About the Digitized Collections of the Gennadius Library
The Gennadius Library, which opened its doors to the public in 1926, offers a rich mine of original sources for the study of Byzantine, Ottoman and contemporary Greece. The core of the collection (26,000 volumes) was presented to the American School of Classical Studies in 1922 by diplomat and bibliophile Joannes Gennadius (1844-1932), ambassador to London in the later nineteenth and early twentieth century. Gennadius was a passionate collector of books and a strong believer in showcasing the continuous genius of the Greek spirit from antiquity to modern times.
Numbering currently some 115,000 volumes, this treasure house contains rare editions and fine bindings, captivating accounts of early travelers, over 200 water colors of Greek landscapes by Edward Lear, and unique archives such as the papers of Heinrich Schliemann and Nobel Prize winners George Seferis and Odysseus Elytis. Archives of politicians and artists, maps and numerous engravings complement the unique resources of the Library. New acquisitions are classified according to the original system devised by Joannes Gennadius with some minor changes and additions to the class numbers in order to encompass a large number of new books and more current subject divisions such as the collection of children's books. The wide range of research opportunities offered by this great library makes it a Mecca for researchers from around the world. See more information about the Gennadius Library.
The scrapbooks of Joannes Gennadius are one of the most important collections of the Gennadius library, because they contain invaluable information for the history of modern Greece. In his scrapbooks, Gennadius collected photos and other ephemera (clippings from newspapers and books, engravings, printed matter, broadsides, invitations and many other materials). The 116 volumes of the scrapbooks focus on diverse topics: historical, topographical, archaeological, ethnological (costumes), architectural, art historical, history of the book, journalistic as well as the Gennadius family. Each volume consists on the average of 60-70 pages of large size.
The digitization and cataloguing of a portion of this collection funded by the Information Society project awarded to the American School of Classical Studies at Athens covers a crucial need of the Library for the preservation and dissemination of this important material. Its publication on the internet provides a significant tool that can be used for scholarly research and for various educational purposes.
For instance, the volumes which focus on the wars of 1897 (Φ 36 Α and 37) and of 1912-13 (Φ 35) contain unique primary source material that Joannes Gennadius collected for the period. The photographic material assembled in these scrapbooks consists of original photographs of a political and military character as well as unique photographic and printed material from newspapers of the period. The Topography volume that focuses on Athens and its surroundings (Φ 40) and another one from Constantinople (Φ 52 Α) contain, in addition to clippings from books, maps and original photographs of the period. The volume on the Gennadius Library (Φ 38),offers much information on the foundation and the building of the Library from 1922 to 1926. Four volumes from the series of Prosopography which contain portraits of the heroes of the Greek war of Independence (Φ 25-28) and several scrapbooks with costumes (Φ 58-66) complete the picture that Gennadius left us for these subjects. The scrapbooks on the Gennadius Family that are available digitally (Φ 14 and 24) contain rare ephemera that show us a uniquely personal aspect of life at the turn of the twentieth century. Several scrapbooks in the category of Journalism (Φ 72, 75, 76, 77 and 80) contain volumes of rare journals published in Greece and elsewhere. A scrapbook of Caricatures (Φ 103) gives a glimpse of how people perceived and satirized various circumstances.
Responsible for the cataloguing were historians Marianna Christopoulou and Anna Tsokanis under the supervision of Gennadeion Director Maria Georgopoulou. Several members of staff assisted them in their research: Aliki Asvesta, Leda Costaki, Eleftheria Daleziou, Leonora Navari, Katerina Papatheophani, Irini Solomonidi, Giannis Valourdos and Maria Voltera. A first attempt at cataloguing the materials of the scrapbooks of Joannes Gennadius was done in the past by Mrs. Fofo Maurikiou.
A digital module titled “The Vision and the Collections of Joannes Gennadius”explores the establishment of the Gennadius Library, the history of the collection and the biography of Joannes Gennadius, as a diplomat and as a collector. The majority of the digitized material comes from the scrapbooks of Joannes Gennadius and other Library collections, whereas the text is based on previous publications of the Gennadius Library.