Corfu Reading Society’s archives may be classified according to their historical, economic, literary, and artistic content. As unique specimens, they provide significant information both regarding the local history and the Mediterranean history, Corfu being the administrative centre of the Ionian Islands region.
The greatest part of the archival collection was mainly created from donations and purchases systematised in the last fifty years. The personality of the creator of the archives and his/her role in the society was fundamental in their acquisition. This led to a corpus of a few dozen archives being brought together, quite different in volume and content. Common ground among them is their economic, demographic, social and intellectual information. A substantial number of archives in the collection pertains to aristocratic or urban class families of Corfu island. The collection contains both fragments and complete archives.
The administration records of the Society itself are of special interest. The correspondence records that date back to 1836, include letters from prominent personalities of Greece and abroad, which correspond with the administration of the Society for various reasons.
Finally, the records of members’ contributions, as well as the visitors’ books of the Reading Society, are of particular importance, revealing significant information regarding the social stratification of Corfu.
Α. Personal – Family Archives
Frederick North, fifth Earl of Guilford (1766 – 1827)
British intellectual and politician. Founder of the Ionian Academy.
Lord Guilford’s archive (archive period: 1773-1827) holds a central place in the Reading Society’s collections. It is part of the correspondence between the ardent philhellene, visionary and founder of the Ionian Academy (in 1824), Lord Guilford, with various major personalities of Hellenism.
The Guilford archive of the Corfu Reading Society is in fact part of the fragmented personal archive of Lord Guilford. The remainder is scattered in other Archives and Libraries in Greece and abroad, e.g. in London (British Library, Public Record Office), and in Oxford (Bodleian Library).
The Corfu Reading Society’s collection is classified in thirteen files, comprising 644 documents (mainly official and private correspondence) in various languages: Greek, English, French, Italian, German, some Latin and Ottoman Turkish. It contains many significant documents about the establishment, the operation and the professors of the Ionian Academy, etc.
Equally important are the documents (correspondence, financial records, catalogues, etc.), pertaining to the Philomuse Society of Athens (established in 1813) and, more particularly, to its relationship with Guilford and the activity of its members, such as Alexandros Logothetis Chomatianos. The file also contains three letter copybooks (copia lettere) and three ledgers.
Guilford corresponded with a great number of prominent personalities, politicians and intellectuals, Greeks and foreigners, such as Ioannis Capodistrias, Adamantios Korais, Spyridon Trikoupis, Petrobey Mavromichalis, Andreas Kalvos, Anthimos Gazis, Gregorios Konstantas, Athanasios Psallidas, Theoklitos Farmakidis, Neophytos Vamvas, Konstantinos Asopios, Christoforos Filitas, Andreas Moustoxidis, Konstantinos Gerostathis, Georgios, Michael, and Dimitrios Schinas, etc. The foreign correspondents include Sir Frederick Adam, Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands, Henry Bathurst, 3rd Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, Frederic Cavendish Ponsoby, Major General.
This archive was acquired by the Reading Society in 1981, under the chairmanship of Kostas Nikolakis-Mouchas. It was purchased at an auction in London, with the aid of generous Greek shipowners (the Vlassopoulos family, Tryfon Kedros, Georgios Chatzantonakis, Georgios Lemos, Ioannis Chatzipateras). The purchase also included part of the archive of his nephew and Guilford’s heir, George Augustus Frederick Charles Holroyd, 2nd Earl of Sheffield.
The archive of the 2nd Earl of Sheffield, numbers 285 documents of the period 1826-1836. It is a particularly interesting collection as it pertains, inter alia, to the management of Lord Guilford’s great library, donated by Lord Guilford himself to the Ionian Academy and returned, after his death, to Britain, because the British High Commission did not execute the terms of the will and Guilford’s heir claimed its return. The library was sold at consecutive auctions in London. However, part of the library, including a number of Greek incunambula and manuscripts, remains at the British Library. The Sheffield archive of the Corfu Reading Society has not been catalogued in detail to-date.
Mrs. Daphne Kyriaki undertook to catalogue the Guilford archive. A 182-page catalogue was published in 1984 [Kyriaki, Daphne. I.D. (ed.) (1984). The Corfiot Guilford Archive: Catalogue: Special Bulletin. Corfu: Corfu Reading Society].
Petros Vrailas-Armenis (Corfu 1812 – London 1884)
Philosopher and politician. Professor of the Ionian Academy.
First Chairman of the Corfu Reading Society
The Petros Vrailas-Armenis archive is part of Petros Vrailas-Armenis’ personal archive including some later relevant material. It contains documents pertaining to his political life -especially during his term as Minister of Foreign Affairs- and more particularly, letters addressed to him from various notable personalities and personal friends. It also includes some photographs and relative publications.
The Petros Vrailas-Armenis archive was donated to the Reading Society by the family’s descendants.
Georgios Martinelis (Corfu 1836-1896)
Poet of the Heptanesian School
The Georgios Martinelis archive consists mainly of unpublished manuscript works of Georgios Martinelis. These are poems written in notebooks, in the period 1860-1886. It also includes two single-sheet prints with obituaries about Natalia Moustoxidi and Guglielmo Scarpa, photocopies about the poet, etc.
Lawyer, Chairman of the Corfu Reading Society
The Vasileios Mylonopoulos archive was donated by his descendants to the Corfu Reading Society. It consists of six files, which comprise a number of 19th century notarial acts, administrative and court documents.
The Gerontikos archive was donated to the Corfu Reading Society by the family’s descendants. It consists of five files, containing a number of 19th century notarial acts, administrative and court documents, as well as letters of the Gerontikos family.
Lorenzo Mavili (Ithaca 1860 – Ioannina 1912)
Poet – Secretary of the Corfu Reading Society
The Mavilis Archive numbers various documents about the great patriot and poet. It contains, inter alia, Dimitrios Kotzonanos’ speech in 1921, during the unveiling of the poet’s bust, material from an exhibition hosted by the Corfu Reading Society, photographs, photocopies of some manuscripts of the poet, as well as a poem dedicated to Mavili from Amalia Rivelli’s poetic collection.
Spyridon M. Theotokis (Corfu 1875 – 1940)
Historian, Director of the Ionian Senate Archive
The Theotokis archive is part of Theotokis’ personal archive and contains material pertaining to his personal life and other miscellaneous material relevant to Corfu.
Antonis Travlantonis (Messolonghi 1867 – Athens 1943)
Teacher, writer and literary critic
The Travlantonis archive numbers seven files containing original works of Antonis Travlantonis, such as manuscript literary works (notebooks, unbound sheets), articles, critical works, recommendations on educational matters, lectures, notes and theatrical plays.
The archive also includes an article entitled The literary part of educational chronicles [in Greek], manuscript recommendations, designs, answers, educational proposals (probably an archive of copies of the original letters), a tribute to Gregorios Xenopoulos, a manuscript theatrical play and a recommendation on educational matters.
The archivist/librarian Aliki Katsarou published a brief description of the Travlantonis Archive in the Corfu Reading Society Bulletin [Katsarou, Aliki. (2003). The Antonis Travlantonis Archive of the Corfu Reading Society. Corfu Reading Society Bulletin, 25, 167-170].
Eirini Dendrinou (Corfu 1879 – 1974)
Writer and Poet of the Heptanesian School
The Eirini Dendrinou Archive is part of her personal archive. It numbers eight files, which contain manuscripts and publications about her life and works. It also contains works written by Eirini Dendrinou, part of her correspondence with notable personalities, such as Dinos Theotokis, and other personal documents pertaining to various activities of hers or her family’s.
Georgios Carter (Corfu 1928 – Athens 2012)
Writer, theatre and television critic. Donor of the Corfu Reading Society.
Georgios Carter, who was of Corfiot origin, donated a great part of his family archive to the Corfu Reading Society, i.e. the Samartzis and Carter archive of the 19th-20th centuries period. The archive is a hoard of memories of the era, in which the members of the Samartzis and Carter families lived, as well as material from their careers and activities.
It contains family documents commencing from the three preserved manuscript volumes of the progenitor of the family, Panagiotis Samartzis (1797-1871?), writer of the “Everyday News”, i.e. his daily recordings of the 1854-1871 period.
It comprises documents about Carter’s grandfather on his mother’s side, the famous Corfiot painter Georgios Samartzis (1868-1925), about his mother, Iris Samartzi-Carter (1899-1994), well-known soprano and teacher of monody, about his mother’s brother, Spyridon G. Samartzis (1897-1984), admiral of the navy, as well as a small collection about the donor himself, his career in the public television broadcaster (in the establishment of which he participated), as well as his intellectual activity as a scholar and poet.
Nikolaos Papakostopoulos (1927 – 2006)
Chemist, great benefactor of the Corfu Reading Society
The late Nikolaos Papakostopoulos, bequeathed in his will his parental home to the Corfu Reading Society, along with all its movable assets, among which his family archive.
The Archive consists of five files. The first contains his mother’s personal archive, the teacher Foula Petsali (outgoing correspondence, students’ notebooks and various forms), the second his father’s, Charalambos Papakostopoulos, archive (correspondence, administrative documents pertaining to his activity as member of the BoD of the Conservatory of Corfu, newspaper clippings, ledgers of his family, administrative documents pertaining to his career as Senior Police Officer), the third file contains Nikolaos’ archive (correspondence, various administrative documents, ledgers), the fourth and fifth contain photographs and postcards.
Alice Padova (Corfu 1936 – U.S.A. 2011)
Teacher, great benefactor of the Corfu Reading Society
The late Alice Padova was a great benefactor of the Corfu Reading Society. In her will she bequeathed to the Reading Society her entire movable and immovable property in Corfu, among which, her personal and her family archive.
The Padova archive consists of fourteen files containing her personal incoming correspondence from friends and relatives, administrative documents (mainly from the Ministry of Agriculture), leaflets on nutrition and home economics, newspaper clippings, various other documents and leaflets, such as recipes, family photographs, a stamp collection, postcards, CDs and various other items.
Her biography and information on the archive were published by the current curator of the Corfu Reading Society’s library, Mr. Kostas Lidovois in the Corfu Reading Society Bulletin [Lidovois, Kostas. (2015). Alice Padova. Corfu Reading Society Bulletin , 28, 323-344].
Donor of the Corfu Reading Society
This archive was created by Dimitris Zavitzianos, who lived the greater part of his life in Canada. He donated the archive to the Corfu Reading Society in 2015.
This archive is a collection of various information and biographies of various members of the Zavitzianos family, covering the two last centuries (19th – 20th). It also contains texts narrating historical facts about the family, correspondence among the members of the family, as well as with people from which Dimitris Zavitzianos sought to collect information, copies of certificates, authorisations, etc., as well as photographs, photographic copies of Markos Zavitzianos’ works, newspapers and newspaper clippings, journals, and some books such as The Rules and Regulations of the Zavitzianos School for Girls [in Greek]. The languages of the archive are: Greek, English, French and Italian.
Architect, Head of Department in the Department of Modern Monuments, Ministry of Culture
Mrs Vanda’s Alektoridou archive, which she donated to the Corfu Reading Society, consists of six files, containing copies of decisions, Official Government Gazette publications, publications of decisions, recommendations (inspection reports conducted by Mrs. Alektoridou), survey plans, photographic surveying (photographs, negatives, CDs) of the buildings characterised by the Ministry of Culture as protected historical monuments. It also includes the decision to inscribe the Old Town of Corfu in UNESCO’s world heritage list.
Β. Archival Collections
The Heptanesian Historical Documentation is an interesting large collection of various manuscripts, prints, mixed archival material and photographs.
This composite material is currently under classification.
The main body of this archive is the Pierris-Mouchas Documentation Archive:
The archive is a systematic collection of miscellaneous documents (mainly clippings, few-page booklets and several manuscripts) revolving around the Heptanese.
The Pierris-Mouchas Documentation Archive is an indexing and recording of all kinds of information in various thematic index cards, with references to people, institutions, associations, historical facts, and other themes that sparked the interest of the researchers.
The indexing was based -to a great extent- to the Gazette of the United States of the Ionian Islands (1814-1864).
The creators of this invaluable archive were, initially, the bibliophile, collector, and curator of the Reading Society’s library, Stefanos (Nakis) Pierris and, afterwards, the Chairman of the Corfu Reading Society for the period 1968-1987, Kostas Nikolakis-Mouchas.
The archive consists of twenty-three files, which contain hundreds of alphabetically ordered entries, mainly in Greek but also in English, French and Italian.
The maps and drawings collection consists of The Kollas Archive of Drawings, donated by the late Ioannis Kollas, architect, who offered invaluable services for years as a member of the BoD of the Corfu Reading Society.
This archive contains some survey plans of 18th – 19th inventories, fortification designs of Corfu town during the period of the French Imperials (1807-1814), designs of the British barracks, designs of the Old Palace and the Mon Repos Palace, designs of the Corfu Reading Society building, a plan view of the Old Fortress, maps of Corfu town, surveys and studies of the Flaggini mansion, slides and other unbound drawings.
The above brief presentation was based -to a great extent- to the laborious works and the pertinent catalogues of the collections and archives of the Corfu Reading Society, compiled by Mrs. Nella Pantazi, Deputy Director of the State Archives of Greece/ Department of Corfu, who was the library curator of the Corfu Reading Society’s BoD for the period 2008-2014, as well as the work of the archivist-librarian Ms. Georgia Koskina.