The Memory of Modern Egypt Digital Archive

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Alexandria— The International School of Information Science (ISIS) and the BA’s Special Projects Department will unveil in the coming days a complete digital repository of materials documenting Egypt’s rich modern history, available to all in an expansive, multidimensional online archive. The Memory of Modern Egypt project provides an authentic and comprehensive look at culture, politics, and social life in Egypt, from the era of Mohamed Ali in 1805 to the end of Al-Sadat’s presidency in 1981, that no other single library or collection can offer.

The project, in keeping with the mission of the BA, aims to preserve the past through the use of the latest in information technology. The repository features first-hand collections from the families of significant figures in Egyptian history, such as Prime Minister Mohamed Mahmoud Pasha and members of the politically active Botroseyya family, as well as collections from Dar Al-Hilal, the National Archives of Egypt (Dar Al-Mahfouzat), and Dar Akhbar Al-Youm. These sources, which have undergone a lengthy amassing and digitization process, have been made available in a repository with an underlying infrastructure that allows for continuous content expansion, and with an interface that facilitates easy navigation and reflects the multidimensionality of the material.

From the Memory of Modern Egypt repository, the user can access:
• Over 20,000 photos of famous figures and important events in Egyptian history;
• Over 11,000 documents related to subjects such as the formation of ministries and political parties, wars and revolutions, etc;
• About 1,200 analytical and biographical essays written by the Special Projects Department;
• Over 5,800 news clippings gathered from various newspapers and magazines;
• 65 unique maps;
• Over 1,000 speeches by different rulers and prime ministers, covering diverse topics and events;
• Over 140 audio recordings, including songs, speeches, and interviews with figures from various fields;
• More than 250 video recordings, mostly of rare quality;
• More than 540 historical advertisements for different goods and services;
• Over 950 covers of magazines, newspapers, novels, albums, and film posters;
• About 290 currencies, both coins and notes;
• Over 380 stamps commemorating significant people and events in modern Egyptian history;
• About 100 medals awarded to different figures; and
• Relevant books accessed through DAR.

The repository is structured around five main themes – Rulers, Prime Ministers, Events, Subjects, and Public Figures – with each of these divided into subtopics, creating an index with over 500 dimensions. Each item in the repository is categorized by its type, such as photograph, video, etc., which make up an index of 14 different materials. Every item in each of the material categories is also classified by one or more of the theme subcategories, creating a multidimensional web of materials and themes. The user can choose to enter the site through a material category or theme category, and then further filter available material based on other themes and their subtopics. This cross-referencing of the two indexes – materials and themes – allows users to explore all the connections between the different material available in the repository and significant people, events and subjects in modern Egyptian history.

Due to the diversity of the visual material available, the repository features a number of different viewers that are appropriate to each type of material and thus further enhance the user’s browsing experience. Additionally, a timeline feature allows the user to easily limit available material to a specific time period at any point during browsing.

The search tools available in the Memory of Modern Egypt repository provide a number of options for finding desired material. The user may choose to perform a simple global search, an advanced search within a material category, or an advanced search on all materials with certain criteria, and may perform one of three types of linguistic searches – exact, stem-based, and morphological.

While the launch of the Memory of Modern Egypt project is in some ways a culmination of three years of meticulous efforts and collaboration, it is by no means the end. The repository was created with an elaborate and extensive infrastructure that would allow for the continuous addition of material, and the BA anticipates future donation of material from other parties to further expand the repository’s depth and breadth.


© Bibliotheca Alexandrina