Progress in archival descriptions

The Croissance growth phase, into which the Archival City project moved in late 2020, will allow the archival inventory coordination site to continue the work of identifying pertinent archives for each of the seven areas of study, their description according to current standards, publication and recognition for the next two years.

Overall, the archives selected are very heterogenous. They are diverse in nature (architectural reports, minutes of municipal council meetings, directories, bibliographies), form (photographs, texts, drawings, maps), provenance (institutional archives, charity archives, religious archives, personal archives) and dating (Middle Ages, 19th century, 20th century).

The archivist’s main challenge is to overcome the diversity of documents identified, which, even if they were selected for their pertinence to a particular challenge related to their field of study, combine to meet to the same global objective: a better knowledge of the urban archives which are footbridges between the past and future of our cities.

Which methodology will best help overcome disparity of documentation?

The implementation of a common descriptive framework is essential in overcoming the heterogenous nature of the selected archives.

As Benjamin Suc, of Limonade and Co, the company charged with creating the online platform for the project (“Explanatory note for the future digital tools”) states, the choice of turning to tools and norms to harmonise the corpus was made very early on in the project, at its launch by archivist Louise Corvasier who introduced a solid methodology already tested during the Open Jérusalem project, of unified description in line with archival description norms (ISAD-G for research instruments, ISAAR-CPF for authorities, ISDIAH conservation institutions), along with the choice of a single tool, AtoM as integration software for inventories.

Ways to evaluate archives

Over the months to come, our thinking will focus on the publication and recognition of the archives in each of the areas of study for the future platform. The patrimonial dimension is very strong, carrying very different challenges depending on the function of each city.

This is the case, for example, with the Quito land and notably of a local database made up of Inca family and ownership archives, tracing their genealogy back several centuries. Here, the challenge lies in offering an evaluation solution for these descriptions, so that they can be made accessible and safeguarded.

In the same way, for the Jerusalem land, recent work has made possible the localisation of the archives of the Jordanian municipality, which are currently undergoing description by Haneen Naamneh. Different ways to evaluate these unknown archives are being studied by Marie-Laure Archambault-Küch.

Now that a common archive description framework has been adopted, the first year of the Croissance phase of the Archival City project will focus on the continuation of archive descriptions for all lands and on the overall publication strategy for the future platform.

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