Our Efforts

Since the Hanshin-Earthquake occurred in 1995, we the Network for Historical Materials organised a total of around 800 members working as volunteers, and travelled around each effected area under the cooperation of Hyogo Prefecture. Through these activities, we could rescue 1500 boxes of historical documents and artefacts damaged by the earthquake. After 2000, we have undertaken to synthetically research the areas of Komagabayashi and Nishidai with the cooperation of Kobe City Monjokan.

We also emphasised the importance that the whole historical culture should be equally reconstructed in each afflicted area. For this reason, we twice held a symposium called “For community development by making use of historical culture” cooperating with various societies and communities. We made the appeal that it would be important to preserve not only documents but also artefacts and stone-made materials such as guide stones or Jizo statues.

Running from 1995 to 1998, under the sponsorship of Hyogo Prefecture and each community, we held the “Citizen’s open class” titled “Think of our History and Cultures” over 8 times. These lectures were held for encouraging and offering support to those affected people, and also conveying to them that local history along with their own culture would surely bring comfort to their hearts when they started to reconstruct their community. Furthermore, in the Higashinada area which was one of the most seriously damaged places, we supported their activities for developing the community’s sense of historical culture, by holding a series of lectures about Hyogo-tsu which was located in this area and used to be a prosperous port in medieval times.

In tandem with this, we have been trying to record the disaster of the Hanshin Earthquake itself, so we have been actively working with various associations about how to preserve our cultural heritage. Simultaneously, we have been working in several devastated areas whenever natural disasters have occurred.

At the event of the Taiwan Earthquake in October 1999, we visited the hit area, and told them of our own experiences. At both the West Tottori Earthquake in 2000 and the Hiroshima-Ehime Earthquake of 2001, we delegated our voluntary members to the disaster-stricken zones and supported the rescue and retrieval of those historical materials at risk or damaged. When the Miyagi Earthquake occurred in September 2003, we cooperated with local people and historical researchers who were working in the area, managing the arrangements of volunteers and accepting the financial support from the whole country on behalf of the region, acting as a support centre.

Now, we have started to be engaged in the new project which will rescue the historical materials due to this recent earthquake in Northern Japan.

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Our History

We, the Network for Preserving Historical Materials, was established on 4th February 1995, approximately three week after the Hanshin Earthquake, and started as an association originally named the ‘Information Network for preserving Historical Materials’, which worked to protect the historical documents and artifacts affected by the quake. The main body consisted of various study societies such as ‘The Osaka Historical Association’, ‘The Japanese Society for Historical Studies’, ‘The Osaka Association of Historical Science’, ‘Kyoto Historical Science Association’, ‘The Society for Historical Studies of Kobe University’, and ‘Shigakukai of Kobe Women’s University’.

The main participants are young lecturers in universities, postgraduate and undergraduate students, institution staff involved in preserving regional heritage and local historians. All members work on a voluntary basis.

Our secretary office is located in the Community Outreach Centre, Graduate School of Humanities, Kobe University.

~Secretariat Chronology~

4th Feb, 1995

Hiroshi Okumura, representative of Kobe University, having visited the Amagasaki Municipal Archives along with some members of The Osaka Association of Historical Science, The Osaka Historical Association, and The Japanese Society for Historical Studies, concluded that they would organize a new association for preserving historical materials and engage in setting up an information centre in Amagasaki Municipal Archives. (Afterwards, the Kyoto Historical Science Association and The Historical Science Society of Japan took the decision to participate with us.)

13rd Feb, 1995

The Information Network for Preserving Historical Materials was established in the Amagasaki Municipal Archives, and voluntary staff started to be permanently stationed in the institution. They also started to receive offers, requests and consultations with people who possessed some historical materials.

10th Apr, 1995

The Information Network was newly established in the Faculty of Letters, Kobe University.

9th Jun, 1995

Main body removed to Kobe University from the Amagasaki Municipal Archives.

19th Jun, 1995

The branch office was established in ‘The Monjokan of Kobe City’ (which can be translated as ‘The Archives of Kobe City’), and started to cooperate with each other on researching historical documents damaged or at risk after the earthquake.

Apr, 1996

The ‘Information Network for Preserving Historical Materials’ re-organised and re-named itself as the ‘Network for Preserving Historical Materials’, as a voluntary organisation.

26th May, 2002

Our loose federation of associations changed to be a membership association.