At the Expatriate Archive Centre (EAC) we collect the life stories of expats and their families. So what happens when something is donated that we don't collect? Last year, we received an entire collection which did not fit the theme of our archive. We held it safely at our archival storage facility and searched for a more suitable location. Finally in September this year, it was delivered safely to the Curia Arcivescovile (Diocese Archives) in Malta.
In February 2013 one of our founders, Judy Moody-Stuart, got in touch to tell us about a bag full of material that had come into her possession from an acquaintance who had lived abroad. He was a Maltese man now living in a nursing home in France, but his collection came from his time in Turkey. Voerman International, a moving company that the EAC has an arrangement with, picked up the package from the UK and delivered it to the Netherlands. On opening the holdall, there were a number of beautifully-parcelled bundles of handwritten diaries, books with annotations in the margins, letters and documentation, all mostly written in French.
The collection was passed over to one of our volunteers, Loredana Manni. Loredana was a perfect match - being fluent in French and having a background in linguistics and philology, she eagerly started sorting through the collection of meticulously-kept diaries in tiny, neat handwriting. She quickly discovered that the writings had nothing to do with living abroad, but were instead entirely theological in nature.
Although it didn't fit the criteria for our archive, we continued to hold the collection in our storage room until we could find a suitable home for it. Loredana started searching for an archive or related institution who would be interested. This turned out to be quite a challenge, because of the language and citizenship of the originator. Eventually she discovered the Curia Arcivescovile in Malta, and got in touch with Monsignor Lawrence Gatt.
Meanwhile Loredana left the EAC as a volunteer to concentrate on her PhD work, but she still continued to stay in touch with both the EAC and Monsignor Gatt – this time using her native language of Italian. Voerman International took the collection to Malta and left it in the safe hands of their local partners awaiting for pickup. Monsignor Gatt collected the material, and wrote back to Loredana to say that he found it very interesting and intended to take great care in archiving the material so that other religious people might benefit from it.
Finally this collection has found its rightful home. Even though this was a collection that didn't belong in the EAC, as an archive we recognise the value of such material and we always ensure that everything that passes through our hands is treated with respect. We are very grateful to Loredana Manni for her assistance, to Voerman International for transporting and holding the material safely, and to the Curia Arcivescovile for providing a home for the collection.
The EAC collects diaries, writings, letters, photos and other documents about expat life, to aid academic research into expatriate social history. All donations are handled with care and respect, with due regard to privacy and confidentiality. If you have questions about donating, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.