Endangered archives blog

News about the projects saving vulnerable material from around the world

3 posts from February 2011

21 February 2011

International Mother Language Day

"Languages are the best vehicles of mutual understanding and tolerance. Respect for all languages is a key factor for ensuring peaceful coexistence, without exclusion, of societies and all their members."

Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, Message on the occasion of International Mother Language Day 2011

Today is International Mother Language Day, established by UNESCO in 1999 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The theme this year is Information and Communication Technologies for the safeguarding and promotion of languages and linguistic diversity.  Over half of the world's languages are endangered, and UNESCO aim to raise awareness of the role new technologies can play in promoting linguistic diversity.


The Endangered Languages Project (also funded by Arcadia) at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London aims to document endangered languages, train language documenters, preserve and disseminate documentation materials, and support endangered languages. It runs three programmes: a documentation programme (ELDP) which provides research grants; an academic programme (ELAP) which runs postgraduate courses in language documentation and description, and an archiving programme (ELAR) which seeks to preserve and disseminate endangered language documentation.

Several EAP projects have digitised material written, spoken and sung in endangered languages, scripts and dialects, including:

EAP051 Bamum script and archive project: saving Africa's written heritage

Led by Dr Konrad Tuchscherer, EAP051 provided additional funding to the Bamum Script and Archives Project, to enable digitisation and listing of documents written in the Bamum script. The project was also heavily involved in the creation of a Unicode font for the script. 

APRB2 15 

EAP089: Reconstruction of sound materials of endangered languages in the Russian Federation for sound archives in Saint Petersberg

The project digitised material in the following languages: Azerbaijan, Balochi, Chagatay, Chatror, Dari (Farsi-Kabuli), Enets, German, Kati, Kerek, Mendzon, Nenets, Nganasan, Parachi, Pashai, Pashto, Russian, Shugni, Tajik, Udeghe, Vaygali, and Wakhi (Vakhan).

There are other EAP projects which deal with endangered languages and scripts; more information can be found by searching our webpages.





09 February 2011

January Accessions part two

In January we also received material from the following projects:

EAP314 Rescuing Tamil customary law: locating and copying endangered records of village judicial assemblies (1870-1940)

This pilot project located handwritten documents of village judicial assemblies (traditional courts of customary law) in two districts of south-central Tamil Nadu (Madurai and Coimbatore). Working alongside local researchers, the project team conducted a systematic survey over a 12 month period to locate the largest possible number of handwritten documents pertaining to these panchayats. A number of the located documents were digitised, and a survey report and location register produced, providing support for a possible mass-digitisation project in the future.

EAP314_COL001_008_001_Ar copy 

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

EAP357 is undertaking a survey of monastic libraries in the Saharti and Enderta regions of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. Thirty church and monastic library collections were selected for the survey; the state and condition of each library will be assessed, and particularly rare and at-risk items identified. A sample of these collections will be digitised, and it is hoped that the documentation work will provide the bedrock for a future digitisation project.



02 February 2011

January Accessions part one

In January the EAP received material from 6 projects. Brief details are given below, along with links to further information and samples:

EAP128 Thai rainbow archives project: a digitised collection of Thai gay, lesbian and transgender publications

The EAP128 project is part of an attempt by Thai community organisations, working in collaboration with the Australian National University, to preserve materials that have not been collected by any Thai institutional archive. The project digitised approximately 1,000 Thai language LGBT publications, and has arranged for the original materials to be transferred to the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre Library in Thonburi, Bangkok. The material is available at the Thai Rainbow Archive website, and will also be made available through the British Library reading rooms and the EAP website.

Page from Mithuna magazine, 1984


EAP180 Preservation through digitisation of endangered Armenian rare books, and making them accessible on the Web (phase 1)

The Fundamental Scientific Library of Armenia holds 4,200 endangered books and 190 titles of Armenian language newspapers and periodicals, one of the largest collections of early printed books and periodicals in the Republic of Armenia. The material is fragile, and unsuitable storage conditions present a threat to its long term survival and availability as a research resource. The EAP180 project has provided training sessions for local staff in preservation and digitisation, and created digital surrogates of these vital materials.



EAP310 The digital documentation of manuscripts in Phurdrup, Thadrak, Tshamdrak and Nyephug Temples

The temples of Phurdrup,  Thadrak, Tshamdrak and Nyephug in Bhutan hold significant collections of ancient manuscripts, including Buddhist canonical texts, religious and philosophical writings, and histories and biographies, which have hitherto remained unknown and inaccessible to scholars. The collections in the four temples are exposed to fluctuating temperatures, humidity, dust, and insect and rodent attacks. EAP310 created over 150,000 digital images of the manuscripts, helping to preserve the intellectual content of the material, and making it available to the international community for the first time.

RGyud Ka (2) 
rGyud Ka