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Europeana enables people to explore the digital resources of Europes museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections. It promotes discovery and networking opportunities in a multilingual space where users can engage, share in and be inspired by the rich diversity of Europes cultural and scientific heritage. On this blog you will find short updates on Europeana content, special events and things we are working on.
Updated: 21 hours 57 min ago

A Variety of Newspaper Formats

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 09:57

News is news, whether it appears in tabloids, broadsheets, newsbooks or the popular Berliner format. The reader is supposed to focus on the content and not the format. Nonetheless, each format was created with a specific intention and they have all influenced the newspapers we recognize today.

Many historians agree that the world’s first newspaper was the German Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien (Account of all distinguished and commemorable news). This looks more like a “newsbook” than the newspapers we are familiar with today.

Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien, 1609,
Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, CC BY-SA

The first broadsheet newspaper is said to be the Dutch Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c., published in 1618. Broadsheet, or broadside, refers both to the format and the type of print: a sheet of paper printed on one side and not folded. The broadsheet was introduced in Britain in 1712 when a tax was placed on newspapers based on the number of pages they had. The British people quickly took to the broadsheet for their political activism as the format lent itself to quick distribution and the printing costs were relatively low.  Originally, broadsheets carried official notices, royal proclamations, public announcements and later ballads and political satire. Nowadays, broadsheets typically focus on in-depth coverage with a serious-minded tone.


Dutch Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, public domain

Tabloids are generally half the size of broadsheets. Although today “tabloid journalism” often refers to the popular, sensational stories or gossip columns, the tabloid format itself has less of a negative connotation. In the 1880s the London-based company Burroughs Wellcome & co developed compressed tablets they marketed as “Tabloid” pills. The term became synonymous with “compressed” and “effective” and was quickly used to describe other items. The British “Daily Mail” was the first newspaper to become known as a tabloid as it published news in easy to understand and short texts directed toward the working class. The word persisted to describe newspapers printed on smaller sheets and published simplified and easily absorbed stories.

Burroughs Wellcome and Company product: Tabloid Acetylsalicylic Aid tablets [Aspirin],
Wellcome Collection, CC BY

In Berlin, in the early 1900s another small format gained popularity but for different reasons than the tabloid. The Berliner format is slightly larger than a tabloid, but it is only three columns across. A broadsheet usually has six columns and a tabloid a maximum of five. There were good reasons for the Berliner format:

– German has many long words with more syllables than English. A typical British newspaper column could only contain three to four German words. Almost every line would have to end with a hyphen! which would be visually unappealing.

– The ornate German Fraktur font is wider than the commonly used Antiqua. This meant more space would be needed to avoid the letters from being crowded and becoming illegible.

The format of a newspaper is no longer as strongly linked to its content as it was in the past. However, our perception of the quality of a newspaper is still strongly influenced by its design.


By Zora Steiner, Berlin State Library


The blog is a part of the Rise of Literacy project, where we take you on an exploration of literacy in Europe thanks to the digital preservation of precious textual works from collections across the continent. 

Europeana Migration Collection Day – how does it work?

Wed, 15/08/2018 - 14:03

Our collection day events are a great opportunity to share your migration story. Sharing your story, or the story of your family or community, means it is recorded for posterity and preserved along with the collections of museums, galleries, libraries and archives from across Europe. This helps us to tell a really big story – the story of Europe and the people who live here.

Having your personal item digitised to become a piece of European cultural heritage is not something that you experience every day, so we put together this short guide to let you know what is happens during such a day and what to expect.

1. Welcome desk – meet, greet and get started

At the welcome desk, you’ll be given a form to fill with some basic information about yourself and your item, including the copyright information which will be displayed on our website. Don’t start telling your story just yet the welcome desk staff will bring you to an interview table where the interviewers will be delighted to hear your story.

2. Interview desk – sit back, relax and tell your story

The interview desk is a place where we invite you to tell your story. One person will speak to you, while another will take notes. They might have additional questions and ask you for some details to make the story the most complete and easy to understand to the people who’ll read it online.

3. Digitisation station – where your personal item becomes a piece of European cultural heritage

After your interview, our digitisation team will scan or take photos of the item that you’ve brought. You’ll be informed what time to pick up your item. While waiting for the item – take a look around – at some collection days, there are exhibitions or other activities to enjoy – or mingle with other participants.

4. Become a face of our campaign

Secretly dreaming of being famous? We might ask you for a picture with your object that we’ll use in posters like this (only if you agree of course)


5. What did you think about this experience – share your feedback

We’re interested in your feedback, so if you agree, we’ll ask you a few questions about the event and your experience. One of our colleagues will be waiting for you with a tablet, if you prefer, you can fill the survey later as well.

6. Couldn’t make it to an event? Share your story online!

Even if you’re not able to attend one of our events, we’d love to hear your story. You can share it online on this website:

Silly season or cucumber time – 3 fun cultural activities for the summer

Fri, 10/08/2018 - 14:04

The time of the year, usually in the summer, when not much is happening in the politics is called silly season in English. Due to a lack of newsworthy events to report on during the summer, the media focus on trivial and frivolous matters and hoax stories, as explained in the Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable from 1898:

The Silly Season for daily newspapers, is when Parliament is not in session, and all sorts of “silly” stuff are vamped-up for padding. Also called the “Big Gooseberry Season,” because paragraphs are often inserted on this subject.

A small man is holding a spoon with a gooseberry on it and pointing it towards the large face of another man, Wellcome Library, CC BY

Another name of this time of the year is cucumber time originating from cucumbers being in season during summer months. The Brewer’s Dictionary makes a connection between cucumber time – the time when gentry leaves the city and go to the countryside to enjoy summer and tailors’ difficulties with finding work

Cucumber time  – The dull season in the tailoring trade. The Germans call it Die saure Gurken Zeit (pickled gherkin time). Hence the expression Tailors are vegetarians, because they live on “cucumber” when without work, and on “cabbage” when in full employ.

The term cucumber time is used in many European languages – komkommertijd in Dutch, agurktid in Norwegian, sezon ogòrkowy in Polish, okurková sezóna in Czech, hapukurgihooaeg in Estonian,, Hungarian uborkaszezon in Hungarian. Yet, instead of cucumbers Swedes have the nyhetstorka (news drought) while French refer to la morte-saison – the dead season.

Uit den komkommertijd,  International Institute of Social History, public domain

Luckily there are ways to avoid the dull news and TV shows reruns. Of course, you can go outside, explore, play sports, meet with friends. But if you can’t imagine your life without looking at a screen, we have a perfect solution for you! We’ve selected some easy to digest content from Europeana to match the summer vibes and bring you some enjoyment:


1. Explore cucumbers, gherkins, pickles available on Europeana:

Are you looking for a cucumber-inspired aesthetic experience? Or maybe you aim to achieve a complete state of perfection in the cultivation of cucumbers? Even if you don’t, this is your unique opportunity to consciously and intentionally discover cultural heritage content related to cucumbers. Enjoy it here!

Still Life with Pumpkins and Cucumbers, Štefan Michal-Vörös Izbighy, Slovak National Gallery, public domain

Left: Cucumber, flowering stem with separate fruit and seeds. Coloured etching by M. Bouchard, 1772, Wellcome Library, public domain, Right: The art of promoting the growth of the cucumber and melon; in a series of directions for the best means to be adopted in bringing them to a complete state of perfection, Thomas Watkins, Library of Congress, public domain


2. Visit an exhibition or a gallery 

No need to move away from the poolside:

The Past But Not As You Know It – includes cute animals, unusual professions and retro celebrities

Holiday snapshots – people enjoying holidays and doing the same things as you, but in different times and places

European landscapes and landmarks – beautiful landscapes, better colours than on Instagram filters. No hot dog legs, ‘follow me’ hands or ice creams obstructing the view

3. Create a meme

Does cucumber time exist in the meme world? We don’t know, but aren’t you bored with the Success Kid and Forever Alone? Get ready for the #MuseumMeme on August 22nd and create new awesome memes using openly licensed images available on Europeana, for example, vintage cartoons.

A tooth-drawer using a cord to extract a tooth from an agonized patient. Coloured engraving by J. Collier, 1810, after himself, 1773, The Wellcome Library, CC BY, Caption by Klara Sielicka-Baryłka (Państwowe Muzeum Etnograficzne)

Book Censorship and Banned Books: the Index Librorum Prohibitorum

Thu, 09/08/2018 - 10:00

Did you know that the earliest known list of recommended and banned books dates from about 496? It was issued by Pope Gelasius I.

Printed lists of banned books existed since the beginning of the escalating religious conflicts of the 1520s. They were published in the Dutch Catholic regions (1529), in Venice (1543), and in Paris (1551). The first Roman list was published in 1557 but it was soon withdrawn.

Index Librorum Prohibitorum from 1564 published in Portugal,
Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, public domain

The first official Roman Index of banned books was published in 1559 under Pope Paul IV. It contained approximately 550 religiously, morally and politically controversial authors, as well as individual works.

The Pauline Index from 1559, Národní knihovna České republiky,
No Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Only

The Index was often republished as the spread of printing, the development of sciences, and the fast-changing social and political circumstances increased the number of authors and works endangering the religious and the political authorities. The 20th edition of the Index was published in 1948, and was ultimately abolished by Pope Paul VI in 1966. It coexisted with other censorship lists, like the Catalogus librorum a Commissione aulica prohibitorum, which was published between 1754 and 1780 during Maria Theresa’s rule.

The Catalogus librorum a Commissione aulica prohibitorum from 1768,
Österreichische Nationalbibliothek – Austrian National Library, No Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Only

The most dangerous authors on the Index belonged to the so-called ‘first class’ of banned authors – that is, the most dangerous.  The most common reason for an author or an individual work to be put on the Roman Index was a deviation of his views from the official Catholic Church doctrine. Other reasons were that the authors or their works were considered to be politically subversive, or morally contentious.

Frontispiece with St. Peter and Paul who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, are destroying blasphemous books. 
Index librorum prohibitorum, 1711, Bavarian State Library, No Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Only

Numerous authors resorted to publishing their works under pseudonyms. Printers and the publishers also sometimes disguised their identity, by giving fictitious printing places or printers’ names on title pages. Banned books could be confiscated, and the authors, as well as the booksellers, could be fined or persecuted. There were even a couple of ‘trials and executions’ of banned books, like the public burnings of Helvetius’s De l’esprit in Paris in 1785.

Title page from the 1739 edition of Blaise Pascal’s Les provinciales published under a pseudonym of
Louis de Montalte, Bavarian State Library, No Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Only

As all banned things only tend to increase the curiosity of the public, no official Church or secular suppression was able to prevent the curious readership from acquiring and reading banned authors and their works. The Church authorities followed the latest heresies, therefore a considerable number of banned books found their way into ecclesiastical libraries. Private book collectors often kept the lists of banned books in order to keep up with the novelties on the book market. Book censorship gave rise to a lively black market for banned literature.

By dr. Sonja Svoljšak, Manuscript, Rare and Old Prints Collection, Special Collections Division, National and University Library, Slovenia


Interested in Index Librorum Prohibitorum? Stay tuned for another blog about Banned Authors coming up! Both blogs are part of the Rise of Literacy project, where we take you on an exploration of literacy in Europe thanks to the digital preservation of precious textual works from collections across the continent. 

The Belgian Exodus of World War One

Tue, 07/08/2018 - 09:55

Today, the global refugee crisis is a hot topic, all over the news and debated about in society. What is to be changed about the current situation? Who is supposed to do what and when? It may be considered a problem right now, but in fact, Europe faced the same problem with the advent of the First World War, more than 100 years ago.

July 1914: World War One started and Europe changed rapidly. Many European countries were invaded by the Germans and there was no stopping it. Belgium in particular soon became the main battlefield of this war. The fortress of Liege fell rapidly. Under command of the highest naval officer in rank Winston Churchill, Great Britain sent troops to prevent Antwerp from also falling into German hands. Despite all efforts, Antwerp did not hold up against the enemy. Over a million Belgian refugees and thousands of British soldiers, therefore, fled to the neutral Netherlands. The Belgian Exodus was undeniable.

Internment Camp Harderwijk. Photographer: Schilderman, S.S.
Europeana 1914-1918 / Stadsmuseum Harderwijk, CC BY

Most of the refugee civilians returned to Belgium after a year. The militaries who fled their country were interned in Dutch camps. They were to be disarmed immediately. Every measure was taken to prevent further fighting on neutral grounds. Amongst other cities, the Dutch town of Harderwijk tripled in its number of citizens. 13.000 Belgians were interned in a designated camp where they would stay for the remainder of the war. In the city of Groningen, the same internment procedure took place for soldiers of Churchill’s Little Army, who came to save Antwerp earlier.

Daily life in the camps of Harderwijk and Groningen was at first uncomfortable, lacking sufficient health care and circumstances caused much boredom. Yet slowly, situations for the interned soldiers improved.

The camps became proper villages, with different types of facilities popping up. In Harderwijk, a hospital, an English style tea-room and a school to battle illiteracy were built.

Een aantal soldaten in uniform houden een wedstrijd van sneeuwbeelden.
Photographer: Schilderman, S.S.

Europeana 1914-1918 / Stadsmuseum Harderwijk, CC BY

Church, cinema and theatre were actively visited by residents of both camps. A friture providing with French fries was widely enjoyed by the Belgians. Sports events and competitions were held throughout the year, with cycling tournaments and a contest about who could make the best snow sculpture. Even a bear fight, watched by a large audience, took place once, though the exact details remain unknown.

In the Internment Camp soldiers in uniform and refugees are watching a man
who is fighting with a big bear

Europeana 1914-1918 / Stadsmuseum Harderwijk, CC BY

Unskilled labour at nearby farms was eventually allowed as well, some of the internees were even sent to the southern province of Limburg to work in the coal mines.

The missing of loved ones was hard for many. A cross-European mail system was soon set up, which enabled the interned to send letters and postcards home. A necessity for most, since relationships with the locals were not always as good as one might hope for.

Postcard, a part of the correspondence to two refugee families
in the Haarewijk & Glasgow area
Europeana 1914-1918 / Lisa Prudan’s contribution

Today, a hundred years after World War One, the well known or rather much-discussed phenomenon of refugees scattered across Europe shows many similarities to the past. Will we continue to set borders on our hospitality and give in to fear? Or are we going to care and help these people out of their misery? In the end, we might have more in common than meets the eye.

This story is one of many. Certainly not easily talked about and faced with a risk of becoming a victim to collective amnesia. Nowadays – in hindsight in Belgium, the refugees of Harderwijk are often looked at as deserters, who abandoned their country when situations got tough. In Groningen and Harderwijk, the camps were taken down completely a few years after the war. Other camps remained in place and were used again during the Second World War.

Lest we forget, a phrase commonly heard in times of commemorating the First World War. We surely must not forget what happened on the battlefields and in major geopolitical spheres. When this all ended, however, communities were thoroughly devastated. For them, the war would continue for years to come.

Jos Dumont ‘Jaques Prochard’ in ‘De Twee Weezen’.
Europeana 1914-1918 / Stadsmuseum Harderwijk, CC BY

We should continue to tell and remember the personal stories of individuals from these communities. Emphasizing their thoughts, emotions, day to day activities and heartache into the bigger picture. These people influence greatly our perceptions of long gone times and enable us to see the context. They guide us in our approach to refugees now, because they were in a similar situation then. They shape us in our understanding and help us set sail for the future. Knowing where we are going, because we know where we come from.

In addition to this blog, explore a gallery with those and other photos of Belgian World War I refugees in the Netherlands in Europeana Collections.

By Koen ter Meulen

Breastfeeding heritage for World Breastfeeding Week

Thu, 02/08/2018 - 08:00

As long as there have been babies, which is quite a long time, there’s been breastfeeding. This week is World Breastfeeding Week – coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action. In this blog, I look at imagery depicting breastfeeding in Europeana Collections.

Portraits of breastfeeding

Nowadays, reports of photos of women breastfeeding their babies getting removed from social media with complaints of indecency are commonplace. And there’s not a great deal of coverage (pun intended) in our art heritage either. From nearly 57 million items in Europeana Collections, a search for ‘breastfeeding’ (and variants in other languages) returns just a few hundred results. But there are some really lovely ones. Take a look.

Credits top to bottom, left to right.

A woman suckling two babies. Wellcome Collection,  CC BY.
A woman breastfeeds a baby and other children stand around her. Engraving by de Larmessin after Pierre. Wellcome Collection,  CC BY.
La mere et ses trois enfants, Jacques Callot.  Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, Public Domain.
Votive offering showing a mother breastfeeding a child, Roma. Science Museum, London. Wellcome Collection,  CC BY.
A child being breastfed, Japan.  Wellcome Collection,  CC BY.
Mother breastfeeding her baby, Heather Spears. Wellcome Collection,  CC BY.
A mother breastfeeding her child. Lithograph. Wellcome Collection,  CC BY.
breastfeeding from “Les Races sauvages … Avec 115 gravures, dont huit planches hors texte”. The British Library. Public Domain.
Femme couchée allaitant deux enfants. Bing-Gröndahl [manufacture]. KIK-IRPA, Brussels (Belgium). CC BY-NC-SA.
Nourricière d’humanité La nourrice d’humanité. Van der Stappen, Charles. KIK-IRPA, Brussels (Belgium). CC BY-NC-SA.

The Lactation of St Bernard

Here’s one scenario breastfeeding mums might recognise. The Virgin Mary appears to a saint and squirts her milk at him whilst holding the baby Jesus. OK, so we’ve probably never squirted a saint, but plenty of us have accidentally sprayed someone who wasn’t the intended recipient. In one version of this story, the Virgin Mary squirts her milk into St Bernard’s eye and it cures an infection. Sounds far-fetched? Not so much. Breast milk is often used to help soothe conjunctivitis.  

Miracle de la Lactation, Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, Public Domain.

Breastfeeding tech from history

When required to express breastmilk these days, we use powerful electric pumps and, as adept multi-taskers, well-practised mums can just about manage to do it at the same time as shushing the baby back to sleep and building a Lego tower with their older sibling.

The Science Museum has an example of a breast pump from 1771-1830, which may have been used by a wet nurse. It’s made of brass and glass, and I’m sure, if it were in my household, I’d be picking pieces of smashed glass out of the Lego faster than you could say ‘pass me the pump’. Another version is made of glass and rubber. And finally, an even older bit of breastfeeding tech – wooden and beeswax nipple shields.

Credits, left to right

Breast pump, Europe, 1771-1830, Science Museum, London. Wellcome Collection,  CC BY.
Breast reliever, London, England, 1870-1901 | Science Museum, LondonWellcome Collection,  CC BY.
Wooden nipple shield, Europe, 1701-1900 | Science Museum, London, Wellcome Collection,  CC BY.

Nursing mums need extra calories

When you’re producing food for another human being, what you eat is important too. Breastfeeding women need about an extra 500 calories a day and things like barley and oats are hailed as helping to increase milk production. You can make tasty things out of barley and oats. So spare a thought for nursing women of the past. This is an example of a clay tablet from the Milk Grotto in the holy city of Bethlehem – the site where Christians believe the Virgin Mary stopped to breastfeed Jesus as they fled to Egypt. It contains a range of essential elements such as potassium, zinc and magnesium, and it’s thought that pregnant and nursing women ate these stones in times of famine. I think I’d rather have a flapjack.

White chalky earth from Bethlehem, Palestine, 1920-1930 | Science Museum, London, Wellcome Collection,  CC BY.

Advertising of first formula milk

For some, whether for personal preference, lack of support, or complications that make it difficult, breastfeeding is not the way to go. Here’s an advertisement for an early kind of formula milk called rather unappetisingly  ‘Lactated Food’, which contained wheat, barley, sugar of milk and ‘the necessary bone-forming elements,’ whatever they are. From the chubby cheeks and the looks on their faces, it was clearly doing the job for these babies.

Birthday greetings from five lactated food babies. Burlington, Vt.: Wells & Richardson. Trade Card, Wellcome Collection,  CC BY.

Breastfeeding beyond babies

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and then supplemented breastfeeding for at least one year and up to two years or more. But of course, if there is milk available, you don’t have to be a child to take it – see the story of St Bernard above. And in these images depicting a story from ancient Rome, Pero breastfeeds her father Cimon to assuage his hunger after he has been imprisoned and sentenced to death by starvation.

Credits, left to right

Pero breastfeeding her father Cimon to assuage his hunger. Etching by Francesco Cozza. | Francesco Cozza (painter) Wellcome Collection,  CC BY.
Pero breastfeeding her father Cimon, Wellcome Collection,  CC BY.

Breastfeeding other species

Funnily enough, WHO doesn’t include inter-species lactation in its recommendations. But Romulus and Remus weren’t to know that. And how could you deny those big deer eyes anything?

Credits, left to right

Romulus et Rémus | Anonyme (graveur), Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, Public Domain.
The nurse | La balia, Giorgio Giglioli,  Promoter Digital Gallery CC BY-NC

Dracula was from Yorkshire – and other facts for Yorkshire Day

Wed, 01/08/2018 - 08:00
1. Yorkshire is the biggest county in England

An annotated version of Map of England & Wales showing population, 1700s. Wellcome Collection, CC BY

Except that strictly speaking, Yorkshire isn’t a county anymore. In terms of administration, most of Yorkshire is part of the official ‘Yorkshire and the Humber’ region, but the very north of the region outlined above is part of ‘North East England’. Yorkshire is also divided into four smaller civil administrations all of which used to be called the ‘Ridings of Yorkshire’. The East managed to hang on to the ‘Riding’, but the others are now North, West and South Yorkshire.

However, in terms of cultural identity, Yorkshire is a region all to itself, which is celebrated each year on 1 August – Yorkshire Day.


2. Yorkshire is God’s own country

Other places might also claim this, but the fact is, God’s own country is definitely Yorkshire.

It certainly has lots of cathedrals, (ruined) abbeys and churches so God would be very at home here. Here are a few.

Credits, top to bottom, left to right

Jervaulx Abbey from “[Our own country. Descriptive, historical, pictorial.]”. The British Library. Public Domain.
Ruïne van Kirkstall Abbey in Yorkshire. Rijksmuseum. Public Domain.
Avondlandschap met de ruïne van Kirkstall Abbey, Yorkshire. Rijksmuseum. Public Domain.
England from “[The Tourist’s Companion; being a description and history of Ripon, Studley Park, Fountains Abbey, Hackfall, Brimhall Craggs, … Newby Hall, Knaresborough, … Harrogate and Harewood House … With woodcuts, etc.]”. The British Library. Public Domain.
seat of the Archbishop of York from “The Illustrated Tourists’ Guide to the scenery and places of interest … served by the North Eastern Railway Company. By J. H. Morrison”. The British Library. Public Domain.
Ripon Cathedral from “The Literary Shrines of Yorkshire: the literary pilgrim in the dales. [Illustrated.]”. The British Library. Public Domain.

3. Yorkshire won the Wars of the Roses

Ok, so maybe both teams in the mid-15th century Wars of the Roses came off quite badly as the wars finished off the male lines of both rival parts of the Plantagenet family – the House of York and the House of Lancaster. And the last significant battle was the Battle of Bosworth Field, which was won by the Lancastrians. But it’s Yorkshire Day, so let’s say the Yorkies won.

The title ‘Wars of the Roses’ refers to the emblems of each family. The House of York was a white rose, and the House of Lancaster a red rose. That symbolism persists 600 years later with everything from community groups to businesses, pubs and shopping centres named after the flowers. White rose for Yorkshire, red rose for Lancashire.

House flag, North Yorkshire Shipping Co. Ltd, Royal Museums Greenwich, CC BY-NC-SA 

4. Dracula is from Yorkshire

Ok, so maybe he wasn’t from Yorkshire, but he certainly lived there for a bit. If we’re being pedantic, in the novel, Bram Stoker’s Dracula hails from Transylvania, but after a shipwreck off the coast of Whitby, he came ashore and spent some time doing his vampire thing in the Yorkshire town.

Whitby, Royal Museums, Greenwich, CC BY-NC-SA 

But we can say that Dracula got his name from Yorkshire. From the library in Whitby actually. Author Bram Stoker visited the local library in Whitby whilst on a little holiday and discovered an account of a 15th-century prince called Vlad Tepes who impaled his enemies on wooden stakes. He was known as Dracula – the ‘son of the dragon’ or ‘the devil’ in the Wallachian language (Wallachia is a historical region of Romania). And so this is how Bram Stoker’s Dracula became Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Other cultural icons from Yorkshire include Charlotte, Anne and Emily Brontë, Alan Bennett and JB Priestley from the world of literature, and world-renowned artists Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and David Hockney.

Left. Photograph of small sculpture by Henry Moore, Servizio fotografico Bologna, 1969, Monti, PaoloFondazione Biblioteca Europea di Informazione e Cultura (BEIC)CC BY-SA 
Right. Gregory Evans by David Hockney, Provinciaal Centrum voor Cultureel Erfgoed,  CC BY-NC-SA 

William Shakespeare also wrote a play called ‘A Yorkshire Tragedy‘. Except that most people think he didn’t, crediting instead Jacobean playwright Thomas Middleton.

A Yorkshire Tragedy, 1619 | William Shakespeare, University of EdinburghCC BY 

5. Eating Yorkshire puddings on Sundays is the law

Well, maybe not the law, but certainly encouraged. You’ll find almost all pubs in Yorkshire (if not the UK) serve a Sunday roast, with the Yorkshire pudding as the star attraction. It’s related to the pancake in terms of ingredients but despite the word ‘pudding’, it’s part of the main meal, not a dessert. Although originally, it was more of an appetiser. They are cheap to make and eating them first means you’re too full to eat much expensive meat.

Here’s the recipe that I use – 3 oz plain flour, 2 eggs, 3 fl oz of milk, 2 fl oz of water, pinch of salt. Whisk these all up to make a smooth batter. Turn the oven on as hot as you dare. Heat vegetable oil in a muffin tray. When hot (smoking is good), pour in the batter, it’ll sizzle. Put in the oven and DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR AGAIN UNTIL THEY’RE DONE! How long they take depends on how much you’ve put in each hole, how hot your oven is and what else is in there. They’ll take between 20-30 minutes. They’ll rise up to puffs of asymmetrical golden loveliness, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. Serve with roast meat, an array of veg and a jug of rich gravy. Then have a nap.

Yorkshire Pudding cooked in tin muffin tins 2007.6.29, by Canadianmusic at English Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.

Text Announcement in Manuscripts and Early Printed Books

Thu, 26/07/2018 - 09:00

Books didn’t always have title pages! The title page only developed gradually over the 15th and 16th centuries.  Before that time, different methods were used to announce the author(s), title, edition, place of publication, printer, publisher and publication date.

The elements indicating the beginning and the closing of individual textual units in medieval manuscripts persisted in the period of the earliest printed books. These elements are the incipit, the explicit, and the colophon. Just like the design of the book and the layout of the text, the text announcements in manuscripts and incunabula were the same for a while.

The end of the prologue (explicit) and the beginning (incipit) of Paschasius Radbertus’s ‘On the Lamentations of Jeremiah’ (1143-1178), e-codices, CC BY-NC


The earliest examples of separate title pages were either blank or contained a simple and abbreviated label-title, which was sometimes joined by woodcut illustrations or the printer’s device.

The label-title of Albumasaris’s ‘Introduction to Astronomy‘(1489), Fondazione Barbanera 1762, CC BY-NC


The label-title and illustration from Petrus de Crescentiis’s ‘On Agriculture‘(1505), Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, No Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Only


By the end of the 15th century and in the first half of the 16th century, elaborate woodengraved title pages, or title pages with intricate decorative borders were made.

Title page from Ulrich von Hutten’s poem on the war with Venice, dedicated to Emperor Maximilian (1519), Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, CC BY-SA


From the late 15th century onwards, the amount of information given on the title page was increasing constantly. Author and title statements were joined by information about the edition, secondary authors such as commentators or translators, as well the place of publication, the name of the printer and publisher, the printer’s device, and the publication date. All of these elements have gradually moved to the title page from the colophon.

Title page from Poliziano’s ‘Poems’ (1577), containing information about the author, the title and the edition, as well as the dedication, the imprint, and the printer’s device, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek – Austrian National Library, No Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Only  



Written by dr. Sonja Svoljšak, Manuscript, Rare and Old Prints Collection, Special Collections Division, National and University Library, Slovenia

Moving, breathing, transforming

Tue, 24/07/2018 - 16:15

Three Butterflies by Herman Henstenburgh, c.1683 – c.1726, Rijksmuseum, public domain

‘The universe is transformation, life is opinion.’
Marcus Aurelius, Book IV, Meditations, c. 121–180 AD

Migration has a transformative effect on identity, whether consciously or otherwise. Through learning a new language or a new skill, being exposed to something different or by consciously choosing to reinvent yourself, change lies at the heart of migration.

This was certainly the case for Eriton Santos in his submission to the Migration Collection entitled ‘Learning to play the piano’. Eriton recounts his story of migration from Brazil to Ireland which was marked by his piano lessons. Moving to learn English in 2014, the changed environment meant that learning piano, something that was an expensive past-time in the small town he left in Rio de Janeiro, was now within his means.

Music is now a part of Eriton’s life, from his leisure time to his work as a carer, with musicality becoming an important part of his new identity in Ireland.  

‘Learning music like this is like a new language, a new world opens for you,’ says Eriton, ‘I came to Ireland to learn one language, but ended up learning two.’

‘Where words fail, music speaks.’ ― Hans Christian Andersen

Learning to play the piano | Eriton Santos, Europeana Migration Collection, CC BY-SA
Girl at the Piano | Maris, Jacob, 1879, Rijksmuseum, Public Domain


Russell too would see his life path forever transformed when he and his family migrated to Germany in his childhood. His story ‘Dinosaurs in Deutschland‘ shows the effect of his exposure to a German dinosaur magazine, which would spark within Russell a desire to take his passion seriously.

‘I’ve always been obsessed with dinosaurs but this magazine was the beginning of me taking it seriously, says Russel, ‘From that time onwards, dinosaurs became an even bigger part of my life. I decided at that age to dedicate my career to them.’

Inspirational dinosaurs

Dinosaurs in Deutschland | Russell, Europeana Migration Collection, CC BY-SA
To dinosaurer som sloss | Severin Worm-Petersen, 1857 — 1933, Norsk Teknisk Museum, CC BY

At times, however, a transformation is planned, with migration affording a space for reinvention. Diego Menhanha’s ‘Reinvent yourself’ follows his journey to Dublin, Ireland. Leaving his car, apartment and steady career as a marketing professional in Brasil, Diego moved to the completely foreign, Ireland. Navigating a new country with a new language came with challenges; from an ill-fated role as a kitchen porter and endless job interviews, Diego now relishes his new life, proficient in English and a successful master’s student; a modern-day inventor of his own life.

‘I arrived in Dublin- without any knowledge of English and also anybody to support me,’ says Diego, ‘We can think out of the box and start again; don’t be afraid and follow your dreams.’

States of invention

Reinvent yourself | Diego Mendanha, Europeana Migration Collection, CC BY-SA
Nikola Tesla, with his equipment for producing high-frequency alternating currents | Wellcome Collection, CC BY

Migration gives space for new experiences and an opportunity for change. This theme has weaved its way through the Migration Collection and the many of the works showcased on Europeana Collections.

Read all the stories collected at the Europeana Migration Collection day. Or if you have your own story of migration, share it with us here.

Mixed-up mermaids

Tue, 24/07/2018 - 10:00

The Deutsches Historiches Museum #DHMMeer in Berlin is running a Europe and the sea blog parade from 20-25 July 2018, asking people to share posts on the theme ‘What does the sea mean to me?’ To me, one of the things it means is mermaids. So I revisited a post I wrote a while ago on that topic, and checked out Europeana Collections again. In the intervening time, we’ve published more mermaids – so this post from 2013 has now been updated with a gallery of more beautiful and historic mermaid material.

I’ve always been fascinated by the folklore around mermaids, so when I had the opportunity to travel to Copenhagen, Denmark, I had to take the time to seek out this little lady…

 My snap of ‘The Little Mermaid’, by Edvard Eriksen, in the Copenhagen sunshine. Beth Daley, CC-BY-SA.

The statue by Edvard Eriksen is inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen tale, ‘The Little Mermaid‘. It was put in place in Langelinie, Copenhagen in 1955. Andersen’s tale is a tragic one, its semi happy ending tagged on, some say, rather uncharacteristically. The little mermaid princess gives up her mermaid form to pursue a human prince. But he marries someone else and she dissolves into sea foam (tragic ending), only to be turned at the last minute into a spirit with an immortal soul (happy ending).

I think one of the reasons I am fascinated by mermaids is because they are elusive and rarely seen in their mermaid form by humans. This means that mermaids could be all around us and we wouldn’t know. Those that do see or hear them rarely live to tell the tale – sailors captivated by a mermaid song are lured onto rocks and wrecked. Mermaids who marry human men and live on land adopt a human form. So, if you’re the type who believes in fairies at the bottom of the garden, dancing just out of sight, you may also be the type to believe in mermaids or mermen living amongst us – who couldn’t be persuaded that the ghostly sound we hear in the wind during a brisk winter walk along a coastal cliff path isn’t the sound of a mermaid hidden amongst the rocks below us, or that what is tickling our feet as we paddle isn’t seaweed but a miniature mermaid?

Andersen’s tale dates from 1837, but Europeana Collections has mermaids a lot older than that. Here’s a gallery that goes back to the 13th century.

Credits, top to bottom, left to right.
Mermaid pendant, Victoria and Albert Museum. 1860-80. CC BY.
Sjöjungfru. Vasamuseet. CC BY-SA.
Mermaid and fish from BL Harley 334, f. 57. Gautier de Metz (attributed to). The British Library. Public Domain.
Mermaid from BL Harley 4372, f. 79v. Valerius Maximus, translated by Simon de Hesdin and Nicolas de Gonesse. The British Library. Public Domain.
Mermaid with mirror from BL Harley 6149, f. 30. Adam Loutfut (author and compiler). The British Library. Public Domain.
Three mermaids, one of them showing posterior and front view. Coloured engraving, 1817.  Wellcome CollectionCC BY.
A mermaid, situated on a rock. Etching by J. Godby, 1814, after L. Gahagan. Wellcome CollectionCC BY.
Mermaid from BL Royal 10 E IV, f. 47. Edited by Raymund of Peñafort, with gloss of Bernard of Parma. The British Library. Public Domain.
Ex libris. Korda Béla. Balatoni Múzeum – Keszthely. CC BY-NC-ND.
Mermaid pendant and chainVictoria and Albert MuseumCC BY.
Mermaid from BL Sloane 278, f. 47. Hugh of Fouilloy (index Hugo de Fouilloy, Hugo de Folieto, Hugo of Fouilloy, Hugues de Fouilloy ). The British Library. Public Domain.
Catching a Mermaid. Royal Museums Greenwich. In Copyright.

Mermaids are contradictory creatures: they are neither women nor fish; they enchant sailors but lead them to their deaths. In popular folklore, they are innocent and beautiful, think Ariel from the Disney film, but their mythology also involves more gruesome figures.

A grotesque mermaid, amidst luxurious cushions and drapes, 1822 Wellcome CollectionCC BY.

After finding Eriksen’s statue, I did a little more walking around Copenhagen and also discovered these guys…

‘Merman with 7 sons’, by Suste Bonnén, Copenhagen. Photo by Beth Daley, CC-BY-SA.

The bronze statues are positioned underwater in a canal in the centre of Copenhagen.  The story goes that the merman fell in love with a human woman who agreed to live with him underwater. There, she bore him seven sons but one day, feeling homesick, she followed the sound of the town’s church bells, left the sea and never returned. The sculpture shows her family (the seventh son is in his father’s arms) trying to find her and begging her to return. The fact that three of the statues were, when I saw them, half-in half-out of the water added to their anguish – did these creatures belong in the water, or out of it?

This question of belonging and of place is central to mermaid mythology, they are half-human, half-fish, they are neither one thing nor another, so how can they belong fully in either place? To belong in one world they must give up something from the other – for the mermaid in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, to remain a mermaid, she would give up the chance of love, but to live on land and pursue her happiness, she gave up first her voice, and then ultimately, her life. As an in-betweener, the mermaid can be read as a metaphor for growing up (think Disney’s Ariel again). As teenagers and even as adults, I’m sure we’ve all felt as though we don’t quite belong. But I’m not advocating their transformations. Why be limited and be wholly one thing or another? Hybrids are great. Long live the mermaid.

Czechs and Slovaks fighting for independence during World War One

Thu, 19/07/2018 - 10:14

At the end of World War I, the geo-political landscape of Europe changed dramatically. Following the Treaty of Versailles several new nations emerged, among them Finland, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. The multi-ethnic Empire of Austria-Hungary was divided into  Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.

Already before the end of the war the Czechoslovak First Republic had emerged as a result of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On 18 October the Czechoslovak declaration of independence was published by the Czechoslovak National Council, signed by Masaryk, Štefánik and Beneš, 1918 in Paris, and proclaimed on October 28 in Prague.

Towards the end of the First World War which led to the collapse of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, several ethnic groups and territories with different historical, political, and economic traditions were blended into the new independent Czechoslovak democracy.

President Masaryk looks at a French machine gun, 8 December 1918, photographed by Larnay Vogézy.
Europeana 1914-1918, CC BY-SA

It all started with the ambitions of one man, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, who, after trying to reform the Austro-Hungarian monarchy into a federal state,  eventually succeeded in founding the Czechoslovak Republic.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, Masaryk concluded that the best course was to seek an independent country for Czechs and Slovaks, outside Austria-Hungary. He went into exile and started establishing the so-called Czechoslovak Legions, an effective fighting force on the side of the Allies in World War I.

Already as early as August 1914, the Russian High Command had authorized the formation of a battalion, recruited from Czechs and Slovaks in Russia. The unit went to the front in October 1914 and was attached to the Russian Third Army.

Masaryk and his compatriots in exile had the idea to recruit Czech and Slovak prisoners of war (POWs) in Russian camps. However, because of the opposition of the Russian government, this was not possible until the summer of 1917. The Czechoslovak armed unit in Russia grew very slowly. After three years the Legion was established, first in Russia in 1917, later with other troops fighting in France, Italy and Serbia. Originally all-volunteer forces, these formations were later strengthened by Czech and Slovak prisoners of war or deserters from the Austro-Hungarian Army. By 1918 about 40,000 troops in total were part of the Czech Legion. 

Throughout the Europeana 1914-1918 community collection campaign collection days were held in cities in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Some of the stories that were contributed at those events refer to the Legion. A few of them are about soldiers who were part of it, fighting in Russia, in Italy or France.

Slovak soldier Matej Beňo’s testimonial of his duty in the Czech Legion,
Europenana 1914-1918 / Ján Kačáni, CC BY-SA

Among the contributions is an interesting document (in German) that tells the story the Austro-Hungarian Infantry-Regiment No. 28, which made headlines in April 1915 as its dissolution was announced. The Prague based regiment consisted of 95% Czechs and 5% other nationalities. Allegedly some Czech volunteers were actively trying to persuade the soldiers to walk over to the Russians. In the article, not only the dissolution of the regiment is mentioned but also the shooting of several officers.

Another contribution tells the story of Václav Radil. He was born in Jitkov, Bohemia. According to this story, there was an unwritten agreement in the trenches an not to shoot Russians, or to shoot in the air. He was taken prisoner by a Cossack and had to work in the woods in Siberia. There he learned about the organization of the Czech Legion and was able to join them in the autumn of 1917. When the war was over he had to travel along the Trans-Siberian railway, along Altai, past the Ural Lake all the way to Vladivostok. He finally arrived in Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1920.

Josef Kobza was captured on the Eastern Front in November 1914. Soon after he became one of the recruits of one the first Czech battalions. He would eventually become a corporal in the 9th Rifle Regiment until he was demobilized in December 1919. While on board of the ship “Karači Maru”, travelling home he produced a hand-illustrated diary  ‘Return’.

Soldier Josef Osmer was fighting at the Italian front at Passo Val Maggiore when he was taken prisoner. While staying in the  Padula PoW camp he decided to join the Czechoslovak Legion in April 1918. Among his documents are a certificate issued by the Italian party about his service in the Italian army as well as a testimonial of the Czechoslovak legionary community from 1930.

On our special website you can find more documents in Czech and Slovak. You can read these unique first-hand accounts and help disclosing them by starting or completing the transcriptions.   

World Cup of Art

Fri, 29/06/2018 - 22:48

Welcome to the World Cup of Art! The matches are between the artworks related to countries playing in the FIFA World Cup, available on Europeana. And you can influence the score by voting for the artworks you like! The rest is the same as in football: exciting, diverse and unexpected.




















Pride in Europeana: Victorian Dragqueens

Thu, 28/06/2018 - 09:54

On the Anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the highlight of LGBT+ pride month 2018, we dive into Wellcome Collection’s rich stores of queer heritage and take a look at an album of Victorian-era photographs from the James Gardiner Collection.

A man in drag is sitting down wearing a large white dress, James Gardiner Collection, Victorian Photograph Album, Folio 13v (right). 189?, Wellcome Collection, CC BY

Stella is photographed sideways, with hair braided into a crown and in a billowing dress. The blush on her cheeks and the colour of her lips and dress were added later to the sepia photograph, now faded in places but still vibrant in others. Who would think this innocent photograph of a beautiful Victorian lady depicts the same person who stood trial in a case that attracted considerable attention from the Victorian-era London public. Stella, known to the court as Ernest Boulton, became famous in Victorian London for standing trial for wearing women’s clothing and alleged homosexual offences.1

A Man in drag standing side-on, James Gardiner Collection, Victorian Photograph Album, Folio 10r (left). 189?, Wellcome Collection, CC BY

Before the trial, Ernest had toured frequently with his friend, Fredrick Park, in a theatrical double act where they dressed up in women’s clothing as Fanny and Stella. They were often seen at, and sometimes ejected from, social events and theatres around West London in drag. On a spring evening in 1870, they were both arrested and brought to the magistrate’s court under the accusation of performing ‘homosexual acts’. Ernest and Fredrick were still wearing their dresses when they stood before the magistrate, which elicited a buzz from crowds that had gathered to watch and fueled newspaper reports all across London.2  Both ended up being acquitted because of lack of evidence and the absence of an actual law that forbade men from wearing women’s clothing.3

A man in drag poses wearing mauve attire, James Gardiner Collection, Victorian Photograph Album, Folio 13v (left). 189?, Wellcome Collection, CC BY

That Ernest liked to dress up in drag was unmistakably true, as one of the pictures in a Victorian photograph album proves. The rest of the album is filled with 31 other pictures of men dressed as women in different poses and configurations. Some wear earrings, others have their hair adorned with tiaras or flowers, and others hold colourful fans or dolls. Colour was added to a lot of the sepia pictures to show the bright blue and pink dresses, the glimmer of a pearl earring or to shade lips and blushing cheeks. Although Ernest was sometimes very public about his sexuality and presentation, this was probably very different for most of the other people featured in this photo album. Ernest is the only one photographed we know by name.

A man in drag poses side-on, James Gardiner Collection, Victorian Photograph Album, Folio 12r (right). 189?, Wellcome Collection, CC BY

James Gardiner is a researcher and author who specializes in collecting historical photographs depicting what he calls ‘gay life’. In his own words: “ How can you have a photographic history of something that was, until very recently, something to hide, not photograph? And for a great many men, still is.[…] Many of us devote enormous energy to making sure that our appearance does not betray us in the wrong place – but does announce us in the right place. The camera, which denies us this flexibility, which fixes everything for ever in a frozen image, in black-and-white, can be a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands.”

In a completely different era and context, the raids and subsequent riots at The Stonewall in 1969 are eerily similar to the Ernest and Park’s story in their use of publicly visible and invisible subversion of norms, their prosecution by authority, and their subsequent liberation from oppression. Stonewall remembrance day is about looking back at how others have stood up for their emancipation, and the need to continue subverting and questioning norms.

Explore Wellcome’s Victorian photograph album collected by James Gardiner here.

Read more about Fanny and Stella in Neil Mckenna’s 2013 book ‘ the Young men who Shocked Victorian England.’

A tale of Spanish migration and creating a home abroad

Wed, 27/06/2018 - 14:18

Spanish gastarbeiders De Egge te Brunssum, 1963, Historisch centrum Limburg, CC BY-SA.

During the 1970s, Spanish gastarbeiders made up some 35,000 of the workforce in the Netherlands. We spoke to one such person who migrated, Balbino Cuervo, on his journey through Europe for love and work, and his story of creating a home and community away from his native Spain. 

Born in Oviedo, Asturias in 1948, Balbino emigrated for the first time to Switzerland in 1963 with his parents. Economic and political pressures lead his father, and later his mother and himself, to emigrate to Neuchatel, where the family lived for nine years.

In Neuchatel, Balbino met his wife Susannah, a Dutch nurse working in Switzerland. It was because of Susannah that he decided to move to Amersfoort, Netherlands, and begin working for a machinery company (having studied mechanical engineering in Switzerland).

While Balbino would later become a voice for Spanish gastarbeiders and the Spanish community in the Netherlands, his emigration story was instigated by his desire to start a new life with Susannah.

Balbino says, ‘basically, I came here for love.’

Balbino and Susannah Cuervo, private photo, in copyright.

While his move to the Netherlands was a result of love, his early emigration centres on work. After being made redundant from his job at an explosives factory, Balbino’s father (Balbino Snr.) went to work illegally in Switzerland.

This practice was commonplace in a time when ‘cheap labour’ was prioritised over legality.

Balbino says, ‘the lack of workforce was so big that the authorities tended to overlook these kinds of situations. Here in the Netherlands, the situation was more or less the same.’

1961, when the Dutch government and the Spanish Institute of Migration signed an agreement allowing Dutch corporations to hire Spanish workers. They would work in labouring roles as welders or steelworkers.

According to Balbino, the cultural and political climate at the time encouraged emigration for work, even though this created an
environment that was oftentimes isolated and controlled.

Only men were allowed to emigrate to encourage workers to return home. Even with the general hardships, this did not eventuate, leading to the illegal immigration of Spanish women. Finally, in the 1970s, a reunification program was implemented.

After the death of Francisco Franco in 1975, the first Spanish elections in 1977, and the approval of the Constitution in 1978, many Spanish workers moved back to Spain. According to Balbino however, Spanish workers still accounted for approximately 26,000 of the workforce.

To Balbino, and many immigrants, community is a pivotal part of starting a new life. During his first years, he become focused on learning Dutch and converting his certifications through a Hoog Technische School diploma. This helped Balbino to cement a space within the Dutch society.

After the birth of his child, he became involved in the organisation of Spanish-language schools for the children within the Spanish community, an initiative that is still active in 2018 Netherlands. Further, he was involved with the council of the ‘House of Spain’, and later joined the Netherlands branch of UGT.

Balbino says, ‘we had no internet or social networks. We needed to get together to solve problems… to help and inform each other.’

All of these roles helped Balbino create a community in the Netherlands that took into account his mix of identities: Balbino, the son of a Spanish gastarbeider in Switzerland, the husband to a Dutch wife and father to a half-Dutch son, and the voice for Spanish gastarbeiders in the Netherlands.

Balbino’s story is an example of a connected Europe; a European identity. As for his advice to the next generation of migrants?

‘As the French say ‘L’ histoire se répète’ (history repeats itself)… some will leave and others will stay. Because despite the internet and social networks, it would be better to have more union between the migrant communities to share information, experiences and to help each other,’ says Balbino.

The full audio (in Spanish) of this interview conducted by Pablo Uceda can be found here.  

Read all the stories collected at the Europeana Migration collection day in Instituto Cervantes.

Or if you have your own story of migration, share it with us here.

Mementos of a lost homeland

Thu, 21/06/2018 - 14:00

When we asked people to share their stories and symbolic objects of migration, the responses submitted could be largely separated into two categories: those who emigrated by choice, and those who did not.

Refugees. Cyprián Majerník, Slovak National Gallery, Public Domain

Heartbreaking stories of asylum seeking throughout history have been showcased from those who were made refugees and struggled to find new homes for themselves in foreign countries. Perhaps none more so relevant in the wake of World Refugee Day are those then those have been recently disposed from their homes, and their lives, in Syria.  

People like Khalil, who left the port city of Latakia, Syria for Brussels. Khalil’s story centers on the prayer beads that he holds dear as a symbol of his homeland, and a self-drawn picture that shows the horrors of war that he and his family experience.

Khalil’s Misbaha Prayer Beads and her drawing ‘Stop the War’.
Contribution to Europeana Migration, CC BY-SA

Khalil describes the horrors of war, the use of chemical weapons and the great burden this has placed on Syria. He refers to Belgium as his ‘current home’.

Another refugee, an independent journalist and Kurdish Syrian, too vividly highlights the horrors and trauma of their experience, submitting an image of their crumbled home.

They write, ‘I did not see a street where my house and my family’s house where located. I found a large mountain of stones, burnt houses and a completely destroyed street. It was a difficult situation and I found my dreams and memories under the stones of my ruined house.’

House in Aleppo. ‘Escape from Hell’ contribution to European Migration, CC BY-SA

They too describe the horrors of war. Of the death and destruction, and now asylum and safety in Austria.

They write, ‘I want freedom. I want democracy. I want justice…. Austrian police came and saved our lives. Austrian police gave me care and help, so I asked to stay in Austria and I am now happy.’

At Collection days, where the public are invited to share their migration stories and objects, people speak of the catharsis they feel as a result of sharing their experiences. Asylum seeking transforms one notion of home and identity. Sharing and archiving our personal stories stands as an expression of identity and legacy, even in times when these are challenged or transformed.

Do you have a story to share about seeking a new home? Share your stories with Europeana Migration.

Tamo daleko (There, far away) – a Serbian prisoner of war during World War One

Mon, 18/06/2018 - 09:10

Guest blog written by Fabian & Tatjana Vendrig (Dutch and Serbian language versions below)

“The bread you sent, every Serb took it, they crossed themselves and kissed it and then we all started to cry happy tears”.

This is an excerpt of a letter which Djordje Vukosavljevic, who was mentioned earlier in a blog, sent to his wife on 28/02/1918 from the Prisoners of War (PoW) camp Soltau near Hannover in Northwest Germany. Djordje was a non-commissioned officer of the Serbian army during the First World War and he died 22th January 1919 in a PoW camp in Nieuw-Milligen near Garderen in the Netherlands. Thus, he never returned to his home country, Serbia. His letters give a small insight about the life of a Serbian Prisoner of War during the First World War in the PoW camps in Germany.

These letters are now also available on the Europeana 1914-1918 website, with an English translation and they can be found here.

Lately it was also discovered, thanks to the great-granddaughter who keeps the letters in the best state as possible, that his brother-in-law, Konstatin Mladenovic, died during the Great War too. The last sign of life was a postcard dated 18/08/1914 written in Klenje near Sabac, Western-Serbia. Here the allies won their first victory when the Serbian army defeated the Austro-Hungarian army during the battle of Cer (15-24th August 1914).

Konstatin Mladenovic, photo from private collection

The great-granddaughter also has a letter from Dragomir Rajicic, a tradesman from Gornji Milanovac. He wrote a letter on 19/08/1919 to the wife of Djordje Vukosavljevic to inform her that Djordje died in the Netherlands. It had taken him half a year to get home from the Netherlands. With the kind help of Museum of Rudnik and Takovo Region and with special thanks to Ana Jelic from this museum in Gornji Milanovac the team could also identify Dragomir.

Dragomir Rajicic, photo from the book ”Porodični album starog Milanovca” by Dusan Ilic, 1999

It turned out that Dragomir’s brother, Sreten Rajicic, also died in the Netherlands on 22/01/1919 in Enschede. The funeral of Sreten was reported by the Dutch newspaper Tubantia on 24/01/1919, where it was written that a family member, who was also a PoW, attended the funeral.

Sreten Rajicic from Gornji Milanovac, sitting, 2nd from the right. Photo from the book “Stari Milanovac” by Milomir Glisic, 2003

On Sreten’s death certificate (Enschede 1919 No. 63) it is not written where he is from, so the team of researchers was not aware that Dragomir and Sreten had been brothers.  Only when various sources from Serbia and the Netherlands were combined and analysed, it turned out that they were brothers.

Sreten and Djordje were exhumed in May 1938, with 86 other Serbian WWI soldiers who died in the Netherlands and transported to the mausoleum in Jindrichovice which is in the Czech Republic.

After the war Dragomir Rajicic continued his father’s business with a bookshop and publishing house for postcards in Gornji Milanovac (the shop on the right on the postcard below, which was published by him).

From the collection of the Public Library ‘Vladislav Petković Dis’, Čačak 

Tamo daleko is the title of this blog and it is inspired by a famous Serbian song about WWI (link). It is important that those who died “tamo daleko” (there, far away) are not forgotten. The authors of this blog also created a permanent digital remembrance place on the website and will continue with their voluntary research to the fate of the 91 Serbian WWI soldiers who died in the Netherlands.



Tamo daleko (Daar ver weg)

“Het brood dat je stuurde, nam elke Serviër aan, ze maakten een kruisteken, kusten het en toen begonnen we allemaal blije tranen te huilen”.

Dit is een zin uit een brief die Djordje Vukosavljevic, die eerder in een blog werd genoemd, op 28 februari 1918 naar zijn vrouw stuurde vanuit het krijgsgevangenenkamp te Soltau bij Hannover in Noordwest-Duitsland. Djordje was een onderofficier van het Servische leger tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog en hij stierf op 22 januari 1919 in een krijsgevangenen kamp in Nieuw-Milligen bij Garderen in Nederland. Hij keerde nooit meer terug naar zijn geboorteland, Servië. Zijn brieven geven een klein inzicht in het leven van een Servische krijgsgevangene tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog in de Duitse krijgsgevangenen kampen in Duitsland.

Deze brieven zijn nu beschikbaar op de website van Europeana 1914-1918 met een vertaling in het Engels, u vindt ze hier (link).

Recentelijk werd ontdekt, dankzij de achterkleindochter die de brieven in de best mogelijke staat bewaard, dat zijn zwager, Konstatin Mladenovic, ook stierf tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog. Het laatste teken van leven was een ansichtkaart gedateerd 18/08/1914 geschreven in Klenje bij Sabac, West-Servië. Hier wonnen de geallieerden hun eerste overwinning toen het Servische leger het Oostenrijks-Hongaarse leger versloeg tijdens de slag om de berg Cer (15-24 augustus 1914).

De achterkleindochter heeft ook een brief van Dragomir Rajicic, een handelaar uit Gornji Milanovac. Hij schreef op 19 augustus 1919 een brief aan de vrouw van Djordje Vukosavljevic om haar te laten weten dat Djordje in Nederland stierf. Het kostte hem een half jaar om thuis te komen vanuit Nederland. Met de hulp van Ana Jelic van het museum van de regio Rudnik & Takovo in Gornji Milanovac kon het team ook Dragomir identificeren.

Het bleek dat de broer van Dragomir, Sreten Rajicic, ook in Nederland was overleden. Sreten stierf op 22/01/1919 in Enschede. Dagblad Tubuntia schreef op 24/01/1919 een artikeltje over zijn begrafenis.

Een citaat uit het artikel: In den droeven stoet gingen een tweetal landgenooten, mede ontslagen Servische krijgsgevangenen, van wie een nog een bloedverwant was van laatstgenoemden Serviër. Aan de groeve strooide deze een handvol aarde over de kist van zijn broeder.

Op Sreten’s overlijdensakte (Enschede 1919 nr. 63) staat niet waar hij vandaan komt, dus het team van onderzoekers wist niet dat Dragomir en Sreten broers waren. Pas toen verschillende bronnen uit Servië en Nederland werden gecombineerd en geanalyseerd, bleken het broers te zijn.

Sreten en Djordje werden in mei 1938 opgegraven met 86 andere Servische WOI-soldaten die in Nederland stierven en werden naar het mausoleum in Jindrichovice in de (huidige) Tsjechische Republiek getransporteerd.

Na de oorlog zette Dragomir Rajicic het bedrijf van zijn vader voort met een boekwinkel en een uitgeverij voor ansichtkaarten in Gornji Milanovac (de winkel rechts op de briefkaart hieronder, werd door hem gepubliceerd).

“Tamo Daleko” is de titel van deze blog en is geïnspireerd door een beroemd Servische lied over WOI (link). Het is belangrijk dat degenen die stierven “tamo daleko” (daar, ver weg) niet worden vergeten. De auteurs van deze blog creëerden ook een permanente digitale herdenkingsplaats op de website en gaan door met hun vrijwillige onderzoek naar het lot van de 91 Servische WOI-soldaten die in Nederland zijn omgekomen.



Тамо далеко

“Хлебац који си послала сваки га је Србин узео у руке, прекрстио и пољубио, ту су настале сузе радованке.”

Ово је део из писма Ђорђа Вукосављевић, који је био раније поменут у блогу објављеном на овом вебсајту, послат супрузи 28.02.1918. године из логора Солтау, близу Хановера у северозападној Немачкој. Ђорђе је био подофицир српске војске током Првог светског рата и преминуо је 22.01.1919. године у логору за ратне војне заробљенике у Њу Милигену, близу Гардерена у Холандији. Никада није успео да се врати у своју домовину, Србију. Његова писма дају увид у живот српског ратног заробљеника током Првог светског рата у логорима у Немачкој.

Ова писма, са преводом на енглески су такође доступна на вебсајту Europeana 1914-1918 и можете их пронаћи овде: линк.

Недавно је такође откривено, захваљујући праунуци Ђорђа Вукосављевић која се труди да сачува писма у најбољем могућем стању да је његов зет Константин Младеновић такође умро током Великог рата. Последњи пут је писао 18.08.1914. из места Клење близу Шапца, Западна Србија. Овде је српска армија први пут поразила Аустроугарску током Церске битке (15-24.08.1914).

Праунука Зорица такође има писмо Драгомира Рајичића, трговца из Горњег Милановца који је написао писмо Ђорђевој супрузи 19.08.1919. године у коме је обавештава о смрти њеног супруга у Холандији. Требало му је пола године да стигне кући из Холандије. Захваљујући Музеју рудничко-таковског краја и посебно Ани Јелић из музеја, тим је идентификовао Драгомира Рајичић.

Испоставило се да је Драгомиров брат, Сретен Рајичић, такође умро у Енсхадеу, Холандији 22.01.1919.  О сахрани је писао и холандски лист Тубантиа 24.01.1919, где је написано да је члан породице, који је такође био ратни заробљеник, присуствовао сахрани.

На Сретеновој умрлици (Енсхеде 1919, бр. 63) нe стоји одакле је он, тако да тим истраживача није знао да су Драгомир и Сретен били браћа. Тек када су различити извори из Холандије и Србије анализирани, испоставило се да су њих двојица рођена браћа.

Сретен и Ђорђе су ексхумирани у мају 1938. укључујући још 86 других српских војника који су преминули у Холандији након завршетка Првог светског рата, а затим су транспортовани у маузолеј у Јиндриховице, данашњу Чешку.

Након рата, Драгомир Рајичић је наставио са послом свог оца, књижаром и издавањем разгледница, у Горњем Милановцу (продавница здесна на разгледници, коју је он издао).

Наслов овог блога Тамо далеко је инспирисан познатом српском традиционалном песмом из Првог светског рата (линк). Важно је да се не забораве они који су умрли тамо далеко. Аутори овог блога такође аутори вебсајта, су решени да наставе са волонтерским истраживањем о судбини 91 војника који су преминули у Холандији током Првог светског рата.


Love across borders: the royal families

Mon, 11/06/2018 - 09:00

We have recently begun collecting personal stories from people all across Europe relating to migration.

Our new short blog series, Love across borders, is inspired by collections discovered during this project, with stories of romance and love related to migration. Read on to see how new connections and relationships would not have been possible without people moving across the globe!

Through the past centuries, one group of European societies especially were regularly moving from country to country for love, or at least marriage: the nobility.

Many noble families were keen to establish marriages with other powerful houses in order to expand and stabilize their power. In most cases, one of the future partners had to leave a home country to live with the more powerful partners’ families.

Kaiserin Elisabeth commercial label, F Schirnbock & Jos Urban, Malmo Museum, CC BY

One of the most famous love stories is that of Elisabeth of Bavaria, later known as Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Hungary. Empress Sissi’s love story and her life have been depicted many times – although the reality was much less romantic.

She grew up in Bavaria as the daughter of Duke Maximilian Joseph in Bavaria. When she was 15, she traveled to Vienna to visit her cousin, the Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph, together with her mother and sister Helene. Their mothers had arranged a marriage between the latter and her cousin. But when Franz Joseph saw Sissi, as she was called by her family, for the first time, he immediately fell for her and decided not to propose to Helene, but to Sissi.

He was quoted: “If I can not have Elisabeth, I will not marry at all” –  which was an affront to his mother. But only five days later, their engagement was officially announced. Although their story has been picked up in several books and films, their marriage has not been so romantic after all. Sissi suffered from the strict rules at the Austrian court and developed depression. Her death shocked the Austrian-Hungarian people, when she was assassinated in 1898.

La reine Victoria, le prince Albert et la famille royale d’Angleterre, Eugène Charpentier, National Library of France, Public Domain

The love between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert was exceptional for the times they lived in – because they actually had romantic feelings for each other.

Maybe they were already meant for each other when they were born, with both of their mothers employing the same midwife. They were cousins, both born in 1819.

As they were growing up, it was not clear that they would become one of the most important couples in Europe. Victoria was only fifth in line for the British throne and Albert was only heir of an impoverished dukedom in Germany. Several family members tried to arrange a marriage between them, but they were both reluctant to follow their idea. Victoria, especially, who had already become Queen at that time, hesitated to get married and saw no reasons to rush in a possibly unhappy marriage.

She proposed to him in 1839, three years after their first encounter, when they both were sure about their mutual affection. Their marriage has been an unusual happy one compared to other noble relationships at that time. They had nine children together and influenced their country and empire heavily. Albert became especially known for his engagement in education and arts and Victoria was so remarkable as a queen that the century is often called the Victorian era.

When Albert died young at the age of 42, Victoria was devastated. She wore black for the rest of her long life and never married again.

Do you have a story to share about love or romance across borders ? Share your stories with Europeana Migration.

Explore more royals and nobles in this gallery with paintings of European royalty

· The Love Across Borders series was written by Larissa Borck

Austrian Composers in Exile

Fri, 08/06/2018 - 09:00

View through barred windows of the internment building from Ellis Island to the skyscrapers of New York, ca. 1932 (CC0)

In Austria, the year 2018 is an opportunity to re-examine the turning points of 20th-century history and to ask about their significance for our present. The year 1938, with the “Anschluss” of Austria to the National Socialist German Reich, brought with it massive propaganda, state terror and arrests of political opponents. It also forced mainly Jewish fellow citizens into exile. In the field of culture, in addition to the human tragedies, this led to a massive loss of creativity that continues to be felt today. Three biographies of Austrian composers represent these incidents.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (29.5.1897, Brno – 29.11.1957, Hollywood), the son of music critic Julius Korngold, was considered a musical prodigy. Through the mediation of his father, he got in contact with Gustav Mahler, who then recommended him to Alexander von Zemlinsky as a composition teacher. The ballet “The Snowman”, which he wrote when he was eleven years old, was successfully performed at the Vienna Court Opera in Zemlinsky’s Instrumentation.

Korngold’s operas “The Ring of Polycrates” (1916), “Violanta” (1916), “The Dead City” (1920) and “The Miracle of the Heliane” were among the most performed contemporary operas of this time in Austria and Germany.

Below Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen from “The Dead City”:

In addition, Korngold worked in the 1920s at the Hamburg Stadttheater as a conductor and in the early 1930s held a professorship at the Vienna Music Academy. In 1934 he accepted an invitation to Hollywood to arrange Mendelssohn’s incidental music for Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for Max Reinhardt’s film.Due to the rise of the National Socialists his job opportunities in Germany became less and less and Korngold moved his field of activity more and more to the United States, before he finally settled there after the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany in 1938.In Hollywood, Korngold became one of the most successful film composers of his time. For the music for the films “Anthony Adverse” (1936) and “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938), he was awarded an “Oscar”.After 1945, like many others who had succeeded to escape the Nazi regime, he was never invited to come back to Austria. All his attempts to return from emigration failed and he died in Hollywood in 1957.

The musical talent of Vally Weigl (11.9.1894, Vienna – 25.12.1982, New York) was discovered in her earliest youth and was actively encouraged, especially from her mother. Together with her sister Käthe Leichter – who together with her husband Otto Leichter was one of the founding members of the Revolutionary Socialists in Austria and was murdered by the National Socialists in 1942 – she received piano lessons. In addition, she took music-historical lessons with Guido Adler and composition lessons with Karl Weigl, whom she married in 1921. Forced to flee by the National Socialist seizure of power, she emigrated with her husband and son to the United States.

The early days of the exile were marked by the difficulties of the couple Weigl to gain a foothold in the United States. While Karl Weigl, who died in 1949, could no longer work as a teacher, Vally Weigl began her first compositions. In addition to composing, from the 1950s she developed another field of activity in music therapy.

At the center of her compositional work are sociopolitical movements of her time, such as the peace movement of the 1970s. In the US Vally Weigl was known to the wider public; in Austria she is mostly forgotten.

Ernst Krenek (23.8.1900, Vienna – 23.12.1991, Palm Springs) studied composition with Franz Schreker in Vienna. In 1920 he followed his teacher to Berlin. From the mid-1920s on he worked at the opera houses of Kassel and Wiesbaden. His breakthrough was the opera “Jonny spielt auf” (Leipzig 1927). The premiere at the Vienna State Opera at the turn of the year 1927/28 was accompanied by one of the first campaigns initiated by the National Socialist in the field of culture. Nevertheless in 1928 Krenek came back to Vienna. His next opera “Karl V” remained unperformed in Austria for political reasons.

Newspaper report on the premiere of Krenek’s opera “Jonny plays on” in Leipzig, 10.2.1927 (Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig, CC BY NC-SA)

In 1938, after the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany, Krenek emigrated to the United States. Krenek’s complete oeuvre is not to be assigned to a musical style. The stylistic diversity of his Oeuvre ranges from Expressionist works (“Orpheus and Eurydice”, 1926) to “Gebrauchsmusik” (“Jonny spielt auf “, 1927) to a recourse to Romanticism in the song cycle ” Reisetagebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen” (1929), up to twelve-tone technique, serial music and electronic music in the 1960s.

Both, Vally Weigl and Ernst Krenek, found their professional and artistic opportunities in the United States. The forced exodus of artists and scientists left a gap in Austria that could never be filled until today.


Reading habits in the past

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 10:17

The shape of the text has influenced how, what and why we read. This is the first blog of the Rise of Literacy project, where we take you from papyri to universities, exploring literacy in Europe thanks to the digital preservation of precious textual works from collections across Europe.

2000 years ago, texts were written on scrolls of papyrus. Only between the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the codex – the bound book as we know it – became common.  In Ancient Greece and the early Roman Empire, reading meant holding such a volumen with both hands and unrolling it from right to left.  

The prophet Nahum holding a scroll. Mathurin atelier, follower.
National Library of Netherlands, public domain

If you think that was hard, consider that punctuation – as we know it – didn’t exist! Words could be separated from one another with a full stop or even not separated at all (scriptio continua).

Nonetheless, reading was a popular practice, even amongst the less educated. It was common to read aloud in public: educated slaves, landlords or authors themselves would read aloud following rhetorical rules to give the right inflexion. The important art of oratory is described by authors like Quintilianus ( c. 35-96 AD).

Quintilian from BL Burn 244, f. 2. Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (index Quintilian). British Library, public domain


Quote from Quintilianus,  Institutio Oratoria

“there is much that can only be taught in actual practice, as for instance when the boy should take breath, at what point he should introduce a pause into a line, where the sense ends or begins (…) and when he should speak with greater or less energy”

Contrasted with the overtly public practice of reading aloud, the early Medieval Christian way of reading (IV-XI cent.) was remarkably different. The book, now in the form of a codex (the book as we know it), was the shrine of the word of God. Reading became slower, more personal and silent.  People used to read a small number of texts several times, possibly learning them by heart. This explains the prominence of the Book of Hours, small books containing Psalms, prayers and religious offices collected for individual worship (see our collection on Europeana).

In this era of low literacy, official as well as religious texts were still written in Latin across almost all of Europe, but not everybody could understand Latin. Irish scribes in particular helped to further the reading and understanding of Latin texts by introducing new features, like the more obvious division of words and sentences via punctuation marks and the litterae notabiliores: from simple letters in a different color, to the large illuminated letters we commonly associate with illuminated manuscripts that highlight new chapters and paragraphs.

Church mass from BL Harley 2971, f. 109v. British Library, public domain


Quote from Hugh of Saint Victor, Didascalicon

“Therefore I beg you, reader, not to rejoice too greatly if you have read much, but if you have understood much. Nor that you have understood much, but that you have been able to retain it.”

The establishment of universities in the 12th century brought more remarkable changes. As now the book was read with an academic scope, the text was often displayed in two columns, allowing faster reading and leaving space for writing notes.

Pecia mark from BL Arundel 435, f. 36. Petrus de Salinis, Bartholomaeus Brixiensis, Guillelmus Duranti, and others. British Library, public domain


Explore how reading and writing evolved across Europe through the use of images and interpretation of textual collections on Europeana!


Written by Elisa Brunoni, Technologist,  CNR-OVI, Italy



– Guglielmo Cavallo, Roger Chartier, Storia della lettura. Bari, Laterza 1995;
– Arsenio e Chiara Frugoni, Storia di un giorno in una città medievale, Bari, Laterza 1997

Autographs, operas and tubas: Richard Wagner on Europeana

Thu, 31/05/2018 - 12:50

Detail of a caricature of Richard Wagner conducting, Miethke & Wawra, after Gust. Gaul (public domain, The Rijksmuseum)

When it comes to the life and works of the influential composer Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883), Europeana, once again, is able to bring together so much interesting material from many cultural institutions across Europe. First of all, there is his music: early recordings of Wagner’s epic four-part Ring cycle, starting with Das Rheingold, then Die Walküre, onto Siegfried and – in every possible way, finally – Götterdämmerung.

His other works – such as Parsifal, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Lohengrin – are also well represented. Elsewhere on Europeana, there are various depictions of Wagner and his wife Cosima; and, also, musical scores, notes and letters in Wagner’s hand.

Last but not least, there are several examples of the Wagner tuba on Europeana. This instrument, inspired by Adolphe Sax’s saxhorn, was invented by Wagner to combine elements of the trombone with the French horn. The Wagner tuba, which rather resembles an oval-shaped French horn, is used to play the “Valhalla” leitmotif in Wagner’s Ring cycle.

Wagner tuba (CC-BY-NC-SA, University of Edinburgh)