A Visit to a World Heritage Site

Author ~ Faezeh Jahan Shiri ~ MLIS Alumna

The entire historical city of Yazd in Iran is recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO since 2017. I was recently able to visit this amazing city and learn about the history, library and archives, and the beautiful architecture that has lasted for centuries.

Yazd 1

This sacred fire has been burning for 1531 years!

The sacred fire of Zoroastrians in Atashkadeh -Yazd in central Iran is stated to have been burning since about 470 AD. The introduction statement signage by the temple entrance reads: “This flame is from the Pars Karyan sacred fire temple which was brought to Aqda where it was kept for 700 years, then transferred to Ardakan in 1174 where it was kept burning for 300 years until it was moved to Yazd in 1474. The sacred fire was brought to this temple in 1940.”

Yazd 2

Vaziri Library & Archives in the city of Yazd

This library & archives was established in 1955. Researchers and archivists have access to more than 5000 rare manuscripts, 6000 Lithographic (printed on stone) books which was mostly donated by people who cherish arts and believe in preserving cultural heritage for the future generations. Among these treasures are the more than 800 years old Divan-e-Hafiz, Golestaan-e Saadi, and Ibn Sina’s ‘Canon’.

Yazd 3

Digital Collaboration

In an ever-growing globalized environment, to better serve patrons, archives have been teaming up across borders.  The Arabian Gulf Digital Archives is the result of one such collaboration, between The National Archives of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and United Kingdom.  The Digital Archives is made up of 250,000 items including documents, maps, photographs and video footage, spanning approximately 200 years of history. This collaboration is significant because, historically, the UAE and UK have had a checkered past.  The documents available in the Digital Archives represent “years of intrigue, political strife, war, independence and progress” (Dennehy 2019) between the two nations. What is currently available is the culmination of 2 years of work, however the collaboration is not done.  The Digital Archives plans on expanding the digital collection even further.

References

Dennehy, J. (May 2, 2019) Treasure trove of priceless UAE archives now online. Retrieved from: https://www.thenational.ae/uae/heritage/treasure-trove-of-priceless-uae-archives-now-online-1.856500

Peterson, J.E., Crystal, J. (May 26, 2019) United Arab Emirates. Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/place/United-Arab-Emirates


NDNP

Chronicling America: Digitizing the historic papers of our past
Nevada’s journey as part of the Nation’s Newspaper Digitization Project

People at the Center

In every step of our project, we put people at the center of all we do! We know that our papers are used by researchers in order to improve our world.

Our target users are:

  • Researchers & Scholars
  • Lifelong Learners & Casual Readers
  • Genealogists

DESIGN is everything!

The design is guided by our audience. All of the design decisions were made to serve them, to the formats and search design, tools used (such as OCR for full text searching) and of utmost importance: Outreach! Often we go where they are!

The treasure within the pages: our history

Our hope is that people of the state, nation, and world will dig into our papers to fulfill their curiosities, wonders, and all other information needs. We hope that people are delighted, enlightened, educated, surprised, and frightened at the contents within these pages.

The past can teach you a lot about the core of human nature and being a citizen of this world. It is fascinating to see how people lived their day-to-day lives.

Newspapers are often the first draft of history.

In the West, especially in Nevada, the Manifest Destiny and Gold Rush brought many new people to this land. The Natives (our Indigenous Peoples) were already here. Seeing the struggle for lifestyle and survival on both sides is very interesting, and often, heartbreaking.

Regularly there had to be a lot of cooperation with one another. Everyone came from different countries, cultures, and ethnicities and all had to live side-by-side. So more than not, people were respectful for the greater good. 

Some other observations?

Prohibition fueled what I like to call ‘PCP whiskey’ [moonshine] as this liquor unregulated it was really quite dangerous. A lighter note on prohibition, one article describes Reno as having more open saloons after prohibition than before!

Women wore long dresses consisting of many layers covering head, neck, arms, and always legs. They also had no rights and fought tirelessly for suffrage!

Jails were make-shift; prisoners broke out a lot! (I get the notion they were not stripped of belongings before being booked either; they often started fires or attacked others with weapons or other items!)

People lost so much from fires then – property damage and lives! Many times the residents put out the fires by forming lines and passing buckets toward the fire.

Mining was (and still is) very dangerous. Many perished working in the mines.

There were many murders but not many forensics science and murder investigations. Sometimes people were identified as “a stranger found dead…” and life appeared to move on.

There were a number of suicides. Life was not easy. Sometimes the suicides were gruesome and brutal (firearms were not always available!)

Entertainment included masquerade balls, traveling circuses, local theatre, and stories in the paper.

People suffered from the ravages of diseases that are preventable todaydiphtheria, scarlet fever, smallpox, meningitis… Often young children succumbed to diseases we prevent today!

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To learn more about Nevada Digital Newspaper Project, please visit our website

To search your state paper, or just to browse, visit Chronicling America

View a slideshow of some of the more interesting articles, advertisements and images we have come across


Quick stats from ChronAm!

28 titles from Nevada;

Nevada’s oldest title is from 1863;

205,653 pages available;

Papers from all of our 16 counties of Nevada!

Giving Back

Between April 5th and July 17, 2019, the National Archives of Canada will be providing funding and digitizing services to eligible indigenous organizations as part of their Listen, Hear our Voices initiative.  The goal of the initiative is to help preserve indigenous cultures and language.  In addition to the digitization, the National Archives will be providing training to help the participating organizations build the necessary skills to take the tenants of the initiative back to their communities.  A committee made up of representatives from First Nation, Inuit and Metis Nation will review applications and make recommendations. The Listen initiative is part of the Indigenous Documentary Heritage Initiative, which is a portion of a greater 5-year Indigenous Heritage Action Plan created by the Canadian government and the Library and Archives of Canada.  

Reference

Library and Archives of Canada (April 5, 2019) Library and Archives Canada launches funding and services to help preserve Indigenous culture and language recordings.  Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/library-archives/news/2019/04/library-and-archives-canada-launches-funding-and-services-to-help-preserve-indigenous-culture-and-language-recordings.html.

Taking it to the Streets

CARTEL_DIA_2019_6292On June 7, 2019, as part of International Archives Week, the Madrid Archives will take to the streets to promote the newest addition to the regional archives, work from artist Pablo Perez.  The Archives has created external display spaces featuring some of Perez’s most notable photographs. In addition, over the course of the day the Archives will offer guided tours, educational seminars and live music.  Their objective, bringing the Archives to the people, all for the purpose of demonstrating the value the Archives adds to Spanish culture and heritage.

simulacion_lonas_BLOQUE_1

Images Courtesy of the Archivos de la Comunidad de Madrid

Reference

Archivos de la Comunidad de Madrid (2019) Día Internacional de los archivos 2019 la comunidad de Madrid celebra el día internacional de los archivos 2019.  Retrieved from: http://www.madrid.org/archivos/index.php/actividades/dia-internacional-de-los-archivos/dia-internacional-de-los-archivos-2019

Going to the Crowd Source

 

Israel Lirbary

There is an enormous collective knowledge available to archives social media users.  Crowd sourcing has become a key leveraging activity for archives. The Israel National Library is doing just that.  They have created the Naming the Soldiers project, a short run project between the Library and Israel Facebook to identify soldiers in photographs maintained by the library’s archival collection. This event coincides with Israel’s 71st independence celebrations.

The Soldier Naming project is just a part of a larger initiative by the Israel National Library to make cultural treasures, like these photographs, accessible to the public.  

References

National Library of Israel (May 7, 2019) Naming the soldiers: A special joint project by the national library and facebook.  Retrieved from: https://blog.nli.org.il/en/naming-the-soldiers/

Winer, S. (May 8, 2019) Library seeks help identifying soldiers in thousands of archived photos. Retrieved from: https://www.timesofisrael.com/library-seeks-help-identifying-soldiers-in-thousands-of-archived-photos/

Archival Intelligence

National archives are the cultural and governmental memory of a nation.  They provide a look into the nation’s pastgood, bad or top secret.  And now with information always at our fingertips, the demand for access to such information has grown at a rapid pace.  

In Latvia, demand comes in the form of a new law which would require the national archives to digitize and publish online the records of the Former KGB.  Over centuries, Latvia has been a Baltic battle ground between invading Germany and Russia. Following World War II, Latvia became a part of the Soviet Union and was under the auspices of the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, better known as the KGB, the Soviet Union domestic security service.  It was not until the late 20th century Latvia finally won its independence.  However, remnants of the old regimes, like the KGB records, still remain.  

While some see this law as promoting governmental transparency and acknowledgement of human rights violations, there are others concerned that people still alive today will be negatively impacted by the release of these documents.  There continues to be a negative stigma for individuals believed to have been willing collaborators with the KGB. The current restrictions for access of information in these records will only apply to individuals identified as victims or third parties.  This leaves a door wide open for personal information regarding anyone else involved with the KGB being made very public.

References

Baltic News Network (May 9, 2019) Latvia to publish additional KGB filing system and other documents.  Retrieved from:https://bnn-news.com/latvia-to-publish-additional-kgb-filing-system-and-other-documents-200447.

Encyclopedia Britannica (May 30, 2019) Latvia history.  Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/place/Latvia/History.

Pringle, R. (May 2, 2019) KGB agency, soviet union. Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/topic/KGB

Lost and Found

Sometimes, history is not kind to the evidence of its events and people.  Documents are destroyed in fire, books are torn apart by war and photographs end up being shoved in a shoe box at the back of someone’s closet.  History ends up in the most interesting of hidey holes. That is the case for the diary of one such Dutch statesman. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1547 – 1619) is considered one of the greatest statesmen in Dutch history. He was instrumental in the Netherlands’ emancipation from Spanish rule and was an active participant in the construction of the Dutch government.  However, after a disagreement with the reigning monarch over a military campaign, Johan was executed for treason. During his eight month incarceration, Johan dictated diary entries to a servant. The diary is 40 handwritten pages, which provide insight into Johan’s state of mind and other aspects of the time in history. The original diary had not been documented as seen since 1825.

Lost and Found

Fast forward to 2019, a book seller reached out to the Royal Library at the Haag and the Flehite Museum.  “It seems to have been in a family library which was cleared up last year and the owner recognized it as something interesting and brought it in a big box to the antique-book handler.” (Boffey, 2019)

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Johan’s death, the Flehite Museum has the diary on display, along with other items associated with Johan, his life and his death.

 

Reference

Boffey, Daniel (May 14, 2019) ‘A little miracle’: Dutch statesman’s diary found 200 years after it was lost. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/14/dutch-statesman-johan-van-oldenbarnevelt-diary-discovered-200-years-after-it-was-lost