Thematic week: Digital Treasures of Archives Reach the Young and the Old
Author: Bettina Gida, Creative Europe Desk Hungary
The European Digital Treasures long-term international project is made up of the cooperation of five national archives, an Irish university and the Austrian-based ICARUS umbrella organisation which unites hundreds of smaller archives.
“The National Archives of Hungary has a close relationship with such other European institutions. This partnership also relies on an existing network, we know the environment and institutions of each other well, which is of great assistance,” said Zoltán Szatucsek chief archivist, director. Together with the Budapest City Archives, the institution has already participated in another international collaboration which was also partly funded by a grant from the Creative Europe programme. “The CO:OP project’s goal was to present the archive to the users. Now, however, our primary goal is to renew the archive. We attempt to apply innovative solutions that make the traditional public collection model easier to understand, more interesting for society and that connects institutions with citizens,” summarized the project Zoltán Szatucsek.
In line with EU directives, they aim to address two target groups with special archival needs: the young and the elderly. While the young need to be shown what an archive is and what they do, those of more advanced age know the institution well. “They have a more special interest in their own past and identity, and they are more active in researching their family history. They can be involved in crowdsourcing activities (community-based stock expansion) that on the one hand, expands the archive, and on the other hand, provides a sense of belonging and usefully spent pastime for them. Although this is difficult to do due to the pandemic, we also organise meetings, so we can provide them with a community experience,” explained the chief archivist.
Within the framework of the project, the archives participating in the partnership will also present three European-focused exhibitions with different themes. The documents are selected from their own respective archives, and the University of Cork is responsible for the multimedia display of the documents. This way so-called transmedia exhibitions are created, where various digital devices such as video games that can be played on site, striving to make the archival material even more exciting. The project also seeks to reflect on current challenges, thus, in addition to the theme “Construction of Europe” hosted by the National Archives of Hungary, exhibitions are being organised on the topic of discoveries and migration as well. In this respect a call for proposals was also announced for young designers to design new archival souvenirs.
In order for the further education of the young, a three-module e-learning curriculum has been created with the involvement of teachers which can be used effectively in school education. Its first two modules are already being tested. According to Zoltán Szatucsek, the colleagues of the Archive have learned plenty from the involved teachers. “The material of the archive is incredibly interesting, but the teachers are able to use it only if it can be presented immediately, and thus easily be incorporated into the lesson. Many little things came up regarding what to include in the curriculum, what they need, and what not to repeat. We have received some very interesting material from our partners, for example, on the impact of the Spanish Civil War or the effect of Norwegian epidemics on migration. Since these types of European stories are usually not included in the curriculum of the history lessons, they can expand the children’s horizons to an incredible extent.”
In addition to the Hungarian coordination of European Digital Treasures, Zoltán Szatucsek is also responsible for other large-scale projects supported by the European Union or domestic funds, thus having plenty of experience in this type of international co-operations. “We do not always agree on everything, but the Spanish project leader handles these situations very well. There are many unexpected situations and minor problems, but eventually we can solve everything.”
Source: Creative Europe Stories - Successful Hungarian Projects p. 38.