THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Endangered archives blog

13 posts categorized "Americas"

12 May 2014

New online collections - May 2014

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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

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

07 May 2013

New online collections – May 2013

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This is the first of a new series of monthly blog posts which will highlight the collections that have become available to view online on the EAP website over the past month. 

 Four collections went up last month, the first of which was EAP375, this project digitised over 25,000 images of archives from the Haynes Publishing Company of Argentina.

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EAP375/1/1/1 – Image 25

The Haynes publishing company was created by Albert M. Haynes, a British citizen who went to Argentina 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 company produced several publications including the magazine El Hogar and the daily newspaper El Mundo. The company was active during some important periods of Argentine history. In particular it covers the period of the presidencies of José Félix Uriburu, Agustín Pedro Justo, Roberto María Ortiz and Ramón Castillo during the Infamous Decade (1930-1943) as well as the first presidency of Juan Perón (1946-1955)

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EAP375/1/1/59 – Image 82

Another collection now available is EAP368, this contains some fascinating images depicting the indigenous peoples of Western Siberia.

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EAP368/1/1/1 – Image 9

The project identified glass plate negatives and photographic material depicting Western Siberian life during the early 20th century. These were then catalogued and digitised. The images present a fascinating window into this society before it was affected by modernisation.

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EAP368/1/1/1 Image 155

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EAP368/1/1/1 – Image 319

The final two collections are EAP340 and EAP365. EAP340 digitised a selection of manuscript collections in the monastic church of Ewostatewos at Däbrä Särabi in Tigray, Ethopia.

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EAP340/1/2 – Image 4

EAP365 was a pilot project which aimed to discover collections of lontara’ manuscripts in the Makassarese language of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Lontara’ manuscripts consist largely of chronicles or histories of local kingdoms, collections of rules relating to customary law, or court diaries/daybooks. The project was successful in collecting representative images from several lontara' in Makassar, and in a number of villages in Kecamatan Galesong south of the city.

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EAP365/1/2 – Image 7

 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.

 

06 July 2012

June Accessions

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The year is half over and it is time to tell everyone about our June Accessions. We received some really interesting material last month from four different projects working in Chile, Indonesia, Argentina and Mali. Here are the details:

EAP359 Plan for Valparaíso's musical heritage digitisation (1870-1930): scores and 78rpm discs

This project copied printed musical scores and 78rpm discs from the Margot Loyola Collection. The surrogate digital material includes folk music and will provide researchers with a unique insight into the social history of Valparaiso, Chile, during the late 1800s and early 1900s. In addition to their musical content the scores and discs display advertising and some quite fabulous art work.

EAP359 adoracion1

EAP365 Preservation of Makassarese lontara' pilot project

This pilot project set out to discover and evaluate the existence of private collections of lontara' manuscripts in the Makassarese language of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. The results of their field work will be shown in a Survey Report. Alongside this, the project team took digital images from six manuscripts belonging to three Collections. The image below is from a manuscript concerned with the Islamic calendar.

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EAP375 The transition from a traditional to a modern society: recovering Argentinean and Latin American history through an emblematic publishing company

The digital surrogates received from EAP375 are the result of a 12 month project to digitise part of the archives from a major newspaper company in Argentina, the Haynes Publishing Company. I will post more information on this, with images, next week when the principal investigator, Celina Tuzzo, will be our guest blogger.

EAP488 Major project to digitise and preserve the manuscripts of Djenné, Mali

We received the first submission of material from this major project. The project is copying manuscripts belonging to private collections housed in the Manuscript Library of Djenné or private family libraries. These Arabic manuscripts include important Islamic texts and other volumes covering a range of topics including themes of the occult and local history.

EAP488 Photo 4

Lynda

14 April 2011

March Accessions Part Two

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As promised, here are the details of the other four projects which submitted material to the EAP in March:

EAP298 Preserving endangered ethnographic audiovisual materials of expressive culture in Peru

This project builds on the work and achievements of the EAP022 project conducted by the Institute of Ethnomusicology at the Catholic University of Peru. That project digitised audiovisual material  documenting Peruvian ritual dance, music and drama from the provinces of Cajamarca, Ancash and Junin; this follow up project will digitise material from the provinces of Ayacucho, Arequipa and Puno, located to the south of Lima, and culturally and linguistically distinct from the Northern provinces.

33375 

EAP357 Identifying endangered monastic collections in the Saharti and Enderta regions of Tigray, Ethiopia

Project EAP357 is undertaking a survey of monastic libraries in the Saharti and Enderta regions of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. More information can be found in our January Accessions blog.

EAP365 Preservation of Makassarese Lontara' pilot project

This pilot project aims to discover and evaluate collections of Lontara' manuscripts in the Makassarese language of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Written in two syllabaries, with the oldest extant manuscripts dating back to the 17th century, Lontara' manuscripts consist largely of chronicles or histories of local kingdoms, collections of rules relating to customary law, and court diaries and daybooks. The project will digitise a selection of the materials surveyed, and will investigate the feasibility of conducting a large scale digitisation project.

 Email 11 Jan 2011 tif 365_dgtiro1_002

EAP399 Historical collections of manuscripts located at the al-Jazzar mosque library in Acre

The al-Jazzar Mosque library (al-Ahmadiyya) in the city of Acre in northern Israel is home to a large collection of unique Arabic language manuscripts. Dating back to the 14th century, the surviving manuscripts are tightly bound and have been damaged through constant use, the lack of a comprehensive preservation programme, and inhospitable environmental conditions.

The project digitised 54 manuscripts, creating 17,965 image files which will be made accessible to researchers at the al-Jazzar Mosque library and the British Library.

Eap399_ashb0008small 

Alex

20 October 2010

August and September Accessions 2010

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Anyone following this blog will be wondering why there were no "Accessions" posts for August or September. I have been remiss. We have certainly continued to receive material. To rectify the situation, here is a list of the projects that submitted material over the past two months.

Preservation through digitisation of the Tangut collection at the Institute of Oriental Studies, St Petersbury Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences

Preserving endangered ethnographic audiovisual materials of expressive culture in Peru

History of Bolama, the first capital of Portuguese Guines (1879-1941), as reflected in the Guinean National Historical Archives

Digital music archiving: digital archive of North Indian classical music phase II (special collections) and digital archive of recorded Bengali songs

A rescue programme for the Matsieng Royal Archives, Lesotho.

This last project is copying material formerly held at the Royal residence in Matsieng, Lesotho. The images we've received provide visual evidence of how records can be endangered as a result of poor or unsuitable storage. The collection was rescued from the Royal residence by the University Archives in 2007 after the ceiling of their building collapsed, leaving the paper documents exposed to the rain. The images below show the result:

EAP279 72-20002 

EAP279 72-20004 

Among the records being copied are: records on chieftainship and succession to high office; court proceedings and judgements; boundary disputes and resolutions; traditional marriage systems and records; inheritance documentation and disputes; offical speeches; correspondence; publications; official administrative records; records of public works; and financial records of government divisions.

Lynda

09 July 2010

June Accessions 2010

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Last month we received material from only one project: 'Faces drawn in the sand': a rescue project of Native Peoples' photographs stored at the Museum of La Plata, Argentina - major project.

Led by Dr Irina Podgorny, this project built on the work of an earlier pilot project that successfully identified and re-located 'forgotten collections' within the Museum of La Plata. The major project created microfilm and digital images of 11 Collections. All the material is photographic and include glass plate negatives, celluloid film, glass lantern slides and albumen prints. They are quite amazing. Some of the originals are cracked or damaged because of their age and the project team has done a great job making good quality copies. It was difficult choosing only a few images to show in this post. Here are three:

EAP207-ARQ-002-017-0007

EAP207-ARQ-002-008-0004

EAP207 AFO-002-00X-023-0001 

This project is now finished and the full Collections available for access.

Lynda