By the head of the archival documentation working group, Amalia Pappa, Deputy Director of the General State Archives (G.S.A.)
The Cavafy archive comprises a unique example of a literary archive as regards its completeness. After all, the poet himself took systematic care to collect and store his work, delivering a complete body without substantial physical fragmentation or inconsistencies.
We endeavored to treat the materials with complete respect for their provenance, both with regard to the integrity of the archival whole, and with regard to previous efforts to catalogue these materials. Our goal in handling the archive was double: on the one hand, to describe and classify its contents by establishing discrete archival bodies; and on the other, to show how the poet prepared his works, to demonstrate their conditions of production, and to trace lesser-known aspects of his life: the items in the archive reflect his relationships with public figures and intellectuals, fleshing out our image of Cavafy and integrating him into the larger context of his age.
In addition, we endeavored to approximate the poet’s manner of using and handling paper; we identified watermarks and described the hand-bound collections that Cavafy himself made. In other words, we sought to show those additional elements that complete the image of the archive.
The arrangement of the archive took place after the material was first catalogued and described in the order in which it was received by the Onassis Foundation. A comprehensive finding guide was drawn up covering all items; each item in a file has been assigned its own description. The descriptions were completed according to the General International Standard Archival Description.
At this point in the process, it was discovered that the archival materials acquired by the Onassis Foundation as the C. P. Cavafy archive also contains the archival remnants of C. P. Cavafy’s heir, Alekos Singopoulo, and of the first curator (from 1926 to 1939) of the Cavafy archive, Rica Singopoulo It was thus judged advisable for the files in question to be separated from the remaining materials; they now comprise a separate archive, which bears the title “Singopoulo, Alekos/Singopoulo, Rica fonds”
More specifically as regards the archival documentation: 1. Cavafy, C. P. fonds The further cataloguing of the Cavafy archive required the physical reorganization of the materials and their classification into three sub-fonds: A. Work (by C. P. Cavafy); B. Personal Papers (of C. P. Cavafy); and C. Post-2012 Acquisitions. The items were arranged into thematic files; contents were arranged chronologically within each file. The files were numbered in increasing order, and formed into series and sub-series according to subject, with the exception of the third sub-fond, whose files were organized chronologically. In order to reconstruct the physical sequence and order of the archival materials, any items that had previously been removed from their original files were once again integrated into files according to their content. Relevant information regarding the previous sequence was then retained in the field “Former Reference Code”.
Finally, the third sub-fond comprises a discrete section of the Cavafy archive, which includes the acquisitions made by the Onassis Foundation after 2012. This sub-fond will host any future acquisitions by the Foundation related to the C. P. Cavafy archive.
2. Singopoulo, Alekos/Singopoulo, Rica fonds The same methodology was followed in describing and classifying the Alekos and Rica Singopoulo archive. A detailed finding guide was compiled at the level of the item, and items were arranged into thematic files and sub-files, whose contents were ordered chronologically. The files were numbered in increasing order and grouped into two series (A. Personal Papers and B. Alexandrini Techni Archive) following subject-based criteria.
The Index of Access Points, which is based on the research tools of both archives. Access points were created, so as to enable the user, by choosing specific terms, to locate items containing those terms. This set of terms (keywords) have been grouped into the following categories: persons, corporate bodies, families, places, and subjects. In this manner, we are able to vastly increase the information that the archive provides, while making user searches more efficient.
Up to now, the C. P. Cavafy archive has been used extensively as a source for publications on the basis of the historical catalogue of G. P. Savvidis. Both to aid researchers and for ethical reasons, the descriptive field “Former Reference Code” links our new system of documentation to the partial records contained in G. P. Savvidis Historical Catalogue; the numbers in that field reflect the numbering of the microfilm and frames produced when the archive was microphotographed in 1963.
The digital reproduction of physical archives is now a mainstream practice that shapes current models for using archival materials; it allows users to access materials remotely, while also improving conditions of access, employing technological means to surmount obstacles to legibility, making individual items easier to read.