Members of DTA and the European diary network EDAC plus an interested audience took part in two exciting days dedicated to diaries.
On 14 and 15 April 2023, DTA proudly hosted the international meeting of the European Ego-Documents Archives and Collections Network. Participants from France, the Netherlands, Austria, Bulgaria and the United States made the trip especially for this event. Two public events allowed an interested public to get an idea of the fascinating work on diaries.
Under the leadership of Dr. Monica Soeting, a member of the management team of the Dutch Diary Archive in Amsterdam, a panel discussion was devoted to the use of diaries by historians and writers. Historian Dr. Li Gerhalter is the head of Sammlung Frauennachlässe at the university of Vienna, which mainly collects often overlooked ego-documents written by women or with a women’s theme. Musicologist Julien Corbel, from Sorbonne University in Paris, has discovered valuable testimonies about the songs of National Socialism in the DTA archives. Historian Dr. Leonieke Vermeer from the University of Groningen studies the perception of the body at different times and has found information on this topic in the intimate space of personal diaries. Amsterdam-based writer Joris van Casteren confessed that at first he found diaries extremely boring, but, after reading fascinating documents in the Dutch diary archive, he wrote a detective novel, enjoyed a writer’s residency and wrote more than 10 books inspired by his research.
Professor Achim Rabus, from the Slavic Seminar at the University of Freiburg, gave a captivating lecture on „Transkribus“ – an artificial intelligence tool capable of recognising and transcribing difficult manuscripts, written in „Kurrent“ (= cursive script) and shorthand. He convincingly showed how the combination of „Transkribus“ with other means of artificial intelligence, such as GPT-4, will revolutionize scientific work on archival documents.
The next meeting of the EDAC network will be organised in France, in 2025, by the Association pour l’autobiographie et le patrimoine autobiographique, in Ambérieu-en-Bugey.