University of Malta

Records of Daily Life
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This section of the Public Memory archive is dedicated to the collection and study of a very much neglected historical source: the personal and family records of daily affairs which abound in our homes and which are invaluable for an understanding and reconstruction of the daily lives of the people in the past. These include a mix of personal official (baptism, marriage and death certificates), semi-official (medical records, bank accounts or rent books) and unofficial (home accounts, old shopping lists or home cooking recipes, personal diaries and letters) documents. Visual records, mainly photographs and home-videos, as well as some artefacts and material objects (such as hand-manufactured embroideries or lace and cotton fabrics) which have been donated to the Public Memory Archive – as originals or reproductions – by persons who have participated in one or another of our fieldwork projects, form other categories of our holdings.

Being a different, and alternative, sort of archive from the official ones of state and institutions, this collection of records started as a consequence of our initial oral history projects: with the material which people donated with their recorded interviews, and later with their written life histories from their home cabinet drawers. By now the Archive/Centre has come to accumulate a substantial amount of these ‘ordinary’ records to be able to form a collection which can stand on its own.

The setting-up of this archive section attempts to organise, preserve, catalogue and digitalize all the varied records and material available, and to elicit donations of more of these people’s records from family archives before they are lost. The variety of records just mentioned (printed, hand-written or visual reproductions) held in this section are all supplemented by detailed information on their sources of origin, keeping record of all stories connected to them. They are also cross referenced with oral history interviews and life history records. Being still in the initial stage of organisation of this Records of Daily Life collection, the classification and retrieval method adopted could later on be changed.

From the numerous written, printed, and visual records deposited in this archive, we have chosen to reproduce a few samples falling under the main categories:


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