And the Results Are In

Back in April I wrote about my experience attempting to track down my family lineage in present day Czechia.  Through communication with the National Archives of the Czech Republic and the regional archives in Trebon, I was able to establish my family was rooted in that region.  The regional archives took on the task of determining just how far down those roots went. 

Drum Roll Please

I now have a genealogical profile for the male line of the Verhota (Vrhota) family all the way back to 1604, when Jakob Cinatl took over the family farm from his father Petr.  I am not part of a lost line of Bohemian royals, I come from a long line of laborers and farmers.   

It has been fascinating to read through the profile, bringing up questions about my family’s progress through history.  For instance, most of the records linking the generations of my family were located in the Roman Catholic Church of Trebon’s records.  When did my family stop being Catholic?  In the profile, under Religion, the legitimacy of a person’s birth was recorded (parents were married at the time of birth).  The man who started this hunt, John Verhota (aka Jan Vrchota, my great, great, great grandfather) is the only person considered legitimate in the eyes of the church.  What was my family up to, wink wink?

Statni Oblastni Archiv v Treboni

The Regional Archives of Trebon provided so many interesting and valuable details for each generation of my family: date of birth, baptism, marriage and death; who their godparents were; their occupation; place of burial and sometimes a person’s cause of death.  For example, Anna Vrchotova, my 5th great grandmother, died of breathlessness—what the heck is breathlessness?


Anna Vrchotaova’s death records from Roman Catholic Church in Třeboň, volume 47, for years 1826–1866, page 63.  Links to available documents were provided by the Archives, along with a translation of the content.

Their Place in History

This process has also widened my thoughts on history.  My ancestors lived during some interesting times.  My ancestors were subjects in the kingdom of Bohemia.  Jakob Cinatl was coming of age towards the end of the Thirty Year’s War. Eventually this religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants resulted in the Battle of the White Mountain, ending the Bohemian reign and ushering in the Habsburg dynasty, absorbing Bohemia into the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 

Image Courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica

The Bohemian people fought for centuries against their new rulers.  When John Verhota was a teenager, a push to create a new Austria-Hungary-Bohemia monarchy failed and by the end of World War I, Bohemia faded into history becoming part of the newly established First Czechoslovak Republic. 

This whole experience has taught me so much about my personal and our global history.  As you can imagine, I have now added a trip to Trebon to my bucket list.  I plan to visit St. Elizabeth’s Church (Kostel Svate Alzbeta) to see where my family was buried; the church is still there west of the town center.  Also, I am slowly learning the Czech language.  I encourage anyone interested in the family genealogy to use the national archives system. The results may surprise you. 

References: 

Encyclopedia Britannica (2019, July 24).  Bohemia. Retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/place/Bohemia

Wikipedia (2019, August 13).  Lands of the bohemian crown. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lands_of_the_Bohemian_Crown

ICA YAOUNDÉ 2018: A celebration of governance, memory and heritage

By Dr. Patricia C. Franks, Professor & MARA Coordinator, iSchool, SJSU

The ICA Yaounde Conference held in Cameroon in November 2018 was a tremendous success for participants, presenters, and the archival community at large.  Here are some reasons why:

Cameroon enjoys high-level support for their National Archives and for the ICA Conference

Press conference with the Prime Minister, Director of ICA, Minister of Arts and Culture, and Director of the National Archives
Figure 1: In attendance, along with David Fricker, President of ICA(#1), were Dr Esther Olembe, Director of theNational Archives of Cameroon (#2); Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, Minister of Artsand Culture of Cameroon (#3); and Philemon Yang, Prime Minister of Cameroon(#4).

The official opening of ICA Yaoundé 2018 was conducted by, Philémon Yunji Yang, the Prime Minister, Head of the Government of Cameroon (see Figure 2).

Prime Minister welcoming conference attendees.
Figure 2: Philémon Yunji Yang, Prime Minister, Head of the Government of Cameroon. Hear his message on Twitter 

Greetings were also extended by the Minister of Arts and Culture and Chairman of the Board of the National Archives of Cameroon, Professor Narcisee Mouellé Kombi. From him we learned the government has implemented an ambitious plan to save the national archives of Cameroon currently lodged at the National Museum in Yaoundé and also in Buea (see figure 3).

The plan consists of rehabilitating buildings, improving security, and digitizing all archives. To this effort, the government has made available three billion Central African Francs (CFAs).

Education and Training at the Forefront

Educational sessions were held throughout the conference.  On Monday, November 26, I had the opportunity to share some of the information gathered when developing the International Directory of National Archives.  The presentation titled A Snapshot in Time: The Archives of 54 African Nations covered archival mission and vision, legal foundations, examples of treasured artifacts, physical access, digital infrastructure, events impacting holdings, and outreach through websites and social media (figure 4).  

First slide of Franks' presentation.
Figure 4: Opening slide for presentation, “A Snapshot in Time.”

A pdf of the slides can be downloaded here.  If anyone would like the actual slide deck,they should contact me via email.

One of the tweets shared during this session (figure 5) emphasized the need for assistance from ICA for the National Archives of Cameroon and other African National Archives to gather, preserve and make available their current and historical records.

Figure 5: Captured Tweet during the November 26 presentation.  See this Tweet and more at https://twitter.com/icarchiv

In keeping with the goal of preserving not only physical but also digital records, Digital Records Training was provided for African Archivists for two days immediately following the educational sessions.

Opportunities to Learn and Network

During the conference, archives staff displayed and described some of their most precious holdings (figure 6).

Display of archival materials.
Figure 6: National Archives staff members display archival materials.

Members of singing and dancing groups (figures 7 and 8) provided a glimpse into Cameroon’s cultural heritage.

Figure 7: Cameroon singing group performed during the conference. 
Figure 8: Cameroon dancing group performed outside the Palais Des Congres, conference site.

As usual, conferences provide the opportunity to meet with colleagues we haven’t seen in a while. It was an unexpected pleasure to catch up with Jian (Jenny) Wang of Renmin University (figure 7). Jenny enlisted a student, Wenran Fan, in the School of Information Resource Management to collaborate on the IDNA entry for the State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China.

Pat Franks & Jenny Wang.
Figure 9: Pat and Jenny Wang, Renmin University, Beijing, China.

Parting Thoughts

Although this was my first visit to Africa and my first ICA conference, it definitely won’t be the last! Congratulations to ICA and the host city and country of Yaoundé, Cameroon, for providing an educational, enlightening, and thoroughly engaging conference. Well done everyone! 

Digital archiving: Disrupt or be Disrupted

This article by John Sheridan, Digital Director of The National Archives (TNA) of the UK, provides three reasons why established archives (and therefore archivists) are in the best position to develop new capabilities to preserve digital records:

  • Trust: National Archives are already trusted based on their proven commitment to preserving records that document the nation’s history and making them accessible to the public.
  • Longevity: National Archives are long-established institutions with a proven track record that ensure the likelihood for the continued maintenance, preservation, and accessibility of archival holdings is very high.
  • Capacity for Change: As Sheridan states, “change is nothing new for archives.” The core purpose and commitment to preserving the public record requires continual change in order to respond to emerging technology and societal expectations.

Read this article in its entirety in the July 2018 Information and Records Management Bulletin (issue 204), published by the Information and Records Management Society.

National Treasures: Preserving and Providing Access to Cultural Heritage

National archives are often at the forefront in preserving the cultural heritage of the Slide10world, one nation at a time. However, not all archives are on equal footing. Archives’ abilities to govern, preserve, and provide access to invaluable records is impacted by, among other factors, colonialism and post-colonialism, access to technology, and natural and man-made disasters.

Slide02On June 9, 2018, International Archives Day, responding to questions from moderator Alyse Dunavant-Jones, researchers of the International Directory of National Archives (IDNA)— Traci Mitchell, Angie Conrow, and Faezeh Jahan Shiri—shared insights they discovered from their investigation of national archives around the world and the national treasures the archives govern, preserve, and share.

The three main questions asked and answered by each panelist based on the countries they studied are: How does the National Archives govern? How does the National Slide04Archives preserve memory and cultural heritage? How does the National Archives provide access? Among the National Archives discussed are those of the following countries: Afghanistan, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Denmark, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Republic of Morocco, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Additional topics explored by the panelists centered on colonialism, disasters, and technology.

 

Celebrate International Archives Day June 9, 2018 with us!

banner_smallWhen: June 9, 2018 | 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. pacific.
Where: Zoom at: https://sjsu.zoom.us/j/875876132
What: Panel presentation on National Treasurers: Preserving and Providing Access to Cultural Heritage
Who: Alyse Dunavant-Jones, Taci Mitchell, Angie Conrow, and Faezeh Jahan Shiri

Abstract: National archives are often at the forefront in preserving the cultural heritage of the world, one nation at a time. However, not all archives are on equal footing. Archives’ abilities to govern, preserve, and provide access to invaluable records is impacted by colonialism and post-colonialism, access to technology, and natural and man-made disasters. In this panel discussion, join researchers of the International Directory of National Archives (IDNA) as they share insights from their research of national archives around the world and the national treasures the archives govern, preserve, and share.

Join moderator Alyse Dunavant-Jones and panelists Traci Mitchell, Angie Conrow, and Faezeh Jahan Shiri for a discussion on National Treasurers: Preserving and Providing Access to Cultural Heritage based on their research for the International Directory of National Archives. More information and a link to the live presentation can be found here.

Planning Committee Forming for International Archives Day, June 9, 2018

International Day 2018b

From the International Council on Archives website:

“The ICA believes that effective records and archives management is an essential precondition for good governance, the rule of law, administrative transparency, the preservation of mankind’s collective memory, and access to information by citizens.”

On June 9, 2018, member of the archival community are being encouraged to show that our profession is fun, inclusive, varied and that our expertise is helpful to everyone. iSchool students and alumni can once again take part in this international event!  Last year 3 students presented lessons learned from their experiences working on the International Directory of National Archives.  This year, we want to highlight your thoughts on the value of national archives. If you’re interested in writing a blog post, participating in a webinar, or have other ideas, contact Dr. Pat Franks at patricia.franks@sjsu.edu   We’ll begin planning our event(s) in April.

A video highlighting some of last year’s events can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=XGx6UIs3WGs And scroll down our IDNA blog to find out how we celebrated International Archives Day last year.