Historical Archives of the Tavola Valdese – Torre Pellice

…would you guess where I am today? I came to take a look around in the Archives of the Tavola Valdese of Torre Pellice (To); not only are our Valleys full of places rich in history, but I also assure you that all of these old cards are as rich as those places… follow me and you’ll find out a lot of interesting things!

Under Colonel Beckwith’s vigilant gaze, I curiously give a look at these objects and old books…

You have to know that the Archives of the Tavola Valdese owns all of the historical documents – from the end of 17th century! – of the Waldensian Church, along with those of the Methodist and Baptist Churches of Italy and the archive of the Society of Waldensian Studies.
This is the reason why this place is visited by scholars and people from all over the world for their researches, and also to reconstruct their family trees thanks to old records.

Here is the register of a consistory of the Valleys where pastors used to write acts of baptisms, marriages and population’s passings… I really wonder how many people might have consulted it before me!

But there are not only official acts! Inside here many and many family papers are stored, in which you can find letters and personal documents, even recipe books like the one I’m looking at, where Mrs. Muston had written since 1809 recipes of delicious dishes that could be prepared.

Mrs. Muston’s recipe book was copied and printed by Claudiana publishing house, and many great chefs studied it in order to re-propose her recipes!

All these documents, reorganized and registered, are stored in a large underground warehouse where the temperature has to be stable in order not to have them damaged: old maps need care, and here are many archivists and volunteers who take care about them ion order to make them accessible even in many years’ time!

How long it would take to read all of these writings…

A priceless and interesting section of the Archives is represented by the Photo Archive: tens of thousands images (even starting from 1847, actually shortly after the invention of photography itself) can be viewed!

The photo album I’m looking at was put together in 1889 by David Peyrot, a Waldensian pastor interested in photography: you can see Rocciaglia on the top side, and Pradeltorno in the pic on the bottom side.

In the Valleys fortunately there were many (professional rather than amateur) photographers, who have left lots and lots of beautiful pictures: you can browse albums of views, but also family portraits and figure out how places and people used to appear long ago!

Another snapshot taken by shepherd David Peyrot at the Balziglia.

Even Henri, David’s brother, left a photographic documentation of his family life and of his job trips, but using a very innovative technique: he used stereoscopes, images that could be seen only with a special tool called “viewer” which made images three-dimensional.

We use to go to the cinema to see 3D movies wearing special glasses, but in the 19th century – in Mr. Peyrot’s living room – family and friends used to do the same with pictures!

well, my tour in the Archives is over… I know I only saw a small part of the many treasures that are hidden in here, so I think I will be back here very soon!

For the realization of this article I would like to thank the priceless help of Gabriella Ballesio, who involved Valdesina in her work, instilling enthusiasm and passion for this profession.

I can not wait to get back in the classroom of the Archive to find out many other objects, pics and books…

How to get here:
reach the village of Torre Pellice along the Provincial Road 161. Turn right in Valdo street and reach the pedestrian zone on the left (Beckwith street); there you’ll be in the so-called “Waldensian District”.

Do you want to read the tale in Italian ?

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