THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Endangered archives blog

57 posts categorized "Digital images"

23 September 2015

5 million images online

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In February, the Endangered Archives Programme celebrated its tenth anniversary and the various press releases and newspaper articles all quoted that we had 4 million images online. It is hard to believe that today we reached the milestone of 5 million images.

I thought I would use this opportunity to reflect on some of the projects that have gone online since the beginning of the year – doing a ‘round the world’ selection.

One of the first projects to be made available this year was EAP164, which consisted of people's memoirs and diaries from rural societies along the Ukrainian Steppe. As well as paper archives, there is a wonderful selection of photographs giving a real sense of community, as this picnic illustrates.

  Late 19th century photograph of a party having a picnic in a wooded area.EAP164/1/2/3 Album of photos of representatives of a family - Perovskyh [1891-1990]

From the Africa collections, we put EAP286 online, a project from Ethiopia that digitised both Muslim and Christian manuscripts. A substantial part of the collection consists of Asmat prayers,  and this is an example of part of a 19th century scroll.

  Illuminated Ethiopic prayer scroll.

EAP286/1/1/38 Asmat Prayers [19th century]

To show the variety of the collection, this is the first page of an incomplete Taḫmīs al-Fayyūmī on the "Poem of the Mantle" by al-Būṣīrī.

  Page in Arabic script.

EAP286/1/1/489 Uncomplete Taḫmīs al-Fayyūmī on the "Poem of the Mantle" by al-Būṣīrī, The Unwān
al-šarīf ("The Token of the Noble") on the birth of the Prophet [18th century]

EAP566 is an example of one of the Asian projects that went online, a very impressive collection of 18th and 19th century Urdu periodicals. The articles cover an incredibly broad range of subject matter and the accompanying illustrations are a joy to browse through, as can be seen from these pages from Nairang-i khiyal.

  Drawing of a sari wearing deity standing on a lotus leaf.

EAP566/1/4/10/1 Nairang-i_khiyal (Volume and Issue not known) [1932]

  Advertisement for slipper shoes.

EAP566/1/4/10/1 Nairang-i_khiyal (Volume and Issue not known) [1932]

My final continent from the EAP worldwide whistle-stop tour, of course, is the Americas and one important project that went online was EAP563 – the archives of the engineering firm ‘Hume Brothers’ which was set up in Argentina in 1880. The company's main work consisted of planning and building thousands of kilometers of roads, not only in Argentina but also throughout Uruguay, Chile and Brazil. It is a project that contains a mixture of texts, drawings and photographs.

This is a photograph of the construction of a lift bridge over the Riachuelo in Buenos Aires.

  Photograph showing the construction of a bridge.

EAP563/1/5/4/3 Construction of a lift bridge over the Riachuelo in Buenos. Aires. It belonged to Ferrocarril Sud ( F.C.S.) [Early 20th century]

And this example is a stereoscopic view of the San Roque Dam in Argentina.

  Stereograph images of a dam.

EAP563/1/5/5/1252 San Roque Dam (Argentina). [c 1945]

But of course I must not leave out the two projects that went online this month and got us to 5 million images. The first was EAP753, a pilot project that carried out an inventory and sample digitisation of parish documents in the area of Belém do Pará, Brazil.

Page from the archive.

EAP753/1/1/4 Cairary Baptisms, n 4 [1895-1901]

and EAP541, which digitised the historical archives in the Public Records and Archives Administration (PRAAD) in Tamale, Northern Ghana. I rather liked the fact that we have records about latrines - this has to be a first for EAP!

  Typewritten page.EAP541/1/1/88: Salaga-Site for septic Tank Laterines [1952-73]

11 August 2015

New online collections - August 2015

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This month two projects have gone online, EAP352 and EAP764.

The first of these projects is EAP352. The project digitised Arabic and Jawi (Arabic Malay) manuscripts that come from two regions in Indonesia - Western Sumatra (Minangkabau region) and Jambi. The 11 collections held in private hands contain manuscripts from two Sufi brotherhoods: Shattariyah and Naqshbandiyah.

The texts include treatises on the peculiarities of regional Islam such as the history of local religious traditions, hagiographical works and documents on the Naqshbandiyah and Shattariyah mystical conceptions written by local Shaikh’s. They also contain unique examples of calligraphy, illumination and bookbinding. The manuscripts describing Suluk mystical ritual are particularly noteworthy, as the ritual is practiced only in the remote corners of Sumatra and is considered to be unpopular among younger generations of Muslims. They contain interesting examples of al-Qur’an and works on traditional medicine in Jambi.

Study of such written heritage can contribute greatly to the history of Sumatra as well as the history of Islam and Sufism. 

EAP352_ EMWSPJCSB_SSSB _06_ EMWSPJCSB_039EAP352/1/6: Dalail al-Khairat [19th century copy of the famous work of Shadziliyah Sheikh of the 15th cent. Muhammad al-Jazuli from Northern Africa] – Image 39

The second project is EAP764, a pilot project which surveyed documentary material located in the archive of the Prefecture of Bandiagara (Mali). This was undertaken in order to preserve collections of historical and anthropological relevance from the early decades of French colonialism. The archival material falls within the wide area of the Cercle, an administrative unit introduced in 1903 by the French, which came to encompass a territory reaching up to Burkina Faso. Bandiagara is still the capital of the Dogon country, an area of extraordinary cultural interest and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Since the region is rich with oral traditions and has few written records, such documents, written in French by the colonial administrators, represent valuable and unique evidence of a historical period which has been little investigated. The collections identified will be of great interest for researchers looking at the history, law, religion, anthropology, politics, demography and economy of the region.

The project was successful in identifying the most endangered and precious collections dating back to the early decades of the 20th century. A sample of these collections was digitised and is now available to view online.

EAP764_JR_1912_1914_006EAP764/1/1/1: Tribunal de Province du premier janvier 1912 au 28 avril 1914 Court of Province from Jan 1, 1912 to April 28, 1914 – Image 6

Check back next month to see what else has been added!

You can also keep up to date with any new collections by joining our Facebook group.

15 July 2015

New images online - July 2015

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This month three projects have gone online, EAP080, EAP660 and EAP769.

The first of these projects, EAP080, microfilmed Serbian musical collections from the Craftsmen choral society in Zemun. Choral societies were a prominent part of Serbian musical culture in the 19th century. Between 1834 and 1914 over 150 Serbian choral societies were founded. Some of them had extremely rich musical libraries, with thousands of scores and choral parts. Unfortunately, only a few of them preserved their full musical collections, which often included original manuscripts. Numerous collections were lost, divided or even destroyed. 

The musical collection of the Craftsmen choral society from Zemun contains 27 large boxes of material: manuscripts, handwritten and printed scores, mostly choral music, stage music as well as some documents on the history of the society. The compositions are written by Serbian, Russian, Czech, German, Austrian and Italian composers.

This collection is an excellent example of the typical musical taste of a growing citizen class. Judging by stamps and signatures, it seems as if other choirs' libraries were added and came from the Serbian Orthodox Choral Society and the Academic Choir, both from Zemun, and the Cathedral Choir from Novi Sad.

Scan_0026EAP080/1/8/3/4: Image 12 - Unknown author, Ukoricene crvene, plave i zelene sveske [Music note books with red, blue and green covers]

The second project this month, EAP660, digitised copies of Nur-i-Afshan, a periodical published by the Presbyterian Mission in the Punjab. Sometimes published weekly, and other times bi-monthly. Nur-i-Afshan, was a multifaceted news magazine and carried local and international news summaries, government postings, commodity prices, and advertisements, but also opinion articles, essays, proverbs, and poems.

This periodical is one of the very few primary sources originating locally in pre-partition India, which shows Christian missionary work in the Punjab. In addition to being a religious publication, Nur-i-Afshan also forms part of a large and growing corpus of Urdu periodicals published in the nineteenth century and gives the researcher invaluable insight into the thinking, concerns, and ideas of nineteenth century Indians and enables a better understanding of the social, political and religious forces at play during this period. Furthermore, the study of such periodicals is of interest to scholars engaged in linguistics and language development. As the nineteenth century was a key age in the development of the Urdu language, the styles of prose, grammar, and diction used in this publication are important research materials. The role of a missionary society in taking up a local vernacular for discourse at that time makes the importance of Nur-i-Afshan even greater and its study more significant.

EAP660_Nur-i_Afshan_December_1900_v28_no52_001EAP660/1/26/60: Image 1 - Nur-i-Afshan December [1900 volume 28 no.52] [1900]

The final project this month is EAP769, a pilot project which looked at archives and records from the Caribbean island of Montserrat, a country that has suffered from harsh environmental conditions and natural disasters. Inappropriate storage and handling has resulted in material being lost or rapidly deteriorating, creating an urgent need for proper preventive conservation care. Recent volcanic activity destroyed many of the previous storage facilities.

This project identified archival material held throughout Montserrat, assessed its condition and prepared a long term plan for its safe storage, digitisation and increased public access and awareness of this endangered resource.

The pilot project worked on the collections of original material held by the Montserrat National Trust (MNT). This comprises of 18th and 19th century estate plans and deeds; 20th century letters, newspapers, land deeds, wills, receipts; and collections of slide photographs from the 1980s, including a 1986 historic buildings survey which show many buildings no longer standing after the 1995 and 1997 volcanic eruptions.

EAP769_MNT_HSS_Pg_00EAP769/3/3/1: Image 1 – Historic Building Survey 1986

In addition, the project worked on some of the 18th century records held at the Central Library, a collection in private ownership, and material held by the Government Registry Office.

Sample digitisation of selected material was undertaken and is now available to view online.

EAP769_MNT_EST12_069_1EAP769/3/1/12: Image 6 - Sale of Champion Jones Properties [1910]

Check back next month to see what else has been added!

You can also keep up to date with any new collections by joining our Facebook group.

19 June 2015

New images online – June 2015

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This month we have had one project go online, EAP656. This is a project from Uganda which digitised the photographic archive of Ham Mukasa, a leading intellectual and ethnographer in Buganda, a subnational kingdom within Uganda. The collection dates from 1868-1956 and makes a valuable contribution to the understanding of this period in Uganda’s history. The collection includes over 2000 photographs.

EAP656_1_8_Box 8-9EAP656/1/1/8: A couple dancing – Image 10

Ham Mukasa lived as a page in the court of King Muteesa I of Buganda, and may have been first exposed to photography in that setting (a knowledge of photography having been introduced to the court by the explorer Henry Morton Stanley, in 1875). Mukasa was certainly taking photographs by the 1890s. Initial surveys of his collection suggest that he was particularly active as a photographer in the period 1900-1920, although he continued to take pictures right up to his death, in 1956.

EAP656_1_1_box1-04EAP656/1/1/1: Ham Mukasa with his second wife Sarah, his two daughters from the first marriage and other children taken while seated in front of a house. – Image 4

Ham Mukasa was active during the period of British penetration into the region of Buganda; he was a key figure in the court of King Daudi Chwa II (1856-1884) and was secretary to Buganda’s Prime Minister Apolo Kagwa. His images offer valuable clues on the early history of colonialism in Uganda and aid the understanding of the fields of African history, anthropology and African visual studies/art history.

EAP656_3_1_2_From Eve Mulira photograph 46EAP656/3/1/2: Men playing on drums. - Image 30

The EAP website does not contain catalogue information about individual photographs, this can be obtained through the British Libraries ‘Search our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts’ this can searched for via this link.

EAP656_1_8_60_Box 8-59EAP656/1/1/8: Image 60 - A lady holding a child with another boy and girl sitting beside her.

Check back next month to see what else has been added!

You can also keep up to date with any new collections by joining our Facebook group.

 

11 May 2015

New online collections - May 2015

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This month has seen two new collections go online, EAP563 and EAP619. They are from Argentina and Bangladesh.

The team working on EAP563 digitised documents of the Hume family collection in Argentina.

The Hume family arrived in Argentina in the late 19th century and founded the engineering firm ‘Hume Brothers’ in 1880 which existed until the 1970s. Its main work consisted in planning and building thousands of kilometers of roads as well as setting up the industrial infrastructure of the country. The firm managed similar enterprises in Uruguay, Chile and Brazil around the same period.

The material contains records which are very special and unique. The glass plate negatives and photographs illustrate the company’s operations in constructing quarries, bridges and other sites. The records that complement the images include drawings, handmade sketches as well as budget accounts for the railroads, train stations, warehouses and factories. The collection shows the country changing from a rural economy to an industrial one.

Eap563_udesa_huhe_alb1_004.aEAP563/1/5/1: Photographs album 1 [c 1907-c 1910] – Image 4

EAP 619 is a fascinating project which surveyed and digitised Thakbast maps from the former East Bengal (present day Bangladesh), these maps date from 1848-1850. Thakbast surveys were conducted to demarcate the mouza (‘village’) boundaries in preparation for a revenue survey undertaken by the East India Company. For this purpose a rough map was compiled called the thak muzmilli. The vast majority of thak (boundary pillar) maps drawn before 1852 were eye sketches not intended to provide more than rough guidance to revenue surveyors. These were drawn by pencil whereas later maps were topographical and coloured. The hand-drawn Thakbast sketch pencil maps drawn during the 1840s and 1850s have become rare. EAP619 gathered and listed information about the survival of these maps. A trial digitisation of items from the Rajshahi district was undertaken.

EAP619_PhotographAlbum30_29EAP619/1/1/30: Thak Maps Volume 30 [1848-1850] – Image 30

These maps provide a wealth of information such as the name of the mouza, area, type of soil, cropping pattern, population size, number of houses and cattle, location of roads, ponds, rivers, mosques, temples, bazaars, indigo factories, etc. Useful facts and comments were often written in the corner of each map. The maps help to reveal a picture of rural Bangladesh during this period of British colonisation in the inlands of East Bengal.

EAP619_PhotographAlbum39_31EAP619/1/1/39: Thak Maps Volume 39 [1848-1850] – Image 32

Check back next month to see what else has been added!

You can also keep up to date with any new collections by joining our Facebook group.

 

09 April 2015

New online collections - April 2015

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This month three projects have gone up online. EAP031, EAP039 and EAP286. EAP031 and EAP039 both digitised Buddhist manuscripts, the first from Mongolia and the latter from Bhutan. EAP286 digitised a collection of manuscripts from Ethiopia.

EAP031 digitised the private collection of Danzan Ravjaa. Ravjaa was the 5th incarnation in the lineage of the Gobi Noyons, whose monastery was at the centre of a political and artistic renaissance located at the crossroads of Tibet, Mongolia and China during the 19th century. These Buddhist manuscripts have recently been unearthed from caves in the Outer Mongolian province of Dorngobi. During the communist regime Buddhism was suppressed and in 1938 the manuscripts were hidden for their protection. The location of these records, as well as other records from the local monastery, was passed down through the generations of monastery gatekeepers.

The project created over 40,000 images. This includes all of the manuscripts found in the collection that were authored by Ravjaa himself. These constituted the heart of the collection and consisted of manuscripts in both classic Mongolian and Tibetan. Subject matter ranged from poetry, astrology, medicine, plays (original manuscripts of the Moon Cuckoo operetta) and sadhanas (including some of Ravjaa’s ‘pure visions’ centring on the figure of Guru Rinpoche and his two consorts Yeshe Tsogyal and Lady Mandarava). This material will help scholars and researchers open up new areas in the field of Tibetan and Mongol studies.

EAP031-0558-0002EAP031/1/532: Tibetan title: slob dpon chen po pad+ma kA ra'i zhabs kyis … – Image 2

EAP039 successfully digitised the entire collection of manuscripts at Gangtey monastery in Bhutan. Gangtey Gonpa, founded by Gyalse Pema Thinley (the grandson of the famous Bhutanese saint Pema Lingpa), houses an enormous manuscript collection. This includes a set of the 100-volume bKa’ ’gyur, two sets of the 46-volume rNying ma rGyud ’bum, the world’s largest Astasahasrikaprajñaparamita, and about a hundred miscellaneous titles. The collection, mostly written in the 17th century as a funerary tribute to the founder of Gangtey, holds a unique textual, artistic and historical value of immense religious significance.

Gangteng_kanjur_'bum_014_pha (3)EAP039/1/1/1/14: Sher phyin ‘Bum: Volume 14 – Image 3

EAP286 digitised archives held at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies (IES). The IES is the major custodian of cultural and historical antiquities in Ethiopia. Manuscripts in the collection have come from government offices, monasteries, churches, mosques, public libraries, and private collections.

One of the largest parts of the collection is made up of Ge'ez manuscripts representing the history and literature of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Numbering more than 1,500 items, these manuscripts cover a wide range of genres: bibles, liturgies, histories, theologies, grammars, and magic scrolls produced by the Church.

Another substantial part of the collection is the Arabic manuscripts representing the history and literature of the Muslim community in Ethiopia and the set of Amharic manuscripts representing the last 150 years of Ethiopia's emergence into the international community.

EAP286IES00788_069EAP286/1/1/119: Commentary on 1-4 Kings, Commentary on Ecclesiasticus… -  Image 69

Check back next month to see what else has been added!

You can also keep up to date with any new collections by joining our Facebook group.

16 March 2015

New online collections - March 2015

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This month we have had three collections go up online EAP153, EAP460, EAP714.

EAP153 surveyed and digitised private collections of documents in the Riau Archipelago.

The Riau Archipelago spreads over a vast geographic area in the triangle between Sumatra, Singapore and the Borneo. During the nineteenth century the area was part of the Dutch East Indies and was considered to be the core area of Malay language and culture. In their endeavour to standardise the Malay language, Dutch officials collected manuscripts from the archipelago; these manuscripts became the basis for a standard grammar and dictionary of the Malay language. This collection process not only resulted in several large repositories of Malay manuscripts, but also kindled a renaissance of Malay writing at the court of Riau and beyond. The remnants of this manuscript and book culture can still be found in the private collections that were surveyed.

Thirteen collections on four different islands in the region were digitised, amounting to approximately 8,000 photographs of 450 items. These comprised handwritten manuscripts, printed archival materials (forms, receipts, grants) and a few printed books.

EAP 153_DAIK_MUSEUM_42_001EAP153/10/42: Wafak Mandi Safar - Image 1

EAP460 digitised Shui manuscripts from private manuscripts in South Guizhou. Shui manuscripts (spelled as lesui in the Shui language) are ritual texts for the Shui people, a native ethnic group in Southern Guizhou. The earliest manuscripts can be safely dated to the 16th century. The contents of the Shui manuscripts cover knowledge on astronomy, geography, folklore, religion, ethics, philosophy, art and history. Therefore, the manuscripts are not only the key and irreplaceable materials to understand the unique culture of the Shui people, but also constructive for studying history, anthropology, folklore and even palaeography in general.

The project was successful in digitising 216 manuscripts. These are now available to view online.

EAP460 DDA_002_025EAP460/1/2: Shui Priest manuscripts, Duyun, Guizhou - Image 25

EAP714 assessed the state and extent of church records in Malawi dating between 1861 and 1964.

Malawi, formerly Nyasaland, had been a predominantly oral society. The arrival of British missionaries in the early 1860s led to the generating of written records. Between 1861 and 1891, before the establishment of the Colonial Administration, different Churches were established in Malawi and influenced people in many ways.

The Churches generated important records in the form of accounts, correspondence, day books, deacon’s diaries, manuscripts, maps, minutes, minute books, miscellaneous, nominal rolls (communicants, baptismal and catechumens rolls), photographs, registers (birth, death, expelled members and village schools), reports and statistics. These records are unique in that they are the earliest written documents in the country and they illuminate Malawi’s pre-colonial past more than any other records. 

The project successfully surveyed the records of seven different mission stations. The project digitised a sample of records from each church; this sample can now be viewed online.

EAP714 LM_Communion_Roll_011EAP714/2/1: Communion Roll [1892-1908] - Image 11

Check back next month to see what else has been added!

You can also keep up to date with any new collections by joining our Facebook group.

26 February 2015

New online collections – February 2015 – Part 2

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This blog features the final three new projects available online this month. These are EAP164, EAP566 and EAP684.

EAP164 digitised collections which document pre-industrial society on the Ukrainian Steppe. During the last 10 years the Zaporizhzhia Learned Society of Ya. Novytskyi (attached to Zaporizhzhia National University) has been working on the discovery of documents representing the different ethnic and religious social groups that existed on the Steppe. These include former Zaporozhian Cossacks, Bulgarians, Albanians, Greeks, Armenians and Germans. EAP164 digitised the material which the society discovered on its various surveys.

The digitised images that are now online include personal memoirs, diaries and letters as well as official records and photographs.

EAP 164_0Did1EAP164/1/15/2: Archives of Ljax. Book 2 – Image 1

EAP566 digitised Urdu periodicals from India and Pakistan. These periodicals have enormous significance for the understanding of Urdu culture and history of colonial India. Urdu was the dominant language of interchange in India throughout most of the nineteenth century. Since printing in India was cheap, anyone with an opinion might and often did publish a statement of their views. Often such publications were of limited editions, frequently a few hundred copies, and were not collected by many libraries. Yet these publications provide us today with a broad spectrum of writings by colonial Indians on all major and many minor issues of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Such writings are invaluable to historians of social, cultural, literary, and intellectual change.

The project carefully selected some of the most important Urdu periodicals which were in danger of being lost forever. These periodicals were successfully digitised and are now available to view online.

EAP566_Maulvi_January_1940_v30_no6_002EAP566/1/1/10/6: Maulvi (Volume 30, Issue 6) [1940] – Image 2

The final project this month is EAP684; this surveyed the collections of the National Archives of Burundi to provide information on the documents which are in a fragile physical condition. A small sample of material was digitised and this is now available to view online.

EAP684_AJ22 (1)EAP684/1/4/1: Agriculture, Fishing, fish farming [1949-1950] – Image 1

Check back next month to see what else has been added!

You can also keep up to date with any new collections by joining our Facebook group.