Project Description – “The Memory of the Romanian Elites”

The Memory of the Romanian Elites is the project I have been working at for a long time, out of the sheer desire to become acquainted with both the history of Romanian illustrious families and with the contemporary reality of these families. With the aid of an original tool, a questionnaire created by me, I started to look for the stories of the families and for fragments of history carried by the living descendants of the old Romanian elites or which can be discovered in the archives of these families.

The study on the Romanian nobility suffers from a lack of approaches which would go beyond the limited framework of drawing up a family tree or the literature of memory and fathom the interdisciplinary approach on the internal resorts of a social group, on the mentalities, traditions and passing on memories. History, anthropology and sociology, genealogy, literature of memory and literature in general, the testimonies of the living descendants, documents from the private archives and images can altogether contribute to the completion of the knowledge we have on Romanian elites before the instauration of the Communist Regime.

One of the defining elements of any nobility is the informed appeal to memory and the concern for keeping the memorial traces. But, at a moment’s notice, the unpublished testimonies of people and the family archives undergo the risk of being lost forever or simply wasted. It is a fight against the clock, in which the historian is bound to get involved in order not to miss the chance to benefit from these testimonies. They are both valuable in themselves and also thanks to the scientific way in which they can be obtained and analyzed.

The questionnaire The Memory of the Romanian Elites is destined to the descendants of the Romanian nobility, but also to the descendants of the grand bourgeois families, of the intellectual and professional “dynasties”, of the freeholders. The questions refer to the ancestors, education, sociability formulas, social customs, mentality and everyday life, family traditions, residences, strategies of capitalization of the past and of passing on the memory, the historical events which marked the destiny of the family.

In the archive of the project, I gathered dozens of written answers and hundreds of hours of recorded interviews with the descendants of the old Romanian elites. In addition to that, I have also discovered diaries, memoirs and unpublished family monographs, family trees, photos and documents in private family archives. Through the living descendants, we have therefore access to the memory of more than 250 Romanian boyar and grand bourgeois families.

The first findings of the project were made ​​known at the conferences of The Romanian Institute of Genealogy and Heraldry “Sever Zotta”.

I published the first book based on the Memory of the Romanian Elites project in November 2016, at the Corint Publishing House: A Swan Song. The Descendants of the Romanian Boyars during World War I.