations of the various criminal courts after the suppression.

Of course, not every original document is to be taken at face value and the extent of the objectivity of a source must always be questioned. But even if an original source obviously quite consciously wants to convey a very specific image of history, it is in any case authentic from the relevant time and thus a contemporary document.

Ultimately, one of the goals of the project mentioned is to raise awareness of what historiography is based on and to always question whether historical works have a solid source base or – as so often – are free inventions or at least untenable interpretations that do not stand up to source-based evidence. That is why the project operates in all its activities, be it exhibitions, the provision of prepared teaching materials for schools, intelligent game design or the design and production of marketing products exclusively with original documents from the treasuries of history – the archives.


Dr. Karl Heinz