THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Endangered archives blog

3 posts categorized "Central Asia"

30 July 2020

New Collections Online - July 2020

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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.

27 April 2020

Help Needed To Describe Photographs Taken in Siberia

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During the current crisis many of us are confined within the four walls of our homes. To pass the time, I started to browse my bookshelf to see whether I had any publications relevant to EAP collections online.

My colleagues, Graham Jevon and Robert Miles, were in the process of working on a crowdsourcing project to ask people to help identify early photographs from Southern Siberia. One book caught my eye and I began flipping through its pages.

I came across a description from the 1850s of what it was like to be an explorer in Siberia and (although it probably depicts an experience further north than the photographs taken as part of EAP016) I was transported from my tiny flat in London to this vast landscape.

“Winter, with all its blizzards, accompanied by unrelieved dampness, and at the same time unrelieved deep cold (a most unfavourable combination), lasts nine months. Then come two and a  half months of just dampness, like a bath, with thick marshy emanations; in the air there is ubiquitous fog of minute blood-thirsty insects, for such are midges and gnats there. Furthermore, in summer the sun does not set, which is very picturesque to see described, but is extremely tedious to experience in fact. Average temperature for the year is -10°C, and it is below -37°C in December and January. In winter it is cold, damp and gloomy, and the sun does not rise.”1

Man riding a camel

A group of people watching a shaman beating a drum

Of course, I didn’t have to just glance along my bookshelves to find relevant material. Everything related with EAP is open access and this includes the publication From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme2. Chapter 15 is co-written by the EAP016 project holders -David Anderson, Mikhail Batashev and Craig Campbell and focusses on one of the photographers included in their project, Ivan Ivanovich Baluev - a staff photographer based at the Krasnoyarsk Territory Regional Museum.

Main street of a small trading town

Two men dressed in fur sitting either side of a ritual site

Three boys around a large table doing school work

As I was reading, it dawned on me just how impressive Baluev and other explorers were to capture life in Siberia towards the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, when they only had the option of using (presumably dry collodion) glass plate negatives – and the resulting images are so beautiful. The five collections of photographs, that constitute EAP016, show the day-to-day lives of indigenous peoples of the Siberian Arctic and Subarctic and having seen the examples in this blog, I am sure you will agree they are captivating.

Two girls sitting on a sled

Fisherman looking at his catch in a net

Boat stacked with many barrels. Several man look at the camera.

As this is one of our earliest projects, we did not ask for detailed catalogue entries as we would now. These wonderful photographs do not have individual descriptions and as a result, they are not fully discoverable on our website.

Man sitting by a log cabin and playing a stringed instrument

High-ranking woman standing by horse with embroidered saddle cloths

Two men stand by sled pulled by reindeer. In background long wooden building with balconyg

If you would also like to be transported from your current surroundings to the open landscape of Siberia, you can also help us identify what can be seen in each photograph at the same time. If you would like to take part, please click on this link and follow the instructions.

Many thanks

Close up of a man wearing a cap and looking through a camera viewer

Bibliography

1) Christian, D (1998) A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia Volume 1 Blackwell Publishers, Oxford

2) Anderson, D, Batashev, M and Campbell, C (2015) ‘The photographs of Baluev: capturing the “socialist transformation” of the Krasnoyarsk northern frontier, 1938-19391’ in From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme Open BookPublishers DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0052

 

Written by: Jody Butterworth, EAP curator

01 September 2016

Call for Applications

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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