The Center for Urban History is an independent research institution based in Lviv (Ukraine) and working across several areas: urban history research, digital humanities and archiving, and public history. The Center was born on April 16, 2004 in Vienna when Dr. Harald Binder established a private foundation with the intent to create an institutional framework for urban history research in Ukraine. One of the main aims for the Center was and remains developing an infrastructure that would support innovative research endeavors along with public outreach.
Our name presents the two semantic components of who we are and what we do. “Center” stands for an independent academic entity. Independence remains our reality, our credo and our chief asset. “Urban” stands for our area of proficiency. Our primary focus is the city. “History” at the Center is interdisciplinary, crosses borders and explores new themes and approaches in research, teaching and discourse. Together these words signal our mission to explore and engage with the multitude of questions and experiences embedded in the complexity of urban societies throughout history.
Our aims are to enhance international cooperation in research, to explore the possibilities of digital technologies in the humanities, and to rethink the roles of history in modern societies. The Center’s work has several objectives: to research the history of Eastern and Central European cities; to promote urban history in an interdisciplinary format; to foster international academic and cultural exchange; to deepen knowledge and understanding of the complexity and diversity of history and heritage in Eastern and Central European cities; and to enhance cooperation among local and international institutions.
For over the last decade Center for Urban History has been actively working in the field of archiving historical sources within the project Urban Media Archive. Our archive aims to collect, store, study, provide access to, and popularize collections and files that are often neglected by the State Archives collections. Thematically, the archive’s materials are related to urban history in its various manifestations and perspectives.
The UMA comprises digitized or digital visual, audiovisual, and audio resources that display the city and give an account of urban life in Central and Eastern Europe in the 19th-21st centuries.
The UMA is also a place for analyzing archival data and rethinking the role of archives in society in general. We explore and seek to develop new and ingenious ways of evaluating, contextualizing, displaying, and applying different archival media and documents. The project is not about developing tools to digitize archival files. We aspire to unite the community of archivists with historians and the general public.
In order to enrich our collection, we cooperate with various institutions and partners in Ukraine and beyond in digitizing, archiving, describing, and creating virtual digital collections. By collaborating with research, educational, and cultural institutions, we also disseminate historical materials both among experts and the general public. We strongly believe that this will foster the democratization of historical science in Ukraine.