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General report

General report of the annual meeting of Porta Historica, Vienna, 4-6 December 2007 by Donald Haks

Conclusions and agreements of the second meeting of the Network of Editors of Historical Sources, Porta Historica, Vienna, 5-6 December 2007


The second meeting of the Network of Editors of Historical Sources, Porta Historica, was held in Vienna on 5-6 December 2007. The meeting was hosted by the Institut für Mittelalterforschung (IMAF).


The meeting was opened by Walter Pohl, director of the Institut für Mittelalterforschung. He spoke about the institute's position in the field of historical research in Austria. The various departments of the institute then gave a brief presentation on their research and the source editions they publish.

The programme for this two-day conference consisted of six papers. The aim of these was to increase the members' knowledge of each other's work and to investigate the possibilities for joint projects:

-         the Institute of Historical Research (IHR; Jane Winters) summarised the conclusions of the report ‘Peer review and evaluation of digital resources for the arts and the humanities’, published in September 2006. This contains recommendations for drawing up and assessing project applications.

-         the Commission Royale d’Histoire/Koninklijke Commissie voor Geschiedenis (CRH/KCG; Ludo Milis) explained the policy that the Commission wishes to pursue, aimed at online editions: text editions and finding aids; and sound and image in addition to the written word. 

-         the École Nationale des Chartes (ENC; Olivier Canteaut) explained the purpose of the ADEEL project (Album Diplomatique Européen en Ligne). This will include examples of electronic editions of sources from France and abroad. The aim is therefore to contribute to the development of an academic and technical standard.

-         the Institute of Netherlands History (ING; Jan Burgers) explained how the programme ‘Representation and Governance’ covers various edition-related projects dealing with questions of a similar nature over a long period (the 13th to the 20th centuries), such as questions relating to the structure of governments and the interaction between governments and subjects.

-         the Institute of Historical Research (IHR; Jane Winters) presented the website ‘England's Past for Everyone’, which puts the emphasis on local history. The institute intends to organise a conference in 2009, focusing on local history, seen in a comparative European context.

Gaëlle Béquet (ENC) also gave an overview of various subsidy programmes, both in France and in Europe. The CNRS (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique) is attempting to promote the digitalisation of sources for the social sciences and humanities with ADONIS. The E-Content Plus programme has the same aim at the European level.

Summaries of these papers will be made available on the Porta Historica website.


Organisation of the network

The ‘Charter of Porta Historica. A Network of Institutions Editing Historical
Sources’ has been adopted.

The following persons have been appointed as members of the board of Porta Historica up to the end of 2010:
Jacques Berlioz (ENC);
Donald Haks (ING);
Thérèse de Hemptinne (CRH/KCG);
Helmut Reimitz (IMAF);
Jane Winters (IHR).

The board passed the following resolutions:
Donald Haks has been appointed as chair;
Eef Dijkhof (ING) has been appointed as secretary;
the Porta Historica website will be managed by the ING.

The board has set up two committees:
Conference Committee for London 2008: Emily Morell (IHR), Helmut Reimitz (IMAF);
Website committee: Eef Dijkhof (ING), Gaëlle Béquet (ENC), Jane Winters (IHR).

The Network regards the period up to the end of 2010 as a period of development during which its activities will be specified in greater detail and the expansion of the Network to include other institutions will be explored.

The following agreements have been made for 2008:

1.      The British report ‘Peer review and evaluation of digital resources for the arts and the humanities’ will be used as the basis for Porta Historica to draw up a general evaluation framework (‘benchmarking’) for digital source editions. The various institutes and their editions can use this as an aid when setting up editions and to promote quality. In addition, this can help subsidy providers to assess applications. Lead parties: ING and IHR. 

2.      It will be checked whether the ADEEL project can be developed into a project on a European scale for which a subsidy application could be submitted. Such an application would be drawn up in 2008 or 2009. Lead party: ENC.

3.      There are various projects currently underway in Europe aimed at digitalising source editions previously published in printed form. It would therefore be useful to compare the methods used. The objective must be to make it possible for these digital editions to be searched simultaneously. The meeting in 2008 offers an opportunity for this. Lead parties: all institutions.

4.      The Porta Historica website will be launched in 2008. The purpose of this website is to draw attention to the objective and activities of Porta Historica. Lead party: ING.

These four topics will be discussed further at the December 2008 meeting in London.

The meeting in 2009 (Brussels) will be held in May 2009. The CRH/KCG will be organising an international conference celebrating its 175th anniversary to coincide with this.  

Donald Haks told those present that the application submitted by Porta Historica about organising a Specialised theme: Historical Source Editions: Methodology and the International Context” at the conference of the International Committee of Historical Sciences in August 2010 in Amsterdam, had been rejected. The ING would try to find another way for Porta Historica to raise its profile at this conference.


Donald Haks,

Februari 2008.