Building Bridges Across Archives.
Designing Open Jerusalem Web Platform
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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)