An Italian Studies Scholarly Blog
The ADN was born out of the determination to create a place where the life-stories narrated in diaries, memoirs and letters could not only be conserved but valued. Unlike those archives where documents are merely preserved, the ADN was inspired by Saverio’s intention to convey the energy of the memoirs and private documents, that forgetfulness and loneliness often remove and annihilate. As an ‘ego-writer’, the Milanese journalist discovered Pieve Santo Stefano, a town destroyed by war and whose original architecture was spared only in the council building. He realized that Pieve was the ideal place to gather together and bring to a new life thousands of memoirs, letters and diaries written by ordinary people, who, whilst not appearing in the official accounts, are a constituent part of history.
They ADN holds more than 6500 documents, divided into memoirs, diaries and letters. Wars and emigrations constitute an important part of our collection. However, none of our documents are monothematic. Due to the autobiographical nature, every single text intertwines various topics ranging from work to family life, from politics to religious faith, from friendship to feminism.
The cultural activity of the ADN has become increasingly rich and qualified in the last thirty years, through a continuous and consistent relationship with various Italian and European Universities. After decades in which a literary tradition had considered autobiographical writing a mere preparatory stage for major genres, an academic process of re-evaluation has finally been initiated. Testimonies as a genre have been reasserted as the voice of observers and protagonists of social phenomena that narrate important developments as they unfold, thus providing ‘another view’ that completes the official accounts.
For this reason the journal ‘Primapersona’ was founded and participation to conferences on genre literature initiated. The ADN has become an important viewpoint from which to monitor linguistic changes, along with writing motivations and modalities. It has become both a new subject and an object of study, which encounters the interest of television and theatre, together with that of scholars who find valuable unpublished material in our collections.
The ADN cannot but continue on its path, both by collecting and transcribing original and unpublished pieces of writing. We will keep promoting them through such a consolidated channel as the ‘Premio Pieve’, our annual competition of autobiographical writing. We will also promote public readings, the creation of drama versions of material taken from our collections and its publication.
The ADN is determined to preserve its material by digitalizing it, with the purpose of fostering fruition without causing damage, of engaging with a new path of reading where technology and the delicacy of the original material are bound together, in a permanent exchange between past and present.
Daniela Brighigni is a schoolteacher and works as archivist and researcher in the ‘Fondazione Archivio Diaristico Nazionale’. Since 1998, she has been editorial assistant of Primapersona, the journal of the ADN founded by Saverio Tutino.