Endangered archives blog

News about the projects saving vulnerable material from around the world

16 November 2022

New online - October 2022

This month we are highlighting the following four projects that have recently been made available to view online. 

The Historical Archive of the Institute of Charity "Hermandad De Dolores" (Fraternity of Sorrows), Santiago De Chile [EAP1289]


The Instituto de Caridad Hermandad de Dolores (Institute of Charity Fraternity of Sorrows), is the oldest institution of private charity in Chile, which has offered free medical services in the city of Santiago since the 19th century. It was founded in March 1815, by a group of patriots who were imprisoned on Juan Fernández Island during the Chilean War of Independence, among them, Juan Egaña, Manuel de Salas and Manuel Blanco Encalada. After the conflict, they returned to Santiago and fulfilled their promise to form an association aimed at helping the poorest people of the city. The archive of this institution, composed of more than 300 manuscripts, traces its history from the 19th century to the present day. In this project, 100 volumes corresponding to the first half of the 20th century (1900-1950) have been digitised. Their content helps illustrate a Chilean society still in the making, especially regarding medicine, women's participation in the public sphere and the lack of State policies related to charity and the poor.

The Manuscript Collection of Issa Iskandar al Maa’luf, Beirut [EAP1423]


This project catalogued and digitised the Isa Iskandar al Ma’luf historical Manuscript Collection, written between the 18th and the 20th centuries. Stored in a much-neglected storage condition for around 60 years, the collection, which was suffering from chemical and physical deterioration, is now located at the American University of Beirut libraries. A total of 101 manuscripts of different subjects were cleaned, preserved, rehoused in new acid free boxes, properly labelled, catalogued, and scanned. The manuscripts are essential for the study of cultural, social, and religious history of the Middle East. The collection includes recently received manuscripts dated between the 16th century and the early 20th century, which cover numerous topics, including: astronomy, literature, history, genealogy, logic, mathematics, medicine, music, religion, and others.

The Manuscripts Collection of the Great Omari Mosque Library, Palestine [EAP1285]


The library of the Great Omari Mosque is considered one of the most important and oldest national libraries and archives in Palestine. Its collection of manuscripts covers a variety of Islamic sciences, and the humanities. The collection describes important and rare manuscripts, for examples: the valuable literary (Diwan) of the poet Ibn Zuqqah Al-Ghazzi and Fatwas of the Scholar Tamrtashi Al-Ghazzi. 211 manuscripts have been digitised and cover topics such as: Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence); Hadiths of the Prophet Mohammed; Sufism; Arabic grammar and dictionaries.

The Kita Cercle Colonial Archive, Mali [EAP1085]


Kita is one of the most ancient colonial districts in Mali (1880) and played a crucial military role in the conquest of Western Mali after French colonisation. It was also one of the very first colonial railroad stations. Thus the Cercle, the main administrative authority since colonisation, collected a tremendous amount of information about the social and economic life of the region over the twentieth century. This project is a continuation of an earlier and smaller project that carried out a survey of the colonial archives (EAP820). This larger project digitised a wide range of records including those about political and military affairs; science and the arts; navigation; finance and administration; and many other subjects.

02 November 2022

EAP Cataloguer Vacancy

We are seeking to recruit a cataloguer to join the EAP team at the British Library’s St Pancras site. 

This post is until 31 December 2023 (with the hope that it will be renewed).  The purpose of the post is to support the team by cataloguing material received from the various projects. Making the material accessible for scholarly research is a key element of the Programme and you will be a valued member of EAP.

This post would be suitable to someone who has an understanding of at least one of the communities represented in EAP projects (The Caribbean, Asia, Middle East, Africa, Latin America). We actively and warmly welcome applications from candidates who feel their culture has been represented by the EAP collections. 

If you would like to apply, please visit the British Library Website. The application deadline is 16 November 2022.

Woman standing behind two boys sitting at a table reading something
EAP755/1/1/110/3 "Woman helping two kids study for the article La vida de las mujeres, Vosotras magazine"


05 October 2022

New online - September 2022

We have another four projects that recently went online to highlight this month. Two projects from India, and one each from Cuba and Columbia:

Preservation and Digitisation of Manuscripts Belonging to 16th to 20th Century of Central Kerala [EAP1320]

The project team has digitised 84 documents, made up of a total of 77 palm leaves documents and seven old books. The palm leaves belong to the period 1600 to 1910 AD. Notable outcomes are the recovery and digitisation of assumingly ‘lost’ ancient works like ‘Lagnaprakarana’ of renowned ancient scholars and a Palm leaf manuscript text of Rgveda. The records cover the topics of Astronomy related mathematics, Ayurveda, Upanayana, Astrology, Commentaries, amongst others. The sources of these collections are mainly from two families with renowned tradition of knowledge in ancient Kerala. One is the Irinjadapilly Mana the ancestral home of Sangamagrama Madhava, the legendary Mathematician of the 14th century. The other is Kunnathur Padinjaredath Mana, known for their knowledge in Vasthu Sastra and Tantra.

You can view the records here.

EAP1320 team (1)

Creating a digital archive of ecclesiastical records in the original seven Villas of Cuba [EAP955]

This project digitised records owned by the Bishopric of Santa Clara in Cuba, and held at three separate locations: the Catedral de Santa Clara, the Iglesia de San Juan, and the Iglesia of La Caridad. Records include baptism, death, and burial registers. 

You can view the records here.


Digitisation of Documentary Heritage of the Colombian Caribbean in the Maritime Port of Cartagena de Indias [EAP1212]

This project digitised notarial documents from 1853-1900 corresponding to the First Notary Office of Cartagena, and notarial documents from 1859-1861 corresponding to the Notary Public of the Municipality of El Carmen de Bolívar. Such documents are found in the Historical Archive of Cartagena de Indias, an administrative unit of the Historical Museum of the same city. The digitised material accounts for the social history of both the city of Cartagena de Indias and the Municipality of El Carmen de Bolívar. It addresses aspects related to economic life (including: trade, formation of commercial companies, purchase-sale of possessions and rural and urban properties, production and marketing of tobacco, public administrative contracts, mortgages), as well as characteristics of social, public and private life (civil marriages, successions of post-mortuary assets, appraisals, wills), both in rural and urban areas.

You can view the records here.


Songs of the Old Madmen: Recovering Baul Songs from the Note-Books of 19th and 20th Century Bengali Saint-Composers [EAP1247]

This project digitised records from six different Baul collections in West Bengal, India. The songs of the Bauls (literally “mad”, intoxicated by divine love) are composed by gurus or spiritual teachers, and performed by itinerant folk musicians. They are performed among low-caste communities in India and Bangladesh, where they are recognized as intangible cultural heritage. An encyclopedia of beliefs and practices, Baul songs discuss ideas on cosmogony, health, sexuality, meditation and everyday life.

The collections provide important primary sources for the study of the Baul tradition of Bengal, showing how the songs are passed down across the generations and transmitted from older gurus to contemporary singers/practitioners. They provide information about the continuity and change in the repertoire of Baul songs, while also offering a window to understand the intimate and devotional relationship between gurus and disciples of this tradition.

The records include handwritten notebooks of Baul songs, three albums of correspondence between guru and disciple, historical documents, and numerous photographs of Baul performers and their families which have been found within the pages of the notebooks.

You can view the records here.