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Diocese of Egypt teams up with British university to open new archive research centre

Posted on: May 13, 2019 3:26 PM
The Head Archivist for the Diocese of Egypt - Monica Emil
Photo Credit: Diocese of Egypt

A new Research Centre has been opened in Cairo as part of a newly renovated archive facility for the Episcopal Diocese of Egypt. The new Cairo Research Centre has been created by the Diocese of Egypt, part of the Anglican / Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, in collaboration with the UK’s University of Leicester.

The British Ambassador to Egypt, Sir Geoffrey Adams, attended the opening ceremony last week (9 May) alongside the Bishop of Egypt, Mouneer Anis, and Dr James Moore of the University of Leicester and Dr Richard Gauvain from the British University in Cairo. They were joined by representatives of the Diocese of Egypt and members of the country’s academic community in what the local Church described as an “exciting event”.

Last week’s ceremony was a significant milestone in a project which began in 2015 with the digitisation of the diocese’s documents and manuscripts dating back to the early 19th century. As part of the process, the archive has been moved to a newly-renovated facility which has been specifically designed to house the materials. The work has been carried out with the technical and financial support of the University of Leicester

The Anglican Church in Egypt began as a chaplaincy to the British Victorian-era expat community. The Diocese now includes the Horn of Africa and considerable parts of North Africa. It is part of the Anglican / Episcopal Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. Last month, the Anglican Consultative Council’s Standing Committee agreed a process that could lead to the Church becoming an independent province of the Anglican Communion in its own right.

“It’s fascinating work. When I pick up a letter, handwritten from 65 years ago, it makes me wonder if the author could have imagined where their words would be today”, the Diocese’s Head Archivist, Monica Emil, said in 2016 in the early stages of the project. “It’s dusty work, that’s for sure, but what we’re doing here is worth it.”

The archive include registers of baptisms, marriages and deaths, minute books, correspondence, orders of service, maps, plans, newsletters and printed pamphlets. Attached to the archive is a library of academic books relating to the history, topography and architecture of Egypt and the Middle East.

“In order to provide access to the great wealth of information in this archive, we added a research centre, adjoining to the archive”, the Diocese said in a statement. “The Cairo Research Centre will be a meeting place for researchers, scholars and members of the public who are interested in modern Egyptian history, society and culture.

“The Centre will hold regular events, workshops and seminars and provide access to affordable accommodation for visiting scholars and guests.”