2022 EDAC virtual meeting

Members of the European Ego-Documents Archive and Collections Network (EDAC) convened for an annual meeting on 24 September 2022. During this virtual meeting, the members introduced their organisations and the latest activities. They also spoke about challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Le Stelle in Tasca and Arquivo dos Diários joined the EDAC meeting for the first time.

Participated EDAC members:

The Secretariat of EDAC is the Expatriate Archive Centre, and its director, Kristine Racina, moderated the meeting.

During the past few years, numerous EDAC members experienced a significant increase in donations. This trend perhaps had to do with people having to spend more time at home and having time to review and reorganise their possessions. Some organisations started receiving diaries, letters and personal papers as a single donation, sometimes equal to the amount received during the entire year.

For DTA, it meant a change in the deposit policy, including the criteria for accepting the donation. DTA also started to ask donors to list what the collection contains and assign the keywords that DTA provides in advance.

Although new donations are always welcome, organisations must ensure sufficient storage space and enough people to process these collections.

DDA is excited to welcome two interns who will help to structure the reading of the diaries. Luckily the number of volunteers hasn’t changed due to the pandemic.

For APA, the increased number of donations raises questions and the need for revision of their acquisition policy, donation agreements and their accordance with the latest EU and French laws and regulations.

Among shared challenges are limited public funding opportunities. It highly correlates to the limitations of expansion, development, and other possibilities. Being dependent on volunteers and interns brings additional challenges to the work of many archives. Frequent volunteer rotations or absences slow the work and add uncertainty to the workflow. Luckily for the past few months, several organisations finally welcomed the volunteers and interns back to the office, which was impossible during the pandemic.

The EDAC members spoke about their efforts to improve the processes and their work. DTA, for example, successfully uses Transkribus software which helps to digitise German handwriting. The software is beneficial when decoding extensive collections of one author with an accuracy of up to 95%. DTA also purchased a large book scanner for unusual formats.

Due to the pandemic, Le Stelle in Tasca had to reorganise their activities and move them online. Online meetings allowed Le Stelle in Tasca to reach a broader audience by inviting more participants, also from different countries and institutions. The recordings of the sessions are available on their Youtube channel. It is impressive to see how sharing personal stories connects people and creates a supportive group to deal with life’s challenges.

The EAC decided to migrate its archival data to another collection management system. Now it uses AtoM (a web-based, open-source application for standards-based archival description and access in a multilingual, multi-repository environment). The EAC is thrilled with the new system. Migration also revealed gaps in information and the need for archival descriptions review to ensure compliance with the GDPR requirements.

Sammlung Frauennachlässe relaunched its website, which required technical and information updates.

Although the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still felt by many, EDAC members also mentioned that things are slowly returning to pre-pandemic times. There is a significant increase in various activities such as book publishing, exhibitions, collaborations, workshops and other events. Organisations also receive an increasing number of research requests.

In 2022 APA celebrated its 30th anniversary with an exhibition highlighting its archival collection. The intention is to extend this exhibition in the future. In addition, a book and a film with interviews were released. All the material reveals the history of the association and what they have done together during the past 30 years. Four members of DTA honoured the 30 years of APA and 24 years of Franco-German friendship between APA and DTA by participating in the celebrations and contributing a presentation given by DTA president Marlene Kayen. To give more exposure to the collection, APA regularly releases publications. APA is also looking for a new, bigger location that would not only host the collection but also allow to host events and exhibitions.

Le Stelle in Tasca is excited to see one of their archives being transformed into a theatre play. Orazio Maria Valastro, the President and Founding member of La Stelle in Tasca, is publishing his autobiography. In this book, he shares his experience as a young deserter from compulsory military service, halfway between a libertarian rebel and a spiritual rebel.

Arquivo dos Diários organises similar events to Archivo Diaristico Nazionale and has published three books by now. The current project is Diarios de migrantes which aims to promote intercultural dialogue and provide information on migrant trajectories within multiple territories within Lisbon’s public space. For this project, Arquivo dos Diários has gathered 40 different diaries that have been used to create an immersive exhibition. A book will be published as well.

DDA spoke about their latest collaboration with researchers from Amsterdam University for a project about life writings and Amsterdam for Amsterdam’s 750th anniversary in 2025.

Sammlung Frauennachlässe was excited to share news about a research seminar that Christa Hämmerle held for history students at the University of Viena, which brought interesting collaborative results. Li Gerhalter (Sammlung Frauennachlässe) and two colleagues also published an anthology on the topic of “Documentation Politics”, which is available online.

DTA was pleased to report a recent visit of two of their members to the Italian Archivio Diaristico, where they were graciously received and given an extended tour of the archive’s museum by Giacomo Benedetti, to be followed by an informational talk with archivist Cristina Cangi and project manager Filippo Massi.

2023 EDAC meeting

DTA presented their plans for the 2023 EDAC meeting. It will take place on 14-15 April 2023 in Emmendingen, Germany and is hosted by DTA. At the end of 2022, EDAC members will receive more detailed information about the upcoming meeting and registration process. Luckily all speakers of the 2022 programme agreed to come in 2023. All EDAC members look forward to this opportunity to meet in person.

The next EDAC meeting is an excellent opportunity to exchange experience (e.g., donation agreement templates, acquisition policy criteria etc.), jointly look for solutions to common issues/challenges, and discuss joined funding opportunities at the EU level.

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