Supporters

Logo for Simpson Center for the Humanities
National Endowment for the Humanities Logo
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization Logo
Ottoman Text Archive Project

Joseph Mathia Svoboda

Explore the diary transcriptions

Joseph Mathia Svoboda (b. Oct. 17, 1840 in Baghdad) lived for a number of years with his brother Alexander in India and particularly in Bombay, returning to Baghdad in 1857. In 1862, he started work with the Euphrates and Tigris Steam Navigation Company established in 1861 by the Lynch Brothers Trading Company and served as an officer on board the company's steamers making regular trips up and down the Tigris carrying cargo and passengers to different ports below Baghdad. In 1859 he was taught English by his sister’s husband, Richard Rogers and ca 1861, he began writing, in English, the diaries that he kept until his death in 1908. In these diaries he documents the trips he made on the Lynch steamers, writing down the names of official passengers and others with details of cargo, noteworthy events for every trip, and charts of currencies and exchange rates. In addition, he recorded many details of his life and that of his family and friends in Baghdad including his relations with the Christian communities of Baghdad (Assyrian, Chaldean, Orthodox, Roman Catholic), the resident French, British, Russian, and Ottoman officials, and observations on people, entertainment, epidemic diseases, the Arab tribes and their relations with the Ottoman government, and more. The more than 40 years of diaries, constitute not only an invaluable source for the history of the Svoboda family but are a precious resource for glimpsing life, trade, and politics in Ottoman Baghdad and Iraq during the last half of the 19th century and into the early 20th.

The Joseph M. Svoboda Diaries

The diary images we are working with consist of three types: three diaries copied for us, under difficult circumstances, by staff of the National Manuscript Center of Iraq; a group of original diaries found among the papers of Margaret Makiya and loaned to us for digitizing by the Makiya family; and 31 transcriptions of JMS diaries made by Mrs. Makiya in the 1970s (from originals that we hope are still held by the National Manuscript Center in Baghdad). The dates run from June 1872 to the death of Joseph Mathia in 1908. The original diaries are bound at the top (reporter’s notebook style) with covers in red leather and the diary number written in ink on the front cover. In total they usually contain 200 folios, 400 pages, verso at the top, recto at the bottom [Appendix 3]. Two of the diaries (52 and 59) have pockets glued to the end papers inside the back cover containing loose material (letters, accounts, photographs, etc.) The end papers, both front and back, often contain handwritten notes as well as newspaper clippings and other materials attached with glue. Similar materials are glued to folio pages at the end of some diaries. The last diary, (number 61) from the year of Joseph Mathia’s death, contains only 52 pages of writing, the rest are blank. There are 25-30 lines per page handwritten in a fine copperplate hand with some text in Arabic, possibly by a later owner or reader. There are also marginal notes and dates for each entry.

JMS Diaries Newbook Publications

The Svoboda Diaries Project is engaged in preparing the JMS Diaries for publication in two phases. In the first phase we are preparing digital transcriptions of the original diary images and the Margaret Makiya transcriptions. We will be making those preliminary transcription versions available on this website as they are ready. In the second phase we will mark up the transcriptions for annotation and indexing with the goal of producing versions containing notes and other information that will be evoked by cursor hovering in the on-line version and in end notes in print versions. Ultimately the annotated transcriptions will be paired on-line with images of the original texts. These publications will also be supported by the SVOBODAPEDIA our on-line project “wiki”, which will contain detailed information about the diaries and their contents.


Volume I: November 4, 1897 - October 11, 1899

Acknowledgements

As the Svoboda project grew in the academic version of genteel poverty, much of its progress was the consequence of the work of several generations of talented and hard-working undergraduate OTAP, Svoboda Diaries, and now Newbook interns, both students of Arabic in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization and students working in other fields from history, international studies, linguistics, Italian and French, to computer science and infomatics. With the guidance and assistance of Newbook staff and an exceptional group of volunteer graduate students, they do much of the painstaking work of transcribing, marking up the text, researching for notes, creating our web presence and programming our project software with the occasional help of summer interns from local high schools and other universities. These interns have also presented the project in national several undergraduate research symposia and university-wide conferences. At present three master’s theses and one in-progress doctoral dissertation have grown out of the Svoboda materials. The project staff has been assured by our former interns that their experiences with the project have been an important and, in some cases, transformative part of their undergraduate education.


The Svoboda Diaries Project staff, including Walter G. Andrews [Director], Nowf Allawi [Iraq editor and project founder], Stacy Waters [Technology Consultant], Joshua Crowgey [Assistant Director for Technology], and Rachel Brown [Project Manager] wish to acknowledge the essential contribution of our undergraduate partners: text preparation, annotation, and historical research interns Scott Anderson, Jess Beatty, Tessa Carter*, Camille Cole, Adam Croissant, Chelseyann deCouto, Natasha Deitzler*, Ariella Fish, Kelsie Haakenson*, Kelsey Hallahan, Shima Houshyar, Rachel Schlotfeldt*, Max Sheffield , Mileta Sorokovskaya, Kai Stern *, Tran Truong, Sierra Van Burkleo*, and Sophia Welti; programming and technology interns Mattie Carlson, Chris Chan, Mary Chen, Adam Croissant, Thomas Crowe, Aaron Gupta, Kelsie Haakenson*, Branden Livermore, Grace Qiu, Sophie Saouma, Victoria (Tori) Wellington, David Wong, and Justin Yoon; marketing, advertising, and fund-raising interns, Sabrina Bonaci, Addy Lee Elketami, Eric Gong, Jenny Jarret*, Hamid Adam Burkemper Khan, Rachel Leslie, Chenjing Li, Devin Reimers, Patti Jiachun Shi, Cynthia Yue Yu, Zoey Xin Zong, Daisy Xie, and Jion Yi (team leads indicated by asterisk*). The project also depended on the work of several outstanding graduate students, who, for the most part, volunteered their time: Joshua Crowgey [Assistant Director for Technology], Rachel Brown [Project Manager], Kearby Chess [Svobodapedia and historical research coordinator], Elizabeth Barrett, and Barbara Henning. We are also grateful for the support and contributions of our partners in the Newbook Digital Texts in the Humanitiescollaborative publication effort: Dr. Sarah Ketchley [the Emma B. Andrews Diaries Project] and Dr. Mary Childs [The Georgian Texts Collective].

Format: HTML (recommended)

Format: Summary

Format: XML

Format: PDF

Didn't find what you were looking for? Try browsing all versions

Diary 48 Transcriptions (August 3, 1898 - February 28, 1899)

Format: HTML (recommended)

Format: Summary

Format: XML

Format: PDF

all versions

Diary 49 Transcriptions (February 28, 1899 - October 11, 1899)

Format: HTML (recommended)

Download the html file

Format: Summary

Format: XML

Format: PDF

all versions