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The inaugural meeting

Report on the inaugural meeting of Port Historica, The Hague, 12-14 December 2006



Conclusions and agreements of the inaugural meeting of the Network of Editors of Historical Sources, Porta Historica, The Hague, 12-14 December 2006


On the initiative of the Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis (Institute of Netherlands History) five institutions, each charged with facilitating historical research in Europe via source editions, reference works and web portals, met in The Hague, 12-14 December 2006, in order to inaugurate a Network of Editors of Historical Sources, Porta Historica.

The institutions involved are: the Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Vienna, Austria (IMAF); the Commission Royale d’histoire/Koninklijke Commissie voor Geschiedenis, Brussels, Belgium (CRH/KCG); the École Nationale des Chartes, Paris, France (ECN); the Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis, The Hague, The Netherlands (ING); and the Institute of Historical Research, London, United Kingdom (IHR). Of each of these institutions two staff members gathered in The Hague. Furthermore, the four members of the working group of the ING that carried out the preparatory work for the meeting joined in.

The meeting opened on Wednesday morning with the institutions introducing themselves and getting to know the other participants. Dr. Boudien de Vries, chair of the board of the ING, moderated the session. That morning saw five presentations by five different institutions, from five different countries, of five different organisations, and speaking four different mother tongues. At the end of the morning we could conclude that at least we all have in common the aim to further and facilitate historical research. One of the means to achieve this is by editing historical sources or making them otherwise accessible to the scholarly community. All institutions are working on the production of printed editions, books and journals, as well as electronic or online versions of them. Of course we found a lot of differences in the way our institutions function. But despite these differences, we also discovered that there are a lot of similarities each of us shares with at least one or two of the institutions. We became aware that great differences can be a thread for further cooperation; too many similarities can even be dangerous. It seemed obvious that this mixture of differences and similarities is very challenging, and can be very fruitful for our future network. This should give all participants the possibility to gain by the network.


Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning the participants discussed intensively the questions of how they expect the network to function, and what projects they want to carry out jointly. At the end of the meeting some conclusions were reached and follow-up agreements were made.


We agreed that in this first stage the main purpose of our network will be to exchange information. In the beginning the emphasis will be on the methodology of making sources accessible, editing sources, producing reference works, and furthermore on information technology. As the network develops there will also come to be a focus on historical content.


On four points specific decisions were made:

            We will set up a basic website. The ING offered to host the website and to coordinate the content. All institutions are prepared to deliver content.

            The network will hold annual meetings. At the end of this first meeting in The Hague each of the institutions offered to host one of the next meetings, beginning with Vienna (2007), and followed by London (2008), Brussels (2009) and Paris (2010).

            The network will start forms of collaboration by introducing a project in the shape of  editions of a micro-corpus of historical sources. All participants agreed in the future to focus on diplomatic sources in the broadest sense.

            The network will discuss the development of common citation standards of digital historical sources in combination with the broader field of the development of criteria for evaluation and authentication.


At the end of Thursday morning some additional practical agreements were made.

            Each of the institutions will have a contact person in order to facilitate the communication between the institutions. Eef Dijkhof will be contact person of the ING. Furthermore, he will perform the task of secretary of the network, developing further proposals (for instance about the organisation of the network, the content of the website) and supporting the preparation of our discussion next year.

            The fact sheet that each of the institutions had made in preparation for the inaugural meeting might be very useful as an introduction of our institutes on the website.


We agreed to submit a proposal for the 21st International Congress of Historical Sciences in 2010 in Amsterdam, organised by the International Committee of Historical Sciences. The congress will offer an opportunity to make ourselves better known and discuss our themes before a wider public of colleagues and other historians. There has been a call for so-called specialised themes. The proposals have to be submitted ultimately by Friday 22 December 2006. The International Committee will decide on the programme at the end of 2007. Donald Haks (ING) will make a draft of this proposal. The other institutions will be given the opportunity to comment on that draft.*


At the end of the meeting we could conclude that each of the institutions is showing a strong commitment to inaugurate the network and, of course, to let it function.


Eef Dijkhof

The Hague, November 2007



























* The proposal was put forward on 21 December 2006 to the International Committee of Historical Sciences.