Explore the Diary Viewer

From the Diary Viewer page, you can choose to engage with a collection of Joseph Svoboda’s diaries. All together, these diaries record Joseph’s actions in Iraq between 1897 and 1899. Within each diary, you will be able to view scans of the original handwritten manuscripts and our easy-to-read digitized transcriptions.

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Explore the Timeline

The Events Timeline describes the major happenings of Joseph Svoboda’s 47th handwritten diary which spans from February 1897 to June of the following year. The events of the diary are categorized according to their subject, including family events, international affairs, and pandemics.

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The Svoboda Family

The Svoboda family’s life in Ottoman Iraq began with Joseph’s parents, Anton Svoboda and Euphemie Muradjian. Joseph and his wife Eliza continue the heritage of this Austro-Hungarian Christian family living in Baghdad. Joseph’s son Alexander also participates with the family’s business of river trade. Visit “History of the Svoboda Family” to learn more.

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About the Project

The Svoboda Diaries Project began in 2006 as a project under the umbrella of the Ottoman Texts Archive Project (OTAP), which was started in 1993 at the University of Washington. Throughout the project’s history, we have focused on the digitization of the journals of two members of the Svoboda family, Joseph Svoboda and his son Alexander.


The Joseph Mathia Svoboda diaries capture over 40 years of trade on the Tigris, life, politics, and the landscape of Ottoman Iraq through the perspective of a British steamship purser with a rich family history and local connections. To read more about the diaries, click here.

Recent Updates

Online contest concluded | May 14, 2021

We have just completed our online contest, Joseph and Friends: A Svoboda Scavenger Hunt! To view a summary of the contest and its results, click here.

Revised timeline | April 4, 2021

Our timeline feature enables you to interactively explore and link to events in Joseph’s diary. We have revised the timeline to improve its usability. Take a look here.

Instagram launched | January 19, 2021

We have launched our Instagram account! Follow us @svobodadiaries for more information on the diaries and other project updates!