All personal and family stories form part of history. Since its first discovery in February 1987, this archive is published here for the first time in July 2021. After detailed consultations, the archive’s editors, together with the descendents and relatives of the family whose story is documented here, agreed that it would be a pity simply to bequeath this material to a library, without also doing our best to make it more accessible. All the more so, bearing in mind that the increasing sophistication of Internet technology has given us exciting new models of publishing, especially with regard to the quick spatial juxtaposition of material. Together, we realised, too, that Web publication might make this archive available to many more readers than a book could. What’s more, in the form in which the archive is presented here, we believe that the wealth and variety of its material gather in many layers and dimensions of interest. We believe that presenting this archive in this way may perhaps also play a part in enabling history to be experienced and felt as living and present – or, at least, as part of our living present.
Above all, the archive presents detailed insights into a family saga and the individual lives of its members. This in itself has many dimensions and qualities of human interest, including genuine surprises, twists and turns, all of which mesh, at one time or another, with both humour and poignancy, into patterns of both tragedy and comedy. On the other hand, the story, both overall and in all its details, presents vivid insights into the matter – and matters – of social, political and economic history, especially vis-à-vis migration, refugees, and Jewish culture. Bearing these factors in mind, in order to bring out these broader contexts of the archive, we have offset its documents with selected contemporary reports. We have researched these from newspapers of the time. In this way, the personal stories presented (made present) here are set within and against the panorama of history.
We have of course transcribed the diaries and letters. Texts originally written in Russian, Yiddish and French are presented in English translation. Those written in English are presented in their original phrasing and spelling. (This lack of fluency itself, which is a typifying mark of the immigrant, may well itself be seen as a factor in this family’s story.) We also present many photographs. These include photos of original documents that authenticate these transcriptions. Finally, to protect the privacy of descendents, we have omitted surnames from this website. The original documents, which are written in English, Russian, Yiddish and French, are to be housed in the Special Collections, Hartley Library, at the University of Southampton https://library.soton.ac.uk/parkes/archives.
The archive will be presented here over a period of time, and so like reading a book, the story unfolds. If you would like to be informed of additions to this website please complete…