Endangered archives blog

24 posts categorized "Arabic"

16 March 2021

EAP Publication translated into Arabic - مُترجَمًا إلى العربية: برنامج الأرشيفات المهددة بالاندثار يطلق أحد أهم كتبه

In 2020, EAP received a generous grant from the Barakat Trust to translate Remote Capture: Digitising Documentary Heritage in Challenging Locations into Arabic as part of outreach within the Middle East and North Africa regions. Nouran Ibrahim Abdelraouf did all the hard work of translating the book and now that it is available online via the EAP website, we thought it would be the right time to ask her a few questions that we could share on our blog.

في عام 2020، تلقى برنامج الأرشيفات المهددة بالاندثار منحة كريمة من مؤسسة بركات لترجمة كتاب لقطات نائية: رقمنة التراث الوثائقي في المواقع ذات التحديات كجزء من جهود الانتشار في منطقتي الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا. أخذت نوران إبراهيم عبد الرؤوف على عاتقها مهمة ترجمة الكتاب الصعبة، وبما أنه قد أصبح متاحًا على الإنترنت من خلال موقع برنامج الأرشيفات المهددة بالاندثار، فإننا نعتقد أنه قد حان الوقت لطرح بعض الأسئلة على المترجمة بحيث ننشر إجاباتها على مدونتنا.
 
Nouran small
 
حدثينا عن نفسك بعض الشيء: كيف بدأتِ العمل في مجال الترجمة؟
لطالما كنت شغوفة باللغات، وتحديدًا اللغة الإنجليزية. تخصصت والدتي في الأدب الإنجليزي في الجامعة، ولطالما كانت "دودة قراءة"، وأظن أنني قد ورثت عنها هذا الأمر! لذا، فقد نشأت في بيت مليء بالكتب العربية والإنجليزية وشغف عام باللغة والقراءة، وفي المدرسة، كانت مادتا اللغة العربية واللغة الإنجليزية مادتيّ المفضلتين. ثم التحقت بقسم اللغة الإنجليزية في كلية الألسن بجامعة عين شمس، وعُينت معيدة به، ثم تخصصت في الترجمة التحريرية والشفهية بين العربية والإنجليزية، وناقشت رسالة الماجستير وعنوانها ترجمة عبارات التلطُف: تحليل اجتماعي إدراكي نقدي للخطاب السياسي الأمريكي في ‘الحرب على الإرهاب’ وترجمته في الإعلام العربي المكتوب في عام 2015. بدأت العمل في مجال الترجمة التحريرية على الإنترنت بينما كنت طالبة في السنة الثالثة من الكلية، وبدأت العمل كمترجمة شفهية أثناء دراستي في دبلومة الترجمة التحريرية والشفهية.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, how did you get started in translation work?

Well, I've always been passionate about languages, especially English. My mother is an English literature major and has always been a bookworm, something which she's definitely passed on to me! So, growing up, I've always been surrounded by books in both Arabic and English and a general passion for language and reading, and in school, both English and Arabic languages were my favorite subjects. I then went on to join the English department in the Faculty of Al-Alsun (Languages), Ain Shams University, where I currently work as an assistant lecturer. Then I specialised in translation and interpreting between Arabic and English and defended my MA thesis titled "Euphemism in Translation: A Socio-cognitive Critical Analysis of the US War on Terror Discourse and its Translation in Arabic Media" in 2015. I started my career in translation work online while I was still a Junior and started interpreting work during studying for my translation and interpreting diploma.

لاحظت أنكِ أكثر تركيزًا على ترجمة المواد المتصلة بالثقافة والتراث، هل هذا صحيح؟ ما الذي دعاكِ للتركيز على ذلك؟
نعم، أظن أن ذلك صحيح إلى حد كبير. هناك حس بالتحقق والإنجاز يأتي من وساطتك بين الثقافات المختلفة. أنا مصرية، ولبلدي تراث هائل يتألف من طبقات عدة من الثقافات المختلفة. دائمًا ما أشعر بالفخر عند معرفة المزيد عن تراثي المصري، وتقديمي لجوانب منه لبقية العالم عن طريق الترجمة. ينطبق الأمر ذاته على كل المواد الثقافية المختلفة الأخرى التي يربطني بها العمل من خلال الترجمة سواء التحريرية أو الشفهية. ودائمًا ما تتسم هذه المواد بالتحديات، لأن الخصوصية الثقافية جزء لا يتجزأ منها، وفي الوقت ذاته يمثل إدخالها في سياق اللغة المترجم إليها تحديًا كبيرًا، ولذلك يحتاج هذا النوع من العمل إلى الكثير من البحث والشغف، وقدر كبير من الصبر والمثابرة في سبيل الوصول إلى ترجمة ملائمة. ولكن على الرغم من تلك الصعوبات والتحديات، فإن العملية كلها تمثل تجربة مجزية للغاية عند إنجاز الأمر بالتوصل إلى ترجمة مناسبة. أعمل في مجالات وموضوعات مختلفة أيضًا، ولكن تظل الثقافة والتراث من ضمن الموضوعات المفضلة بالنسبة لي قراءةً وعملًا.
 

Am I right in thinking you like to focus on translating material related to culture and heritage? What made you decide to focus on this?

I think this is somehow true. There is a sense of accomplishment that comes from being the mediator between different cultures. Being an Egyptian myself, I come from a country that is just layer over layer over layer of different cultures and a huge heritage. I take pride in knowing more about my Egyptian heritage and helping with presenting parts of it to the rest of the world. This applies to all other different cultural materials that I've worked on through translating or interpreting. Such materials are almost always challenging, since culture specificity is inherent to their nature, meanwhile it is something that is usually very challenging to contextualise in the target language. This is why this kind of work needs lots of research and passion, not to mention a great deal of patience and persistence to reach a suitable rendition. Having said that, it is a particularly rewarding experience when you eventually get it right. I do work on different subjects as well, but topics of culture and heritage are definitely among my favorite subjects to both read and work on.

 

ما الذي خطر ببالك فور دعوتك لترجمة لقطات نائية؟
تحمست كثيرًا لدعوتي للتعاون مع أحد برامج المكتبة البريطانية، ولأول وهلة بدا الكتاب شيقًا ومليئًا بالتحديات. عندما تحدثت مع صديقة تعمل في مجال التراث، أخبرتني أن هناك الكثير من الجهات والأفراد الذين سيكونون مهتمين بمنح برنامج الأرشيفات المهددة بالاندثار في مصر، ومن ثم سيهمهم وجود ترجمة عربية لكتاب لقطات نائية، بما أنه يمثل دليلًا عمليًا على كيفية البدء في مشروعات رقمنة التراث والحصول على إحدى منح البرنامج. أعتقد أن الأمر ذاته ينطبق على سائر البلدان التي تتحدث بالعربية؛ فهذه المنطقة من العالم تمتلك طيفًا واسعًا من الثقافات والتراث، وفي غالب الأمر تحتاج إلى المزيد من الموارد لتوثيقه، لذا تحمست للغاية لأن أبدأ العمل في الترجمة العربية للقطات نائية، لأنه سيكون أحد الموارد التي ستيسر هذا الأمر.

What were your immediate thoughts when you were invited to collaborate on Remote Capture?

I was really intrigued to be collaborating with one of the British Library's programmes, and I thought the nature of the book itself was quite challenging. When I spoke to a friend working in the field, she told me that there were many entities and individuals in Egypt who would be particularly interested in the grants offered by EAP, and consequently in an Arabic translation of Remote Capture, since it serves as a practical manual on how to get started with a heritage digitisation project and how to get an EAP grant. I think the same applies to other Arabic-speaking countries; it's an area of the world that has various cultures and heritages and is probably in need for more resources to be able to document them, so I was very enthusiastic about starting to work on the Arabic translation of Remote Capture that would somehow facilitate this.

ما هو الجانب الذي استمتعتِ بالعمل عليه في الكتاب؟
أفضل الحديث عن اللحظات الممتعة والتي أشعرتني بالتحقق فيما يتصل بعملي على لقطات نائية. استمتعت بعدة لحظات من هذا النوع عند مواجهتي للتعبيرات التخصصية الصعبة؛ أحيانًا ما كنت أجد صعوبة حتى في فهم التعبير أو الكلمة باللغة الإنجليزية أصلًا، ومن ثم في الترجمة. لم يكن الأمر سهلًا دائمًا، ولكن بكل تأكيد كان مجزيًا عند خروج الترجمة إلى النور. كما سعدت بالحصول على منتج نهائي بعد العمل الشاق الذي استمر لفترة ليست بالقصيرة نظرًا لحجم المشروع، وبعد العمل مع المصمم والدخول في العديد من النقاشات بشأن المنتج النهائي وما يجب أن يبدو عليه. كما كانت لحظة إطلاق الكتاب مترجمًا على الإنترنت وإرسالي للرابط ذي الصلة إلى أسرتي وأصدقائي لحظة سعيدة بالنسبة لي، فقد جعلت كل الأرق والتوتر بشأن اللحاق بموعد التسليم كأن لم يكنا! كما أنه يجب أن أذكر أنني أستمتع الآن بالإجابة عن أسئلة هذه المقابلة!

What aspect of the book did you enjoy working on?

I would rather speak about enjoyable and fulfilling moments related to my work on Remote Capture. I had many of these whenever there was a particularly challenging, technical term that I struggled to first understand, and second translate. It wasn't always easy, but was definitely rewarding when it eventually materialised. I also enjoyed having a final product after such hard work that went on for quite some time given the volume of the project, and after working with the graphic designer and having so many discussions on how the final product should look like. Also, the moment when the translation finally went online and I could share its link with my family and friends was a big one for me; it just makes all the sleepless nights and anxiety over making the deadline worthwhile. I also have to mention that I am enjoying answering the questions of this interview!

هل واجهتك أية تحديات؟ إذا كانت الإجابة بنعم، فماذا كانت هذه التحديات؟
لقد واجهتني تحديات مهنية وشخصية. بالنسبة للتحديات المهنية، فقد تضمنت ترجمة مواد شديدة التخصص من الإنجليزية إلى العربية. كان الفصل المتعلق بطرز الكاميرات وإعداداتها تحديدًا شديد الصعوبة. كان علي أن أقرأ مطولًا بشأن الكاميرات وإعداداتها وكيفية عملها حتى أتأكد من أنني أعبر عن المعلومة بصورة صحيحة. كما تحتم علي اتخاذ عدة قرارات فيما يتعلق باختيار اللغة المستخدمة للتعبير عن الكلمات الأكثر تخصصًا، هل أحتفظ باللغة الإنجليزية كما هي لأنها الأكثر استخدامًا في هذا المجال؟ أم أستخدم اللغة العربية والتي قد لا يكون التعبير فيها مطروقًا بنفس القدر؟ استغرق هذا الأمر مني وقتًا وتفكيرًا من أجل الوصول إلى حل وسط لا أضحي فيه بالمعنى المقصود في النص الأصلي، ولا بمدى مقبوليته في النص المترجم. وعندما أشير إلى "الكلمات التخصصية"، فإنني أقصد الأجزاء المتعلقة بالمعدات الحديثة وأيضًا بمجال توثيق التراث. هناك ندرة في الموارد العربية، على الأقل على الإنترنت، التي تتناول كلا الموضوعين، ولذا كان علي أقضي وقتًا طويلًا في عملية البحث قبل التوصل إلى بضعة موارد ساعدتني على إنجاز الأمر. أما بالنسبة للتحديات الشخصية، فهي تتعلق بشكل رئيسي بإدارة الوقت. خلال الفصل الدراسي الماضي، كنت أدرس 6 مواد في برنامج التأهيل للدكتوراه، وكان لمعظم هذه المواد 3 اختبارات منذ بداية الفصل الدراسي وحتى نهايته، بالإضافة إلى الفروض الأسبوعية وتدريس 3 مواد مختلفة. لذا كان علي الموازنة بين العديد من الأشياء خلال فترة العمل على لقطات نائية، وأنا للأسف لا أتقن عملية إدارة الوقت على الإطلاق، ولكن العبرة بالخواتيم! شعرت بالإنجاز والتحقق عندما رأيت كل العمل الشاق في الكتاب متجسدًا في صورته النهائية على موقع البرنامج.

Were there any challenges, if so, what were they?

Well, there were both technical and personal challenges. As for the technical challenges, they involved the translation of highly technical and specialised terms from English into Arabic. The chapter on cameras and their settings was a particularly difficult one. I had to go on reading and reading and reading on cameras, their settings and how they work, to make sure I am conveying the correct information. I also had to make a lot of decisions in regards to whether to use the more technical terms in English (more in use) or Arabic (less in use). This took some time and thinking to reach a successful compromise that wouldn't sacrifice either the intended meaning in the original text or its acceptability in the translated text. When I say: "technical terms", I am referring to both the parts that have to do with modern equipment as well as with the field of documenting heritage. There is a scarcity in Arabic resources, online at least, that discuss both subjects, and so I had to spend a long time researching before reaching a few resources that were helpful. As for the personal challenges, they mainly had to do with time management. This past semester I was studying 6 PhD subjects with three exams in each throughout the term, not to mention the weekly assignments, in addition to teaching 3 different classes. So I had many things to juggle throughout the project's time, and I am definitely not the best at time management, but I guess all's well that ends well! It was very rewarding to see all the hard work manifested in the book in its final form online.

أنت أيضًا تدرسين مواد الترجمة التحريرية والشفهية بصفتك مدرسًا مساعدًا بجامعة عين شمس. لابد من أنكِ شديدة الانشغال. ما الذي تفعلينه للاسترخاء؟
الاسترخاء.. كم أفتقده! بشكل عام، أحب القراءة ومشاهدة الأفلام والمسلسلات والسفر (على الرغم من أنني لم أسافر منذ أكثر من عام في ظل الظروف الحالية)، وأكتب من وقت لآخر. عندما يتوفر لدي الوقت والمواد اللازمة، أحب أن أمارس بعض الأعمال الفنية مثل الموازييك والديكوباج. كما أحب أشغال الإبرة مثل الكروشيه وتعلمت التطريز مؤخرًا. بشكل عام، تساعدك الأعمال اليدوية على الاسترخاء، وهي الشكل المفضل للتأمل بالنسبة لي، وأتمنى لو كان لدي المزيد من الوقت لممارستها بشكل أكبر. أيضًا، في العام الماضي، انشقت الأرض فجأة عن قطة سوداء قررت أن تسكن في شرفتنا، وعلى الرغم من جميع محاولاتنا لطردها، أصرت على البقاء، فلم نجد خيارًا أمامنا سوى أن نحبها ونتبناها! سرعان ما اكتشفنا حملها، وفي أغسطس الماضي ولدت 6 قطط، بقي 3 منهم معنا، لذا فنحن الآن نعتني بالأم والأب وأبنائهم الثلاثة. الوقت الذي أقضيه معهم هو من أوقاتي المفضلة في اليوم كله!

You also lecture on translation and interpreting studies at Ain Shams University. You must be incredibly busy, what do you do to relax and unwind?

Ah, the good old unwinding! I haven't done much of it lately. But generally speaking, I like reading, watching movies and series, travelling (though I haven't travelled in over a year now with all what's going on) and I write occasionally. When I have the time and materials, I like to do mosaic work and decoupage. I also love crocheting and I've just learned how to embroider. Generally, handcrafts help you unwind and relax, and they are my favorite form of meditation, I wish I had more time on my hands to do more of them. Also, last year, a tortoiseshell cat appeared mysteriously on our porch, DEMANDING to be fed as well as loved, we adopted her and soon enough she got pregnant and in August gave birth to 6 kittens, 3 of which are still with us, so we now care for the mum and dad as well as their three baby boys. Being around them is definitely one of my favorite pastimes!

ما هو مشروعك المقبل؟
من المفترض أن أبدأ العمل على ترجمة العدد الجديد من راوي: مجلة التراث المصري قريبًا. لا يمكنني الكشف عن موضوع العدد بعد، ولكنني متأكدة أنه سيكون عددًا شيقًا وثريًا كسابقه. كما آمل أن أركز بشكل أكبر على رسالة الدكتوراه وأن أحرز بعض التقدم فيها.

What is your next project?

I am supposed to start working on the translation of the new issue of Rawi Magazine, Egypt's Heritage Review soon. I can't disclose its subject quite yet, but I am sure it will be as interesting and enriching as the previous issue. I am also hoping to focus more on my PhD and to get some work done on my dissertation.

هل هناك من تودين توجيه الشكر إليه فيما يتعلق بعملك على لقطات نائية؟
لابد وأن أشكر والدتي إيناس يحيى لطفي التي أدين لها بكل شيء، والتي لطالما ساندتني بالتشجيع والدعم، خاصة عندما اقترب موعد التسليم وازداد توتري (كالعادة!). كما أود أن أتوجه بالشكر لأصدقائي على دعمهم اللامتناهي ومناقشاتنا التي ساعدتني على تخطي بعض الجوانب الصعبة في الترجمة. وبالطبع لابد وأن أذكر المهندس رجائي عبد الله الذي اضطلع بمهمة تصميم النسخة العربية من لقطات نائية. أسعدني العمل معه ولابد أن أشكره على مرونته وعلى صبره قبل كل شيء، على الرغم من كل التعديلات والتغييرات التي طلبتها منه. أخيرًا، أود أن أشكر جودي باتروورذ، وهي إحدى المحررين الرئيسيين للقطات نائية وحلقة الوصل بيني وبين برنامج الأرشيفات المهددة بالاندثار على دعمها الدائم ومرونتها في التعامل. كان العمل معها هو أحد أكثر الجوانب إشراقًا من المشروع بالنسبة لي.

Is there someone you would like to acknowledge or thank in relation to your work on Remote Capture?

I would definitely like to acknowledge my mother, Enas Yehia Lotfy, to whom I owe everything, and who has always been there with encouragement and support, especially whenever I was freaking out about the deadline! I would also like to thank my friends for their incessant support as well our discussions that definitely helped me with several challenging aspects of the translation. I can't forget to mention Ragaee Abdallah, who did all the hard work of Remote Capture's Arabic version graphics. It's been very pleasant to work with him, and I have to thank him for his flexibility and most of all for his patience in spite of all the changes and edits I kept asking him to make. Finally, I would like to thank Jody Butterworth, who is one of Remote Capture's editors and my point of contact with EAP for her constant support and flexibility. Working with her is definitely one of the highlights of the project for me.

                                                                                                                       

EAP is extremely grateful to the Barakat Trust for supporting the idea of an Arabic version of Remote Capture and to Nouran Ibrahim Abdelraouf for doing such a wonderful job of translating it.

30 September 2020

New Collections Online - September 2020

As the UK transitions from summer to autumn, EAP continues to publish newly digitised content. So as autumn leaves drift by your window, why not let these digital collections keep your curiosity warm?

From religious and mathematical manuscripts in South Asia and West Africa to colonial administration in East Africa and slavery related records in the Caribbean, these recently published collections once again represent the wide breadth of material that has and continues to be digitised by EAP project teams all over the world.

EAP913 - Arabic manuscripts from the Yattara Family Library, Timbuktu, Mali

Three photos of the digitsation process

The Yattara family library is a private manuscript collection that has been developed over centuries by a prominent family from the Malian city of Timbuktu. It consists of approximately 4,000 largely uncatalogued manuscripts ranging from single folio letters and historical documents to 100+ folio texts from diverse fields of Islamic studies.

This pilot project aimed to orchestrate initial cataloguing and triage preservation for the collection and to digitise a representative sample of the library’s holdings. The project team digitised 50 manuscripts, which are now free to access on the EAP website.

Although the collection originates from Timbuktu,  the manuscripts themselves were widely traded and have likely been produced in various parts of the regions surrounding that historical centre of scholarship. Most of the works date from the late 18th to the early 20th century and show the varied nature of manufacture and preservation of manuscripts from this region.

Currently, the material is located in Bamako after the library was moved for protection when Timbuktu was occupied by jihadist insurgents in 2012.

EAP1013 - Wills, Deed Books, and Power of Attorney records from the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, St Vincent

EAP1013_1_4_SEGMENT

This project sought to digitise documents relating to slavery and the immediate post-slavery era held at the Eastern Caribbean Courthouse, Kingstown, Saint Vincent. The digital collection includes:

Saint Vincent was an important sugar producing colony of the British Empire and the documents contain extensive information on land transactions, plantation ownership, testamentary practices, and slaveholding. These records are essential for investigation of slavery and plantation life on Saint Vincent and the post-slavery period from 1834 to 1865.

This pilot project was an extension of two previously completed investigations (EAP345 and EAP688) that digitised Deed Books for Saint Vincent.

EAP1063 - Mathematical Manuscripts from Pre-Modern India

Three photos of the digitsation process

This pilot project created a survey of historical Tamil and Malayalam language sources concerning mathematical practices among various occupations, communities, and institutions of teaching and learning. It digitised seven collections of manuscripts identified by the survey.

One surprising aspect of the survey was the large amount of manuscripts concerning architecture, which are often called the Manaiyadi Sastiram or Manai Alankaram and have hitherto received little attention from historians.

EAP1231 - District Administration Reports from the Colonial Territory Nyasaland (Malawi)

Image of the archive building and a digitised document
The National Archives of Malawi (left); EAP1231/1/4, Annual Report for Cholo District, 1934 (right)

This project digitised the annual reports produced by colonial administrators in the various districts of the Nyasaland [Malawi], between 1934-1935. These reports cover a wide range of topics including:

  • Agriculture
  • Cinema
  • Commerce
  • Crime
  • Education
  • Finance
  • Forestry
  • Health and Medicine
  • Industries
  • Land usage and boundaries
  • Law and legal affairs
  • Migration
  • Missionaries
  • Nature conservation
  • Weather

We will be publishing more digitised collections in the coming days, weeks, and months. To keep up-to-date, follow us on Twitter @bl_eap

30 July 2020

New Collections Online - July 2020

Last week we announced that since lockdown began in March and we started working from home, EAP had put more than one million images online. In total, the EAP digital archive now contains more than 8.5 million images. This unexpected milestone is thanks to all of the EAP project teams that digitise endangered archival material all over the world.

You can find summaries of recently uploaded projects in March, April, May, June, and now here is July's summary of four of the most recent projects to go online - and you can expect another summary of new projects online in the very near future, as we have more to announce and still more to upload.

This month's summary continues to represent the variety of different projects that EAP funds, from the Caribbean to South East Asia, from 18th century manuscripts to 19th century newspapers:

EAP352 - Sufi Islamic Manuscripts from Western Sumatra and Jambi, Indonesia

This project digitised 11 Sufi Islamic manuscript collections located in two regions of Indonesia: Western Sumatra and Jambi. The manuscripts date from the 1700s to the 20th century.

The collections includes manuscripts that describe suluk mystical rituals, interesting examples of al-Qur’an and works on traditional medicine in Jambi. They also contain unique examples of calligraphy, illumination, and binding which are important to preserve.

Two manuscript pages
Dalail al-Khairat (EAP352/1/6), left; Tasawuf, Fiqh dan Tauhid (EAP352/1/3), right

Languages include:

  • Arabic
  • Dutch
  • Javanese
  • Malay
  • Minangkabau

Scripts include:

  • Arabic
  • Jawi
  • Latin

The collection also includes some correspondence, including a letter from Siti Afīyah to ʻAbd al-Karīm Amr Allāh, dated 22 September 1928.

A one page letter
Letter from Siti Afīyah to ʻAbd al-Karīm Amr Allāh (EAP352/8/6)

 

EAP766 - Rare Manuscripts from Balochistan, Pakistan

Balochistan is located at a geographical and cultural intersection between South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East. This project digitised twelve private collections of manuscripts owned by local inhabitants of this fascinating historical region.

Manuscript cover
شاہنامہ حکیم ابوالقاسم فردوسی طوسی [Shahnāmah-i-Abu-Al-Qāsim Firdawsī Ṭawsī], 1865, (EAP766/8/2)

These manuscripts shine a spotlight on the pre-colonial history and cultural formations of Balochistan and its neighbouring regions. They provide important historical insights and voices that are often missing from the English language colonial documents that much historical research on the region is often dependent upon.

Languages include:

  • Arabic
  • Baluchi
  • Brahui
  • Pashto
  • Persian
  • Urdu
  • Uzbek
Arabic manuscript page
تحفہ منگوچر [Toḥfah-i-Mangawchar], (EAP766/12/1)

 

EAP945 - Pre-modern Hindu Ritual Manuscripts from Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

This project digitised 154 rare manuscripts owned by 81 year old Mr Upendra Bhakta Subedi. Mr Subedi, also known as Govinda Baje, is a descendant of an illustrious family of Rajopadhyaya Brahmins from the heart of the Kathmandu Valley and the manuscripts are located at his ancestral home, which was severely damaged by the 2015 earthquake.

Yantra diagram
Yantra diagram, c 1870 (EAP945/1/2)

These manuscripts date from the 17th-19th centuries and are mostly manuals on Hindu rites and rituals.

Languages include:

  • Hindi
  • Nepali
  • Newari
  • Sanskrit

Scripts include:

  • Bengali
  • Devanagari
  • Kuṭākṣara
  • Prachalit Nepal
Manuscript page with Sanskrit writing
तुलसीव्रतविधि [Procedure for planting tulsi (Holy Basil, Ocimum sanctum)], c 1870 (EAP945/1/3)

 

EAP1251 - The Barbadian Newspaper (1822-1861)

Following on from a recent project to digitise the Barbados Mercury and Bridgetown Gazette (1783-1848), this project by the same team at the Barbados Archives Department digitised another 19th century Barbados newspaper: The Barbadian.

Like the Barbados Mercury, The Barbadian spans an important period in the history of the Caribbean and offers important insights into the period before, during, and after the emancipation of slavery. You can read more about this in our recent blog, which explored some of what these newspapers reveal about this period and how that relates to 21st century racial tensions.

Front covers of The New York Times and The Barbadian
Comparison of front covers of the New York Times, May 2020; and The Barbadian, April 1835

These newspapers are a rich resource for genealogists as well as those interested in social and political history. While newspapers such as these predominantly provided a voice for the white settler community via editorials, letters to the editor, and advertisements, the identities of the enslaved also emerge, often through acts of resistance.

Look out in the coming weeks, for another summary of recent projects put online.

26 May 2020

New projects online - May 2020

May has been another busy month for new EAP projects going online. Here we showcase the first four now freely available, which cover a wide range of topics and regions.

EAP810 - Siddha Medicine Manuscripts, Tamil Nadu, India

Siddha refers to the traditional medical system of Tamil Nadu, India. Although recognised by the government of India, siddha medicine has not been systematically studied, partly due to the difficulty of access to its texts, mostly in form of manuscripts, kept in libraries or held by practitioners. This project makes these vital sources of traditional medicine available for research.

A bound palm leaf manuscript
A bound palm leaf manuscript, EAP810/6/1

These palm leaf manuscripts cover a large range of subjects, including general siddha medicine and medical specialities such as acupressure, baby and mother care, eye diseases or toxicology (snake and scorpion bites; food and medicine intoxication), and socio-cultural topics rooted in the siddha tradition such as mantra, philosophy, alchemy, spirituality, and astrology.

A palm leaf manuscript page with Tamil writing
அகத்தியர் கர்ம சூத்திரம் [Akattiyar Karma Cūttiram], EAP810/6/1/image 8

EAP 931 - Indigenous Memories of Land Privatisation in Mexico

The privatization of indigenous lands—the reparto de tierras—is an epochal but poorly understood process in Mexican history. It is largely trapped in narratives of liberal nation‐building or postcolonial despoilment. Yet how did indigenous people actually experience/navigate the reparto? Was it ethnocide, or ethnogenesis? As the one complete surviving record of a state-wide Mexican reparto, the hijuelas promise historians valuable insights into a major agrarian/economic transformation and a deeper understanding of changes in indigenous notions of property, agricultural practice, ethnic rule, and identity.

The Libros de Hijuelas (“deed books” or “bequest books” in English) consist of 196 leather-bound volumes containing 75,000 documents dating from 1719‐1929, with additional copies of earlier, 16th‐ or 17th‐century documents. All the documents pertain to, or are precursors of, a centrally important historical process: the dissolution and privatisation of indigenous corporate property under 19th‐century liberal governments, in this case in the western state of Michoacán, Mexico.

These books contain:

  • Legal acts
  • Cadastral surveys
  • Village censuses
  • Hand‐tinted maps
  • Letters

Many of the letters are written by indigenous michoacanos of Purépecha (Tarascan), Nahua, Mazahua, Matzatlinca, or Otomí descent.

EAP931 team in the digitisation room
The EAP931 project team

The hijuelas collection is unique in that it presents the pre‐history and a complete account of the privatisation process across a whole state, the collection as a whole being organized according to the 16 political districts into which Michoacán was divided.

EAP938 - Diplomatic archives of Merina Kingdom, Madagascar

This project digitised the diplomatic archives of the Merina Kingdom, which dominated Madagascar during the 19th century. These documents (1861-1897) which have been part of the UNESCO Memory of the World Register since 2009 illustrate the encounter between the precolonial kingdom of Madagascar, the abolitionist and religious policies of the United Kingdom and the French territorial ambitions in the Indian Ocean.

Both quantitatively and qualitatively, these documents are a rare and perfect example of the diplomacy of a non-Western State in the nineteenth century. These documents reveal the influence the kingdom tried to obtain among different Western governments and show the connection of the Merina kingdom of Madagascar with the rest of the world, prior to the advent of colonialism.

The availability will surely herald new insights on the pre-colonial period and the construction of the colonial state.

A folder of diplomatic correspondence between European individuals and the Malagasy government, and a treaty between Madagascar and the United States of America
Correspondence between European Individuals and the Malagasy government, EAP938/1/90 (left); Treaty between Madagascar and the United States, EAP938/1/7 (right)

EAP1114 - East African Islamic texts from the library of Maalim Muhammad Idris

Maalim Muhammad IdrisThis project digitised the library of the late Zanzibari scholar Maalim Muhammad Idris (d.2012) - 123 Islamic texts dating from the late nineteenth century to the 1940s.

This collection is invaluable because it contains printed material dating from the period of transition from manuscript to print in the Arabic/Islamic tradition. Its known provenance and diverse nature gives insight into the Islamic history of East Africa.

The materials range from locally printed pamphlets to books printed in Cairo, from basic instruction to legal manuals, many with handwritten commentary by East Africa's leading scholars, as well as early locally printed Arabic-Swahili translations. The collection is a "snapshot" of an intellectual tradition in transition and a cross-section of the nascent networks of print in Islamic Africa.

A colourful page from the Qur'an
The Qur'an, EAP1114/1/13/image 8

16 April 2020

New projects online - March 2020

Four new projects have recently been made available on the EAP website that can now be viewed in full. Three of these projects are from the African continent:

Finally, we have a collection of administrative records from Nevis Island in the Caribbean [EAP794]

 

EAP617

This project digitised a collection of patient medical records from Mengo Hospital in Uganda, held at the Albert Cook Library, College of Health Sciences at Makerere University. Sir Albert Cook arrived in Uganda as a missionary doctor in 1897 and founded the Mengo Hospital shortly after. These records dating from 1897-1944 are a valuable source of information about the rich history of modern medicine in Uganda. They also show the value of preserving archives and how they can be used for research in ways other than their intended use. For example, these records are currently being used by academics to study socioeconomic history of Uganda and also missionary views of sexuality, morals and sin.

Mengo Hospital
Sample cover sheet from Mengo Hospital patient record

 

EAP794

Building on the work of pilot project EAP093, this major project digitised records from the Caribbean island of Nevis spanning three centuries of history, from 1705-1974. This collection contains a rich source of material for historians and genealogists alike. It includes:

  • Common Deed Record Books, 1707-1956 (49 volumes)
  • Court of King’s/Queen’s Bench and Common Pleas, 1705-1873 (39 volumes)
  • Supreme Court, 1874-1962 (9 volumes)
  • Other Courts, 1815-1943 (8 volumes)
  • Wills, 1763-1880 (7 volumes)
  • Ships Bonds, 1847-1867 (7 volumes)
  • Provost Marshal’s Sales, 1847-1935 (9 volumes)
  • Land Title Register Books, 1887-1922 (3 volumes)
  • Miscellaneous Records, 1840-1940 (23 volumes)
  • Maps and plans, 1888-1974 (205 individual maps/plans, or montages of plans)
Paradise Estate, Nevis
Plan of Paradise Estate in Nevis

 

EAP1042

Ajami is a modified Arabic script used for writing some African languages, including Mande languages (such as Bamanankan, Eastern Maninka, Western Mandinka (or Mandinka), Jakhanke, Jula, and Susu). These Mandinka Ajami manuscripts are particularly valuable as Ajami texts in Mande languages are some of the least documented. 

Though the project initially focused on digitising Mandinka Ajami texts they soon found many important manuscripts in other languages that help to document the preoccupations and intellectual traditions of the Mandinka people of Senegambia and beyond. This includes multilingual manuscripts written in Arabic, Mandinka, and Soninke, and a few written in Wolof and Fula.

The manuscripts cover a wide range of topics including astrology, divination, Islamic education, poetry, jurisprudence, and many other subjects.

EAP1042 manuscript page
Page from a manuscript digitised in the EAP1042 project

 

EAP1143

This pilot project produced a detailed survey of all the material held at the Nairobi Railway Museum’s archive and digitised a small sample of photographs. The sample images were taken circa 1901 before and during the construction of the Uganda railway, which runs through present day Kenya and Uganda. They depict the landscape and daily life of the region’s local inhabitants.

Kisuma crowd at P. Florence
Kisumu crowd at P. Florence

 

14 November 2018

Mandinka Ajami and Arabic Manuscripts of Casamance, Senegal

This a wonderful blog written by Eleni Castro, OpenBU & ETD Program Librarian at Boston University as well as Project Technical Lead for EAP1042.

This October we presented a poster entitled, “Digital Preservation of Mandinka Ajami Materials of Senegal” at FORCE2018 (Montreal, Canada), which is an annual conference on making research and scholarship more broadly and openly available. This poster provided a project overview and update on the work we have been doing for EAP 1042 - an international research collaboration between Boston University, the West African Research Center, and local experts in Senegal, which involves visiting manuscript owners in the Casamance region of Senegal to work with them to digitally preserve and make more broadly available manuscripts written in Arabic and Mandinka Ajami (Mandinka using Arabic script) from their personal libraries.

In January 2018, we gave a three day digital preservation workshop at the West African Research Center (WARC) in Dakar, and shortly thereafter went to Ziguinchor to begin our digitisation field work. Overall, the team is spending 15 months 1) interviewing manuscript owners and digitising rare manuscripts from Ziguinchor, Kolda, and Sédhiou, 2) curating and post-processing over 14,000 digital images, and 3) depositing three independent copies at: WARC in Dakar, the British Library, and Boston University’s African Ajami Library on OpenBU. At the time of writing, we have digitised over 10,000 Arabic and Mandinka Ajami manuscript pages (some bilingual).

Group photograph in front of the West African Research Center in Dakar

Digitisation Workshop team at the West African Research Center in Dakar, Senegal (Jan. 2018)

Dr. Fallou Ngom, looking over manuscripts with manuscript owner, El-hadji Lamine Bayo

Project PI, Dr. Fallou Ngom, looking over manuscripts with manuscript owner, El-hadji Lamine Bayo

Photographing manuscripts from the Abdou Khadre Cisse collection

Ibrahima Ngom (photographer) and Ablaye Diakité (local project manager) photographing manuscripts from the Abdou Khadre Cisse collection (Jan. 2018)

Interviewing manuscript owner Abdou Khadre Cisse

Ibrahima Yaffa interviewing manuscript owner Abdou Khadre Cisse and his brother Cherif Cisse. Filmed by project photographer, Ibrahima Ngom

As we began our digitisation, we noticed that there was a large number of bilingual manuscripts written in both Arabic and Mandinka Ajami, which is very different from the mostly unilingual Wolof Ajami manuscripts digitised in EAP 334. The genres and subject matter found in these works varied widely, from religious to secular topics, such as: astrology, poetry, divination, Islamic education, jurisprudence, Sufism, code of ethics, translations & commentaries of the Quran and Islamic texts from Arabic into Mandinka, stories about Mandinka leaders and important historical figures (including women), records of important local events such as the founding of villages, ancestral traditions, and Mandinka social institutions.

Manuscript page.

Manuscript of a long form poem praising the Prophet Muhammad, written in Arabic with marginalia in Arabic and some Mandinka Ajami (Abdou Khadre Cisse Collection)

Manuscript page.

Mandinka healing document (Abdou Karim Thiam Collection)

Manuscript page held up to the sunlight to reveal the watermarks.

19th Century watermark found in Biniiboo manuscript (Abdou Khadre Cisse Collection)

Since we are working in remote areas, with non-studio conditions, we encountered some technical issues early on. Finding the right lighting has been an ongoing challenge, since our time in the homes of manuscript owners is precious and limited, and so we have had to work with available light and the help of a macro ring flash. Our camera overheats after +1h of continuous use, but we found that by replacing an extra hot battery with a cooler one, helps us resume digitisation much faster. Since we have a geographically dispersed team, we have setup a communication channel via WhatsApp, and upload files on Google Drive for backup and review as soon as a new collection is being worked on. Internet speeds can be quite slow when sending these large raw image files, but a mobile hotspot modem has helped with internet access while working in the field.

While we will be wrapping up digitisation and curation of these manuscripts by April 2019, there is still more work to be done to help researchers more effectively study and explore these materials. We will be looking into using a IIIF image viewer for scholars to better be able to compare various manuscripts and annotate them. Transcription is a longer term goal, since more unicode work is needed to extend Arabic script characters for African Ajami manuscripts to be full-text searchable in their actual languages.

24 September 2018

Call for applications now open

Do you know of any collections that are currently at risk and need preserving? The Endangered Archives Programme is now accepting preliminary applications for the next annual funding round – the deadline for submission of preliminary applications is 12 noon 19 November 2018 and full details of the application procedures and documentation are available on the EAP website.

David LaFevor standing next to a tripod and digitising while in Cuba,Digitising in Cuba

The Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) has been running at the British Library since 2004 through funding by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, with the aim of preserving rare vulnerable archival material around the world. The Programme awards grants to relocate the material to a safe local archival home where possible, to digitise it, and to deposit copies with local archival partners and with the British Library. These digital collections are then available for researchers to access freely through the British Library website or by visiting the local archives. The Programme has funded over 350 projects in 90 countries world-wide and has helped to preserve manuscripts, rare printed books, newspapers and periodicals, audio and audio-visual materials, photographs and temple murals.

There three main types of grant:

  • Pilot projects investigate the potential for and/or feasibility of a major grant. A pilot can also be a small digitisation project. They should last for no more than 12 months and have a budget limit of £15,000.
  • Major projects gather and copy material. This type of grant may also relocate the material to a more secure location/institution within the country. These projects usually last 12 months, or up to 24 months and have a budget limit of £60,000.
  • Area grants will be awarded for larger scale projects. They are similar to a major grant, but larger in scale and ambition. Applicants must demonstrate an outstanding track record of archival preservation work and be associated with an institution that has the capacity to facilitate a large-scale project. The EAP will only award a maximum of two area grants in each funding round. They can last for up to 24 months and have a budget limit of £150,000.

A further type of grant will be introduced in 2019:

  • Rapid-response grants can be used to safeguard an archive which is in immediate and severe danger. These grants are intended for the most urgent situations where a delay in the decision process could result in extensive damage to the material. These grants are not subject to the time restrictions of the yearly EAP funding cycle and can be applied for at any time. They must last for less than 12 months and have a budget limit of £15,000.

If you know of an archive in a region of the world were resources are limited, we really hope you will apply. If you have any questions regarding the conditions of award or the application process, do email us at endangeredarchives@bl.uk

01 September 2016

Call for Applications

Do you know of any collections that are currently at risk and need preserving? The Endangered Archives Programme is now accepting grant applications for the next annual funding round – the deadline for submission of preliminary applications is 4 November 2016 and full details of the application procedures and documentation are available on the EAP website. This year we will also be accepting online applications.

Room interior with a high ceiling. The walls are covered in bookshelves with a ladder to reach the upper shelves.

EAP843: Part of the Archibishopric’s Archive, Sandiago de Cuba. A pilot project undertaken in 2015 with a major project about to begin.

The Endangered Archives Programme has been running at the British Library since 2004 through funding by Arcadia, with the aim of preserving rare vulnerable archival material around the world. This aim is achieved through the award of grants to relocate the material to a safe local archival home where possible, to digitise the material, and to deposit copies with local archival partners and with the British Library. These digital collections are then available for researchers to access freely through the British Library website or by visiting the local archives. The digital collections from 165 projects are currently available online, consisting of over 5 million images and several thousand sound recordings.

This year we have started making our sound recordings available for online streaming and one of our most popular archives is the Syliphone Label.

The Programme has helped to preserve manuscripts, rare printed books, newspapers and periodicals, audio and audio-visual materials, photographs and temple murals. Since 2004 approximately 300 projects have been funded. Last year awards were given for projects based in Argentina, Bulgaria, Cuba, Ghana, India, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Malawi, Mexico, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan and Turks and Caicos Islands.

The following images give a sense of the type of material that went online over the past year.

Ceiling painting showing three lines of the narrative of a story.EAP692/1/1/2  Alagar kovil Kallalagar Inner Mandapa Ceiling East [17th Century]. Part of the pilot project to digitise temple murals in Tamil Nadu. The team have now started a major grant.

  Single page of a manuscript written in Tibetan.
EAP727/6/25: བླ་མའི་རྣལ་འབྱོར་བསམ་པ་ལྷུན་འགྲུབ་དང་མྱུར་འགྲུབ་མ་བཞུགས་སོ།། (bla ma'i rnal 'byor bsam pa lhun 'grub dang myur 'grub ma bzhugs so) [Mid-19th century]. Tibetan Buddhist manuscript from Amdo, PR China

Close-up of a woman picking grapes.
EAP755/1/1/86 Mendoza. Photographs taken by Annemarie Heinrich, Argentina. The team working on this project have also been awarded  a major grant.

Inside cover page of the diary, showing neat handwriting.
EAP856/1/6 Journal du Premier Ministre Rainilaiarivony (Tome III) [May 1881 - Sep 1881]. 19th century archives written by Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony (written in Malagasy.  Another project is also underway on Madagascar.

So, if you know of an archive in a region of the world were resources are limited, we really hope you will apply. If you have any questions regarding the conditions of award or the application process, do email us at endangeredarchives@bl.uk

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