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"Par archive, j’entends d’abord la masse des choses dites dans une culture, conservées, valorisées, réutilisées, répétées et transformées. Bref toute cette masse verbale qui a été fabriquée par les hommes, investie dans leurs techniques et leurs institutions, et qui est tissée avec leur existence et leur histoire. Cette masse de choses dites, je l’envisage non pas du côté de la langue, du système linguistique qu’elles mettent en œuvre, mais du côté des opérations qui lui donnent naissance. […] C’est, en un mot, […] l’analyse des conditions historiques qui rendent compte de ce qu’on dit ou de ce qu’on rejette, ou de ce qu’on transforme dans la masse des choses dites."

−Michel Foucault, Dits et écrits, Tome I

Gregorian Archives Texts Editing (GATE) is a collaborative project developed by the Historical Archives of the Pontifical Gregorian University (APUG).

APUG preserves about 6,000 manuscripts, mostly works written by the Roman College Jesuits through four centuries, from its foundation in 1551 until today. A large amount of these codices are not still published, since they are texts prepared by professors for the lessons, correspondence, notes and sermons.

To value this heritage it has been decided to start an open and collaborative project where users from all over the world can give their contribution.

If you would like to cooperate to this project, please send us an email to request an account and start your collaboration.

Aims and goals

The main goal of GATE is to take advantage of the possibilities offered by a simple and ready to use software like MediaWiki[1], in order to publish unedited sources owned by APUG. Sources like those that will be published, usually require years of scholarly work and consistent funding, especially for digitization and the development and design of web platforms. Sometimes these preliminary requirements discourage the start of such projects, especially by institutions with limited resources.

Historical Archives of the Pontifical Gregorian University manuscripts

The use of MediaWiki to transcribe sources has a first example in the Wikisource project[2], where thousands of printed books have been transcribed without interruption since 2003. Later, several projects started to use MediaWiki to transcribe manuscript sources too. The main goal of these initiatives was to involve many people in a crowdsourced transcription activity, usually related to huge corpora of manuscripts otherwise difficult to transcribe only through the work of few scholars. Today, projects such as Transcribe Bentham[3] and Scripto[4] are the testimonials of successful experiences that have involved thousands of people in the transcription of millions of manuscript words, sometimes bringing to the world previously unknown facts and writings.

The GATE project intends to follow and continue these experiences, involving not only a general public but specifically the youngest generations. Thanks to last years’ activities carried out with high schools students[5], APUG decided to put about 70 boys and girls to work on the transcription of letters in three specific projects. In addition to this task, they also have to annotate the texts, finding entities such as Names, Works, Places, Terms and Objects. This work is possible thanks to the implementation of the Semantic MediaWiki (SMW) extension[6]. SMW is used for different purposes:

  • to perform semantic annotation on the texts;
  • to make ‘semantic’ the letters metadata;
  • to empower the results of general search queries.

Thanks to the specific architecture of Mediawiki which fosters discussion among users, students and users can also argue about the correct interpretation of single words or work together on the identification of a cited work.


Epistolae Bellarmini cardinalis

This project aims to transcribe all of the 2,674 letters written and received by Roberto Bellarmino during his cardinalate; this correspondence was collected and transcribed by the Jesuits François Xavier Le Bachelet (1855-1925) and Sebastian Peter Cornelis Tromp (1889-1975) in nine volumes of typescript transcriptions preserved by APUG, almost ready to be published but, due to unknown reasons, not yet published.

Athanasius Kircher Project

The starting point of this project are the 14 volumes of letters sent by and to Athanasius Kircher and five manuscripts, mostly unpublished, all of them preserved by APUG. Several years ago, Stanford University digitized the letters and made them accessible via LunaImaging software [7]. To continue and complete this work, we have started to transcribe the letters and in addition, we will also proceed to transcribe a selection of Kircher’s published works and to collect a Bibliographia Kircheriana, containing all the works and papers about Kircher published in the last three centuries.

The whole Athanasius Kircher project is generously supported by Sorgente Group Foundation[8].

Angelo Secchi Project

Angelo Secchi (1818-1878) was a jesuit astronomer and scientist, one of the fathers of the modern Astrophysics. APUG preserves a large amount of his works, both handwritten and printed - with a lot of manuscript addition - and his extensive correspondence with the most important scientists of his time. With about 8,000 letters and more than 1,500 people involved, this correspondence is a treasure for the History of Science studies.


GATE has been set up thanks to the help and advice of many people, sometimes hidden behind usernames within the Mediawiki community. Starting from the IT office of the Pontifical Gregorian University, here we are particularly glad to mention these Mediawiki users : Jesús Martínez Novo, Cavila, F.trott, MarkAHershberger, Kghbln and Yaron Koren.

We also would like to thank all the students who have contributed to GATE with their passionate and laudable work.

Within each project page other people are mentioned for their special help and contribution.



External links