Svoboda Diaries Project

Svoboda Diaries Project

The University of Washington Svoboda Diaries Project, in collaboration with Iraqi researcher Nowf Allawi, is engaged in the digital production of a set of personal diaries written in Iraq at the turn of the 19th century.

The Svoboda diaries collection is comprised of 50 personal diaries 48 by Joseph Mathia Svoboda and two by his son Alexander Richard Svoboda. From about 1862 to 1908 Joseph kept diaries in English recording his life and travels as purser on a British steamship plying the Tigris between Baghdad and Basrah. The Joseph Mathia Diaries are a rich stew of data about weather, the river, shipping, passengers, epidemic diseases, politics, family life in the Christian community of Baghdad, and much more.

The project has also published the Alexander Richard Travel Journal, a journal in Arabic written in 1897 by Joseph’s 19-year-old son, Alexander Richard Svoboda, while he traveled with his family across the Syrian desert and on to Cairo from where they journeyed by ship to Italy and by train to Paris. The journal was published in a print-on-demand version with a translation, transcription, and notes under the title From Baghdad to Paris: 1897. It contains impressions of desert travel, famous archeological sites, major cities of the Syrian coast, Cairo, Rome, the Vatican, Marseilles, and Paris during the Bastille Day review of 1897.

A large contingent of outstanding undergraduate researchers digitizes, transcribes, and prepares the manuscripts for on-line publication.

The project website features interactive ways to explore the texts, including a diary viewer featuring the original diary images alongside transcriptions, and an events timeline. The diary transcriptions are also available for download.

PIs: Nowf Allawi, Walter G. Andrews, Annie T. Chen