Endangered archives blog

News about the projects saving vulnerable material from around the world

4 posts from October 2010

27 October 2010

UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

Just a quick post to draw your attention to the fact that today is the UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, established to raise awareness of the value of audiovisual material , and the challenges we face in ensuring its preservation for current and future generations. The UNESCO web pages have more information about the day, including details of a programme of short films to be screened in Paris this evening in celebration.

EAP projects have digitised a range of audiovisual materials, documenting such varied performances and events as Chinese Dongjing performances, initiation rites for the Dagara Bagr cult of Northern Ghana and Southern Burkina Faso, records created by the East Timor Commission on Return, Truth and Reconciliation from 2002-2004, and recordings of North Indian Classical Music.


22 October 2010

EAP001 Faces and places: Iranian photography

This week I have started to catalogue the material produced by the very first EAP project, EAP001 - Faces and places in Iran: Iranian photography at the turn of the 20th century. The project surveyed 30 archive collections across 13 urban centres in Iran, and digitised a sample of these materials.

The collections include photographs from key figures in the history of Iranian photography, including Ernst Hoeltzer, Minas Patkerhanian Machertich, Mirza Abdollah Qajar, and Thooni Johannes. The materials are in the care of a range of institutions and individuals, many of them unfortunately unable to provide safe archival storage. The accompanying metadata is patchy, and in some cases there is no information about the photographs, their subjects, sources or other contextual information. Once the collection is made available we are keen to encourage users to add to the descriptions, especially if this involves identifying subjects, photographers or related collections.

Here are a selection of images from the project that have caught my eye; I'll put up more next week as I progress with the collection.

Armenian familyBLOG 
An Armenian family in Julfa. Taken by Ernst Hoeltzer, 1890s

Workers at the inauguration of Isfahan's telephone exchange. Photographer unknown, 1930s

Boghozkhanian Hospital in Julfa, taken late 1918 by Minas Patkerhanian Machertich

Many of the images in our collection also appear in a book by Parisa Damandan (the co-applicant on this project, and the source of many of the photographs), Portrait photographs from Isfahan: faces in transition, 1920-1950 (London: Sagi, 2004), which contains an introduction to the history of photography in Iran.


20 October 2010

August and September Accessions 2010

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.


01 October 2010

Rescuing Dongjing Archives in Yunnan, China

Over the past week I have started to catalogue project EAP012 Salvage and preservation of Dongjing archives in Yunnan, China: transcript, score, ritual and performance.

Dongjing refers to a body of Daoist and Confucian texts and traditional music scores. The songs can be performed unaccompanied or with instruments. As a practice it is thought to date back to the 15th century. Social, political and cultural factors have endangered the practice which is now mostly performed by communities in Yunnan province.

The collections copied by the EAP012 project contain a wealth of material including ritual texts, music scores and audio-visual recordings of Dongjing performances as well as oral history interviews. The following images are taken from Sanguan donging juan zhong, a sutra used during Dongjing activities, inscribed in 1911.