Powerful new digital tool to transform how historians write history

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Cendari

Leading European Research Project showcases half a million resources on Medieval and World War I history from over 1,200 institutions across the globe

One of the largest historical archive platforms worldwide

A powerful new tool for digital historical research  developed over four years by digital humanities experts  across Europe was launched this week. It will transform how historians undertake research by giving unparalleled access to over 550,000 historical records relating to Medieval and World War I history across the globe.

The €6.5 million CENDARI collaborative research project was launched at a special event in the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science and Humanities in Germany. It will allow researchers access to over 4,500 archive collections held in a total of 1,249 cultural heritage institutions across the globe. It will provide access to previously unavailable material and facilitate comparative research on a scale never possible before.

The four-year CENDARI (Collaborative European Digital Archive Infrastructure) project, funded by European Commission Seventh Framework Programme, has been led by digital humanities experts in Trinity Long Room Hub at Trinity College Dublin, and includes 14 collaborative partners in archives, libraries and universities in  eight European countries including Ireland, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Serbia and the Netherlands.

The project focuses on two areas of research – the First World War, a pan-European conflict which led to the dispersal of archives across national borders making comparative historical research very difficult. It also includes the Medieval era.

The CENDARI project will transform how the raw materials of historical research are organised and communicated, giving historians powerful tools to uncover the 'needles' of human experience in the 'haystacks' of the historical records, according to Dr Jennifer Edmond at Trinity College Dublin, who is heading up the project:

“In a globalised Europe, we can no longer afford to treat the evidence of history as belonging only to national silos, but that is still how the archives, libraries and museums of Europe are by and large organised.  Through CENDARI historians can approach questions of identity and history transnationally, uncovering shared experiences across borders as well as official narratives contained within them, highlighting also those collections and stories that risk becoming 'hidden' because of how they have been viewed or because they happen to be held in economically less well-off countries.”

"The visibility of the holdings and their searchability within a single repository will certainly change the way historians work and support a better planning of travels to archives,” added Professor Oliver Janz, Professor of Modern History at Freie Universität Berlin who coordinated  the historical component of the project.

Historians and researchers affiliated with academic institutions will have access to the archive for research purposes but access will also be made to the general public.

President of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Professor Martin Grötschel speaking  on the occasion of the launch said:

“Building  multidisciplinary and transnational digital infrastructures for the humanities is of utmost importance for the development of the field. The associated technologies provide versatile tools for new insights and the support of international, interdisciplinary, and cooperative research. Long-term digital archiving and long-term open access electronic availability of humanities research publications and data are among the cornerstones of the Digital Humanities  infrastructure to be established.  The CENDARI initiative will be a vital contribution to these important endeavours.”

Examples of collections include:

  • Workers and Workers’ Movements during the First World War
  • The Fall of the House of Romanov
  • Islamic Movements in the Russian Empire during and after the First World War
  • Prisoners of War and their Return Home
  • Women During the First World War
  • Science and Technology in the First World War
  • Medieval Collections of Saints Lives

More information on CENDARI here: http://www.cendari.eu/

About CENDARI

CENDARI aims to integrate digital archives and resources for medieval and World War 1 history through  a Virtual Research Environment  which will allow scholars to access historical resources across institutional and national boundaries.

CENDARI is made up of 14 partners from 8 European countries: Freie Universität Berlin • University of Birmingham • Trinity College Dublin • Czech National Library • Università di Cassino • The European Library • Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) • King’s College, London • Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique (INRIA) • University of Stuttgart • Goettingen State and University Library • Mathematical Institute of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts • Fondazione Ezio Franceschini • Società Internazionale per lo Studio del Medioevo Latino

The project brings information and computer scientists together with leading historians and existing historical research infrastructures (archives, libraries and other digital projects) to improve the conditions for historical scholarship in Europe through active reflection of and considered response to the impact of the digital age on scholarly and archival practice.

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