The Archive of Luisa Orrù, thinking of archiving

The Historical Archive of the University of Cagliari (whose director is Cecilia Tasca) has recently received an important sound archive by Luisa Orrù among its funds. This anthropologist was born in Sardinia in 1944 and she studied Sardinian Linguistics at the University of Cagliari. After her Master degree, she started teaching in middle school and, in 1974, she became History of Popular Traditions assistant professor with the supervision of Enrica Delitala. She later started collaborating with the anthropologist Pietro Clemente and participated in collecting biographical material on Tuscanian women. In 1982 she started interviewing Sardinian women as part of her study on  reproductive cycles. In 1986 she successfully became associate professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Cagliari and continued her research. Luisa Orrù died in 1998, due to her illness.

The sound original material consists of 1235 audio tapes, which contain 1400 interviews. The archive is composed by interviews on specific topics, such as the reproductive cycle, traditional medicine, personal hygiene and household maintenance, dreams and beliefs concerning dead souls, the symbolic value of the house, traditional methods in veterinary medicine and the carnival. Luisa Orrù prepared three registers arranged by sound units: she noted title, date and place  and she numbered in a progressive order. She made as well as 168 other files on sound detectors and informants.

Part of the sound material was digitised in  Wave format (44.1khz/16bits)  by a group coordinated by  professor Fulvia Putzolu, who inherited the archive; paper material was digitalised with the support of Life Science and the Environment Department. The register datas were later digitized in an Excel file and transferred to an database (Access) which had charts related to it and provided hypertext links from datas to audio files.

Cagliari University is currently aiming at creating a web portal linked to the Historical Archive, in order to provide innovative tools guaranteeing direct access to the sources preserved by the archive itself. This portal will be showing the archive historical landmarks and its collections, as well as letting people access their digital inventory. At the beginning, there will be an introduction on the structure funds and on the type of materials preserved within this collection.

The interviews database by Luisa Orrù will enable searching within the funds in a faster and simpler way, thanks to an easily accessible tool that will be later created. The result will be providing the interview sheet paper, as well as its main features such as its title, its task, their recording time and place, the language spoken and its length).

Eleonora Todde (Archiving researcher at the University of Cagliari) and Valeria Zedda (PhD student in History, Cultural Heritage and International Studies at the University of Cagliari) are temporarily carrying out a research on the sound archives of the Maison méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme (MMSH), in January and February 2019. During this period, they will be allowed to evaluate the Digital Humanities contribution to the creation of a multimedia platform on the university’s historical archive. Moreover, the archive’s conversion strategy analysis from an analogical to a digital format will make it possible to study and prevent potentially critical issues about the conversion system, as well as finding the best practices for national and international development of the Sardinian heritage. 

Authors: Eleonora Todde (Archiving researcher at the University of Cagliari) – Valeria Zedda (PhD student in History, Cultural Heritage and International Studies at the University of Cagliari)

Proofreader: Silvia Casto (Master’s Degree in Linguistica e traduzione, Traduzione letteraria, Università degli Studi di Pisa)

Crédits photographiques :  Luisa Orrù’s registers  (“Image à la une”) and transcript of an interview , photographie d’Eleonora Todde, CC-BY-NC. 

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