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

Preservation in a Time of War

We are still fascinated by the extraordinary stories of courage, cunning and perseverance during World War II. The work of the so called Monuments Men are no exception.  The Monuments Men were created in 1943. The unit was tasked with protecting historical buildings and works of art in the European arena of the war.

Monuments Men

Earlier this year, the post war diaries of one of the Monument Men, S. Lane Faison Jr., was donated to the National Archives and Records Administration of the Unite States.  Faison was a noted art historian. He was responsible for identifying and reporting on the art collections stolen by Adolph Hitler. However, the diaries donated to NARA are from a the time in his life after the war, working on the Munich Central Collecting Point, overseeing the return of stolen art and items of cultural significance to their country of origin.  He also played a part in the Nuremburg trials, investigating Nazi documentation to determine what happened to prominent pieces of art work and interrogating Nazi official to determine the location of the stolen art.

Fiason’s diaries will now be a part of the NARA’s Monuments Men collection, all of the official documents and reports generated by the unit for the United State government, as well as German documentation.  

For more information on Fiason’s diaries, the Monuments Men or the NARA collection please go to:  

https://www.timesofisrael.com/diary-of-wwiis-monuments-man-given-to-national-archives/

https://www.monumentsmenfoundation.org/

https://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2019/nr19-48


 

Remembering the War to End All Wars

Over the past year, the Nevada State Archives has been celebrating and remembering the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I.  The collection exhibit includes war time pamphlets, political commentary and soldier’s service records.

Gambling with Gifts

In addition to the World War I exhibit, the State Archives has been given gifts presented to the Gaming Control Board, among other agencies, from their international partners.  The Gaming Control Board oversees and regulates gambling in the state of Nevada, but their influence reaches all over the world in the gambling industry. The gifts have come from all over the globe, from beautiful sculptures from China and Malaysia to a commendation from the country of Tonga.  

If you find yourself in the Carson City, Nevada area, please come by and enjoy their exhibits.   

 

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! 

ICA Yaounde 2018 “Archives : Governance, Memory and Heritage”

This November, Dr. Franks will be traveling to Yaounde, Cameroon, to speak at the 2018 International Council on Archives Conference.  This year’s theme is Archives: Governance, Memory and Heritage. This will be the first ICA Conference to be held in an Africa country.  As such, during this conference, the challenges that face African nations in regards to the preservation of the national heritage will be front and center.  

Dr. Franks will be discussing a Snapshot in Time: The National Archives of 54 African Nations:

Not all 54 African nations have official national archives, although all have officials and citizens who understand the value of their cultural heritage and are dedicated to the pursuit of gathering, preserving, and providing access to archival materials that can be used to tell the story of their countries.  This presentation will provide a glimpse into the status of national archives in the 54 countries based on data gathered between September 2016 and December 2017.

Organizers hope that this conference will bring together archivists and information professionals from all 54 countries on the African continent.  ICA believes this will provide the best environment for nations to discuss their archival objectives as a means of furthering Africa’s development.

To learn more about the conference, click on the link provided.

https://icayaounde2018.ica.org/index.php/en/