Covid-19 restrictions lead Peruvian PhD researcher to digitise UK-based Jéquier archive

Peruvian architect and PhD researcher, Yolanda Muñoz Lozano
Unable to travel to the UK, Peruvian architect and PhD researcher Yolanda Muñoz Lozano was funded by Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Chile to digitise the papers of 19th century architect, Emile Jéquier.
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“The scanned letters has opened a whole new area of discovery"

The project

We were recently commissioned to digitise an archive comprising the 1,704 letters, diaries and papers of the Jéquier family including those of the celebrated French-Chilean architect Émile Jéquier (1866-1949). Émile’s father, Henri Jéquier, was an engineer who helped build the first railroads in Chile. The archive is now in the possession of UK-based author Robin Jéquier, descendant of Henri’s middle son, Jean Daniel Victor Jéquier.

Robin was approached by Peruvian architect and PhD researcher, Yolanda Muñoz Lozano, whose research interests include the modernisation of Latin American cities. Yolanda is writing her architecture thesis on Emile Jéquier at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and wanted first-hand access to the Jéquier papers for her research, but due to Covid-19 was unable to travel to the UK.

 

“In the Chilean research community, we haven't had access to private letters from this family, until now. We only know these people through the official documents from their work with the Chilean Government. These letters are an absolute novelty for us and could give us more information about their life and legacy.” Yolanda Muñoz Lozano

Robin had heard about our Digitisation Services via our Endangered Archives Programme and recommended that Yolanda commission the British Library to digitise his great-uncle’s papers and she successfully secured funding from the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Chile to digitise the entire archive.

Henri Jequier letter 9 november 1860

The digitisation process 

The archive was couriered to our Boston Spa studio and stored securely before the fragile items could be prepared for digitisation. The archive was digitised in colour to represent the originals as closely as possible. In addition to scanning all 1,704 items, we were also tasked with extracting the metadata (such as author information and dates) to facilitate online search.

 

“Many of the documents are a fascinating insight into 19th and early 20th century social history. Obvious examples being the diaries and the financial accounts. Even the style of writing and relatively formal modes of address between loved ones are an eye-opener. There could well be more nuggets of information about life in Chile at a time of renewal after the country’s civil war, which can be compared to info in correspondence from other family members residing in Europe at the time.” Robin Jéquier

The outcome

Digitising the material has enabled the documents to be preserved in perpetuity by the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and enabled the Jéquier family to retain personal copies of the digitised files. It will also open up access beyond the Jéquier family.

“Projects like this, which bring together organisations and people from around the world are really inspiring and demonstrate how we can help support connectivity despite the limitations imposed on us by Covid-19.” Emma Cass, British Library Digitisation Services

It is Yolanda’s intention to have some of the letters transcribed, and further analysed in order to enrich knowledge of the Jéquier family. The digitised materials will also be made available for wider scholarly research. The scanned letters have added enormously to Yolanda’s knowledge of the Jéquier family.

 

“Robin has also shared with me the memoirs of his great aunt Marguerite Ethel Bucknall (née Jéquier) that has given me interesting insights into the family, their trips and interests, showing them as true pioneers. Their lives are truly fascinating and unusual for the 19th century.” Yolanda Muñoz Lozano

 

“For myself, I’ve already discovered a fascinating link in a short letter dated 21 January 1858 from Henri Jéquier to his parents, inviting them to show hospitality to one Orélie-Antoine de Tounens, a lawyer and cartographer who became a fascinating but notorious character in Chilean history. I would never have heard of this man but for the one letter, so I can well understand Yolanda’s zest for discovering what other info can be found that might relate to Emile’s life and work.”

Robin Jéquier

Yolanda’s thesis, Cultural Transfers and Urban Modernisation in Santiago de Chile. Émile Jéquier and the Centennial’s Public Architecture 1880-1920, is part of her PhD program in Architecture and Urban Studies of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and the École Doctorale en Histoire de l'Art of the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

Download the Jéquier family tree 

Visit Robin Jéquier’s website

Jequier Digitisation  one-sided letter dated 21 Jan 1858  

Contact us

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E: businessdevelopment@bl.uk

T: +44 (0)1937 546060

W: bl.uk/digitisation-services

Key points

  • Peruvian architect and PhD researcher, Yolanda Muñoz Lozano at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, needed access to the papers and correspondence of celebrated architect Emile Jéquier and his father, Henri Jéquier, an engineer who helped build the first railroads in Chile, for her thesis.
  • Due to Covid-19 restrictions Yolanda was unable to travel to the UK where these papers are held by author Robin Jéquier, a great-grandson of Henri Jéquier.
  • Yolanda successfully secured funding from the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Chile to digitise the papers.
  • The digitised papers have opened up access to new knowledge and insights into the Jéquier family and will be made available for wider scholarly research.

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