Latvian Writers in Exile: selection of the archive materials and digitization in the Latvian Centre Münster

Duration of the project

20.05.2020. - 30.09.2020.

Countries and institutions involved in the project

Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art, University of Latvia
Institute for Slavic Studies, University of Münster
Latvian Center Münster
Estonian Literary Musuem

Project Manager

Prof. Dr. Mara Grudule

Project goals

Current state: The Latvian Literature Collection of the Latvian Centre in Münster (LCM) is represented by 14 Latvian exile writers, including a well-known European philosopher and fiction writer Zenta Mauriņa (1897-1978), her husband and writer Konstantīns Raudive (1909-1974), extensive archives of Jānis Jaunsudrabinš (1877-1962), containing letters, manuscripts, documents, photographs, memorabilia, etc., as well as extensive collections dedicated to the Latvian Song Festival and the lives of Latvian writers in Western Europe. The collection is organized and partially catalogued. The archive contains valuable information not only on the lives and writings of Latvian writers, but also on the contacts between Baltic intelligentsia, including Latvian and Baltic German, Latvian and Estonian, as well as links with German society: publishers, translators, colleagues, friends and others. Unfortunately, the LCM lacks resources to properly organize and protect collections from careless and irresponsible visitors. Valuable documents, photos and even memorabilia have disappeared from collections in recent years.

Topicality of the project: the digitization of Latvian literary collection would:

1) ensure preservation of materials in digital form, protecting it from destruction;

2) make the archives of Latvian writers in exile accessible to a wide range of researchers in Latvia and elsewhere;

3) further increase public awareness of Latvian cultural history, exile literature, and writers’ lives in Western Europe, in particular in Germany, but also in France after World War II, through the website;

4) initiate and make possible further research on the contacts and interrelationships between the Latvian diaspora, the German intelligentsia and the Baltic (Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Baltic German).

Goal: firstly, to evaluate and select materials for digitization; secondly, to prepare and create a digital collection of Latvian writers in Germany on the website; thirdly, to present the content of the digital collection to Latvian society and researchers in humanities through the closing seminar and information on

Main activities and venues

  1. to improve knowledge in the digital humanities (introductory seminar);
  2. to review, evaluate, and select materials for digitization;
  3. to digitize documents, manuscripts, letters and photos in high quality;
  4. to process the established collection scientifically – to describe and reference the digitized material;
  5. to publish the collection on the website www.literatura.lvas a single collection available to researchers for scientific work.
  6. to inform researchers and the general public about the new collection on the website and how to use it (closing seminar at LCM and Riga, UL Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art, news on social networks and media)
  7. Introductory seminar at the Latvian National Library on 10.08.2020. Dr. Marin Laak (participate remotely, Skype), Dr. Eva Eglaja-Kristsone, Mg. Signe Raudive, Mg. Ivars Steinbergs.
  8. Closing Seminar at the LCM on 22.08.2020. Dr.Mara Grudule.

Public events

Closing Seminar at the National Library of Latvia on 15. 09. 2020 (date will be specified). Dr. Mara Grudule and Dr. Eva Eglaja-Kristsone.

Direct and indirect target groups

Direct: researchers in humanities; archives, museums, library staff; teachers, students, high school students ~ 300

Indirect: Latvian society; users – on average 24000 individual views per month