21.12.2017 - News

Terre des hommes’ archives are open to the public

The State of Vaud has officially taken in the Terre des hommes Foundation’s archives. All of the documents, dating back to when its founder, Edmond Kaiser, set up the organisation in 1960 through to when he died in 2000 can now be accessed by the public. 

Thanks to the Vaud Cantonal Archives, our archives are now open to the public. The inventory can be accessed online at www.davel.vd.ch

The Terre des hommes movement began on 20 July 1960, born from Edmond Kaiser’s outrage in response to a report on the war in Algeria, which prompted Kaiser to bring approximately one hundred sick or severely malnourished children from the Algerian camps back to Switzerland for treatment. Our activities are rooted in conflicts that are now part of the collective memory. From the boat people of southeast Asia to the famine in Biafra, Kaiser has left behind many records of his now documented struggle for children.

Support from Chagall, Hepburn and Chaplin

The collection covers the years from 1960 to 2000, and provides information on humanitarian operations in more than 100 countries in the form of written documents as well as an impressive photographic and audio-visual archive. This vast collection also includes a letter written by Edmond Kaiser to General Pinochet asking the Chilean dictator to provide answers to the families of the disappeared. Documents also evidence support from well-known artists, such as the painter Marc Chagall, and actresses Audrey Hepburn and Geraldine Chaplin.

Terre des hommes' initiative is an act of memory on behalf of the children the Foundation took care of and the descendants of these children. While the inventory is public, the collection cannot freely be consulted for data protection reasons. Derogation procedures have been set out in the donation agreement.

Two years of hard work
This approach makes it possible to share this heritage with the public and the research community. Although the way we work has changed, Terre des hommes continues to pursue its mission among the world's most vulnerable children,” states Vito Angelillo, director of Terre des hommes.

The collection is stored near the University of Lausanne and will make it possible to respond to requests currently already made by the academic community. The inventory and presentation of the collection was completed through a partnership between the Terre des hommes Foundation and the Vaud Cantonal Archives, and required the commitment of around fifteen people and two years of hard work.

Photo credit: ©Tdh