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Digital Public Library of America and Europeana launch joint migration exhibition
Climbing into America, Ellis Island, 1905.
CAMBRIDGE, MASS.- To mark the beginning of a unique digital collaboration, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and Europeana announced the launch of Leaving Europe: A new life in America. The all-new virtual exhibition tells the story of European emigration to the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries. Jointly curated by the two digital libraries, the exhibition uses photographs, manuscripts, broadsheets, paintings, letters, audio, government documents and other unique materials to chart people’s journeys across the European continent and their settlement in the United States. The digital items displayed are from U.S. and European libraries, museums and archives and the accompanying narrative has been commissioned specially for the exhibition from U.S. and European experts.

‘By combining forces to show how Europeans began new lives in the New World, Europeana and the DPLA have demonstrated a principle that goes far beyond the immediate subject of their exhibition: to build a successful digital future, we must collaborate on an international scale,’ said Robert Darnton, DPLA Steering Committee member and Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the Harvard University Library. ‘The exhibition inaugurates an alliance that will multiply the benefits of the Internet for generation after generation, everywhere in the world.’

The DPLA and Europeana—guided by a common mission to make the riches of libraries, museums, and archives openly available to everyone in the world—collaborated regularly with curators, content partners, project staff, and others to design and build the exhibition cooperatively. Leaving Europe: A new life in America represents the starting point of a significant long-term relationship between the two digital libraries.

‘I am delighted at this first joint initiative between the DPLA and Europeana, one on an eminently trans-Atlantic subject,’ said Bruno Racine, Chair of the Europeana Executive Committee. ‘We share common goals—the free circulation of ideas and knowledge, dedication to the public good—and we believe that the digital revolution opens up unprecedented possibilities for exchanges like this one. I am very proud that Europeana can in this way express its support for the DPLA and for the values it defends.’

Over 30 million Europeans, from as far north as Scandinavia and as far south as Sicily, set sail to America in the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century. The exhibition, organized across seven major themes, describes the experiences that different groups of hopeful immigrants from across Europe faced. The exhibition allows the virtual visitor to accompany them on their often difficult journey from their native region and country, across the Atlantic and into the ports, cities and local communities of the United States.

Leaving Europe: A new life in America is presented in French and English and features over 100 rare digitized items, many of which have not been made available before. Europeana’s contributing partners to the exhibition include the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Jewish Museum of London, the Royal Library of the Netherlands, the Saxon State Library and the Norwegian Photo Archives. The DPLA’s contributors include the New York Public Library, Harvard University, The (U.S.) National Archives and Records Administration, and the University of Minnesota Immigration History Research Center.





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