Reconstructing the history of a life means giving a face to each name and surname.
For each individual listed, we have therefore set up a photograph gallery. Some were taken by professional photographers, for special occasions or as required for official papers: university record books, identity cards that could at times be false, immigration permits. Above all there are private photographs, taken by family, among friends and acquaintances, in recollection of a day, an experience, a place, to preserve the memory of one or more individuals. It is these that we have sought above all: photographs of daily life, but of lives whose trajectory was interrupted, overturned. Images of departure naturally figure - children on the bridge of the Rex, the young woman under the bell of the Conte di Savoia, a brother on the quayside as the ship sailed away - expressing the emotions of those who were leaving and those who remained, those who were bidding farewell without knowing where or when they would see each other again. And then there are the photographs to be sent back to those waiting anxiously for news; and those too of life afterwards, as it resumed in different contexts and places.
That these images possess a life of their own is something of which we must be aware and which can tell us much. They are moreover photographs that have come through war, bombings, the occupation and the pillaging of the houses in which they were left; they have survived the exclusion of their owners from the institutions, withstood journeys from Italy to distant countries, frequent moves, and at times actual escape. Much has been lost, and the remaining documentation is often not in a good state of preservation because the misfortunes of the protagonists had repercussions for their belongings too. The quality of the photographs collected here often leaves something to be desired. Where possible we have digitalized them at high resolution, but for the most part these photographs have arrived as electronic copies that have been done without professional equipment by people unable to bring the photographs to us and who often live a long way away. Indeed, only some photographs come from research archives; in the main the collection put together here is the product of the relatives of those who left, be it those whom I discovered in the course of the research, or those who themselves got in touch after learning of Intellectuals Displaced from Fascist Italy and who have generously offered us their family photographs.
What emerges is a collection exceptional for a variety of reasons, which has exceeded our rosiest expectations: not the digitalization of a photographic fond present in a certain archive, but the digital construction of an historic archive in progress whose photographs, published here with captions and details of ownership, would otherwise have remained inaccessible, in areas of the world far apart from each other. This outcome, not anticipated when the work started, is of course the result of the interest the project has attracted, as well as certain choices and characteristics of the web portal which is free access with a version in both Italian and English. Research in archives has been combined with cultivating contacts, not only with expert professionals, scholars, librarians, archivists and journalists, but with whoever has been able to offer documentary material - which has then of course to be checked.
In accordance with the wishes of the private owners and with the current Cultural Heritage (Beni Culturali) regulations, the images are published here «in such a way that they cannot be downloaded» and their «further reproduction is not allowed» (BBCC, updated version 2020, art. 108).