Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland

Archives and Records Association awards Virtual Record Treasury prestigious Ellis Prize

Virtual Treasury Team

On Monday 21st November at the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, the Archives and Records Association (Ireland and UK) presented the prestigious Ellis Prize for Archive Theory and Practice to the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland. This is the first time the prize (considered to be the ‘Oscar’ of the recordkeeping sector) has been presented to a group rather than an individual, and it is only the tenth time it has been presented in the 50 years of its existence.

VRTI Director Peter Crooks and ARA President Aideen Ireland holding the Ellis Prize in the RSAI Library

The Ellis Prize was awarded to the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland for their excellent work in delivering back to the Irish nation and its diaspora more than 700 years of Irish history and culture. Moreover, as Archives and Records Association President Aideen Ireland remarked when presenting the prize, the project demonstrates to the worldwide record-keeping sector the power of collaboration, bringing hope to other communities and nations who have lost cultural heritage in similarly tragic ways.

Image of the Ellis Prize

The Ellis Prize

Accepting the award, Peter Crooks noted that the Virtual Treasury

does not exist without the physical records and collections expertise of all our partners; this is a prize for every one of them, which I hope they will celebrate. The prize will be used to encourage research into the Irish experience in Europe, the documentation of that connection in European archives, but also the European experience of archival destruction and recovery, a topic which would surely have interested Roger Ellis very closely.

The Ellis Prize was set up by Roger Ellis, a past President of the Society of Archivists, in 1972 “to reward excellent work in our profession, and to recognise significant contributions to archive theory and practice”.

[1] During World War II, Ellis served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) Section of Civil Affairs of the Western Allied Armies. Known as the ‘Monuments Men’, they were a group of 348 American and British men and women tasked with preserving material remnants of the past during wartime.[1]

Ellis is noted particularly for the salvage of the library of the Colombaria Society, Florence in 1944, which held codices, incunabula, manuscripts, and books, and had been damaged by a combination of explosions, fire, and rain. The links to his past work in awarding this prize to the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland are clear. Like Ellis in Florence, the staff of the Public Record Office in Dublin worked to salvage what was left of their archives following the fire and explosion in the Four Courts in the June 1922.

VRTI Director Peter Crooks with the Ellis Prize, and ARA Board members at the RSAI Library

Like Ellis, the team at the Virtual Record Treasury and their five core partners, as well as over 70 archives worldwide, are working together in collaboration of the original records.

[1] Archivist and conservator, Roger Henry Ellis specialized in historic British manuscripts. In 1934 Ellis began working at the Public Records Office (PRO, today the National Archives of the United Kingdom), where he studied document repair under noted archivist and Principal Assistant Keeper at the PRO, Sir Hilary Jenkinson. During World War II, he served in the British Army with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. Ellis was assigned to the British Eighth Army in May 1944 along with American MFAA Officer Lt. Col. Norman Newton. Armed with Jenkinson’s lists, Ellis and Newton followed Eighth Army’s progression northward from Lazio through Umbria and into Tuscany, conducting early inspections and making arrangements for first-aid repair to cultural assets. Read more here:


[1] You can read more about the Ellis Prize here:

Monday, 5 December 2022, 3:54 PM

Jean-Philippe SanGiovanni