Background

Archives Portal Europe was launched online as a pilot in 2011, with 14 million descriptive units from 61 archival institutions and linked to 64 million digitised pages. It was one of the major milestones of the APEnet project and the result of - by then - nearly three years of collaboration on part of a group of national archives from all across Europe, which aimed at establishing an "Internet Gateway for Documents and Archives in Europe" to overcome a local and national mindset in archival studies with the help of digital technologies.

Since 2003, archives in Europe had been reflecting on how best to use the opportunities given by the digitalisation processes that had started to become commonplace in records management. In particular, archivists were concerned with the transmissions of documents and information across the web, a new feature not just for present data, but also for the historical ones: after all, what is the web if not a giant infrastructure for information retrieval?

After the success of the official launch in January 2012 at the end of the APEnet project, the APEx project expanded the network to more than 30 partner countries and many more institutions, reaching 60 million descriptive units and 900 collaborating institutions in 2015. After this second EU-funded project finished, the partners involved decided to establish the Archives Portal Europe Foundation (APEF) to maintain and develop Archives Portal Europe for the years to come.

Origins, the projects, and the foundation

Archives Portal Europe was established thanks to two projects funded by the European Commission, which allowed to establish the portal online, as well as develop the network of archivists and archival institutions that later converged in APEF. APEnet and APEX have provided the synergy to invest knowledge and ideas on how to prepare and give access to archival materials in the digital age, linking together ideas and technical expertise previously expressed in individual articles and tested in local small-scale initiatives.

Origins

2003 - 2006

The idea of an ''Internet Gateway for documents and archives in Europe" manifested itself in a series of documents published on European level at ...

The idea of an ''Internet Gateway for documents and archives in Europe" manifested itself in a series of documents published on European level at the start of the new millennium and in context of the enlargement of the European Union back in 2004. Read more on Archives Portal Europe's origins.

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APEnet

2009 - 2012

The APEnet (Archives Portal Europe network) was a Best Practice Network project supported by the European Commission through the eContentplus programme. ...

The APEnet (Archives Portal Europe network) was a Best Practice Network project supported by the European Commission through the eContentplus programme. Read more about the project and its objectives or go to the project website at http://apenet.eu/ for more details.

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APEx

2012 - 2015

The APEx (Archives Portal Europe network of eXcellence) project was the continuation of the APEnet project, to expand, enrich, enhance and sustain Archives Portal ...

The APEx (Archives Portal Europe network of eXcellence) project was the continuation of the APEnet project, to expand, enrich, enhance and sustain Archives Portal Europe. It was funded by the European Commission within the framework of the Information and Technology Policy Support Programme (ICT-PSP). Read more about the project and its objectives or go to the project website at http://www.apex-project.eu/ for more details.

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APEF

Since 2015

The Archives Portal Europe Foundation (APEF) took over the responsibility of maintaining and developing further the portal from the APEx project in October 2015. Find ...

The Archives Portal Europe Foundation (APEF) took over the responsibility of maintaining and developing further the portal from the APEx project in October 2015. Find out more about the people behind the foundation in our "About us" sub-section "Who we are".

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Concept and the principles

Archives Portal Europe is based on the following four principles.

Storage of metdata and links to digital objects

The Archives Portal Europe collects and stores only metadata, not digital archival objects. Those remain in the storage facilities of the individual archival institutions, the content providers, and the portal links back to them in case the metadata it receives contain links to those digital archival objects.

This being said, Archives Portal Europe Foundation might decide extending its offer in future, provided the requirement exists within the archival community it serves, and might also start storing digital objects directly.

Use of international archival standards

The portal fosters the use of internationally accepted archival metadata standards, such as EAD and EAC-CPF, and has defined a workflow based on standardising the use of these standards.

All that is asked from content providers is that they provide their metadata either in a format that already applies these standards, or in a format that can be transformed into these standards. Content providers will not be forced to change the way they create or export their archival descriptions for sharing, however, the Archives Portal Europe team has developed implementation guidelines for each of those standards, based on a comparison of the best practices of the participating archival institutions, along with a suite of tools that will help content providers in the process of data preparation.

Defining central application profiles of the international standards was necessary to be able to publish all metadata from all countries and all institutions, with small implementation differences, as consistent as possible. See our Standards section for more information

Combining standards in a three layer model

The three layer model, established during the APEnet project, is the basis of the Archives Portal Europe framework.

We use the EAD standard for the archival landscape, a hierarchical approach to representing and grouping all contributing countries and institutions, as well as for their archival descriptions in the form of finding aids (descriptions of one single archival fonds or collection from the general to the specific and constituent items that are part of it), holdings guides (general descriptions of all fonds and collections held at one institution), and sources guides (general descriptions of fonds and collections held at one or more institutions bound by dealing with the same subject or theme). These EAD documents contain our most important metadata.

For information on the archival institutions we use the EAG standard and for the description of record creators, i.e. the persons, families, and organisations that created, used and maintained the archival documents before they were transferred to the archives, we use the EAC-CPF standard.

To link descriptions of archival material to digital archival objects, the EAD element "dao" can be used as well as the METS standard. And - as an aggregator for Europeana - it is possible to forward all information on digital archival objects to Europeana via the Archives Portal Europe's dashboard by extracting all relevant context information on digital archival objects (if they are available) from the finding aids and convert this information to the Europeana Data Model format (EDM).

Content providers in full control

So how does this concept of using standards actually work and isn't this too technical and too complicated for content providers? No, the Archives Portal Europe team has put a lot of effort into making contributing to the portal as easy as possible, by implementing a semi-automated workflow for most of the steps needed.

The Archives Portal Europe team takes care of implementing the archival landscape in EAD, including a definition of countries, which can then be picked up by the Country Managers to create a more detailed hierarchy within their country's section if wanted. This can be done either via editing with the tools offered by Archives Portal Europe or via uploading a locally created file, if available.

The contributing archival institutions can provide their data according to their own standards implementations and the Archives Portal Europe team takes care of a mapping or conversion stylesheet towards the Archives Portal Europe's application profiles and makes those stylesheets available in the portal's back-end, the dashboard, to which each contributing archival institution will get access.

So after an initial configuring phase, which is basically a quick assessment of the dataset an institution wants to contribute by the Archives Portal Europe's team, and some fine-tuning of the portal's stylesheet if necessary, plus the creation of a dashboard account, the archival institutions can start uploading and publishing their data in the portal's dashboard themselves. In order to have content visible in the front-end of Archives Portal Europe, only providing EAG information once and uploading and managing EAD finding aids on a regular basis is mandatory. Everything else, e.g. providing holdings guides or source guides and forwarding information on digital archival objects to Europeana, is optional.

Via the dashboard access, Archives Portal Europe enables its content providers to stay in full control of their datasets at all times in a very user-friendly way. Take a look at this short instruction video to see how easy it is to contribute content to Archives Portal Europe, especially in case this can be combined with automatic OAI-PMH harvesting of content (video currently hosted on Vimeo, i.e. requiring login to the platform).

Because of this transparency, the Archives Portal Europe team also provides the functionality of the portal's dashboard as a Data Preparation Tool that can be downloaded and used on any stand-alone computer system. Using this tool enables institutions to test their data locally themselves before deciding to use the portal. The outcome of such tests can give the Archives Portal Europe team a head-start in case they have to come up with fine-tuning of the general mapping or conversion stylesheets for these institutions.

More about us

The portal Who we are Join us

Archives Portal Europe help guide

Please select amongst the relevant tips we can help with. If you still have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we will be in touch as soon as possible.

Starting your search here will include all content available in Archives Portal Europe. Simply enter your keyword(s) and hit the search button. Wrap fixed expressions in quotation marks, e.g. “French Revolution”. Check the box to “Search each term separately” in case you are looking for documents containing at least one word, but not necessarily all keywords; this will also allow you to search for the same term in multiple languages at the same time (e.g. “French Revolution” “Révolution Française”). You can also use wildcards - find more about Research Tools here. If you would like to use more specific settings, try our Advanced search

The additional advanced search options give you the possibility to focus your search in:

  • archival documents (Search in archives),
  • names of person and organisations that created, worked with and maintained these documents (Search in names),
  • Institutions currently holding the documents (Search in institutions).

When searching with multiple terms at the same time, wrap fixed expressions in quotation marks (e.g. "French Revolution"), or check the box "Search each term separately" in case you are looking for either one term of the other. This will also allow you to search for the same term in multiple languages (e.g. "French Revolution" "Révolution française"). You can also choose one of the suggestions matching your search term once you start typing.

This will only show results that include documents that have been digitised and are available online

Use this option to search only one or more keywords, rather than all of them

Select where your search terms should appear specifically inside the archival description:

  • Title: search terms will appear in the title, or name, of the description
  • Content Summary: search terms will appear in the main description of the document or of the collection
  • Reference code: it is the identifier of the archival material as provided by the institution. Use this option if you know the exact reference code of the material you are looking for

You can filter results by selecting where your search terms appears specifically inside the archival description:

  • The name can be the full name of a person, family or organisation as well as only parts of it, e.g. only the last name.
  • The identifier is used internally by the institution or refers to (inter)national vocabularies such as the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF).
  • The place can be the place of birth (or foundation), the place of death (or closing), the place of work or any other place of importance.
  • The occupation is the profession or job of a person.
  • The mandate is a law, directive or charter that establishes and defines an organisation's powers, functions, responsibilities or sphere of activities.
  • The function is an activity, role, or purpose performed or manifested by a person, family or organisation.

You can filter results by selecting where your search terms appears specifically inside the description of the archive:

  • Name: search term appears in the name of the institution. It can be the full name of an archival institution or only parts of it.
  • Place: search term appears in the address or area of the institution. It can be the city or town, where the archival institution is located or any other place of importance (e.g. previous locations)

  • A finding aid is a structured description of archival materials per collection or fonds, up to item level.
  • A holdings guide is an overview of the collections and fonds of one archival institution.
  • A source guide is a topic-oriented overview of collections and fonds of one or several institutions.
    You can filter by one or more entity types:
  • A person (e.g. John Locke, or Jean Jaques Rousseau);
  • A family (e.g. Bonaparte, or Helgason);
  • A corporate body, i.e. the name of an institution, organisation, or company (e.g. Ministerie van Justitie, or Electro Mecánica Antonio Armentano)

Please note that this filter will only include institutions, for which a type has been provided as part of their descriptions:

  • A business archive holds the records of (often) commercial organisations.
  • A church or religious archive holds the records of church parishes or religious organisations, e.g. birth or death registers.
  • A county or local authority archive holds the records of the county's administrative bodies.
  • A media archive holds audiovisual or sound records, e.g. a film archive or the archive of a broadcasting company.
  • A municipal archive holds the records of a town or city administration.
  • A national archive holds the records of a country's administrative bodies, i.e. from ministries and other public bodies, sometimes also private papers of former ministers, chancellors, or presidents.
  • A private person or family archive holds the records forming the legacy of a prominent person or family.
  • A regional archive holds the records of a region's administrative bodies.
  • A specialised governmental archive holds records of public bodies, often operating on a national level, that are not part of the national archives' holdings.
  • A specialised non-governmental archive or archive of another cultural heritage institution hold collections from various cultural heritage institutions, eg. museum archives, libraries archives, etc
  • A university archive or archive of another research organisation holds the records pertaining to the administration of the according educational or research body.
  • Political parties, popular/labour movements and other non-governmental organisations, associations, agencies and foundations hold the archival collections of these institutions, outside of governmental records and outside of business archives (e.g., NGOs)

Enter a start and/or end date in the format DD-MM-YYYY, i.e. 01-01-1900 for 1 January 1900. This will allow you to focus your search on a specific period of time. You can use the calendar function or type directly in the text field. The checkbox "Exact date search" concentrates the search on one specific date.

Check "View in context" to view the results in the hierarchical structure of archives.

  • Choose "List view" to view the results in a simple list, ordered according to relevance or date
  • Choose "Context view" to view the results in the hierarchical structure of the holding archives.

For more details see Research Tools

Please sign in to save your searches.

A holdings guide is an overview of the collections and fonds of one archival institution.

A finding aid is a structured description of archival materials per collection or fonds up to item level.

You can filter results by selecting one or more countries of interest. You can also combine this filter with other filters. Your filter selection will appear above. Click "Clear filters" to see all results matching your initial search request again.

You can filter results by one or more holding archival institutions. You can also combine this filter with other filters. Your filter selection will appear above. Click "Clear filters" to see all results matching your initial search request again.

You can select to view results from a specific Finding Aid, i.e., a structured description of archival materials per collection or fonds up to item level. You can also combine this filter with other filters. Your filter selection will appear above. Click "Clear filters" to see all results matching your initial search request again.

You can filter by type of descriptive document:

  • "Holdings Guide": an overview of the collections and fonds of one archival institution.
  • "Source guide": a topic-oriented overview of collections and fonds of one or several institutions. a description of the archival collections available. Similar to Holdings guides
  • "Finding aid" provides more detailed descriptions of the archival materials of specific collections or fonds

You can also combine this filter with other filters. Your filter selection will appear above. Click "Clear filters" to see all results matching your initial search request again.

You can filter results by selecting "Fonds description" for a general overview or "Other descriptions" for item level. You can also combine this filter with other filters. Your filter selection will appear above. Click "Clear filters" to see all results matching your initial search request again.

You can filter results by selecting only those containing digital objects, i.e. the link to the digitised version of the archival material you are looking for. You can also combine this filter with other filters. Your filter selection will appear above. Click "Clear filters" to see all results matching your initial search request again.

You can filter results by type of digital object you are interested in:

  • Text: most documental material, such as administrative records, letters, manuscripts etc.
  • Image: includes photographs, posters, maps.
  • Sound: sound recording with no images
  • Video: moving images with or without sound
  • Unspecified: indicates that the holding institution has not specified the type of digital object
  • 3D: 3-d digital objects

You can also combine this filter with other filters. Your filter selection will appear above. Click "Clear filters" to see all results matching your initial search request again.

You can filter results based on the date of creation of the archival material (which may differ from the time period you are interested in - e.g., philosophers from the Enlightenment period reflecting on classic thinkers)

  • Full dates includes normalised date information available for date-based searches. It is recommended to combine this selection with the filters "Start timespan" and "End timespan" for more details.
  • Only descriptive dates provides the date information in human-readable format.
  • No date either includes documents where the creation date is unknown, or where date information is not in a machine-readable format

Please note that not all documents contain a machine-readable date. More information here

You can filter results based on the date of creation of the archival material (which may differ from the time period you are interested in - e.g., philosophers from the Enlightenment period reflecting on classic thinkers). This filter will only include materials with "Full dates", i.e. those that include date information available for date-based searches. You can either search for a specific date of interest or focus step by step on the time span of a century, decade, year or month. When searching for a specific date, enter the date in the format DD-MM-YYYY, i.e. 01/01/1900 for 1 January 1900, via the calendar function or by typing directly in the text field.
This filter concentrates on the earliest dates mentioned in the materials.

You can filter results based on the date of creation of the archival material (which may differ from the time period you are interested in - e.g., philosophers from the Enlightenment period reflecting on classic thinkers). This filter will only include materials with "Full dates", i.e. those that include date information available for date-based searches. You can either search for a specific date of interest or focus step by step on the time span of a century, decade, year or month. When searching for a specific date, enter the date in the format DD-MM-YYYY, i.e. 01/01/1900 for 1 January 1900, via the calendar function or by typing directly in the text field.
This filter concentrates on the latest dates mentioned in the materials.

You can filter results based on the language in which the material is written. Please note that this filter will only include materials where specific language information has been provided by the institution and is therefore in a machine-readable format. You can also combine this filter with other filters. Your selection will then be displayed above the search results (see "Search filters"). Clicking "Clear filters" will remove your selection and you will see all results matching your initial search request again.



You can filter results by selecting one or more topics of interest. Please note that this filter will only include materials where the topic has been assigned and is therefore in a machine-readable format. Read how to assign a topic to documents on the Topics page. You can also combine this filter with other filters. Your selection will then be displayed above the search results (see "Search filters"). Clicking "Clear filters" will remove your selection and you will see all results matching your initial search request again.



You can filter results by selecting where your search terms appears specifically inside the archival description:

  • The name can be the full name of a person, family or organisation as well as only parts of it, e.g. only the last name.
  • The identifier is used internally by the institution or refers to (inter)national vocabularies such as the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF).
  • The place can be the place of birth (or foundation), the place of death (or closing), the place of work or any other place of importance.
  • The occupation is the profession or job of a person
  • The mandate is a law, directive or charter that establishes and defines an organisation's powers, functions, responsibilities or sphere of activities.
  • The function is an activity, role, or purpose performed or manifested by a person, family or organisation

You can also combine this filter with other filters. Your selection will then be displayed above the search results (see "Search filters"). Clicking "Clear filters" will remove your selection and you will see all results matching your initial search request again.

You can filter results by type of entities:

  • Person (e.g., John Locke or Jean Jaques Rousseau)
  • Family (e.g., the family Bonaparte)
  • Corporate body (an institution, organisation, or company, e.g. the "Ministerie van Justitie")
You can also combine this filter with other filters. Your selection will then be displayed above the search results (see "Search filters"). Clicking "Clear filters" will remove your selection and you will see all results matching your initial search request again.

You can filter results based on the language in which the material is written. Please note that this filter will only include materials where specific language information has been provided by the institution and is therefore in a machine-readable format. You can also combine this filter with other filters. Your selection will then be displayed above the search results (see "Search filters"). Clicking "Clear filters" will remove your selection and you will see all results matching your initial search request again.

You can filter results based on the type of holding institution. Please note that this filter will only include institutions, for which a type has been provided as part of their descriptions.

  • A business archive holds the records of (often) commercial organisations.
  • A church or religious archive holds the records of church parishes or religious organisations, e.g. birth or death registers.
  • A county or local authority archive holds the records of the county's administrative bodies.
  • A media archive holds audiovisual or sound records, e.g. a film archive or the archive of a broadcasting company.
  • A municipal archive holds the records of a town or city administration.
  • A national archive holds the records of a country's administrative bodies, i.e. from ministries and other public bodies, sometimes also private papers of former ministers, chancellors, or presidents.
  • A private person or family archive holds the records forming the legacy of a prominent person or family.
  • A regional archive holds the records of a region's administrative bodies.
  • A specialised governmental archive holds records of public bodies, often operating on a national level, that are not part of the national archives' holdings.
  • A specialised non-governmental archive or archive of another cultural heritage institution hold collections from various cultural heritage institutions, eg. museum archives, libraries archives, etc
  • A university archive or archive of another research organisation holds the records pertaining to the administration of the according educational or research body.
  • Political parties, popular/labour movements and other non-governmental organisations, associations, agencies and foundations hold the archival collections of these institutions, outside of governmental records and outside of business archives (e.g., NGOs)

Write your message in your own language and use this drop-down menu to have your message translated into English or in the language of the institution for a swifter response. By checking this box and selecting a language you will send your original message along with the translated version

What kind of suggestion would you like to make?

  • Assign to topic: assign this record to one of our Topics. Topics are created following the Unesco Thesaurus
  • Suggest translation: If you have translated this archival description or the documents themselves, please send it to us as a .doc or .pdf file
  • Connect to another resource: If this object relates to another resource in Archives Portal Europe, or anywhere else on the web (e.g., an article on Wikipedia), you can suggest it to be linked to this resource
  • Other: If you have any other relevant material, such as a transcription of the document, please upload it and let us know here

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This object is in the public domain, but is subject to known legal restrictions other than copyright which prevent its free re-use. Please contact the providing institution for more information.

This object is currently in copyright. Please contact the providing institution for more information and in order to acquire additional permissions for re-use.

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You are free to use this object in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. Please note that you are responsible for your own use, including the need to obtain other permissions e.g. with regard to publicity, privacy, or moral rights.

This object is currently in copyright and the rights holder(s) have allowed re-use for educational purposes only. You are free to use this object in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. Please note that you are responsible for your own use, including the need to obtain other permissions e.g. with regard to publicity, privacy or moral rights.

Please contact the providing institution for more information and in order to acquire additional permissions for any other uses.

This object is made available under the terms of the Creative Commons - Attribution, ShareAlike (BY-SA) licence. You can copy, redistribute, remix, tweak and build upon the licensed object, even for commercial purposes, as long as you attribute the rights holder as described in the licence, and you license your adaptations of the object under the same terms.

This object is made available under the terms of the Creative Commons - Attribution, ShareAlike (BY-SA) licence. You can copy, redistribute, remix, tweak and build upon the licensed object, even for commercial purposes, as long as you attribute the rights holder as described in the licence, and you license your adaptations of the object under the same terms.

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This object is made available under the terms of the Creative Commons - Attribution, Non-Commercial, ShareAlike (BY-NC-SA) licence. You can copy, redistribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the licensed object for non-commercial use only, as long as you attribute the rights holder as described in the licence, and as long as you license your adaptations of the object under the same terms.

This object is made available under the terms of the Creative Commons - Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivates (BY-NC-ND) licence. You can copy and redistribute the object for non-commercial use only, as long as no alteration is made to the object and as long as you attribute the rights holder as described in the licence.

If you remix, transform or build upon the object, you may not distribute the modified material.

This object is in the public domain, but has been digitised as the outcome of a public-private partnership, where the terms of the contractual agreement limit commercial use for a certain period of time. You can copy, redistribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the object for non-commercial use only.

This object has been identified as an Orphan Work in the country of first publication and in line with the requirements of the national law implementing Directive 2012/28/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on certain permitted uses of orphan works.

You are free to use this object in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. Please note that you are responsible for your own use, including the need to obtain other permissions e.g. with regard to publicity, privacy or moral rights.

This object is in the public domain, but is subject to known legal restrictions other than copyright which prevent its free re-use. Please contact the providing institution for more information.

This object is currently in copyright. Please contact the providing institution for more information and in order to acquire additional permissions for re-use.

The copyright status of this object has not been evaluated yet. Please contact the providing institution for more information.

You are free to use this object in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. Please note that you are responsible for your own use, including the need to obtain other permissions e.g. with regard to publicity, privacy, or moral rights.

This object is currently in copyright and the rights holder(s) have allowed re-use for educational purposes only. You are free to use this object in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. Please note that you are responsible for your own use, including the need to obtain other permissions e.g. with regard to publicity, privacy or moral rights.

Please contact the providing institution for more information and in order to acquire additional permissions for any other uses.