Endangered archives blog

News about the projects saving vulnerable material from around the world

19 July 2012

Gypsy/Roma archives in Bulgaria

Digital copies of photographs, theatre play scripts and posters, songs and newspapers are among the newly catalogued Collections relating to Gypsy/Roma archives in Bulgaria, now available on the EAP webpages. These records were copied by EAP067 Preservation of Gypsy/Roma historical and cultural heritage in Bulgaria from private individual and family collections. Additional surrogate copies have been deposited with the Studii Romani Archive at the Ethnographic Institute and Museum of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, along with some of the original items.

The 10 Collections feature photographs from everyday life including special events such as weddings and New Year celebrations; photographs of important political meetings and speeches; photographs of musicians; copies of plays and theatre posters; songs; and newspapers written for a gypsy audience. These represent a rich resource of primary material relating to Gypsy/Roma in Sofia during the 20th century.

To give an idea of the scope of the material, here are three images, each taken from a different Collection. The first image belongs to EAP067/3 Emilia Ormandzhieva and Zlatko Mladenov Collection of Gypsy Folklore Material. It is the first page of a folksong (EAP067/3/1 Folklore songs, c 1970s). Unusually, this song was written down so that it could be passed to future generations. The original song was composed during the 1940s as  away of celebrating the future and "new life" that Gypsies expected under socialist rule.


The next image comes from EAP067/2 Zhivkov Family Collection. The Zhivkov family originates from the Gypsy group called Musikanti ('Musician' in Bulgarian). Members of the Zhivkov family have been army musicians, others have participated in various circus groups. As you might expect, the Collection contains many images of musicians and musical situations, showing costumes and instruments.

EAP067/2/1/6 Gypsy musicians at Manifestation, c 1940

The third image is of Gypsy women selling flowers. This is taken from EAP067/9 Romani Bah Collection of material from the 'Fakultet' Gypsy Quarter. It is possible the women are helping to celebrate International Women's Day, March 8.




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