The Autumn 2017 Issue of Jerusalem Quarterly (JQ 71) is now out, in print and online. It includes the article by Stéphane Ancel and Vincent Lemire “Across the Archives: New Sources on the Ethiopian Christian Community in Jerusalem, 1840–1940“.
During the ‘Labex-Week 2017 Futurs Urbains’ (11-15 September 2017, Cité Descartes, Champs-sur-Marne), on Thursday 14 September Vincent Lemire (ACP, ERC OpenJerusalem director) will speak during the panel on ‘Usages de l’histoire et devenirs urbains’ [‘Uses of urban history and developments’] about ‘Décrire ou numériser les archives de la citadinité? Réflexions épistémologiques sur le projet ERC Open-Jerusalem’ [Describing or digitizing ‘citadinité’ archives? Epistemological Reflections on the ERC project Open Jerusalem]
In the very early centuries of the Christian era, the Syriac orthodox Christians – also called Jacobites – settled in Jerusalem, in the so-called house of Virgin Mary in the Armenian quarter: this monastery dedicated to St Mark the Evangelist became the headquarter of the Archbishopric which had never been one of the most important centers of the Jacobite church; its original location was indeed in the Tur ‘Abdin, in the Ottoman province of Diyarbakir (East Anatolia). But during the XIXth and XXth centuries, the small community had changed significantly moving from a handful of believers with a few pilgrims arrived from time to time in the Old City, to a refugees center welcoming the survivors of the Seyfo, the genocide committed in the Tur ‘Abdin during World War I. Besides, their dependency to Armenian authorities from which they failed to release, turned gradually into their marginalisation in Arab Palestine.
Thanks to Open Jerusalem team and Father Shimon, the librarian of Saint-Mark monastery, I have studied the baptismal register of the community, from 1831 to 1948. In fact, this document is a compilation of several census produced between the Tanzîmât period and the beginning of the British Mandate on Palestine: as it is explained in the opening text of the register, a Syriac orthodox of the community named Sulayman Jalma, began to collect all the papers related to baptized children in Jerusalem and Bethlehem in 1931 and ended his work in 1932. Then, the following monks continued to record the new baptized believers until today.
The register gathers hundreds of middle format pages, in which columns and headings are printed. The garshuni language used to complete the columns, is the transcription of the Arabic in Syriac letters; between 1831 and 1948 few filled lines are written in Arabic. The reverse of that trend is observed after World War II. The information completed in the register deal with the date of the registration, these of birth and baptism, the names and places of origin of the baptized children, of their parents and godfathers/mothers and of the priest who celebrated the baptism.
Because of the lack of others available archives, I have focused on this register and on the studies published by Andrew Palmer about the Syriac inscriptions of Saint-Mark monastery. Thanks to Flavia Ruani’s translation of the register from garshuni to English, I have first studied statistically the demography of the community at that period. I have also identified the social networks organized around godparenthood and kinship, which were indeed very efficient integration mechanisms. My field survey cargried out in Jerusalem with the cooperation of the community and with that of the CRFJ enabled me to overcome difficulties I encountered, like the unmentioned citizenship or the political involvement of the Syriac believers during the interwar period. Paying attention to the importance of spiritual identity and ritual behaviours, I have tried to better understand how these Christians succeeded in being a real community fitted in well in Jerusalem, despite the impact of political and social changes they went through.
Read Antoinette Ferrand’s full dissertation (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Lyon): “La diaspora syriaque-orthodoxe de Jérusalem (1831-1948). Pèlerins, réfugiés et fabrique communautaire à l’époque ottomane et mandataire”
by Orlin Sabev
After two prospections missions conducted at the National Library of Bulgaria (Sofia) by Louise Corvasier, Vincent Lemire and Yann Potin (December 2016; June 2017) and with the help and support of Milena Koleva-Zvancharova, Head of the Oriental Collections Department of the NLB, Open Jerusalem research collaborators Orlin Sabev and Stoyanka Kenderova completed the archival description of the two important fonds (283 and 283A) for the history of Ottoman Jerusalem.
The prevailing number of documents related to the history of Jerusalem in the Ottoman period, preserved at present in the Oriental Department of the National Library of Jerusalem in the Ottoman period, preserved at present in the Oriental Department of the National Library “Sts Cyril and Methodius” (Sofia, Bulgaria) established in 1878, are organized in two archival fonds: no. 283 (comprising 7 archival units) and no. 283A (comprising 469 archival units). The Oriental Department houses about 500,000 archival units (comprising about 1 million folios) dating from the Ottoman period. They are organized in several collections, the biggest of which is the collection of topographic funds organized according to the place with which the documents are related to.
As part of the documents preserved in Sofia are originating from the Bulgarian lands that were under Ottoman rule from the late fourteenth century to 1878, the history of most of the documents dates back to the early 1930s when the authorities of the recently proclaimed Republic of Turkey – known for their rejection of the Sultan’s rule and the Ottoman legacy – sold large amount of Ottoman documents (being charged in several wagons) to a Bulgarian paper mill in order to be recycled for paper production. When the first wagons arrived the factory owners noticed that the cargo is consisted of Ottoman documents and asked expertise by the Oriental Department. After confirming their historical and archival value all the survived documents were transferred to Sofia to be preserved in the Oriental Department. Since the documents were sent from Constantinople and mostly from the depositories of the former Ottoman ministry of finances they deal mainly with financial issues and are related to all the former Ottoman provinces (in the Balkans, Anatolia, the Arabian peninsula, and North Africa). This explains why documents related to Ottoman Jerusalem (mainly dealing with financial issues) are now to be found in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Another point is the process of the organization of these documents into archival funds formed according to the previously existing Ottoman provinces. The organization was executed in two stages: at the first stage over 1,000 topographical funds have been organized in alphabetical order, while at the second stage funds with similar enumeration with attached “A” have been added, respectively. These funds include mainly documents written in Ottoman Turkish, while those in Arabic have been separated in a special collection of Arabic documents. Hence fonds 283 and 283A contain documents related to Ottoman Jerusalem. Since the key word used by the archivists in the distribution of the documents was the place name appearing in them, the fonds include both documents sent from Jerusalem to the Ottoman capital Constantinople, as well as drafts of documents sent from Constantinople to the local authorities in Jerusalem. Although most of the documents deal directly with Jerusalem proper some documents are related to other places located within the province of Jerusalem such as Jaffa, Hebron, Bethlehem, etc. Some documents are mistakenly distributed to the Jerusalem funds because of the similarity between the Arabic/Ottoman name of Jerusalem – Kuds/Kudüs, and the expression “Kuddise Sırruh” (“May God bless him”) used for the famous mystic Jalal ad-din Rumi (1207–1273) whose tomb is in Konya, Central Anatolia. The same is true also for some other documents in which the mosques and waqfs of Rumi are mentioned.
The documents of fonds 283A are distributed in 469 archival units (that is, folders), put in 7 boxes. Most of the folders contain just one document, but some contain two to three, in rare cases even more documents. Some of the documents are torn and therefore they are just fragments simply because the initial purpose of their transportation to Bulgaria was to be recycled in a paper mill as said above. Some other documents are in a poor condition, the edges being rotten and the text partly illegible. Therefore during the exploration of the fonds 283A some damaged documents had been already taken out for chemical restoration and hence I was unable to include them in the inventory.
The documents of fonds 283A are dating from the mid-16th to the early 20th century. The earliest document is dating from 1550 (fragment of a register of zeamets in the district of Doha), while the latest one is from 1908 (related to revenue collection), respectively. The 19th-century documents prevail, however the number of the 17th- and 18th-century documents is also considerable. In terms of content almost all of them deal with financial issues related mostly to incomes from taxes, expenses for the officers who guarded the fortress of Jerusalem, as well as some other minor fortresses in the region, and transfer of waqf posts with the respective salary from one holder (mostly because of his death) to another holder. Having this in mind, the documents of fonds “Jerusalem” preserved in the National Library in Sofia could be useful for studying the socio-economic history of Jerusalem and its province during the Ottoman period.
www.nationallibrary.bg/wp/?page_id=258 (only Bulgarian version is available)
İsmet Binark and Seyit Ali Kahraman, eds., Bulgaristan’daki Osmanlı Evrakı (İstanbul: T.C. Başbakanlık Devlet Arşivleri Genel Müdürlüğü, 1994).
Perhaps the most contested patch of earth in the world, Jerusalem’s Old City experiences consistent violent unrest between Israeli and Palestinian residents, with seemingly no end in sight. Today, Jerusalem’s endless cycle of riots and arrests appears intractable—even unavoidable—and it looks unlikely that harmony will ever be achieved in the city. But with Jerusalem 1900, historian Vincent Lemire shows us that it wasn’t always that way, undoing the familiar notion of Jerusalem as a lost cause and revealing a unique moment in history when a more peaceful future seemed possible.
In this masterly history, Lemire uses newly opened archives to explore how Jerusalem’s elite residents of differing faiths cooperated through an intercommunity municipal council they created in the mid-1860s to administer the affairs of all inhabitants and improve their shared city. These residents embraced a spirit of modern urbanism and cultivated a civic identity that transcended religion and reflected the relatively secular and cosmopolitan way of life of Jerusalem at the time. These few years would turn out to be a tipping point in the city’s history—a pivotal moment when the horizon of possibility was still open, before the council broke up in 1934, under British rule, into separate Jewish and Arab factions. Uncovering this often overlooked diplomatic period, Lemire reveals that the struggle over Jerusalem was not historically inevitable—and therefore is not necessarily intractable. Jerusalem 1900 sheds light on how the Holy City once functioned peacefully and illustrates how it might one day do so again.
The Center for Documents and Manuscripts and the Study of the Bilâd al Shâm of the University of Jordan (Amman) will host the 10th International Conference about the history of the Bilâd al Shâm from the 2nd to the 4th of April 2017.
The event is organised by the University of Jordan and the University of Yarmouk.
Among the speakers, Open Jerusalem researcher Falestin Naili will give a lecture about “The Ottoman municipality of Jerusalem and the application of the Tanzîmât reforms in Jerusalem”.
Read the full program here.
Thursday, Mar. 2
Critical Conversations Panel “Palestine-Israel in the Trump Era”
with Rashid Khalidi, Sherene Seikaly, and Brown Faculty J. Brian Atwood and Omer Bartov. Moderator: Beshara Doumani
Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street
Dinner for Critical Conversations panel speakers and workshop presenters at Brown Faculty Club
Shuttle Faculty Club to Biltmore hotel, 11 Dorrance Street, Providence
Friday, March 3
8:15 and 8:25 a.m.
Transfers for presenters from Biltmore hotel to Watson Institute
Registration and continental breakfast
9:00–9:30 a.m. Welcoming Remarks
9:30 -11:15 a.m.
Panel 1: Archival Landscapes
Salim Tamari: The 1948 War: New Trends in Palestinian Historiography
Sherene Seikaly: Autobiography, the Archive, and the Question of Palestine
Commentator: Rashid Khalidi
11:15 – 11:30 a.m. Coffee Break
11:30 a.m.–1:15 p.m.
Panel 2: Archives, Diaries, and Colonial Appropriation
Areej Sabbagh-Khoury: Memory, Settler Colonial Archive and the Representation of Palestinian Villages
Gadi al-Gazi: Profits of Military Rule
Commentator: Caroline Elkins
1:15 – 2:45 p.m. Lunch for workshop presenters at the Sharpe Refectory
Group photograph Sharpe Refectory Steps
3:00 – 4:45 p.m.:
Panel 3: Literature, the Body, and the Politics of Memory
Sinan Antoon: Absence, Memory, and Return in Darwish’s Work
Commentator: Emily Drumsta
4:45 – 5:00 p.m. Coffee Break
5:00-6:00 p.m. Open Discussion
6:00-6:15 p.m. Walk to the Pembroke Center, 172 Meeting Street, Providence, RI 02912
6:15 p.m. Opening reception for Exhibition
Curated by Issam Nassar and Ariella Azoulay
Time Machine: Stereoscopic Views from Palestine 1900
7:35 and 7:45 p.m.
Transfers for workshop presenters to Biltmore hotel, 11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI
Private dinner for workshop presenters at Biltmore Hotel, 11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI
Saturday, March 4
8:25 and 8:35 a.m. Transfers for presenters from hotel to Watson Institute
8:45-9:15 a.m. Continental breakfast
Panel 4: Oral history and the Politics of Decolonization
Hana Sleiman and Kaoukab Chebaro (presented by Sleiman): The Palestinian Oral History Archive at AUB
Abdel Razzaq Takriti : Digital Histories of the Underground: Teaching the Palestinian Revolution
Commentator: Marianne Hirsch
11:00-11:15 a.m. Coffee break
11:15 a.m.-1:00 p.m:
Panel 5: Rethinking Archives
Ann Stoler: On archiving as dissensus
Ariella Azoulay: No Archival Turn
Brinkley Messick: Sharīʿa, Property, Nakba
Commentator: Beshara Doumani
1:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.:
Working lunch for presenters
End of Formal Program and Departures
2:45 p.m. Transfers for presenters from workshop venue to hotel
Les municipalités proche-orientales datent de la fin de l’époque ottomane et sont ainsi des témoins et des acteurs importants des changements qu’a connus la région au cours des 150 dernières années. L’échelon municipal permet d’appréhender les questions liées à l’espace social et politique des villes sur la longue durée. Ainsi, pour le cas de Jérusalem, l’analyse de la gouvernance urbaine (entre la fin de l’époque ottomane et la période mandataire) pointe la centralité de cet échelon afin de comprendre de manière plus nuancée les changements politiques impulsés par l’arrivée de la puissance mandataire.
READ THE ARTICLE: F. Naili, La dé-municipalisation de la gouvernance urbaine et de l’espace politique post-ottoman : le cas de Jérusalem, Les Carnets de l’IFPO
Vincent Lemire will join next Annual Congress of the French Society of Urban History (19-20 January 2017) with a presentation about “Gouverner Jérusalem, entre souverainetés impériales, réformes municipales et revendications nationales (1867-1967)”.
The full program is available here.
“The Politics of Archives and the Practices of Memory,” is the theme of the fourth annual meeting of NDPS, to be held March 3-4, 2017, at the Watson Institute, Brown University.
New Directions in Palestinian Studies (NDPS) provides a platform for rigorous intellectual exchange on new directions in research and writing about Palestine and the Palestinians, supports the work of emerging scholars, and promotes the integration Palestinian studies into the larger streams of critical intellectual inquiry.
The central question of the fourth annual meeting is: What does it mean for the colonized, the disenfranchised, and the displaced to produce narratives through archival and memorial practices? Other theoretical, empirical, and comparative questions follow. How are archives and memories produced, assembled, and mobilized in settler colonial contexts? In what ways are archives and memories sites of struggle and appropriation, and looting? How can we theorize archives and memory from perspectives critical of state-centric political configurations and conventional concepts of sovereignty?
An archive fever has been coursing through the Palestinian body politic for two decades now. What explains this phenomenon and how has it been shaped by the information technology revolution? How have artistic and social media interventions reconstructed the archival and the memorial as sites for research? In what ways can one analyze novels, poetry, and other forms of literature as forms of memory and archives without instrumentalizing these literary genres?
Vincent Lemire, director of the Open Jerusalem project, will present the work conducted by OJ on Jerusalem history throughout dozens of archives in Jerusalem and around the world.
Jérusalem – Histoire d’une ville-monde
Edited by Vincent Lemire (Open Jerusalem Director)
With contributions by Katell Berthelot (Centre Paul-Albert Février, CNRS), Julien Loiseau (CRFJ) and Yann Potin (Open Jerusalem Historian and Archivist, Archives nationales de France)
Date of Publication: 12 October 2016
Antonella Di Domenico*
The analysis of the holdings of the Italian consulate in Jerusalem collected in the Historical Archives of the Foreign Ministry in Rome is among the work pursued by Open Jerusalem in order to narrate an entangled history of citadinité – including the history of institutions, actors and practice, with a special attention devoted to unlocking archives – of a global city like Jerusalem from 1840 to 1940.
These records haven’t been inventoried yet and they are currently not available to researchers. The holding consists of 200 files divided into 4 deposits: 1936 (concerning records from 1863 to 1925); 1974 (concerning records from 1878 to 1951); 1976 (this memorandum of deposit has been recently discovered); 1995 (concerning records from 1936 to 1977).
The holding is located in the Foreign Ministry Archives, ‘Archivio storico consolati’ section (F1, F2), covering 22 linear meters.
The history documented by these records begins in 1872, the year of the establishment of the Royal Italian Consulate in Jerusalem. This holding contributes important information not only about the activities and the institutional life of the Consulate itself but also of the complex dynamics between the Consulate and the city of Jerusalem, its inhabitants and structures.
In order to retrace the history of these archives and how they are now organized in the Archives, you cannot skip the figure of Count Quinto Mazzolini, emblematic politician of the Fascist period. Brother of the more well-known Diplomat Serafino, Quinto Mazzolini was Consul General of Jerusalem from 16 September 1936 to 20 June 1940. He was the first person to deposit the records of the Italian consulate in the Foreign Ministry Archives.
During his stay in Jerusalem, especially in the troubled years of the outbreak of the Second World War, Mazzolini actively worked to organise the papers of his office. He deposited the first part of the records in 1936, when he identified the records of what he called ‘the old archive’, depositing these records at the Foreign Ministry in Rome where they constituted the first part of the archives of the Italian consulate in Jerusalem. In 1940, after leaving Palestine, Mazzolini deposited other papers to the Foreign Ministry. Being forced to leave the Consulate for security reasons, he tried to keep at least a part of the records safe.
As attested by a cable dated 8 February 1951 with the object ‘L’archivio del Consolato in Gerusalemme trasferito a Roma‘ (The Consulate archive moved to Rome) the history of the records further became more complicated during the war. A part of the records were burnt, while another part was delivered to the Italian consulate of Spain that had assumed the protection of Italian interests in Palestine. Other records were moved to Rome. In 1945, Mazzolini probably sent the missing part of the records of the ‘Ufficio stralcio’ (the Removal Office, responsible for closing the work of a suppressed institution) to the Foreign Ministry Archives.
The records from 1872 to 1977 cover a wide spectrum of topics: educational institutions, cultural institutes, commercial, financial and political relations, issues of privileges and protectorates, protection of religious orders, conflicts among different rites. The subjects and the history of these records are of large interest for the scope of Open Jerusalem.
This new fond is rich of important sources for reconstructing the relations between Jerusalem’s inhabitants and the institutions at that time.
In order to inventory the records and make them accessible to scholars, Open Jerusalem and the Historical Archives of the Foreign Ministry (particularly thanks to Stefania Ruggeri) have established a partnership that has already led to some archival interventions: overview of the files; preliminary analysis of the holding; first arrangement and reallocation of the files, the reconstruction of a filing plan and the drafting of a list of deposits which is becoming more and more analytical as the archival work proceeds. These interventions will conclude with the publication of the inventory of the fond of the Italian consulate in Jerusalem in 2017 that will be published by Open Jerusalem and the Italian Foreign Ministry Historical Archives.
* An extended version of this article was presented by Stéphane Ancel, Antonella Di Domenico, Roberto Mazza and Maria Chiara Rioli at the French School in Rome in the workshop about “The Italian Consular services and the long Risorgimento” (September 29-30).
Lucia Rostagno, La diplomazia italiana e il nazionalismo palestinese (1861-1939), Roma: Bardi, 1996
Nir Arielli, Fascist Italy and the Middle East, 1933–40, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010
Gianni Scipione Rossi, Serafino Mazzolini – Mussolini e il diplomatico. La vita e i diari di Serafino Mazzolini, un monarchico a Salò, Catanzaro: Rubbettino, 2005
Ambasciate, legazioni e consolati italiani all’estero del Ministero degli affari esteri, Rome: Tipografia riservata del Ministero degli affari esteri, 1950-1957
Antonella Di Domenico, Il fondo del Consolato generale di Gerusalemme nell’Archivio storico del Ministero degli affari esteri. Strutture originarie e versamenti, BA dissertation, University of Rome – La Sapienza, 2015
Antonella Di Domenico, Elenco del I versamento del fondo del Consolato Generale di Gerusalemme (1843 – 1925)
Stéphane Ancel, Antonella Di Domenico, Roberto Mazza and Maria Chiara Rioli are among the speakers at the workshop organised by the French School in Rome (September 29-30 2016) on the Italian consulates during the “long Risorgimento” (18th-19th century).
They will present their work on the fond of the Italian Consulate in Jerusalem, aiming at inventorying and analysing these undisclosed records, in the framework of the partnership between Open Jerusalem and the Historical Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
See the full programme here.
by Eméline Rotolo
National Archives of France
The archives of religious congregations: an archival hydra
The archives of Catholic orders and congregations are hierarchically organized and this may translate into fragmentation in the conservation of holdings. First, the general archives contain the holdings of the general administration of the archives produced by the General Council and the General Father or Mother: correspondence, reports, publications. It also includes the archives and publications of the founder, as well as the following General Fathers or Mothers, characterized by extensive correspondence and often highly specialized work in different fields of research such as archaeology, linguistics, ethnology, etc. The Mother House ensures the conservation of these holdings with the support of one or more members of the congregations and orders, sometimes aided by trained lay people. Then come the holdings of the provinces, roughly equivalent to a country, and influenced by the provincial administration and life. After which remain the current archives of each community: for minor congregations sometimes they remain stored on site.
Three important institutions, since their establishment in Jerusalem linked with religious and diplomatic symbols they condense from the last quarter of the nineteenth century, namely St Anne’s Church and seminary, Notre-Dame de France hotel and the church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, guided the first investigations by Vincent Lemire in September 2015 in the archives of the Mother Houses of the White Fathers and the Assumptionists in Rome. This second mission (February 1-5 2016) brought additional knowledge on Roman archival collections held by these two congregations of French foundation, installed in the late nineteenth century in Jerusalem. To provide a comprehensive mapping of the archives produced by the White Fathers and the Assumptionists in Jerusalem, further work should be considered in the provincial archives stored on site, in St Anne for the White Fathers and St Peter in Gallicantu for the Assumptionists.
An archive history: why?
In the second half of the twentieth century, religious orders and congregations devoted relevant efforts to conservation, classification and creation of finding aids for their archives, providing better access to researchers. The up to now available information about the White Fathers and the Assumptionists reveal different approaches and research tools.
However, even if a standardization effort was made in the drafting of finding aids, a first common observation is deplorable: the lack or even the absence of any contextual description. Actually, a brief description of the archive completed with producer’s identification elements would allow to define the content of documents and the choices of classifications taken according to the principle of “respect des fonds”. These types of essential information permit also to document the history of the conservation taking into account transfers, natural disasters or the loss of archives due to eliminations, all events that influence the fonds.
These elements, considering the territory and the period (Jerusalem, 1840-1940), present a relevant interest: the major European religious institutions in Jerusalem have been requisitioned, occupied and sometimes raged during the First World War (1914-1917). Details are provided by some archives, as in the correspondence of Fr Van der Vliet, White Father of Dutch nationality remained in St Anne during the hostilities. In a French transcription of the diary he kept during those times, he tells (December 4, 1914) the episode of the transfer of archives hastily hidden in a damp place, under an arch, behind a lapsed wall, in the St Anne seminar to a safer place. Again, in a letter of Fr Leopold Dressaire addressed to Fr Athanase Vanhove, both of them Assumptionists, he reports the state of Notre-Dame de France at his arrival (December 11, 1917) after the capture of Jerusalem: “Your papers, personal belongings, objects and papers of Fr. Germer, religious objects remained (most of these files was mixed with the books and the community and clothes and they could only be recognized by interested parties, another part disappeared). Everything that was at your use (lingerie, books, notes, correspondence, benefactors addresses, etc.) is preserved”.
This description shows the archives in desolating conditions and therefore requesting a reclassification work. Information that would be useful to gather in order to document the history of each holding and make intelligible the process that led to the final classification status is therefore missing.
The White Fathers: fonds classified and analysed according to the organization of the institution
Despite a certain timidity to put their archives into the historical perspective of their institutions, the implementation of useful research tools has to be acknowledged to both these congregations.
First of all, the White Fathers, thanks to their valuable online inventory, partly answer to the previous remarks with a brief presentation of their holdings in the introduction. They announce the main documentary typologies held in Rome: correspondence, reports, documents, publications from their founder, Card. Lavigerie, the General Government of the Company, its provinces and its members. This general state of the holdings in the form of a detailed digital inventory provides an overview of all the Roman records dealing with Jerusalem institutions, from their founding until very recent times. The last depositions, like for the MEL file 297: Jerusalem. Correspondence, with the annotation “These files were received from Jerusalem in June 1991,” as well as the most recent entries marked “2015 adding”, show the activity of the archive service.
This detailed digital inventory is based on a classification system respecting the logic of production and structure of fonds. It thus offers a structured analysis at different levels of description from general to particular, like for archives of the General Fathers, GEN series, classified and numbered – alphanumeric call numbers – in chronological order of succession of their role. Other relevant series include typologies such as personal folders (D.PERS), original diaries (D.OR) or copied (D.Cop), registers (REG.), photolibrary (PHOT.), maps, atlas, statistics (CART.); with some limitations, however, for the VARIA series or MEL. It is also noteworthy that three databases complete this detailed digital inventory for chronicles and annual reports, general councils and the conclusions of general chapters.
From the Assumptionist card index to the archives of the Jerusalem community: a not classified fonds or the result of a lack of internal organization?
The Assumptionists, meanwhile, have one more archaic but equally valuable research tool: a card index with thematic entries by “people”, “themes” and especially “places” covering up until the late 1970s. Vincent Lemire had fully photographed 158 index card for “Jerusalem” whose distribution is as follows: 99 index card titled “Jerusalem – ND de France”, 26 “Jerusalem – St Peter in Gallicantu” and 19 “Jerusalem – pilgrimage of”.
This card index provides an analysis of the documents considered most important at the time of the redaction of this research instrument. Essentially it is not an inventory and it contrast the general vision of the holdings. Unlike the digital detailed inventory of the White Fathers, it does not reveal a hierarchical classification from the upper level (the Generalship) to the lower (the provinces).
For researches on Jerusalem, all the related index cards must therefore be consulted. The accuracy of “ND de France”, “St Pierre en Gallicante” and “pilgrimage” can eventually restrict the consultation. If the major tasks of the community (education, pilgrimages) reflected, it is hard to recognize the responsibilities of key actors normally responsible to classify documents.
When the first index cards are examined analysis are only about an individual archive item or a small number of documents in favour of typologies than actions. Thus the letters of the General Father Vincent de Paul Bailly are scattered in seven articles when it should have been easy to classify them in a series of Generalship archives, a sub-series for those of Father Vincent de Paul Bailly and articles by chronological sections to classify the correspondence due to its function.
This fragmentation reveals, on the one hand, the gaps in the classification of holdings that should have followed the logic of archive producers and, on the second hand, the obsolete nature of this research instrument that doesn’t respect the archival logic of information’s non redundancy.
Other limits are noteworthy, as the presence of an alphabetical call number of the boxes, imitating a classification scheme, which is an irrelevant marker. Initially it might suggest a classification of all correspondence from Jerusalem in sections NS to NW, 1883-1956, but the correspondence of 1918 was forgotten while classifying.
Initially, we thought that all the correspondence from Jerusalem had been classified in sections NS to NW, 1883-1956, but the 1918 correspondence had been forgotten. It was immediately classified in the following box NX with, among others, a record on the construction of Notre-Dame de France, some records related to the First World War and accounting documents.
It’s the same for the ephemeris representing a distinctive typology deserving to be listed in series. Yet the records are divided in different box numbers: UT 2 for May 1891 – December 1892 entitled “ND de France chronicles” and mentioning “Following A 114-117” which seems to correspond rather to the registers 114-116 E (August 1891 – September 1898) but the ephemeris from May 1908 to December 1914 uses another letter B 187.
The choice of a card index, although coherent with those times, allows to hide these limits and the lack of a rigorous classification of the archives concerning Jerusalem. From the points raised so far, it is unlikely that a classification following the activities of the Province of Jerusalem has been accomplished. The current state reflects the deposits, with this system of non meaningful box numbers, where the fonds are fragmented and sometimes internally inconsistent (hence the choice of a card index).
Finally, we must emphasize that attached files have been extracted from the correspondence. Therefore it’s impossible to find the right documents they were attached to, although the presence of the card index. This action makes sense for certain types of items in order to constitute some series, like quarterly balances. However, other attachments require the support of the correspondence to be intelligible and yet find themselves separated from the letter; even worse, several sheets were divided through different articles.
This sheet containing four pages concerning surveys of archaeological objects, annexed to a letter of 31 July 1914, as the record indicates with red ink at the top, is now listed PJ 202. However, during our investigation, we accidentally discovered a second sheet number 5 in the box number PK. These examples therefore makes very difficult a comprehensive study of the entire collection from the card index, whose ratio behind the classification is also questionable. Numbered pieces rarely represent coherent records.
This final report of a disorder of Roman Assumptionist archives concerning Jerusalem may be due to a gap of classification of the fonds – as mentioned before –, to affect the current classification following the history of the fond or simply reflect the disorganization of the community and of the establishment they comes from. In this case, it is likely that the fonds has had to suffer from these three evils.
We still lack of answers about the history of the fond, including the conditions of the transfer of fonds from Jerusalem to Rome but also the possibility of a reclassification (some records present old call numbers). Lack of organization by the community of Notre-Dame France, seems to appear through the correspondence especially after the First World War: at that time, the community has to deal with financial difficulties and it demands to Rome a bursar to assist the Superior.
“Cleaning” the Assumptionist card index: a delivery attempt to conduct exhaustive flat?
Despite all these issues, the card index remains essential since it is the only key to enter the fond. Moreover, it has several advantages: a conversion of this card index to an excel sheet, highlighting, when possible, the origin of the document or record, would probably improve the vision of Assumptionist archives concerning Jerusalem.
We propose to transcribe the card index using the best descriptive standards because, following the existing analysis, many fields may remain empty.
This conversion could bring out the grouping that had to be made during the classification. To proceed, a standardization of terms must be conducted. From these groups, a summary could be recreated in xml format for online consultation of a structured inventory. This proposal would also avoid to lose information about agents, authors and producers of the documents.
The card index “people” presents some gaps: Fr Moitraux, author of a war diary, has no record, although he appears in the index card “place” as author of the mentioned document.
The purpose would be to create a methodical finding aid containing all the additional Assomptionist fonds collected in Rome, Paris and Jerusalem. Surveys are to be carried out in Paris, while the Assumptionist Fathers of Jerusalem requested Open Jerusalem contribution and collaboration.
Despite all these archival considerations, our mission mainly focused on the theme of the First World War in both the two archives and discover fragments useful in the perspective of a global history of Jerusalem at that time. However, other tracks emerged in order to retrace the daily life in Jerusalem. The Augustinian Fathers of the Assumption, the main organizers of Catholic pilgrimages to Jerusalem, imposed their building in the landscape of the city. Religious and administrative records – including the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held in Nantes – and recently unveiled photographic fonds may raise interesting issues on ND de France, especially in the history of constructions. Beyond this, the establishment at Notre Dame de France a museum and a library with a seminary could be linked with education activities conducted in other seminars, such as St. Anne, by various orders or congregations located in Jerusalem. And finally, given the irony of French diplomatic support to congregations that had been expelled from the national territory, could we not consider the study across multiple inventories – typology pleasing to the archivist – historically redundant for these institutions?
Vincent Lemire présentera les premiers jalons du projet de recherche OPEN-JERUSALEM qui se base sur le dépouillement des archives de Jérusalem, à la fin de l’époque ottomane et pendant la période mandataire. Ce projet majeur et novateur, financé par le Conseil Européen de la Recherche (ERC), vise à connecter les archives des diérentes communautés hiérosolymitaines, trop souvent étudiées séparément, pour établir une histoire de la «citadinité» à Jérusalem.
Vincent Lemire est maître de conférences en histoire contemporaine à l’Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée et chercheur associé à l’Ifpo. Il a soutenu en 2006 une thèse en histoire environnementale intitulée «une hydrohistoire de Jérusalem aux XIXème et XXème siècles». Il dirige actuellement le projet ERC OPEN-JERUSALEM (2014-2019) : «Opening Jerusalem’s Archives: for a connected history of ‘Citadinité’ in the Holy City (1840-1940)».