JERUSALEM - Among the riches of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is a vast collection of photographs, some already classified, others awaiting classification. This collection, which includes photos of groups of priests, parishes, celebrations and former Patriarchs, is a treasure trove for publishers, researchers, historians, religious and anyone interested in the history of the Latin Patriarchate.
Indeed, the historicity of these photos is abundant in diversity of topic and timelines; they date back from the mid-19th century to the end of the 21st century. One can get a sense of their age with regards to the quality of the image, the texture of the photograph and the paper (sometimes ripped or a bit damaged). Among these photos, one may find negatives, which are archived alongside the photographs, or photos of various size (from minuscule portraits to large group photos A4 size). As of today, at least 15,000 photos are thus ready to be scanned, numbered, and archived safely in acid-free pouches and in binders.
Once a photo is identified and numbered, it is sent to a specialist who, using a high-tech machine, scans it in high quality and saves it on the collective common desktop. The hard copy of the photo is then safely put away, in chronological order, in a plastic pouch, which is itself stored inside a binder. Each binder is classified according to a specific theme; parishes, names of priests, bishops, Patriarchs, congregations… As for the photos, they often have written on their back the dates, persons or location shown in the picture, in either Arabic, French, Italian and/or English. In order to facilitate the work of searchers, the Archives office has set up an index with a special historical and administrative code appointed to each image. This code allows anyone to easily find any photo, whether digital or printed.
Because they allow us to catch a glimpse into the lives of the members both of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and of the entirety of the Latin Catholic religious communities of the country, these photos have to be treated with care. The main objective of the office is thus as follows; to document, to classify and to preserve. Respect is the basis of the deontology of the Archives Office of the Latin Patriarchate, which works as much for the defense of the intellectual property rights of this patrimony as for the protection of the spiritual and material heritage that it constitutes.