Endangered archives blog

18 posts categorized "Americas"

23 September 2015

5 million images online

Add comment Comments (0)

In February, the Endangered Archives Programme celebrated its tenth anniversary and the various press releases and newspaper articles all quoted that we had 4 million images online. It is hard to believe that today we reached the milestone of 5 million images.

I thought I would use this opportunity to reflect on some of the projects that have gone online since the beginning of the year – doing a ‘round the world’ selection.

One of the first projects to be made available this year was EAP164, which consisted of people's memoirs and diaries from rural societies along the Ukrainian Steppe. As well as paper archives, there is a wonderful selection of photographs giving a real sense of community, as this picnic illustrates.

  Image 1EAP164/1/2/3 Album of photos of representatives of a family - Perovskyh [1891-1990]

From the Africa collections, we put EAP286 online, a project from Ethiopia that digitised both Muslim and Christian manuscripts. A substantial part of the collection consists of Asmat prayers,  and this is an example of part of a 19th century scroll.

  Image 2

EAP286/1/1/38 Asmat Prayers [19th century]

To show the variety of the collection, this is the first page of an incomplete Taḫmīs al-Fayyūmī on the "Poem of the Mantle" by al-Būṣīrī.

  Image 3

EAP286/1/1/489 Uncomplete Taḫmīs al-Fayyūmī on the "Poem of the Mantle" by al-Būṣīrī, The Unwān
al-šarīf ("The Token of the Noble") on the birth of the Prophet [18th century]

EAP566 is an example of one of the Asian projects that went online, a very impressive collection of 18th and 19th century Urdu periodicals. The articles cover an incredibly broad range of subject matter and the accompanying illustrations are a joy to browse through, as can be seen from these pages from Nairang-i khiyal.

  Image 4

EAP566/1/4/10/1 Nairang-i_khiyal (Volume and Issue not known) [1932]

  Image 5

EAP566/1/4/10/1 Nairang-i_khiyal (Volume and Issue not known) [1932]

My final continent from the EAP worldwide whistle-stop tour, of course, is the Americas and one important project that went online was EAP563 – the archives of the engineering firm ‘Hume Brothers’ which was set up in Argentina in 1880. The company's main work consisted of planning and building thousands of kilometers of roads, not only in Argentina but also throughout Uruguay, Chile and Brazil. It is a project that contains a mixture of texts, drawings and photographs.

This is a photograph of the construction of a lift bridge over the Riachuelo in Buenos Aires.

  Image 6

EAP563/1/5/4/3 Construction of a lift bridge over the Riachuelo in Buenos. Aires. It belonged to Ferrocarril Sud ( F.C.S.) [Early 20th century]

And this example is a stereoscopic view of the San Roque Dam in Argentina.

  Image 7

EAP563/1/5/5/1252 San Roque Dam (Argentina). [c 1945]

But of course I must not leave out the two projects that went online this month and got us to 5 million images. The first was EAP753, a pilot project that carried out an inventory and sample digitisation of parish documents in the area of Belém do Pará, Brazil.

Image 8

EAP753/1/1/4 Cairary Baptisms, n 4 [1895-1901]

and EAP541, which digitised the historical archives in the Public Records and Archives Administration (PRAAD) in Tamale, Northern Ghana. I rather liked the fact that we have records about latrines - this has to be a first for EAP!

  Image 9EAP541/1/1/88: Salaga-Site for septic Tank Laterines [1952-73]

18 February 2015

Stories they tell: clues from endangered archives

Add comment Comments (0)

Documents, manuscripts, photographs and sound recordings that capture much of the world’s memory are preserved in vulnerable collections around the globe. If they perish, part of history is irrevocably lost. In the past, efforts to preserve these collections and make them available for scholarly interpretation often meant removing them to the safety of western libraries. Though well intentioned, these actions frequently had unintended consequences. Preserved and available to scholars, the materials became inaccessible to the communities whose history they captured. This had a twofold effect: it impaired the communities’ ability to write their own history and at the same time, by detaching documents from original context, led to the loss of an important layer of historical information.

EAP039 Buddhist manuscripts from the library of the remote Gangtey monastery in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan © Dr Karma Phuntsho

The Endangered Archives Programme uses digitisation to preserve records and to make them freely accessible to all, without removing original materials from their custodians. Whenever possible the projects help the keepers to secure the survival of the original documents. Because the materials are often too fragile to be handled on a regular basis, the digital surrogates frequently provide the only point of access not only for scholars worldwide, but also for local readers. By making digital records available to all, the programme ensures that the history they capture is open to wide audiences, multiple perspectives and diverse interpretations.

EAP334 Locating and digitising manuscripts in Wolof Ajami script, written by members of the Muridiyya Sufi order founded in Senegal in 1883 © Dr Fallou Ngom

The “From Dust to Digital” volume, which marks the 10th anniversary of the Endangered Archives Programme, showcases the historical importance and research potential of the digitised collections. The open access online version of the book is designed to ensure that not only the primary sources, but also the research they have inspired, are freely available to all. The book brings together 19 articles from the 244 projects that the programme has supported since its inception. We asked the authors to focus on the digitised collections, but gave them complete freedom in choosing specific questions they wanted to explore. The intention was to ensure that the volume illustrates a wide range of research that the EAP collections make possible.


The chapters discuss inscriptions in Libya; manuscripts in India, Ethiopia, Kenya and Mali; archival records in Bulgaria, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Nigeria, Senegal, Palestine; photographic collections in Argentina, India, Russia and Cameroon; and sound recordings from Guinea, Iran and the Russian Federation. The articles tackle the fundamental problems of transcribing and translating – sometimes for the very first time – languages that have nearly fallen silent. They investigate historical transmission of texts and explore the processes underlying collection formation. They bring to light unknown events and cast new light on historical phenomena. They provide vivid insights into local and even personal histories. 

EAP526 The priests of May Wäyni monastery with their manuscripts, Ethiopia © Professor Michael Gervers

Many of the contributions stress the importance of the original context for our understanding of the materials. The physical location of inscriptions within a landscape; the ceremonies preceding a reading of a manuscript; the place that a manuscript or a photograph holds within a larger collection, are all important for our interpretation of these documents. Without them we can only see a part of the story.

Most of the sources discussed here were not previously subjects of scholarly attention. We hope that this publication will open new debates and inspire scholars to explore the archives preserved by the Endangered Archives Programme. We also hope that open access to both the primary sources and to the articles in the “From Dust to Digital” volume will encourage future authors to make their research freely available to all.

  EAP_2015_066Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, with Ambassador of the Lao Embassy, H.E. Mr. Sayakane Sisouvong and the 3rd Secretary, Mr Moungkhoun Chansavath at the book launch held at the Library on the 17th February 2015.

Gabriela Ramos and Evelyne Mesclier browsing through the publication.

Dr Maja Kominko

Cultural Grants Manager at Arcadia and the editor for the publication “From Dust to Digital”

11 February 2015

New online collections – February 2015 – Part 1

Add comment Comments (0)

This month we have had seven new projects go online with over five hundred thousand images. These are EAP164, EAP171, EAP387, EAP505, EAP566, EAP638 and EAP684 and include rural records from the Ukrainian Steppe, parish records from Brazil, endangered Urdu periodicals and the archives from a publishing company in Argentina. This blog will focus on four projects EAP171, EAP387, EAP505 and EAP638. Another blog will feature the final three projects in a couple of weeks.

EAP638 follows on from the work of EAP375, digitising material from the Haynes publishing company archive in Argentina. The company was created by Albert M. Haynes, a British citizen who went to Argentina originally to work for the Buenos Aires Western Railway. After his retirement he founded the Haynes Publishing Company in 1904, it remained active until its closure in 1968.

The project digitised the most significant articles on specific subjects published by Haynes and other newspapers. As they offer an extended coverage of events from all the main newspapers of the region they present a fantastic resource for researchers. The material contains marvels such as photographs, painted illustrations, memoirs, statistical data, personal letters, and even film. The image below is a photograph of the acclaimed Argentine lyrical soprano Isabel Marengo.

F00019_0198_0000.00.00_0002EAP638/1/1/198: Isabel Marengo – Image 3

EAP387 digitised 93 manuscripts of Fulfude jihad poetry. The bulk consists of 43 poems by Usman dan Fodio and 26 poems by his daughter Nana Asma'u.

In Northern Nigeria the tradition of reciting religiously inspired poetry is supported by the existence of written copies of these poems. These manuscripts are sometimes hundreds of years old and they have been handed down as precious treasures from generation to generation. The poems in this particular collection are all written in Fulfulde, and in Ajami, the Arabic alphabet adapted for African languages. Below is a page from the poem Shi'irut Tawbati about forgiveness and repentance.

TMI05_a1-17EAP387/1/4/4: Shi'irut tawbati [19th Century ] – Image 1

EAP505 digitised parish records from Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. These include baptism, marriage and death registers from the parishes of Nossa Senhora de Apresentacao, Angicos, Canguaretama, Goianinha and Santana do Matos. These records can help to build a demographic history of those regions. The Catholic Church Records are incredibly useful as a large amount of the Brazilian population was a member of the church. There was no civil registration until after 1850 so baptismal records became the longest and most uniform serial data available for understanding the history of the population in Brazil. Once baptised the person and their descendants became eligible for the sacraments of marriage and Christian burial, thus generating additional records of their lives.

EAP505_Goianinha_Baptism Registers_0007EAP505/4/1/2: Baptism Register. No. 2. Goianinha [1860-1864] – Image 7

The last project, EAP171 was a pilot project which surveyed 18th - 20th Century documents from Nepal. The project digitised a small selection of the material; this is available to view now.

EAP171DSC_9701EAP171/1/3: Record of sale of tax exempt land – Image 1

Check back next month to see what else has been added!

You can also keep up to date with any new collections by joining our Facebook group.

08 December 2014

New online collections – December 2014

Add comment Comments (1)

For the final month of 2014 we have had four collections go up online: EAP160, EAP220, EAP449 and EAP571. These collections come from Bolivia, Ukraine, Mali and Nicaragua.

EAP160 digitised records relating to the indigenous population of Bolivia during the 19th century. The records they preserved are called padrones; these documents are testimonies of an old tributary system associated with land tenure. Bolivia has the largest indigenous population in Latin America. Most of the indigenous population has lived since the Colonial period in the high plateau, known as the Altiplano boliviano, at 4,000 meters above sea level.

After Bolivia's independence and throughout the 19th century, only a small amount of Bolivians lived in the urban area. The bulk of the population was concentrated in the department of La Paz, specifically the rural area.

The indigenous population that lived in the communities and in the haciendas (large private estates) continued paying, as in the Colonial period, a state tax known as the indigenal contribution, amounting to as much as 40% of the state total income. For tax purposes, the government registered all the indigenous population in the communities and haciendas, the information was collected in the registers called padrones.

These registers are still an important legal source for present day land tenure consolidation. Many indigenous communities and individuals use these records as proof of their community membership and land tenure.

This project successfully created 92,000 digital images from 441 books containing the padrones.

0002_ALP_Cp_1848_009_002_f0001EAP160/1/1/2/2 Image 2 - Matricula General Que Manifiesta El Total De Familias Indigenas Contribuyentes En El Año 1848 [1848]

EAP220 was a pilot project that searched for and catalogued all archival material from the archaeological studies carried out at the ancient Russ hillfort Rajki in Ukraine. These surveys took place between 1929-1935 during the archaeological expeditions led by T.N. Movchanovskiy. The project surveyed records held in the archive repository of the Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, where these materials were stored in various collections. The project also searched for documents in Rajki village, as well as in a range of other archival institutions in Kiev, Berdychiv, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Odessa and Zhytomyr. A survey was produced which lists all the discovered archival documents and states the repositories where they are held. Digital samples of the collections were created.

EAP220_07_NEGATIVE_097EAP220/1/7 Image 1 - Photographic Negatives on Glass [1929-1935]

EAP449 digitised the archives of two professional photographers from Mali, Abdourahmane Sakaly and Mamadou Cissé. They were among the earliest professional African photographers in Mali. The collections contain rare historical documentation of traditional Mali life (rural, ethnic-based customs, ceremonies, and artefacts) and show the processes of urban development. Dating from the 1940s-1960s the photographs show an era of great change in Mali’s history. Employed by colonial and national governments, as well as operating private studio enterprises, each collection houses unique archives including personal and family portraits, military activities, visits of foreign dignitaries and images of the coup d’état that toppled the regime of the nation’s first president Modibo Keïta.

These images are significant for the social history and cultural heritage of Mali, as well as the artistic legacy of these locally, and internationally, celebrated photographers. They are important for scholarship on colonial and post-colonial histories in western Africa, and studies of local art and culture.

EAP449_Cisse_0916EAP449/1/10 – Image 16 - Mamadou Cissé's Photographs numbers 901-1,000

The final project that went online this month is EAP571. It digitised newspapers from Nicaragua dating from the first half of the 20th century.

This collection of newspapers represents a primary resource for research and analysis of this turbulent period for national and regional history in Nicaragua. They contain details of the conflicts and political debates of the period, as well as cultural and economic transformations, coffee production and the nation state building process. These newspapers are unique sources to study the US military intervention and the dispute with Great Britain over the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast. This collection stands as a unique source for studying the first half of the twentieth century in Nicaragua.

The project successfully digitised 5,874 newspaper issues, totalling 31,505 TIFF images.

EAP571_El_Liberal_1935-1936_005EAP571/5/1 Pt1- Image 5 - El Liberal

I hope you have a Happy Christmas and will come back next month to see what else has been added to our collections.

You can also keep up to date with any new collections by joining our Facebook group.

08 August 2014

New online collections – August 2014

Add comment Comments (0)

Last month seven collections went up online EAP140, EAP184, EAP231, EAP272, EAP454, EAP569 and EAP657.

EAP140 was a project to digitise the Tangut collection held at the Institute of Oriental Studies in St Petersburg.  The Tanguts were a people who established a kingdom during the 10th-13th centuries in present day northwest China. Once the area had been invaded by the Mongols in 1227 the usage of the Tangut language began to decline. These unique historical, literary, and administrative texts are of great value in understanding and preserving a lost writing system and culture. If you haven’t seen it already you can read more about this collection and the Tangut people in our last blog

140_IOS681_Tang334201VBF21V_REAP140/1/35 – Image 92

EAP184 digitised items from the Matanzas province in Cuba. The records that were digitised relate to African slaves and their descendants. Collections from seven different archives were digitised, six of these collections came from parish archives; the final collection from the Archives of the Provincial Government of Matanzas. 

During the nineteenth century, Matanzas became the centre of Cuban sugar production, which meant a high demand for slave labour. The territory became the major destination for African slaves in Cuba. The region's archives are very rich in all kinds of information on the African population living in Matanzas from the early 16th century to the end of the 19th century. This includes demographic statistics, information on ethnicity, resistance and occupations of free and enslaved Africans.

CIMG1574EAP184/1/11 Pt 1 – Image 257

EAP231 digitised court records of the Department of State for Justice in Banjul, the Gambia. The collections are valuable for researchers hoping to gain a deeper understanding of how colonial agents and local communities engaged with one another. Court records reveal struggles between men and women, elders and youths, elites and commoners. Since African women could visit colonial courts to seek divorce, court transcripts are one of the few places where historians can hear African women's voices. The records also reveal disputes over land, other forms of property, child custody and many other subjects.

Due to the nature of the material some items in this collection are only available to view via the reading rooms at the British Library.

IMG_4136Court of Request 1902-1904EAP231/1/1 - Image 177

EAP272 digitised and preserved 1,400 ephemera and 215 manuscripts that came from the Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya in Nepal.

The ephemera are mainly political but also cover religious, social and cultural topics. They are mainly pamphlets and leaflets, with some posters and postcards. The ephemera dating from 1900-1951 represents the last 50 years of the Rana Period.  The remainder date from 1951-1960, this covers the period of Nepal's short stint with parliamentary democracy, until the first elected government was toppled by a coup from King Mahendra in December 1960, replacing the multiparty democracy with his own brand of political system named the 'Panchayat'.

The manuscripts date from 1808 and cover a wide range of subjects such as religion, culture, philosophy, law, medicine, hagiography, natural history, and literature. The project rescued these items from poor storage conditions and ensured their long term preservation.

EAP272_MPP_Ephemera_226EAP272/1/1/226 - Image 1

EAP454 was a pilot project which surveyed privately held ecclesiastical documents in Mizoram, India.

The main focus was early religious and related records, particularly English and Welsh missionary records that recorded a history otherwise only transmitted by the then exclusively oral Mizo society. The project’s scope widened with the surprising discovery of hitherto unknown and early collections written in vernacular Mizo. Many of the earliest missionary educated Mizos were prolific writers of letters, manuscripts, diaries, and notebooks. Most of these sources still revolve around the distinctly religious axis of the Project's focus, but from the perspective of the Mizo.

The Project digitised much more material than initially expected; over 10,000 images are now available to view online.

EAP454_Lalengliani_296EAP454/2/9 Pt 2 – Image 3

EAP569 identified and collected information on relevant documents about Nzema in Ghana. These documents pertain to the land management system and local power structure that has been in place in Ghana since pre-colonial times and that still plays a fundamental role in Nzema society today.

The project looked at records from the Public Records and Archive Administration Department (PRAAD) in Secondi-Takoradi as well as the Western Nzema Traditional Council Archive in Beyin and the Eastern Nzema Traditional Council Archive in Atuabo (Ellembele District, Eastern Region).

The project was successful in identifying many relevant records, creating a list of these items and packaging the documents in archival materials. The project digitized 46 files (15 in the Eastern Nzema Traditional Council Archive, 31 in the Western Nzema Traditional Council Archive) and generated 5,039 digital photographs, which are now available to view on our website.

Due to the nature of the material some items in this collection are only available to view via the reading rooms at the British Library.

EAP569_ENTC_4_1_135EAP569/1/1/1 (as above) Image 135

EAP657 digitised and preserved a collection of archival material related to Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko (9 March 1814–10 March 1861), the famous Ukrainian writer and painter whose literary heritage is regarded to be the foundation of modern Ukrainian writing. His archival collection had been dispersed until recently, and valuable nineteenth century documents had been kept in deteriorating conditions.

The materials digitised reflect different periods of the life of T H Shevchenko. The archival material had been held in different private collections of Shevchenko’s friends and relatives from all over Ukraine until just 10 years ago.

Some of the items in this collection, due to copyright reasons, are only available to view via the reading rooms at the British Library.

EAP657_Archival documents_3_002EAP657/1/3 – Image 2

Check back next month to see what else has been added!

You can also keep up to date with any new collections by joining our Facebook group.


12 May 2014

New online collections - May 2014

Add comment Comments (0)

This month we have four new collections online, these are EAP261, EAP427, EAP535 and EAP593. Two of the collections hail from African countries, Nigeria and Malawi. The other two collections are from India and Mexico.

EAP427 is a pilot project which looked to preserve Native Administration records from Malawi, formerly Nyasaland. These records date from 1891 to 1964 and were generated by the Native Authorities (traditional chiefs).

The records represent a rich history of Malawi from the colonial period up to the transition to self-rule. Prior to independence, the Colonial Government introduced the Native Authorities to Nyasaland as a way of involving the local people in the governance processes through their own traditional institutions. The introduction of Native Authorities meant that native chiefs became part of Government administration. As such, in the course of undertaking government business, the chiefs created, received and maintained a lot of administrative records.

Prior to British colonialism, Malawi was a predominantly oral society. The establishment of the native authorities marked a transition to literacy as the traditional leaders were required to conduct official business in writing. The records are a lasting legacy of the impact of colonialism on the people of Malawi and for this reason this project helped to ensure their preservation.

The project targeted 32 different districts to survey. It digitised a sample of records from four of the districts; these are now available to view online.

Native_Administration_Mbelwa_Council_192EAP427/1/8 part 2 of 2 Image 190

EAP535 is a major project which digitised precolonial documents from Northern Nigeria. The project focused on materials held by the National Archives Kaduna, which was established as the major repository for Northern Nigeria in 1957. 

The records consist of three main collections. The first is a collection of Arabic manuscripts dating from the early 18th century to the 1930s. They include local chronicles, private correspondence, legal documents and religious literature.

EAP535_M_AR4_35 (20)EAP535/1/1/4/23 – Image 13

The second, ‘The Secretariat Northern Province Collection’, consists of letters to various colonial administrators, official assessment reports, ethnographic reports, and numerous annual numerical files dealing with diverse subjects like agriculture, religion and slavery. This material dates from 1900 to 1959.

EAP535_SNP10_6_181p_1918 (39)EAP535/2/5/6/10 – Image 39

The final, the ‘Provincial Offices Collection’ consists of circular letters to various colonial administrators, official assessment reports, ethnographic reports, and numerous annual numerical files dealing with diverse subjects like agriculture, religion and slavery. The materials copied in this project deal with the period between 1900 and 1953.

EAP535_Makprof_AR_INT_I_5 (37)EAP535/2/5/6/10 – Image 39

These materials are of high importance as they document the social, economic and political history of the Sokoto Caliphate (the largest 19th century Islamic empire in West Africa) as well as the early years of British colonial rule in Northern Nigeria, when many features of Caliphate economy and society were researched by colonial officials. The documents are also of value to historians of Africa in general, because such resources deal with labour, culture, intellectual history and inter-group relations in the African pre-colonial era.

The project successfully created 62,177 digital images. These are now available to view online.

EAP261 digitised a wide collection of rare and unique material related to Bengali drama. The material was held by a private collector, Dr Devajit Bandyopadhyay. The collection covers the 19th and early 20th centuries, and includes texts of formal 'modern' drama, texts of jatra or traditional Bengali folk theatre, books of songs from plays, and secondary material of that period.

Apart from the documentary value, the collection offers unique opportunities for historical and thematic study. Bengal saw the first major rise of Western-type drama in India. The Western influence derived largely from Shakespeare and other Renaissance drama, and had suggestive resemblances with traditional folk theatre. The entire process can be traced through this archive, combining jatra with Western-type drama.

249 titles were digitised, some of them multi-volume, making a total of 385 volumes and over one hundred thousand images.

261_NBR_Ltd_0039EAP261/1/1/114 Image 39

EAP593 looked to survey material relating to Mexico’s indigenous population. It focused its search on the town of Tenejapa. The project aimed to preserve archives which show the culture and traditions of these communities, which are changing rapidly due to the modernisation of the area. These include photographs, negatives and personal documents. The project digitised a sample of these collections which are now available to view online.

DSC06370EAP593/1/1 – Image 1

Check back next month to see what else has been added!

You can also keep up to date with any new collections by joining our Facebook group.

07 April 2014

New online collections - April 2014 - Part 1

Add comment Comments (0)

This month has been a bumper one with nine collections going up online, adding over three hundred and fifty thousand images. To avoid an overload of projects April’s blog has been split into two parts. This blog is part one and describes the first five projects which are available; these are EAP207, EAP234, EAP284, EAP314 and EAP401. Two of these collections are South American, coming from Argentina and Peru.  Another two come from Africa, originating from Sierra Leone and Ethiopia. The final collection comes from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

EAP207 digitised various collections of items stored at Museo de La Plata; these had been identified in a previous pilot project, EAP095. Museo de La Plata was established in Argentina in 1888. It was the first institution of its kind in South America, resulting from the donation of several anthropological and archaeological collections gathered during the 1870s. These  collections provide a picture of pre-industrial societies across a wide area of South America during the late 19th - early 20th centuries.

The albums Boggiani, Bonaparte (Old and New World), and the Bolivian Collection represent objects used by ethnologists as visual data of indigenous peoples. The Moreno Album contains images from F. P. Moreno's collections at the Anthropology and Ethnography Museum of Buenos Aires, founded in 1878. This album along with the Calchaquí Album was presented at the Paris World Exhibition of 1878 and both contain very rare images.

EAP207/2/1 – Image 1

The second project EAP234 identified and catalogued colonial documents (1535-1929) held at the Lima Metropolitan Welfare Society, Peru.  The archive holds documents about benefactors, foundations, brotherhoods, chaplaincies, rural and urban properties, slaves, wills, payments letters and accounts records which provide information on the daily operations of many charitable institutions. These documents are especially valuable as sources of economic, social, religious, art and medicinal history. As well as listing and organizing the material the project also produced a digital sample of the records, this is now available to view on our website.

 EAP234/1/2/14/1 – Image 2

EAP284 is a pilot project which surveyed the records held at the Sierra Leone Public Archives. Sierra Leone was settled in 1787 by the 'black poor', who were mostly former slaves from London. Sierra Leone received successive waves of immigration, African American ex-slaves who had fled to Nova Scotia, Jamaican Maroons who had been removed from Jamaica and initially settled in Nova Scotia, but after facing cold winters and racism came to Freetown. There were also thousands of people who had been liberated from slave ships by the Royal Navy after 1815 and settled in Freetown. As well as these there were migrants from the hinterland, including Muslims from the north and north east, and local ethnic groups - Mende, Temne, Vai, Sherbro. Sierra Leone became home to a unique polyglot Atlantic community. The records provide an insight into slavery, abolition, race, meanings of freedom and political sovereignty throughout the region.

The project was successful in surveying these archives and supplied a digital sample of some of the records; this is now available on our website.

EAP284/2/1 – Image 9

EAP401 was based in Ethiopia and looked at digitising records relating to Ethiopia’s Islamic Heritage. Islam was introduced to Ethiopia nearly 1500 years ago. The project undertook a survey to identify the most endangered Islamic manuscripts and archives in functioning and abandoned mosques, as well as looking at private holdings in North Shewa (Goze, Husiso), South Wello (Gedo Toleha, and Dodota) and Gacheni.

The project identified six abandoned mosques in the towns of Cheno, Dera and in South Wallo, 21 manuscripts were listed. Some manuscripts in poor conditions were relocated to the Gaceni District Culture and Tourism Bureau. Ten manuscripts were digitised and these are now available on our website.

EAP401/1/3 - Image 94

EAP314 located handwritten documents of village judicial assemblies, or traditional courts of customary law, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Though these assemblies never acquired legal sanctity the practice of recording the nature of the dispute and the judgment handed down by village elders became a standard procedure in this region of India. The records will enable researchers to acquire new insight into Tamil rural social life.

The project identified 45 individuals holding documents related to Tamil customary law and rural social history. The collections of 10 individuals were digitised, comprising 619 paper documents, 24 notebooks and 9 copperplates, these are now available to view on our website.

EAP314/10/2 – Image 19

Check back next week to see the final four projects!

You can also keep up to date with any new collections by joining our Facebook group.

1. Pham, John-Peter (2005). Child soldiers, adult interests: the global dimensions of the Sierra Leonean tragedy. Nova Publishers. pp. 4–8. ISBN 978-1-59454-671-6.


17 March 2014

New online collections - March 2014

Add comment Comments (0)

This month we have five collections which have gone up onto the EAP website. These are EAP177, EAP326, EAP212, EAP507 and EAP556. These collections come from Laos, Peru, Russia and Indonesia.

EAP177 and EAP326 both digitised photographic collections from Buddhist monasteries in Luang Prabang. Coming from more than 20 distinct monastery collections these images provide a unique view of over 120 years of monastic life. The photographs show rituals, pilgrimages, portraits, history and social life. They also document historic and political events including French colonialism, civil war, the Indochina and Vietnam wars, revolution and socialist rule. This rich collection was created because of a particular inclination towards photography that had been introduced very early by the French. It was practiced in the Royal court where young princes would learn about it and take it with them when they were ordained as monks and became abbots of the various monasteries.

C1927R.EAP.Buddhist Archive
EAP177/3/1/5 Image 181

Together the projects have discovered 33,933 photographs from 21 monasteries in Luang Prabang. These have been digitised and safely stored. Most of the original photographs (prints and negatives) are now stored in specially designed wooden archive cabinets.

F6055R.EAP.Buddhist Archive
EAP326/8/1 Image 55

EAP507 digitised a large amount of material from the historical archive of San Marcos National University in Peru. The project digitised approximately 26,000 pages of theses and dissertations dating from 1857-1920 as well as four historical documents dating from 1551-1821. San Marcos National University is the oldest university in Peru, holding important documents on several scarcely studied aspects of Peruvian and Hispanic American history. As well as digitising the collections they were also catalogued, making available for researchers an important part of the remaining archival material held in the Historical Archive of the San Marcos National University.

EAP507/3/2/3 Image 9

EAP556 digitised books related to the Ural Old Believers. In the second half of the 17th century, Patriarch Nikon of the Russian Orthodox Church reformed church ceremonies and text books. The purpose of the reform was the convergence of Russian, Greek, Belorussian and Ukrainian cultures. This led to a rupture where the Old Russian traditions and Russian society were split into two camps, supporters of reforms "Niconiane" and its opponents “Old Believers”.

From the end of the 17th century the Ural region of Russia became a place of residence for Old Believers who had fled from the persecutions of the authorities in the central areas of the country. From 1974 to 2002 a group of workers from Ural State University organised expeditions to settlements from the Volga region to Western Siberia. During these expeditions, around 6,000 items related to the Old Believers were found. The project succeeded in creating an inventory of 1,975 old printed books and 3,876 manuscripts. 35 of the books were digitised, these date from the 16th-19th century.

EAP556/1/1/1 Image 9

EAP212 digitised family collections of manuscripts in the insular region of the former Butonese Sultanate, which is now included in the territory of South-Eastern Sulawesi Province, Indonesia.
The project digitised almost 100 manuscripts from six collections. These Butonese manuscripts are mostly written in Arabic and Wolio languages. A few others were written in Buginese and Dutch languages. They date from the 17th to the 20th century. The contents are varied, among them are genealogies, correspondence (official letters, contract letters, personal letters), and accounts of traditional ceremonies. Other manuscripts contain Islamic and Sufism teaching, Islamic mysticism, Arabic grammar, Al-Qur'an, language, traditional maritime knowledge of sea navigation, Butonese traditional laws (taxation, customary law, maritime law, Islamic law), traditional medicine, and divination manuals. These documents are an important source for the study of language, literature, Islam, politics, culture and society in Indonesia.

EAP212/2/6 Image 9

Check back next month to see what else has been added!

You can also keep up to date with any new collections by joining our Facebook group.