What does the term ‘ego-document’ mean? In Latin, the word ‘ego’ means ‘I’; ‘me’, and the word ‘documentum’ means ‘instructive example’; ‘testimony’; ‘proof’. The term ‘ego-document’ was first used by Jacob Presser (1899-1970), who studied the painful experience of Jews during the World War II. Nowadays, this term should be referred to as ‘self-narratives’, ‘testimonies to the self’ or similar.
An ego-document is a written testimony of something, it is a material object (paper, drawing, photo, film) in which some knowledge is recorded. Historians refer to it as to a personal document, while literary scholars call it intimate writing.
A personal testimony is the primary source of research on cultural heritage. Personal documents not only reveal the facts of history, but also provide important information about a person of a particular era in a particular country. Ego-documents help to get to know little-studied aspects of historical periods, to research a particular phenomena through an individual and a personal lense. Scholars distinguish the following types of ego-documents: diaries, memoirs, letters, postcards, songbooks, and etc.
Ego documents are stored in memory institutions, state institutions (for example, libraries, archives, museums) and personal collections. Digitized ego documents are stored in databases (for example the webpage “Honey Comb”). There are already a lot of different memories, interesting old photos, letters, postcards. We strongly encourage you to submit your ego-documents – they will definitely interest many members of your community.
Useful links for more information on ego-documents:
– Ego-documents as research material. (https://www.utu.fi/en/news/news/ego-documents-as-research-material);
– Ego-documents– some remarks about Polish and European historiographical and methodological experience (https://apcz.umk.pl/czasopisma/index.php/BPMH/article/viewFile/2055/2033);
– Ego-Documents As First-Person Writings: the State of Research in Lithuania and the Diaspora (https://www.balther.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Pacevicius_ENG.pdf)