Hildegart Rodríguez Carballeira, a prolific writer and political figure on Spain’s liberal intellectual scene in the early 1930s, is known simply as Hildegart. She was murdered, tragically, by her own mother several years before Spain’s Second Republic crumbled in 1936. During the Franco regime, from 1939 to 1975, this once well-known activist faded from Spain’s collective memory. With the resurgence of democracy in the late 1970s, Hildegart’s legacy was recovered, but in a way that focused on her peculiar life and dramatic death, rather than her contributions to political and social thought. In my scholarship, I argue that representations of Hildegart, both in the waning days of the Franco regime, and again in the new millennium–as democratic Spain struggles with political rifts provoked by the controversial Law of Historical Memory–actually edit out her accomplishments. These representations also gloss over what we would now consider to be not an entirely progressive feminist agenda.
Archivo Hildegart is a digital project that works to redirect the scholarly focus from Hildegart’s death to her life, celebrating her intellectual work and recovering a neglected piece of history. It is an archive in the popular sense of the term. That is, it is not a mass of unpublished material, rather a collection of her previously published but hard-to-access writings. I have all the raw material, have produced much of the metadata, and have done some transcriptions of the more illegible pieces. I began the archive in 2009 as a digitization project of the collection of Hildegart’s writings that I had gathered from multiple libraries and archives in the U.S. and Spain. On a purely pragmatic level, I encountered various hurdles. I had amassed a vast amount of information and had limited financial, technological, and labor means to digitize it. Moreover, I was lacking a stable, affordable, and appropriate platform. I began the archive in ContentDM and moved it to Luna before finally settling on the current platform, Omeka.
For this project, I want to curate a subset Hildegart’s writings into thematically-based exhibits that reflect the Zeitgeist of Spain’s Second Republic (1931-1936). My prototype theme that I propose to curate for Resilient Networks, is sexual reform, a subject Hildegart revisited throughout her brief, tragic career. In an Omeka exhibit, I will break down this theme into the categories of prostitution, reproductive education, and eugenics. To curate each feature I will (1) select the items, (2) arrange them in a way that tells a story, and (3) annotate selections to provide historical context for scholars, students, and other users of the digital archive. Unlike book projects, the Archivo Hildegart makes the primary sources available in their entirety for other scholars and students. I am excited about the possibility of collaborating with librarians and students in order to exploit the fullest potential of the project. I see their roles as helping me with UX and UI design and writing research guides (libguides). I would need students familiar with Omeka and well-versed in CSS and HTML. Ideally, the students would also read Spanish and help with transcriptions and the creation of contextual material. Students could also help select the documents and check the metadata. The Resilient Networks award would enable to me get my footing and get the project off the ground in a real way.
Ultimately, the archive will support traditional research methods–close analysis, use of documentary evidence, and so on–that would only otherwise be available through visits to the physical archives. Furthermore, Omeka offers exciting possibilities for collaboration among scholars through the formation of media groups. Invited scholars can contribute to the archive with annotations and insights of their own. This aspect is very attractive to me because I see my project as a forum for collaborative contributions and continual growth.