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Videos of “Living Archives for Sustainable Cities” closing conference


The “Living Archives for Sustainable Cities” closing conference took place on 9 and 10 November at the Université Gustave Eiffel.

Videos of the various panels and round tables are available below, as well as on the project’s Facebook page.


Video 1-First Day. 9 November 2023

00:12:11 – Welcoming remarks
00:18:33 – Introductory round table – Reflecting on city archives on an international scale: Archival City’s issues and methods
2:54:00 – Dispersed archives, competing memories: unveiling Quito
5:29:15 – Virtual reconstruction of archive collections: what medieval Bologna can teach us
7:30:41 – Documenting the ordinary city in transformation: reflections from Chiang Mai


Video 2-Morning session, 10 November 2023.

00:01:10 – Welcoming remarks

00:08:37 – Scattered archives, dislocated archives: Algiers between two shores

2:12:40 – From an archive portal to a 3D reconstruction of a disappeared neighbourhood: Jerusalem’s North African quarter


Video 3-Afternoon session, 10 November 2023.

00:03:20 – Administering the metropolis: thinking Greater Paris through archives
2:02:10 – Concluding panel – From fields to tools: past data for a resilient and inclusive city


Closing session of the Archival City masterclass-10 October 2023

On October 10, 2023 the closing session of the Archival City masterclass took place in the presence of some twenty M1 and M2 students and several ACP laboratory professors (Corinne Maitte, Frédéric Saly Giocanti, Giuliano Milani and Vincent Lemire).

The masterclass ran from March to September 2023. Over the course of seven sessions, it brought together three M1 and M2 students and three supervisors (Loic Vadelorge, Carole Lamoureux and Annalaura Turiano) members of the Archival City research project), as well as several speakers from the different study fields covered by the Archival City research program. The aim of the masterclass was to provide an introduction to research work in modern and contemporary history. Methodology of archival description, presentation of the method for writing data and research papers alternated with the presentation of students’ dissertations.

During the closing session, the supervisors gave a brief presentation of the master class’s objectives and program. This was followed by a presentation of the students’ work. Vincent Kuntz presented his dissertation on Parisian urban disasters in the press and literary accounts from 1764 to 1780.  Anaïs Parmentier presented the archival corpus of her M2 dissertation “Economiser et maîtriser l’énergie : les HLM face aux crises énergétiques (1974- 1982)”. Finally, Wilfried Pingault presented the construction of his M2 dissertation on hydro-history based on the archives of a new conurbation (Grand Paris Sud). M1 and M2 students took part in the discussion that followed each presentation, asking questions about research methodology or specific repositories.


Despite the diversity of their subjects and research questions, the three students presented the constitution of their archival corpus, underlining the need to start with the history of archive producers. They highlighted the method used to select sources and the difficulties encountered, as well as the data extraction and spatialization tools used, as in the case of the maps created by Vincent Kuntz to visualise the fires in the French capital.

Vicent Lemire, director of Archival City, gave the closing address and invited students to attend the Archival City closing conference on November 9 and 10.


The Open Jerusalem Days was the first public event organised in Palestine and East Jerusalem since the launch of the ERC-funded Open Jerusalem project in 2014. It took place from 12 to 18 June and included 9 round tables and conferences over 6 days in Gaza, Birzeit, Ramallah and various institutions in Jerusalem, bringing together a total of over 400 people.

Organised by the Open Jerusalem and Archival City teams, these events focused on archives, the question of heritage between memory and omission, the operation and uses of the Open Jerusalem website catalogue and the various publications (scientific and for the general public) produced by the Open Jerusalem project. All the recordings of the conferences are available on the project’s facebook page, with the exception of the first meeting at the French Institute in Gaza (13 June), which could not be broadcast for security reasons.

The Open Jerusalem project (2014-2019) aimed to unlock Jerusalem archives to write a connected history of citadinité between 1840-1940. While remote access to digital humanities is a comfort for many historians, it is an absolute necessity for those who cannot move freely. This is why the opening of the event in Gaza (13 June) was intended to be highly symbolic. Only Vincent Lemire (UGE, director of the Open Jerusalem Project) and Valérie Nivelon (RFI)  have been allowed to enter the Gaza strip.

The meeting was organised at the French Institute in the presence of its director, François Tiger, and the Counsellor for Cooperation and Cultural Action at the Consulate General of France in Jerusalem, Guillaume Robert. The event had three main themes: a presentation of the Open Jerusalem Project, an open digital portal containing almost 40,000 historical documents on Jerusalem, the history of Jerusalem’s Maghreb quarter and, finally, a presentation of the history of Jerusalem in the form of a comic strip accessible to all. Guests also visited the Samir Mansour Bookshop.

Figure 1-Presentation of the book In the Shadow of the Wall (2022) at the French Institute of Gaza

Vincent Lemire was interviewed by Dr Khaled Safi, Dean of the Faculty of History at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza, in the presence of a large audience. V. Lemire emphasised that by collecting, digitising and referencing thousands of archival documents dispersed in various funds, the project Open Jerusalem aimed to interconnect the archival archipelago of Jerusalem, the objective being to decompartmentalize the history of the Holy city, which is blocked by political issues that also prevent access to the archives. He pointed out that this European project (funded by the ERC) is not intended to be a Western re-reading of the historiography of the Holy City, the proof being the participation of many Palestinians alongside researchers of other nationalities (Turkish, Jordanian, Armenian, etc.), some sixty in all.

The following morning (14 June), a conference was held at Birzeit University, the largest academic institution in Palestine. The meeting aimed at bringing the members of the Open Jerusalem project into dialogue with the historians of the university to explore new avenues or research and collaborations opened up by the project. After a welcome address by Munir Fakher Eldin, associate professor and Dean of the faculty of arts, who described the Open Jerusalem project “as an extremely important political act”, as it provides access to archives for people who are deprived of it and cannot move freely, Vincent Lemire presented the main objectives of the project and stressed the importance of archives as the basis of a State.

His introduction was followed by Falestin Naili’s présentation, member of Open Jerusalem and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Basel, who detailed the project (in Arabic). She emphasised that what sets the project apart is its focus on the ordinary city. To this end, the project has focused on collecting archives on the city of Jerusalem scattered around the world, and on the city’s, archives located in the city itself. The project was also intended as a dialogue between archival science and history, through the collaborations that have been set up between scholars and archivists. The rest of her presentation focused on the operation of the Open Jerusalem website. The audience, which included many students, was very curious and took part in a simulation of an online search by keyword.

Figure 2-Falastin Naili introduces the Open Jerusalem project at Birzeit University

Figure 3-Salim Tamari presents the photographic collection of Wasif Jawharriyya

Figure 4-The audience at Birzeit University

The presentations by Maria Chiara Rioli (UNIMORE) and Angelos Dalachanis (CNRS) focused on how to write a social history of Jerusalem by connecting religious institutions’ (Latin and Greek Orthodox in particular) archives. In this context, Angelo Dalachanis showed a sample of the 2877 petitions sent to the patriarchate in Arabic as an example of a source enabling us to explore the concept of citadinité. Nazmi Jubeh (Birzeit University) emphasised that the period studied (1840-1940) is relevant not only for the civil and religious history of the modern city, which became a centre of international connections and competition, but also from the point of view of documenting the city and producing information about it.The plurality of archives in and on the city provides different points of view on the same event and enable comparisons to be made.

Camille Mansour (Birzeit University) proposed a reflection on the construction and power of archives in relation to the Israeli archives and the documents stored there with reference to Palestine and Palestinian issues. His presentation raised the question of whether the material was selected, classified, indexed and stored according to a political preconception and agenda.The presentation by Salim Tamari (Professor Emeritus at Birzeit University and editor of the Jerusalem Quarterly) focused on the visual archive and local photographic tradition, with particular reference to the collection of Wasif Jawharriyya (1897-1972) collector and musician. His enormous collection of photographs is indexed to correlate with his memoirs and provides a unique ethnographic description of daily life and political developments in Palestine.

Finally, Rana Barakat (Birzeit University) concluded the session with some critical remarks on the global dimension of the project. She stressed the risk of decontextualisation by focusing on Jerusalem solely as a global city and a hub of international connections. On the other hand, she wondered how this focus on Jerusalem makes it possible to think about the rest of Palestine. She concluded with a stimulating question designed to qualify the exceptionality of the Holy City: “Why open Jerusalem and not Palestine?

In the afternoon, a meeting was organised at the French German Cultural Institute of Ramallah. It focused on scientific publications, as well as publications and visual tools intended for the general public. Salim Tamari, Maria Chiara Rioli and Falestin Naili presented the last two issues (93 and 92) of the Jerusalem Quarterly Journal. The last number (93) guest edited and introduced by Maria Chiara Rioli and Francesca Biancani (UNIBO), is the first of two parts of a special issue devoted the long history of UNRWA.

Contributions are based on the archives available at UNRWA but they also focus on the history of UNRWA through other archives (due to the difficult access to organization’s archives despite internal efforts to reorganize them and give access to scholars). The second to last issue (92) “Jerusalem’s Interrupted futures” is guest edited and introduced by Falestin Naili. It addresses the question of alternative futures and other outcomes to provide a different perspective on the past than the one offered by the victors.

Figure 5 & 6- Presentation of publications and 3D modelling at the French-German Cultural Institute in Ramallah

Vincent Lemire presented the project’s scientific publications (the Open Jerusalem collection published by Brill) as well as other publications aimed at a wider audience, such as the history of Jerusalem in comic strips. The event was also an opportunity to preview the 3D application for the Maghreb quarter, before its official inauguration the following day (15 June)  at a press conference held at the American Colony, attended by some thirty journalists from the local and international press. The 3D web and smartphone application on Jerusalem’s Maghreb quarter was produced by Vincent Lemire and the Open Jerusalem and Archival City teams in collaboration with the 3D Research Experience Technology agency and the Centro Interdipartimentale di ricerca sulle Digital Humanities, of the Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia.

The application brings together some of the documentation relating to the Maghreb neighbourhood that is currently scattered among the Ottoman archives in Istanbul, those of the State of Israel, those of the pious Muslim foundations in Jerusalem, and the French diplomatic and Red Cross archives in Geneva. The exhibition takes visitors on a journey through the streets, courtyards and buildings of the district destroyed on the night of 10-11 June 1967 by the Israeli army. Over the coming months, the application will be gradually enhanced with other archive documents, archaeological data and oral testimonies. It is currently available free of charge on iOS, Android and WebGL:

Figure 7- V. Lemire officially launches the 3D app during the press conference at the American colony.

The press conference inaugurating the 3D App led to several articles in the French, international, Israeli and Palestinian press[1]. In the afternoon, Valérie Nivelon and Julien Boileau of RFI produced an episode for the programme La Marche du monde devoted entirely to the Open Jerusalem project. It is available on the RFI website[2]

In the evening, a conference on consular and diplomatic archives was held at the Consulate General of France in the presence of Consul René Troccaz, the Director of the French Institute Agnès Arquez Roth, and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III. Stéphane Ancel (CNRS), Maria Chiara Rioli (UNIMORE) and Vincent Lemire (UGE) presented the diplomatic archives (French, Italian, Spanish, German, British, etc.) scattered around the world and how they make it possible to reconstitute a diplomatic and social history of the different communities (including the Ethiopian community studied by Ancel) living and interacting in the Holy City.

Figure 8-Stephane Lancel presents his research at the Consulate General of France in Jerusalem in the presence of (from left to right) the Director of the French Institute, the Consul and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem

Figure 9- Maria Chiara Rioli gives a presentation on the consular and diplomatic archives at the Consulate General of France in Jerusalem

Figure 10- Open Jerusalem and Archival City teams at the reception organised by the Consulate General of France

On 16 June, a conference on the archives of Christian and patriarchal institutions was held at the Franciscan Custody. This round table, which brought together archivists from Christian religious institutions and members of the Open Jerusalem project, was an opportunity to present some of the conservation projects carried out by these institutions and to present some of the results obtained by the Open Jerusalem project in terms of storage, indexing, analysis and enhancement.

Father Stéphane (OFM) presented the Custodia archives, which are among the best preserved in Jerusalem. He then introduced the preservation project related to the conductas (condotte), 400-year-old volumes that recorded everything that arrived in Jerusalem, bearing witness to the movements and circulation of people, objects and money in the Holy City. These volumes make it possible to trace a global history of objects on the move, as they often recorded donations/gifts originating in Europe but produced in other parts of the world. These volumes will form part of the Museum of the Treasury of the Holy Sepulchre.

Figure 11- Father Stephane (OFM) and Vincent Lemire at the Franciscan Custody

The presentation by Father Narcyz (OFM) focused on some examples of documents preserved in the Custody’s archives, which can be identified and located thanks to the recently published Inventario dell’Achivio Storico della Custodia di Terra Santa (1230-1980). It has shown that some of the most valuable archives are the eighteenth-century firmans concerning the Holy Sepulchre. Despite efforts to preserve archives and make them more accessible to the general public, not all the city’s religious institutions are yet ready to welcome researchers, as Stavros Andreou, archivist of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, pointed out, while also mentioning the need for preservation and collaboration with other religious institutions.

His presentation was followed by that of Jean-Michel de Tarragon, of the Ecole biblique et archéologique française de Jerusalem who listed the precious archives that the Ecole preserves, including documents on properties, maps of Jerusalem, precious books and engravings, as well as an enormous external collection of photos (almost 9 thousand glasses) that have gradually been digitised.

Thérèse Gonnier and Father Aziz spoke about the collection held by the Latin Patriarchate, whose oldest documents date back to its foundation in 1847. The collection includes textual and photographic documents (some of which are currently being digitised), as well as periodicals. Finally, three members of the Open Jerusalem Project presented their own research based on the archives of religious institutions, showing how these documents can help to shed new light on the social history of Jerusalem from the end of the Ottoman Empire to the British Mandate.

The sensitivity of these documents was emphasised, particularly in relation to property issues, as was their importance as evidence of the involvement of the various communities (Latin, Ethiopian and Greek Orthodox) in the social history of the city. The discussions that followed highlighted the need for religious institutions to work together to preserve the city’s past.

On the morning of June, the 17th, a meeting devoted to Ottoman municipal and imperial archives was held at the Khalidi Library (al-Khalidiyya), the largest private library in Palestine, which houses one of the biggest private collections of Islamic manuscripts in the Arab world. Its foundation and development are linked to the Khalidi family, whose members played a key role in the legal, religious and political history of the modern city of Jerusalem.

After welcoming the group of researchers, Raja Khalidi (al-Khalidiyya) traced the history of the library, now the oldest NGO in Jerusalem, which became a public library for researchers in 1900 under the terms of a family trust, or waqf dhurri. His story, he said, is above all one of resilience. Despite the shock of the Nakba (1948) and the legal battle undertaken in the 1970s to maintain the building after the occupation of Jerusalem by Israeli forces, the library has survived and continues to be a reference point for local and international scholars.

Figure 12-Presentation on Ottoman and municipal archives at the Khalidi Library

In his presentation, Khader Salameh (al-Khalidiyya) highlighted the history of the Khalidi family and how it is linked to the history of the city (endowments, diplomatic history, public functions) and the Ottoman Empire since the end of the Mamluk era. He has focused on the urban reforms undertaken by Youssef al-Khalidi (1842-1906), who was twice president of the Jerusalem municipal council, and by his nephew Ruhi (1864-1913), who was also a member of the Istanbul parliament for Jerusalem and Ottoman consul-general in Bordeaux, France. A specialist in Ottoman sources, Yasemin Avci (Univ. Pamukkale) emphasised in her presentation the importance of the Ottoman archives, which date back to 1433, for the social history of Jerusalem. She then showed how to use the website of the Ottoman Imperial Archives.

Due to technical problems, Abdul-Hameed Al-Kayyali (IFPO), who was due to speak in zoom from Amman (Jordan), was unable to present his paper on the municipal history of Jerusalem. Falastin Naili summarised the main points, showing how the municipal history of Jerusalem is a primary source for Ottoman municipal history. In particular, the municipal minutes provide an insight into many aspects of daily life in Jerusalem, as the municipality dealt with and supervised various aspects of the city’s governance: public works and infrastructure, public health issues, income-generating activities, etc.

Falastin Naili (University of Basel) focused on the life of Youssef al-Khalidi and his role at the forefront of reforms movement in the second half of the 19th century (the Tanzimat). Twice chosen as a major, he contributed to the improvement of infrastructure (notably water supply), health and sanitary conditions. He played an important role in the period of transition between the Egyptian and Ottoman regimes. Finally, Stéphane Ancel (CNRS) presented his ongoing work on Ottoman documents concerning the Ethiopian community, focusing on a micro-historical case study: the Ottoman administrative process for authorising a new Ethiopian church in Jerusalem. The final discussion questioned the notion of urbanity at the very heart of the Open Jerusalem project and reflected on the link between Ottoman and municipal archives, the present and the future.

In the afternoon, the Institut français Chateaubriand hosted a meeting organised in partnership with the Educational Bookshop and the Ecole Biblique and moderated by Huda al-Imam. It focused on the presentation of different publications resulting from this project. Introducing the meeting, Huda al-Imam emphasised the main aim of the Open Jerusalem Project: to highlight the openness of Jerusalem, which was not only the disputed capital of Israel and Palestine, and to retrace everyday life. These scientific objectives have been put into practice by the creation of an open-access collection at Brill dedicated “to discovering and connecting different archives and sources in order to investigate the ordinary entangled history of a global city”.

The collective volume Ordinary Jerusalem is part of this collection. It was published in 2017 and edited by Vincent Lemire and Angelos Dalachanis, who presented it in detail at the meeting. He emphasised that one of the main scholarly aims of the volume was to challenge established ideological narratives about the city and offer a decompartmentalised perspective on it. To achieve this, the book includes 37 contributors, who carried out their research in 20 different archives and in 12 different languages.

Figure 13- Huda al-Imam, Vincent Lemire and Jean-Jacques Pérennes at the French Institute Chateaubriand

Figure 14 -Angelos Dalachanis presents the book Ordinary Jerusalem at the French Institute Chateaubriand

Stéphane Ancel presented the volume The monk on the Roof. The Story of an Ethiopian Manuscript found in Jerusalem (2021), which he co-wrote with Vincent, Lemire and Magdalena Krzyżanowska. This volume is an example of global micro-history. Based on the analysis of a forgotten manuscript, it traces the dispute between Jerusalem’s small Ethiopian community and the Copts over the Dayr al-Sultan monastery on the roof of the Holy Sepulchre in 1900. It sheds light on a diplomatic history that links Jerusalem to the Ethiopian highlands and the corridors of the Ottoman administration in Istanbul.

In the same vein, the volume Liminal Church. Refugees, Conversions and the Latin Diocese of Jerusalem, 1946-1956 (2021)” by Maria Chiara Rioli weaves the history of the Roman Catholic diocese of Jerusalem with global history. The book depicts a Church involved in a wide range of pastoral initiatives, (aid missions for Palestinian refugees, theological reflections on Jewish converts to Catholicism among others). This offers a more nuanced picture of a Church that has been portrayed as monolithically aligned with anti-Zionist and anti-Muslim positions during the “long” year 1948.

Jean-Jacques Pérennes, Director of the French Biblical and Archaeological School in Jerusalem, presented his biography of the Dominican Roland de Vaux (1903-1971), archaeologist and specialist in the history of ancient Israel. The biography retraces the career of this outstanding contemporary figure of the French Biblical and Archaeological School of Jerusalem. Known for his role in the excavations at Qumran that brought to light the Dead Sea Scrolls, he has been a researcher, teacher, archaeologist, director of the École Biblique, author and director of research. He also authored the “History of Ancient Israel”, which reflects a biblical approach since it was written at the time of the discovery of the Holy Land. Eventually, Vincent Lemire presented his volume on the Jerusalem’s Maghrebi Quarter published in French (2022), in English (2023) and forthcoming in Arabic and Hebrew.

The last event (Sunday 18) which took place at the French Institut Romain Gary was preceded by a documentary walk through the Mamilla cemetery, with the aim of linking the archives to the urban transformations underway. Led by Vincent Lemire and Huda al-Imam, a group of around thirty people visited the remains of one of the most important Muslim cemeteries, where many Jerusalemite notables and families were buried until 1948. The cemetery grounds also contain numerous monuments, structures and tombstones, including the ancient Mamilla Basin, which served as a cistern for the city of Jerusalem. The whole area represented a connecting quarter between the modern city and the Old City. Today, the remains of the cemetery represent only a third of the original surface area, and the area remains highly sensitive following the Israeli government’s plan (2007-2008) to build a Museum of Tolerance, which prompted some Palestinian families to draw up a petition in 2009.

Figure 15- Documentary walk through Mamilla cemetery

Back at the Institut Romain Gary, Vincent Lemire interviewed the Palestinian academic and former President of al-Quds University, Sari Nusseibeh, author of the autobiography Once upon a country: a Palestinian life (2008). V. Lemire asked him to reflect on the link between his family and the history of Jerusalem, partly sketched out in the comic strip Histoire de Jérusalem (by Vincent Lemire and Christophe Gautier). Sari Nusseibeh spoke in particular about the figure of his father Anwar (1913-1986), who had a long political career and held several important positions in the Jordanian government, contributing to the development of Jerusalem. This was followed by a fascinating debate on the role of archives, the past and memory for the present and future of Palestine.

Figure 16-Vincent Lemire interviews Sari Nusseibeh at the French Institute Romain Gary







Open Jerusalem Days – 13-18 June

The Open Jerusalem Days will take place from 13 to 18 June.

This itinerant multi-site event has been organised by Vincent Lemire and the Open Jerusalem and Archival City Jerusalem teams.

This is the first public event organised in Palestine and East Jerusalem since the launch of the Open Jerusalem project in 2014.

9 meetings (round tables, seminars, presentation of the 3D of the Maghreb district, discussion around Open Jerusalem publications) are organised over 6 days, in Gaza, Birzeit, Ramallah and Jerusalem.

All events are free to attend, with the exception of the conference at the Consulate of France on Thursday evening (by invitation only).

Full programme here.

Camera Actorum, Medieval Bologna and other projects of digitisation

A summary report of a two-day workshop at the Archivio di Stato of Bologna (May 12-13)

On May 12th and 13th, the Archivio di Stato of Bologna (ASBo) hosted a two-day workshop as part of the Archival City Project. The event focused on the presentation of the Camera Actorum project and ongoing research on Bologna’s medieval history, utilizing the extensive archival collections of the Archivio di Stato.

Massimo Giansante, former director of the Archivio di Stato, opened the first day, tracing the richness of the archive for historians of the Middle Ages and the communal period, while also highlighting the many difficulties the archive has faced in recent times (including staffing issues and managing the Covid emergency).

Giuliano Milani then provided an overview of the broader Archival City project, which encompasses six study fields. Following this introduction, Vincent Lemire and Maria Chiara Rioli delved into the genesis of Archival City (Open Jerusalem) and showcased the 3D reconstruction of Jerusalem’s Maghrebi Quarter—an essential component of the Jerusalem team’s research objects. Their presentation aimed to uncover the forgotten history of this quarter, particularly after the events of 1967. They emphasized that the 3D reconstruction serves as both a research tool and a means of engaging the public (public history). The reconstruction allows viewers to explore various perspectives, including a top-down view, a street-level view, and a static view of specific buildings relevant for their social and cultural role in the quarter.

The panel concluded with a stimulating discussion addressing critical topics such as mobilized sources, the utilization of oral history, and the sensitivity of the Jerusalem study-field.

After the break, Armano Antonelli and Giuliano Milani presented the Camera Actorum project, which aims to reconstruct the appearance of the medieval archives of Bologna. Throughout history, destruction, catastrophes, purges, and rearrangements have altered these archives. The speakers explained that unlike virtual reconstructions of libraries, there have been no reconstructions of archives. The Camera Actorum, being the first example of a virtual reconstruction of the medieval archive of Bologna, is well-suited for this type of reconstruction due to the archive’s long lifespan and the existence of old inventories of the Camera actorum, the ancient archive. The project followed the methodologies and categories found in the inventories of that time. Armando Antonelli emphasized the importance of considering the definition of archives during that period as the initial step in the reconstruction process. This definition is connected to an ancient archival practice, which has to be taken into account, according to Antonelli, in order to come as close as possible to the “mental projections and representations of those who worked in archives”. For example, the concept of “archival series” was not present, replaced to the topographical notion of “capsa,” the material container in which were kept the documents related to the same judges. This approach was used in the virtual reconstruction, made possible through the collaboration of the Archival City Bologna team, Carole Lamoureux, and the Limonade Agency.

Giuliano Milani proceeded to present the reconstruction itself, showing how to navigate the website, explore the 54 capse of the Armarium Populi, one of the components of the ancient Archive, and perform keyword-based and interactive searches. He explained that the virtual reconstruction is a way to represent the inventory’s elements. Clicking on the tabs opens a page with an image of a cover (coperta) where the shelf mark is located. On the right side of the document, three tabs are visible: 1) description (shelf mark, ancient shelf mark); 2) history of the document (the responsible individuals involved in the procedure, the document’s custodian, the notary, etc.); and 3) codicology.

Within these tabs, one can click on names to open corresponding tabs and gain insight into the individuals involved or click on “curia” to understand who worked in the curia. G. Milani concluded by highlighting that the virtual reconstruction adheres to the archival logic of that time. A final round table discussion, attended by Andrea Giorgi (UNITN), Antonella Ghignoli (UNISapienza), Massimo Vallerani (UNITo) and Isabella Lazzarini (UNIMOL), delved into methodological aspects of the Camera Actorum project and proposed new research avenues, such as diachronic approaches.

In the afternoon session, a series of presentations unveiled the diverse and extensive research conducted on Medieval Bologna. Marco Conti (Université de Bordeaux) elucidated three recent projects aimed at enriching the understanding of accounting sources in Bologna. The first project focused on the edition of the Liber Introituum of 1347, which aimed to analyse the impact of the Black Death on urban taxation in Bologna. The second project involved the critical edition of the Liber Expensarum of 1288 (in collaboration with A. Antonelli), one of the oldest accounting registers in municipal Italy and a valuable resource for studying Bolognese society. The third project, ÆCUM (Archives Et Comptabilités Urbaines Médiévales), aimed to edit and enhance two series of the Archives départementales of Dordogne, comparing these sources with other urban accounting records, including those from Bologna.

Silvia Della Manna (UNIBo) provided an overview of the diverse subject matter contained in the Memorials of the Municipality of Bologna (1265-1452) by presenting a selection of recorded acts from a week in June 1285. This collection of 322 volumes, meticulously compiled by the notaries’ office documented transactions exceeding the value of 20 lire of bolognini between private individuals. The series provides a granular daily insight into the declarations made by both Bolognese residents and foreigners who came to Bologna to conclude their contracts.

Clément Carnielli (ENS, Paris) shed light on the tax system’s structures and developments in 14th-century Bologna. After providing a comprehensive overview of direct and indirect taxes, the speaker emphasized the substantial disparities in tax burdens across different social categories. The presentation also explored the evolution of taxation and its relationship with the multitude of regime changes experienced by Bologna during that period. By examining two illustrative examples, namely the taxation on mills and the liberatio fumantum, the speaker revealed the interconnected nature of documentary practices, fiscal strategies, and power dynamics. The analysis highlighted how estimi (tax assessments) perpetuated inequalities and functioned as tools for social control.

Overall, these presentations contributed to the scientific dissemination of research on Medieval Bologna, offering valuable insights into accounting sources, historical documentation, and the dynamics of taxation during that era.

Filippo Ribani (UNIBO) delivered a presentation focusing on citizenship in the Bolognese countryside, particularly in the second half of the 14th century. Through an examination of tax documentation and municipal council reforms, he demonstrated that the “cives malenutriti” (citizens living in the rural areas) constituted a significant category, accounting for approximately 20% of the cives population not at all marginal from an economic point of view, who also successfully approached the city government to renegotiate or defend their tax privileges from the peasant communities who sought to erode them to their advantage.

Chloé Tardivel‘s (EFR) presentation explored the use of judicial records (ASBo, Curia del podestà, Giudici ad maleficia) as a source for studying medieval linguistic practices. She showcased how the inquisitorial and accusatory registers, comprising around 500 trials, provide insights into typical speech patterns of the time (including stereotyped and plausible speech) and non-verbal communication (gestures, tone, etc.). Regarding her research methodology, she highlighted the use of the Tropy software for a textual approach rooted in linguistic anthropology. Furthermore, she emphasized the significance of accompanying papers in investigating notarial transcription practices in relation to the recording of words, enabling a social history perspective on the archive.

Michele Piciocco (UNIFI)’s presentation delved into the interplay between archival documents and history of ancient Italian poetry, highlighting the relevance of the Bologna Archive due to the centrality of the municipality during that time. Through the analysis of two documents, (an unpublished document, produced in Bologna and currently held in the State Archives in Florence, and another known and published document), the speaker made general observations regarding the development of poetic language in the 13th and 14th centuries.  This exploration underscored the value of individual archival funds, such as the Memorials, in understanding the cultural and historical landscape of the time.

The first day ended with a highly stimulating visit to the Archivio di Stato, led by Massimo Giansante.

On Saturday the 13th, the presentations revolved around other reproduction and digitation projects related with the archival collections held in the Archivio di Stato or led in collaboration with the institution.

To provide a broader historical perspective for the day, Massimo Giansante presented the experience and projects of Giorgio Cencetti (1908-1970), a palaeographer, archivist, historian, and director of the ASBo in the first half of the 20th century. Cencetti, in his research on significant serial sources like the Bolognese Memorials, and in his role as archivist and director of the Archives, advocated for the microfilming project of Italy’s national artistic heritage. Around 1960, he recognized the potential of information technology in democratizing access to documentary sources. Giansante highlighted Cencetti’s visionary outlook, the ambitions of the microfilming project (which aimed to lift Italy out of the abyss of fascism and war), and the criticisms it faced.

Francesca Delneri (ASBO) focused her presentation on the photo-reproduction laboratory of the State Archives of Bologna since the 1950s. She illustrated how the reproduction laboratory has generated copies through microfilming to meet user needs, including massive copying of entire collections as substitutes for the originals. Currently, the laboratory produces digital reproductions to minimize handling of the original documents and ensure their use, including remote access through a campaign launched during the lockdown period. In recent years, the laboratory has primarily coordinated interventions carried out by external professionals, such as reproducing Public Prosecution and Court of Assizes documents related to the events of the ‘Uno Bianca’ gang, as well as audiovisual recordings stored on magnetic media accompanying the files of massacre trials held by the Court of Assizes of Bologna.

Giulia Cò and Edward Loss (UNIBO) focused on the two lines of research promoted by the project “MemoBo: a mare magnum of possibilities: the Bolognese Memorials and their filing (1265-1452)”, giving particular attention to the tools of the Digital Humanities used in its development. After an introduction dedicated to the presentation of the documentary typology of the Memorials – a series of notarial acts produced from 1265 to 1452 and registered at the Office of Memorials, with the aim of avoiding fraud and forgery – the presentation was devoted to the description of the database platform in X-Dams. The second part of the presentation focused on the experimentation with Artificial Intelligence performed on the series with the Transkribus software, presenting three methodological approaches applied so far and the potential of the combination of automatic transcription and the source.

Giuseppina Brunetti, Nicola Chiarini, and Niccolò Gensini (UNIBO), part of the research group of Romance Philology at the FICLIT of the University Alma Mater Studiorum, presented two ongoing projects involving documents held at the ASBo. Firstly, they discussed the collaboration between EPM, ADLab and ASBo for the digitization of 14th-century fragments of the Arthurian novel in French prose, known as “Prophecies de Merlin,” which are preserved as blanket coverings of registers at the Archives. This project aims to study important witnesses to the circulation of French novels in medieval Italy through digital formats and updated descriptions. Secondly, the research team presented the discovery of autographs of Francesco da Barberino and other 13th-century poets and writers (notably Rambertino Buvalelli and Matteo dei Libri) at the Archives. They emphasized the significance of this new evidence for reconstructing 13th-century Italian literary history.

Rosa Smurra (UNIBO) presented the project “Fonti medievali in rete-Estimi bolognesi” that aims to digitally publish the Estimi, fiscal documentation from the late 13th century preserved as loose papers in the State Archives of Bologna. She highlighted the various phases of the project’s realization, the challenges encountered, and the opportunities offered through online access to this documentation. The Estimi consists of approximately ten thousand tax declarations made by citizens of Bologna in accordance with the provisions issued by the Municipality.

Mirco Santi (Home Movies) presented The National Family Film Archive (Home Movies), which was established twenty years ago in Bologna with the goal of preserving and transmitting private audiovisual heritage that was previously considered scattered. This includes films in reduced formats such as 16mm, 9.5mm, 8mm, and Super8, which were widely used between the 1920s and 1980s before the advent of analogue and digital video technology. Home Movies not only focuses on preservation and restoration but also enhances the preserved heritage through various projects, such as the Archivio Aperto festival, the Home Movies 100 project dedicated to the centenary of amateur film (2022-2023), and Memoryscapes – the private online cinema.

The last presentation discussed the digitization project of corporate archives conducted by the cooperative Kiné, which has been working in the field of audio-visual production and the recovery, digitization, and enhancement of private and institutional audio-visual archives for 15 years. Claudio Giapponesi presented specific case studies that involved not only digitization but also ways of promoting the archives through new audio-visual products, exhibitions, and multimedia materials.


On-going projects and research perspectives in the Quito study field

Summary report of the Archival City mission to Quito 25 April -5 May 2023

Georges Lomné, principal investigator of the Quito study field and Carole Lamoureux, general coordinator of the Archival City project, carried out a mission to Quito between 25 April and 5 May. This mission was made possible thanks to the financial and logistic support of the French Embassy in Ecuador and of the Universidad Andina Simón Bolivar (UASB). The mission included personal meetings with Quito partners and French diplomatic staff, personal and collaborative working sessions, visits to repositories and museums, and meetings to discuss new collaborations and prospects.

On 27 April, a meeting was held at the UASB to discuss the general progress of the Archival City project and the ongoing projects carried out at the UASB (data papers, archival descriptions of the Catholic workers centre among others). New project proposals were presented and discussed (processing and digitisation of the personal files of the members of the Centro católico de obreros -catholic workers center-, photographic collections of the Instituto Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural -INPC, national institute of cultural heritage- etc). The perspectives after the end of Archival City were also discussed.

On 3 May a meeting was held at the Archivo Metropolitano Histórico (AMH). It was attended by the archive’s staff, Patricio Guerra (former Cronista de la Ciudad of Quito), Guillermo Bustos (UASB), Santiago Cabrera (UASB) and Natasha Sanmartín (UASB). The main topics discussed were the current situation at the AMH (financial means, vacancy of the post of Cronista de la Ciudad), the report on the minutes of the Centro católico de obreros which were processed by Natasha Sanmartín and Santiago Cabrera, and the AMH digitization system which was reactivated in the framework of the Archival City project.

Figure i – Santiago Cabrera, Georges Lomné, Natasha Sanmartín and Guillermo Bustos testing the digitization system of the AMH (3 May 2023). Photo credits : C. Lamoureux.


Figure ii – Georges Lomné, Carole Lamoureux, Patricio Guerra, Sofía Granizo and Sonia Merizalde at the AMH (3 May 2023) Photo credits : AMH


Figure iii – Santiago Cabrera, Guillermo Bustos and Natasha Sanmartín at the AMH (3 May 2023), Photo credits: AMH

On 4 May a meeting was held at the French Embassy in Ecuador with Frédéric Desagneaux (Ambassador) and Apolline Blanchard (Technical Cooperation Attaché). The lunch break was an opportunity to discuss with Guillermo Bustos, Santiago Cabrera and Rosemarie Terán (UASB) their work within Archival City, as well as the post-Archival City prospects. In the afternoon, C. Lamoureux and G. Lomné visited the Instituto Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural (INPC) in Guápulo (Casa Guápulo). They attended a presentation of the INPC’s initiatives and archives, including technical archives (archaeological excavation files), map library, library, geomatic service, publishing service, photographic collections and photographic database. After the visit, a meeting was held with Catalina Tello Sarmiento (executive director), Daniel González Guzmán (director of knowledge transfer and technology) and Ana María Toro (coordinator of the project of national photography) on potential collaborations between INPC and Archival City, including: the selection of a corpus of old photographs showing squares in the city of Quito, the signature of an agreement between INPC and Archival City.


Figure iv – Rosemarie Terán and Guillermo Bustos looking at an Ecuabel report in the technical archives of the INPC (4 May). Photo credits: G. Lomné


Figure v- Ana María Toro presenting the photographic collections of the INPC (4 May 2023). Photo credits : G. Lomné.

On 5 May, G. Lomné et C. Lamoureux visited the Casa del Alabado Museum with Carlos Espinosa (Universidad San Francisco de Quito-USFQ). After a presentation of the museum, they attended a meeting with Lucía Durán (executive director of the museum), Estefanía Carrera (educational coordinator) and Carlos Montalvo (conservation and research officer) on the forthcoming installation of the 3D “Quito 1532” in the museum (20 May) and the improvements that will soon be made by the USFQ team (introduction of scans of archaeological artefacts), including the imminent signature of an agreement between Casa del Alabado, Archival City (Gustave Eiffel University) and USFQ.

Several working sessions were held during the mission with Gabriela Arguello, Jeroen Derkinderen, Sophia Checa (PhD students at the UASB) and Erika Bedón (independent researcher) on their data set, archival descriptions and related data papers. On 2 May a working session was organised with Natasha Sanmartín et Santiago Cabrera to discuss the integrations of the archival descriptions of the minutes of the Centro católico de obreros into AtoM.  On the last day of the mission (5 May), C. Lamoureux and G. Lomné met with Tamara Estupiñan (independent researcher) and discussed about the imminent delivery of her INH database and original documentation, and the delivery of the corresponding data paper.

Carole Lamoureux & Annalaura Turiano









Research workshop in Bologna- 12-13 May 2023

The Archival City-Bologna team is organising a research workshop on 12 and 13 May in partnership with the Archivio di Stato of Bologna.

The first day will be dedicated to the Archival City project and the findings and results of the Bologna research team. A round table and a final discussion will close the day.

The second day will be devoted to the diversity of research on medieval history and sources carried out at the Archvio di Stato Bologna. The presentations will be held in Italian and French.

Click here for the detailed programme.

The Centro Católico de Obreros of Quito- a source for research on the social history of the city and part of the urban heritage

On April 5,  a conference on the archives of the Centro Católico de Obreros (CCO) was held at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar-Ecuador,  in partnership with the university Gustave Eiffel and the Archivo metropolitano de Historia de Quito. Speakers (including Patricio Guerra, Santiago Cabrera and Natasha Sanmartín, members of the Archival City Project) debated about the importance of the Center as a source for research into Quito’s urban social history and as part of the city’s heritage. The process of conservation and cataloguing of the CCO’s historical archive, resulting from the collaboration between the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar and the Archivo metropolitano de Historia was presented.

First slide of the poster presented by Santiago Cabrera and Natasha Sanmartín

Courtesy of Santiago Cabrera

The CCOQ is one of the oldest workers’ organisations in Quito. It was founded in 1906 by a group of conservative intellectuals under the principles promoted by the Encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) issued by the Pope Leo XIII. Catholic intellectuals looked for alternatives to the leftist trade union organizations and were inspired by the work of French Catholic centres aimed at developing edifying links between workers.

The CCOQ archive hols a documentary collection of great relevance for the study of the social memory of both Quito and Ecuador. Speakers in the conference underlined the importance of the centre as part of the urban heritage of the city as shown by its geographical position. Indeed, it is located in a highly symbolic position, in the street 24 de mayo, which represents an imaginary border between the heritage space of the city as it is conceived for touristic purposes and the quarters of the historical centre of Quito considered as being popular.

Concerning the documentary collections, the CCOQ minutes (from 1906 until now) are the most important body of documents preserved. The center keeps other relevant sources for the history of workers’ sociability (membership registers, accountancy books, magazines, documents on mutual and cultural activities, posters, etc.). In order to prevent this documentary collection from damage and risks of natural catastrophes, a preservation project has been conceived. It entailed the transfer of 11 linear metres of documentation to the Quito Metropolitan Historical Archive for technical processing.

Digitalisation process at the  Quito Metropolitan Historical Archive

Photo credit: Archivo metropolitano de Historia de Quito

This was possible thanks to the commitment of the City Chronicler, Patricio Guerra, Georges Lomné (Principal investigator of Archival City Ecuador), Guillermo Bustos (coordinator Archival City UASB-E) and Santiago Cabrera Hanna (coordinator of the intervention project Actas de Sesiones del CCOQ). The project consisted of three main phases: the description of the documentary collection, the preventive conservation process, and the digitalisation  which are detailed in a forthcoming data paper co-authored by Santiago Cabrera Hanna and Natasha Sanmartín Monteros  who was responsible for the technical treatment.

The recovery of the CCO-Q minutes represents an important step in safeguarding  Quito’s working class cultural heritage and facilitating academic research. One of the challenges is the recognition of the CCO-Q archives as an integral part of the documentary heritage and social history of the city of Quito.  The work done makes this documentary heritage more accessible to national and international researchers and users.


Meeting on the archives of the Centro Católico de Obreros, Quito

5th April 2023, Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar

On Wednesday 5 April at 5pm, a meeting will be held at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar (Área de Historia) in Quito on the archives of the Centro Católico de Obreros in partnership with Archival City and the Archivo metropolitano de Historia de Quito. The CCOQ was founded on March 18, 1906 by a group of conservative intellectuals from the city of Quito who looked for alternatives to the leftist trade union organizations. It was inspired by the work of French Catholic centers and  aimed at developing edifying links between workers. 

The CCOQ archive has a documentary collection of great relevance for the study of the social memory of both Quito and Ecuador. The department of History of the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar and the Archivo metropolitano de Historia have been collaborating on the conservation of theses archives, in partnership with Archival city. The intervention process includes registration, conservation, and inventory.

Storage & labeling

Conservation status record

Photos by Santiago Cabrera Hanna & Natasha Sanmartín Monteros

The event on the 5th April proposes a dialogue on the importance of  the Centro Católico de Obreros (CCO) as a source for research into Quito’s urban social history and as part of the city’s heritage. The results of the process of conservation and cataloguing of the CCO’s historical archive will be presented. Speakers will include Patricio Guerra, Santiago Cabrera and Natasha Sanmartín, members of the Archival City Projet Quito.

The meeting will be broadcasted on the facebook page of the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar and that of the Archivo Histórico de la Ciudad. It will also be recorded.

More information on the event can be found here.


Conference in Quito 15-16 march 2023

On March 15 and 16, 2023 will be held at the University of San Francisco de Quito a two days conference devoted to the Inca Quito and organized by Carlos Ramiro Espinosa Fernandez de Cordova professor at USFQ and member of the Quito Archival City’s Team.

The first day will be devoted to the presentation of the 3D modelling of Quito 1532. On the second day, the presentations will revolve around the documentation and data covering 100 years of history of the city, a transition period characterized by the Inca occupation and the Spanish conquest.

Programme of the first day

Programme of the second day

Seminar Documenting the Ordinary Cities in Southeast Asia. Chiang Mai and Bangkok 19-24 February 2023

The Archival City Chiang Mai Team organises a week-long seminar entitled “Documenting the ordinary cities in Southeast Asia”, in partnership with several local and international institutions. The seminar will take place in Chiang Mai and Bangkok from February 19 to 25.

Through presentations, panel discussions, and visits to specific neighborhoods and archival repositories, the seminar will focus on the sources,  methods, and digital tools for documenting the ordinary city and its heritage.


Archival City Research Workshop March- September 2023

The Archival City research workshop is aimed at Master’s students (M1 and M2) who wish to reflect on the history, nature and stakes of urban sources, data or archives.

The main objective of the workshop is to give students an overview of the methodological and conceptual achievements of the international Archival City programme, as a complement and support to their research.

The workshop sessions will aim both to support students in the production and description of their research corpus and to provide them with bibliographic, conceptual and methodological tools on the world of urban archives in the digital age.

A final workshop will be held in autumn 2023.
It will be public, and will be part of the activities of the Urban Futures Labex.