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Archived Projects

cubeLogoBook Cube (2007-2011)

In 1995, OSA inherited 100,000 books on the history and economy of the Cold War period from the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). A large portion of that collection now forms the core of OSA's reference library while another portion has been donated to cultural institutions or offered gratis to the general public. The remaining 20,000 books, candidates for disposal, have been set aside for artistic projects, including our Concrete: Books Bound in Concrete exhibition held in June 2008 and more recently the Book Cube.T
The book cube itself is a public place object. 20 cubes have been made, standard in form but differing in content. The cubes were exhibited at 20 different cultural or academic sites, moving every year. The intention behind the project was to provoke public debate, performances, and programs on the relation of books to history and memory.

1989logoWas There a 1989? (2009-2010)

OSA teamed up with local archives, news agencies, and online journals in a one-year project to bring new sources of the Hungarian "annus mirabilis", the miraculous year, to the attention of the wider public. We selected, scanned, and put online transcripts of radio broadcasts from both sides of the Iron Curtain, press surveys, a chronology of events from the Hungarian News Agency (Magyar Távirati Iroda, MTI), the minutes of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party Politburo meetings, the daily operative reports of the Hungarian secret police, as well as transcripts of telephone calls to the Hungarian television in Budapest and the Hungarian desk of Radio Free Europe in Munich—day by day, from January 1 to December 31, 1989.
In January 2010, the site was expanded to include the Dunagate Dossier, which attempts to reconstruct the most important events of the political scandal involving wiretapping and systematic shredding of state security documents by the help of transcripts of radio broadcasts, press surveys, news agency reports, and excerpts from documentary films.

project19561956 Digital Archive (2006-2010)

The 1956 Digital Archive is a digital collection dedicated to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and developed by OSA in cooperation with Columbia University's Butler Library and the Hungarian National Library on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the event. The scope of the project is to make crucial documents on the history of the revolution publicly available. Among these are the Blinken Collection, comprising the Columbia University Research Project on Hungary (CURPH) interviews with Hungarian refugees after 1956, and the Zwack Collection, a personal archive on the revolution. The archive continues to grow and currently includes several collections from the holdings of OSA and other institutions. The digital archive has been generously funded by Donald and Vera Blinken and supported by the United States Embassy in Budapest.
The most recent collection in this project is the Hedervary Collection, the Documents on the Activities of the United Nations Special Committee on the Problem of Hungary, donated by Claire de Hedervary, the former Director of the Political Affairs Department of the United Nations.

freedom-house-logoThe House of Freedom of Speech: A Forum for Information Rights (2008- )

In 2007, in accordance with an agreement signed by the two governments, the United States returned Táncsics's prison to the Hungarian State. The building, located in the historic Castle District of Budapest, was used to detain the Hungarian journalist Mihály Táncsics, an advocate of free speech and hero of the 1848 Revolution. The site has been in the possession of the United States government since the end of World War II. In 2008, OSA initiated a public campaign to turn Táncsics's prison, a symbolic center of the struggle for the freedom of expression, into a museum, a memorial, and a public center devoted to information rights. We propose to use the space to conceptualize freedom of expression and free speech in modern terms and to explore access to, rights over, and the use and abuse of information in contemporary society.
The campaign is currently suspended awaiting the renewal of premises promised to the United States government in exchange for the historic site.

Regional Seminar for Excellence in Teaching "Alternative Culture Beyond Borders: Past and Present of the Arts and Media in the Context of Globalization" (2007-2010)

The seminar was a three-year international research and educational project that brought together young scholars, educators, and professionals primarily from the former socialist countries to discuss the problems of alternative culture both in the past and in the current context of globalization. It provided a unique opportunity to discuss and debate alternative forms of arts and media worldwide and included such cross-disciplinary themes as: histories of alternative culture, the spaces and places of alternative culture, art and new forms of political expression, the politics of memory, collectivity in contemporary culture, feminism as a critical social theory, and from samizdat to bloggings. Alternative Culture Beyond Borders helped reframe the approach to the teaching and research of contemporary culture and resulted in the creation and enrichment of courses in several disciplines. The project was organized by the International Alternative Culture Center based on support from the Open Society Institute's Higher Education Support Program Regional Seminar for Excellence in Teaching (ReSET) and in collaboration with St. Petersburg State University, McMaster University, and OSA.
http://www.alternativeculture.org

paranoiaLogoParanoia Recycling Archive (2008-2009)

The aim of this project was to digitize and make available online Hungarian Cold War educational films on ABC (atomic, biological, chemical) warfare. Made between 1961 and 1973 by the Military and Sport Film Studio for the Civil Defense Alliance, the film series of nearly eighty pieces featured prominently in a campaign to educate the public in ways of protecting itself against weapons of mass destruction. While America and Western Europe have been processing their nuclear anti-propaganda materials for several decades, the same work is hardly under way in Hungary and Central Eastern Europe because the raw archive material is simply unavailable. It is hoped that this project will inspire similar initiatives in neighboring countries. Supported by the ERSTE Foundation.

culture2000logoEuropean Union Culture 2000: History After the Fall - The Interdeterminacy of the Short Twentieth Century (2004-2008)

In 2004, OSA Archivum received support from the European Union Culture 2000 program to run a three-year cooperative project entitled “History After the Fall - The Interdeterminacy of the Short Twentieth Century”. The complex project consisted in a series of seminars, workshops, and exhibitions. The participants focused, among other things, on the traditional and radical right of the inter-war years; the anti-Communist resistance movement; nationalism and the national question; foreign occupation; collaboration with repressive regimes; and poverty and welfare measures particularly as they relate to current public health policy.
OSA Archivum carried out the project in cooperation with five research institutions specialized in the recent history of Central and Eastern Europe: the Romanian Institute for Recent History (Bucharest), the KARTA Center (Warsaw), the Institute of Contemporary History (Prague), the Hannah-Arendt-Institut für Totalitarismusforschung e.V. (Dresden), Civic Academy Foundation (Bucharest). The EU support was complemented by a grant from the Hungarian cultural organizations Nemzeti Kulturális Alap (National Cultural Fund) and Nemzeti Kulturális Örökségvédelmi Hivatal (National Cultural Heritage Ministry).

secondlifeRaoul Wallenberg's Office in Second Life (2007)

On May 30, 2007, OSA Archivum and the Swedish Institute opened Raoul Wallenberg's Office at the Embassy of Sweden in Second Life. The result was an interactive multimedia exhibit that not only has educational and humanitarian implications but also stretches the boundaries of what can be done with new technologies.
Inside Wallenberg's Office, a replica of his Budapest office in 1944-45, visitors can listen to a performance of Wallenberg dictating his last, semi-fictional diplomatic report on January 16, 1945, the day before he disappeared. The unique and flexible environment allows visitors to explore Wallenberg's personal belongings and sift through and download the actual archival documents on display. Explanatory note cards and external web links offer further context. And of course, visitors can sit at Wallenberg's desk and discuss their impressions with other visitors in real time.

Archive of Electronic Campaign Letters (2002-2006)

Between the two rounds of the 2002 parliamentary elections in Hungary, OSA Archivum publicly announced its intention to set up an archive of electronic campaign mail, inviting all recipients of email and cell phone text messages related to the parliamentary elections to forward them to designated accounts. A large number of people responded by forwarding messages supporting, criticizing, accusing, or parodying the parties and candidates standing for election. In 2006 OSA Archivum reopened its archive of electronic campaign letters, again inviting recipients of electronic messages related to the new parliamentary elections to forward these messages.
The two collections are available on a dedicated website and together provide a unique snapshot of post-communist election campaigns. Messages were anonymized before being made available to the public. For English readers we offer translations of a selection of messages from 2002 along with a summary providing background information on the election and the personalities and parties involved. Based on the success of this project, the related Email Archive of the Civil Circles was set up in 2002 to collect and make public emails circulated by civil circles organized by the Nationalist-Conservative Coalition. http://www.kampanyarchivum.hu

Email Archive of the Civil Circles (2002-2006)

Political propaganda via electronic mail played an unprecedented role in the 2002 parliamentary election campaign in Hungary. OSA Archivum decided to collect this new, and in Hungary yet unknown, instrument of political persuasion and soon after the elections made our collection public as the Archive of Electronic Campaign Letters (see above).
However, the campaigning did not stop with the elections. After the National-Conservative coalition lost the parliamentary elections in June 2002, former prime minister Viktor Orbán called his supporters to organize small civil circles in order to further the political aims and values of the opposition forces (the “true representatives of the nation”) in local politics. Civil circles formed a nationwide network organized through the Demokrácia Központ (Democracy Center), located at the headquarters of the biggest opposition party, FIDESZ-Magyar Polgári Párt (the Alliance of Young Democrats – Hungarian Civil Party). The Democracy Center registers local civil circles and facilitates continuous contact between them, mostly by electronic mail. The vast amount of electronic mail is collected and put online by OSA Archivum. It remains an important and revealing source of the internal cultural and organizational life of an emerging mass political movement.
http://fa.osaarchivum.org/pki

cominternLogoComintern (Communist International) Project (1996-2003)

Until 1992, the Communist International materials at the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History (RGASPI) in Moscow were open only to selected scholars. Without a proper electronic catalogue the holdings comprising 22,000,000 pages written in over 90 languages were practically unmanageable. In 1992 Professor Hermann Weber, the well-known German historian, asked the Council of Europe to support the development of an electronic catalogue and digital archive to save the massive collection, now endangered by the political changes. On June 27, 2003 an electronic database containing 220,000 files and 1,000,000 digitized pages was introduced into the Research Room of RGASPI by INKOMKA, the international body set up to save the Comintern Archives.
The English and Russian language database and digital content, which continues to grow, are not available online but can only be accessed from dedicated workstations at every INKOMKA member institution, including OSA Archivum since 1996. Sample images are available on the OSA Archivum website.

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