New audiences for archives – the Archival Literacy Online Course addressing teachers and students

One of the primary objectives of the European Digital Treasures project is to address new audiences and introduce them to the world of archives. Engaging young people plays a vital role in it and will be achieved with various project activities. The focus lies on offering a low threshold and adventurous entry point into the world of archives, using narrative techniques (“story telling”) that are based on the historical data of the archival documents.

Archival Literacy Online Course

As one of the major parts regarding a young audience, the Archival Literacy Online Course has been developed to assist teachers in introducing students of grade 9 and higher to the world of archives.

This course offers a sustainable and attractive tool linked to young user education on how to use archives, teaching students how to conduct research within the archival holdings, through traditional lectures and presentations at schools and integrate the possibilities offered by archives, mostly in Humanities, specifically in areas like history, arts, and geography.

The Archival Literacy Online Course is available in English and Spanish.

The course has been organised around three key modules:

  • Module 1: Archives – an introduction
  • Module 2: The archive of anyone, an archive for anyone
  • Module 3: Teaching with primary sources
Archival Literacy Online Course

The Archival Literacy Online Course presents the relevant information in an attractive way tailored to the target group of young students. Step by step, the course content is presented, with a knowledge check where the students answer questions based on the section they have just read.

By the end of module 1, the students will understand what an archive is, they will be able to explore the qualities archives need to have, understand the evolution of the archives, and appreciate the importance of archival literacy as well as the value of archives to society.

Module 2 – The archive of anyone, an archive for everyone teaches the students how to identify the key records about different periods and activities in their life, shows them how to differentiate between legal and formal information and also tells them about their rights in relation to those records.

Module 3 – Teaching with primary source offers resources that teachers might find helpful in their teaching practice. The resources are organised in three thematic sections with a high level of relevance today, namely Pandemics and Epidemics, Economic Crises and Migration.

Introductory videos to these modules are available online:

On May 6, 2021, the Digital Treasures project partners will present the Archival Literacy Online Course in a webinar. Click here for details on the agenda and the registration form.

Antal Pál Draskovich’s thesis sheet

The following document is the thesis paper of Pál Antal Draskovich of Trakostyán on silk, written in Latin, presented on the occasion of the 335th anniversary of its publication. 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.

Location of original record: National Archives of Hungary
Reference code: HU-MNL-OL – P 125 – № 11961

The theses of the dissertation – which are defended in public debate at the universities – were usually published in the form of an ornate design on a single sheet. Theses printed on paper and parchment, decorated with artistic copper engraving were also common, but the copy presented here is made on silk. In terms of its theme, it includes examination topics collected from the subject of logics, from the first year of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Nagyszombat (today: Trnava, Slovakia).

At the University of Nagyszombat, founded in 1635, besides philosophy and the basic sciences such as logics, physics and metaphysics, students also studied theology and law. In line with the new educational principles introduced by the Jesuits, the emphasis in education was primarily on getting to know, to understand, and to clearly articulate these in writing. Thus, during the exams, the ability to debate played an extremely important role, in addition to the acquired knowledge. The exams were conducted in the framework of monthly public debates held on Saturday afternoons, which were led by the teacher of the given grade. According to the study regulations, the debates were to be attended by pre-defined contributors: the student, of course, as well as three defenders (defendentes) and three reviewers (oppugnantes). The content and topics (theses) of the discussion were also bound, which were posted in advance at the exam venue, on more solemn occasions they were also printed out and sent to the guests invited for the exam.

The thesis sheet of Pál Antal Draskovich is an especially decorative paper corresponding to the tastes of the Baroque era, which contains six exam topics explaining the subject and usefulness of the science of logic. The printed text on silk is surrounded by a hand-painted, richly colored floral ornament, which is adorned with the coat-of-arms of the Draskovich family.

Pál Antal Draskovich of Trakostyán (1668–1693) is a member of a Hungarian noble family of Croatian origin. His father, Judge royal Miklós Draskovich, held the second highest secular rank among the country’s nobles. However, he was executed in Vienna for taking part in the Wesselényi conspiracy, which aimed to overthrow the rule of the Habsburg House in Hungary and Croatia. Count Pál Antal’s mother was Krisztina Nádasdy – the daughter of Ferenc Nádasdy, one of the most powerful noble in the country and Júlia Anna Esterházy. This fact could have been a guarantee that, despite the public dragging of the head of the family, Pál Antal could receive a quality education.

Pál Antal Draskovich held a public debate on February 9, 1686 at the University of Nagyszombat. This thesis was probably made as a gift for the uncle of Pál Antal’s, palatine Pál Esterházy. Unfortunately, the life story of the young man with high hopes ended soon, and no major political career could take place since he died at the age of 25. His thesis sheet, on the other hand, is a beautiful example of the Baroque cultural and educational history. It will be seen as part of the third pillar of the exhibition Construction of Europe – History, Memory and Myth of Europeanness over 1000 years, which also deals with the creation and further traditionalization of the Christian knowledge base.

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