Memoria.ro - Interviews, memoirs, oral history
"Creating an opposition between the future and the past is useless. The future gives us nothing: we must give it everything. But in order to give, one must have, and we have nothing except the treasures of the past." (Simone Weil)
"The past is never dead. It's not even past." (William Faulkner)
www.memoria.ro (part of the larger recent history project Memoria.ro created and operated by the Aspera Foundation) is a digital library of interviews, memoirs, oral history studies, books and images of Romania's recent history. It presents political, social and cultural events as reflected in the consciousness of those who experienced them directly.
Such a collection can never be exhaustive. However, being published on the Internet - a medium that is at once relational, flexible, diverse and democratic - it can aspire to comprise in time a large number of documents. This site intends therefore to be an open book, a work in progress, a collection that integrates and interconnects the memories of those who have lived in Romania - or have known it closely - from the 1900's to the present.
In February 2013, the site, founded in 2002, presents itself to its visitors in its 3rd version, much improved technically and with a great many new documents and several new sections. Both our data base and our editor have been updated, so that from now on we can display Romanian diacritics. We have added multimedia elements to the site, our index of book titles as well as the number of articles has increased significantly. You will discover them as you wander along the halls fo our virtual library.
From the reactions of our visitors we can safely assume that our site has indeed become the educational instrument we set out to create more than a decade ago.
Note: The text below was written when the site was first created. We leave it here unchanged, as it documents our history. As mentioned above though, the volume of documents we now offer to the readers is much higher.
Categories of audience
For the general audience of any age, Memoria.ro is a resource for learning about historical events as witnessed and experienced by the people of the time, a way of discovering different viewpoints or, on the contrary, hearing the confirmation of history and stories as told by our parents. For the young, the site can become a bridge towards the understanding of what was, what should be continued, and what should be avoided. For students of history, the database contained here could add valuable information to a traditional bibliography. Given that the Internet is used more and more in Romanian schools and universities, we hope that this site will become a valuable didactic instrument. For researchers and specialists, the site can become a medium through which they can make their work known to other specialists around the world. For foreigners interested in Romanian history, the site can become a rich resource of information, as interviews, abstracts, and studies are being added in English, German and French.
Initiators and specialists
Memoria.ro has been created at the initiative of a group of people of various professions, from linguists to engineers, physicians to businessmen and musicians. None of the initiators is a historian by profession. What motivated us was the wish to record and share human experiences, which are certainly ephemeral, but out of which the fabric of Romanian life during the past century can be rewoven in all its diversity; to fight the deforming effects of ideological propaganda; to get to know the way in which our grand-parents and our parents lived their lives -- everyday details as well as destinies --, through their own voices; to make it possible for the younger generations to get in touch with a world in which they are rooted; to offer those wishing to share their experience and publish their memoirs or their research a place with an audience larger than that of any traditional library.
Memoria.ro cannot succeed in becoming a reference site without attracting professional historians, whom we invite to share the results of their research with the public, to contribute to the site by publishing studies and opinions, to interact with our readers by answering their questions.
In its 2002 version, Memoria.ro has the following components:
(1) A database of interviews and memoirs, some of which were published in books and/or journals in and outside of Romania, while others have been created at the initiative of Aspera and its partners. The author, source and/or publisher of each article or book is mentioned in each case, and where relevant a link to its original location on the web is provided. A powerful search engine makes full-text searches possible across the whole database. Registered site visitors can comment and read comments on these documents on our site. As of November 2002 the database contains ca. 500 articles.
(2) A database of interviews with senior citizens of Brasov, Transylvania; these interviews, adhering to strict methodological and ethical rules adopted during an introductory academic workshop, were carried out in July 2001 by a group of students of the Sociology Department of the Transylvania University of Brasov under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Stefan Ungurean and Prof. Dr. Maria Bucur, from the University of Indiana at Bloomington, as well as Prof. Dr. Smaranda Vultur, from the Western University of Timisoara. (Details about this project can be read here.) As of November 2002 the database contains ca. 50 articles.
(3) Researchers have access to protected areas of the site where they can exchange ideas and publish works in progress for peer-review. They can view this space as a virtual office and forum.
(4) Any author and reader-author can publish articles and photographs on Memoria.ro, according to the rules of the site and with the approval of the site editors.
(5) An index of memoirs, diaries and books of interviews published during the 20th century in and about Romania, as they are known at this time to the site editors.
(6) An index of journals and magazines dedicated to preserving the memory of 20th century Romania.
(7) An index of (international and Romanian) oral history Internet sites.
(8) A list of new articles published on the site, which will be emailed to our registered members periodically.
We rely on our readers' suggestions to complete the database and the indices. Please write to us with suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The site will publish documents in any language, provided the content can be reviewed by at least two reviewers who speak that language. As of October 2002, Memoria.ro contains documents in Romanian, English and French.
ASPERA'S HISTORY AND MISSION
The Aspera Romanian Educational and Charitable Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit private foundation. It was incorporated in June of 2000 according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with the mission to:
- promote greater understanding and awareness of Romanian traditions, history and culture, and to encourage the development of excellence in Romanian arts and sciences, including by means of artistic, scientific and cultural conferences, student and professional exchanges, exhibits, concerts, scholarships and other forms of technical and financial assistance; and
- encourage and support gifted students, artists, scholars and scientists of Romanian ancestry or interests in furthering their education and professional development.
A corresponding Romanian foundation, Aspera ProEdu, was established in Brasov, Romania, in July 2001 in accordance with Romanian non-profit regulations, in order to oversee educational and research projects in Romania, with a concentration upon educational institutions in Brasov.