There are three main, serious, long-term aims of the Qurna History Project as of 2001:

to preserve historical data for the future

The Qurna History Project aims to raise awareness of the richness of the cultural heritage of Qurna and the Qurnawi and thus encourage recording and publication/presentation. The data is under threat and the recording must happen now. It is a community that is dispersing, its buildings are falling into decay and being purposely - and in some cases systematically - demolished, and the rapid changes over the last generation have accelerated family and community memory loss. The raw data is vanishing fast and it is important that it is collected or recorded without delay. The very work of collecting and recording may encourage its preservation. Copies of the collected data and documentation will be deposited in a collection in Egypt, UK or wherever most appropriate for conservation and use. This will comprise:

•   Annotated and indexed photographs and drawings - modern and historic where available.

•   The oral history information attached to these buildings, places and people will also be annotated and indexed with cross referencing to the visual images.

•   Copies of information collected from published and unpublished sources and full references where copies are not available.

Update 2010: the people have moved and the buildings gone - but work continues. We are appealing for a well-resourced oral history project which is urgently needed before the memories of the resettled people fade completely.

to aid scholars seeking such documentation

An underlying theme of the Qurna History Project is to make information and documentation about Qurna and the Qurnawi publicly and generally available. For instance, the exhibition of which the Hay drawings are a major part, also includes drawings by Nestor l'Hote and E.W.Lane and photos by a number of known and unknown 19th century and early 20th century photographers whose work is mainly in private collections. Full references are given for all material used, and visitors wishing to follow up any aspect may contact the QHP co-ordinator for further information. One of the aims of the project is to enable people to realise the wealth and importance of material available if only it is searched for. After the data/material has been deposited in a collection (see above) it will all be accessible.

to encourage collaboration between scholars and experienced lay people, Egyptians and non-Egyptians

Without the co-operation and involvement of many Qurnawi men and women the project could not have advanced. Families have allowed access to their homes, and given access to all parts of their buildings for initial survey purposes. A team of craftsmen and conservators have restored and repaired mud-brick buildings using traditional materials and techniques. People have made available documents and personal papers and have spent many hours talking about what they remember of the community in general and their own families in particular. The oral history collection is (2004) at an early stage, and much more work needs to be done by a dedicated team.

Update 2019

Oral History Project

In April 2016 we undertook a project that we had spent many years trying to encourage people to do. The American University in Cairo (AUC), Rare Books and Special Collections Library, worked with the Qurna History Project and we collected 75 interviews with people who had lived on the hillside. Most of these were elderly people, and a third of these were women. As of early 2019, most of these have been transcribed at AUC, and others are being transcribed. Eventually all the oral interviews and the transcriptions will be available on-line in the Rare Books section of the AUC Library.

Oral History Project team
This photo shows the members of the AUC team with some of the Qurna team at the Marsam Hotel.

Oral history project documents: Oral history project information sheet: Arabic and Oral_history_project_information _leaflet_English_final.pdf

Read the AUC news article here: