Endangered archives blog

News about the projects saving vulnerable material from around the world

3 posts from January 2010

27 January 2010

Popular market books from Bengali

This week I have started to work through the images we received as part of the project: Archiving 'popular market' Bengali books.

The project produced digital copies of 2,980 books, covering such diverse subjects as "religion, folk culture, local history, popular literature, pornography and erotica,...fashion and cookery, instruction on traditional rural pursuits such as agriculture and animal farming...instruction on reparing machinery and appliances, citizen's rights, the law, government procedure, public hygiene and social reform." Quite a range!

The project copied books held by the School of Cultural Texts and Records at Jadavpur University, and from several private collections. Digitising these privately held texts in particular will hugely improve access to this valuable social and cultural resource. This is a significant outcome for the EAP as one of our core aims is to facilitate access to items which would normally not be made available to the public. The majority of our projects are copying material held by private indivuduals or non-government institutions.

As I work through the collections I will post about interesting titles or publication types that I come across, hopefully selecting a book or theme of the week and showing you some of the wonderful, colourful covers and page illustrations. There is a lot to choose from! One of the first books that caught my eye was an edition of ghost stories, published by the Rajendra Library and titled 'agnidrshti'. Here is the cover page:


Here's the contents page:


And here's the graphically illustrated start of a story:



18 January 2010

Suppression of the Arabic press during the British Mandate

Cataloguing of the Collection of historical periodicals at the Al-Aqsa Mosque Library continues. A quick glance at the publication dates for these newspapers and periodicals reveals that many of them frequently had their publication runs interrupted.

al-Muqtabas, a daily newspaper established in Damascus by Muhammad Kurd 'Ali, frequently suffered disruptions to its publication. Highly critical of the governing Committee of Union and Progress Party, Muhammad Kurd Ali was subject to attempted bribery, assault and even assassination attempts, all of which impacted upon his ability to publish between 1909 and 1914 (for more information on this, see Ami Ayalon's book 'The Press in the Arab Middle East: A History').


The Arabic Press in Palestine was all but shut down by the Ottomans during World War One, but was able to re-emerge during the early years of the British Mandate period. However, as political unrest grew from the 1930's, the British government enacted a new Publications Law in January 1933. This new law gave the government sweeping powers to suspend and close papers.

This press law was heavily criticised in Palestine - and it appears this was noted back in England. The following image is a reprint of an article initially published in the London Times on February 27 1935, originally titled 'Palestinian Affairs in the London Times'. Printed in the al-Awqat al-Arabia ('The Arab Times') newspaper on 6 March 1935, the article reports on the suspension of the Arabic press, and notes the fairer treatment which the Jewish press appears to receive.


The article also provides us with an insight into the political and economic upheavals in Palestine at the time. Topics such as Jewish immigration, a land boom, and the formation of new political parties are reported. This English language material provided a great opportunity for me to read some of the papers, and to supplement the contextual information provided by the EAP119 project with detail from the materials themselves.


08 January 2010

December Accessions 2009

Looking over the EAP Accession records it appears most of December was spent processing new material into the library. We received discs, microfilm and hard drives from seven projects! Some of these were continuing transfers from on-going projects. Some were the first receipts from new projects.

Material was received from:

Preserving the archives of the United National Independence Party of Zambia

Collection and digitisation of old music in pre-literate Micronesian society

Study and collection of Hakku Patras and other documents among folk communities in Andhra Pradesh

Saving archival documents of archaeological researches conducted during the 1920s and 1930s in Ukraine

Digital archive of north Indian classical music

Digitisation of Bolivian indigenous communities' records on ayllu structure, tax and land tenure

Preserving more Marathi manuscripts and making them accessible - major project

This last project is the second undertaken by Dr Feldhaus to copy Marathi manuscripts in India. Her first project, Preserving Marathi manuscripts and making them accessible, was completed in 2007. It successfully microfilmed 300 manuscripts including:  works of the Vakari poet-saints from the 13th to the 17th centuries;  works of the 'Pandit' poets of the 17th and 18th centuries;  notebooks of songs used by performers of kirtans and other types of (mostly Vaishnava) religious performances;  manuscripts on yoga, astrology and other kinds of sciences including (interestingly) the science of horses; and manuscripts of the vast literature of the Mahanubhav sect. The project also conducted training for staff in digital preservation and raised awareness of Marathi manuscript collections and their care.

The current major project is continuing to microfilm Marathi manuscripts and training staff. Here is a glimpse of the result:

EAP248 IMG_2187