On the occasion of the two-year anniversary of Maurice Born’s death (31 December 1943 – 9 July 2020), the Society for Cretan Historical Studies (S.C.I.M.) and the Historical Museum of Crete (HMC) announce the start of the processing of Maurice Born’s personal archive with the support of the Region of Crete.

The archive of the architect, ethnologist, author, researcher and corresponding member of the H.C.I.M., Maurice Born was added to the Society’s archival collections in September 2021, with a donation from Maurice Born’s family after his death. The archive enriches the archival collections of the H.K.I.M. at the Historical Museum of Crete with a wealth of information of high documentary and research significance for contemporary Cretan history, in general, and for the history of the island of Spinalonga, in particular.

Plan of Spinalonga, pencil drawing, 1968. From the Maurice Born Archive.

Maurice Born’s personal archive carries valuable historical information recorded in a variety of substrates and formats. It consists of analogue material (manuscripts and printed documents, books, photographic material, reels, slides, etc.) and digital material (external hard disks, CDs and DVDs with text, audio, image files, etc.) in Greek, French and English with the recorded information mainly relating to his research interests around Crete.

Photo by Maurice Born in Spinalonga, 1968. From the Maurice Born Archive.

Maurice Born, born in Switzerland, studied in Lausanne and Hanover, worked as a researcher at the Paris Environment Institute (1968-1997) and undertook several assignments for the French Ministry of Culture (1985-1997). As early as 1967 he focused his research interest on the study of social exclusion, which led him to the island of Spinalonga. He recorded in detail the architectural wealth of the island and devoted himself to studying the history of the leprosy disease. The relationship he developed with former residents of Spinalonga and, above all, his close association with Epaminondas Remoundakis led to the creation of the book ‘Vies et morts d’un Crétois lépreux’ (Lives and deaths of a Cretan leper) and the documentary ‘L’Ordre’ (The Order), with a script by himself. His work includes films and books, while as a special collaborator of the Historical Museum of Crete, Maurice Born has carried out extensive and in-depth research in state and private archives in France and Switzerland, searching for material related to Crete, and has contributed decisively to the organization of periodical exhibitions and the publishing work of the E. During the last decade of his life, he chose Neapolis Lassithi as his permanent residence and in October 2019 he was made an honorary citizen of the Municipality of Agios Nikolaos.

The H.C.I.M., the I.M.K. and the Region of Crete understand archival documents as the property of society to which they must be attributed. The realisation of this project will result in the preservation of the archival material, its physical and intellectual organisation and its promotion and dissemination to the public and research. In particular, the processing of the Maurice Born archive aims to classify, evaluate – select, describe, index, preserve and digitise the archival material. This scientific effort will culminate in the compilation of an index/research tool that will facilitate access to and use of the archival collection by scholars and the public, thus highlighting its historical and documentary value.

Historical Museum of Crete, 2022. From the Maurice Born Archive.

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