What is Archives Portal Europe?

Help Introduction What is Archives Portal Europe?

Archives Portal Europe is a digital infrastructure that preserves and makes accessible the archival catalogues and digitised collections of documents that relate to Europe. Since the World Wide Web started to spread, many archives created their own web space, making available online either the full digitised documents, or the digitised catalogues for online research (what we know call metadata: the data about the data - the documents - we want to access). In addition to single-institution websites, common portals aggregating information from different archives started to appear, often as national-level portals (such as FranceArchives, the portal of the French archives) or portals with a thematic approach (such as the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure, which aggregates archival collections from all over Europe that relate to the Holocaust). Digital archival catalogues allow us to use search engines for research, scraping through hundreds or thousands of collections at the same time, and changing the way in which we approach archival research. For more information about how to use the search engine of Archives Portal Europe, visit our Research Tools page.

Archives Portal Europe, launched in 2012, is one the most ambitious of these web-based projects: it is a portal that aims to aggregate all archival material held in Europe, or that relates to the history of the European continent - a constant work in progress. The Portal aggregates other portals (such as Archives Hub in the UK or PARES for Spain), and web presences of single institutions, such as The UK National Archives; it also hosts digital archival descriptions of institutions that do not have other web presences. At the moment, it holds digital catalogues from more than 30 countries, 25 languages, and 5 alphabets, and from many diverse archives (public, private, State archives, museum archives, etc). This means that Archives Portal Europe integrates the archival traditions of very different countries and archives, each with their specific ways of collecting and describing documents, different levels of details, different vocabularies - a Babylon of documents and metadata that the network of archival professionals behind Archives Portal Europe patiently orders, integrates, and makes available for research on the portal.