THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Endangered archives blog

20 posts categorized "Europe"

05 March 2010

February Accessions 2010 and Endangered Languages Week

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February was another busy month for the EAP. We received material from six projects:

Guinea's Syliphone archives

Pages of Azerbaijan sound heritage

Study and collection of Hakku Patras and other documents among folk communities in Andhra Pradesh

Preserving the archives of the United National Independence Party of Zambia

Preservation, storage and accessibility for archives of the pre-industrial rural society of the Ukrainian Steppe

Rescuing text: retrieval and documentation of printed books and periodicals published prior to 1950 from public institutions in Eastern India

Alex and I also participated in the Endangered Languages Week Open Day organised by the Endangered Languages Project. This was held in the Brunei Gallery at SOAS. The day was well attended by organisations and universities involved in documenting and preserving endangered languages around the world and in promoting research in this area. Our table was next to the World Oral Literature Project who actively document and make accessible endangered oral literatures. It was fascinating to hear about their activities. I took the opportunity to browse the room and pick up a few brochures. It proved an informative day for me. It was also exciting to see so much interest in the preservation of languages and the cultures, traditions, histories and literatures associated with them.

Lynda

08 January 2010

December Accessions 2009

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Looking over the EAP Accession records it appears most of December was spent processing new material into the library. We received discs, microfilm and hard drives from seven projects! Some of these were continuing transfers from on-going projects. Some were the first receipts from new projects.

Material was received from:

Preserving the archives of the United National Independence Party of Zambia

Collection and digitisation of old music in pre-literate Micronesian society

Study and collection of Hakku Patras and other documents among folk communities in Andhra Pradesh

Saving archival documents of archaeological researches conducted during the 1920s and 1930s in Ukraine

Digital archive of north Indian classical music

Digitisation of Bolivian indigenous communities' records on ayllu structure, tax and land tenure

Preserving more Marathi manuscripts and making them accessible - major project

This last project is the second undertaken by Dr Feldhaus to copy Marathi manuscripts in India. Her first project, Preserving Marathi manuscripts and making them accessible, was completed in 2007. It successfully microfilmed 300 manuscripts including:  works of the Vakari poet-saints from the 13th to the 17th centuries;  works of the 'Pandit' poets of the 17th and 18th centuries;  notebooks of songs used by performers of kirtans and other types of (mostly Vaishnava) religious performances;  manuscripts on yoga, astrology and other kinds of sciences including (interestingly) the science of horses; and manuscripts of the vast literature of the Mahanubhav sect. The project also conducted training for staff in digital preservation and raised awareness of Marathi manuscript collections and their care.

The current major project is continuing to microfilm Marathi manuscripts and training staff. Here is a glimpse of the result:

EAP248 IMG_2187 

Lynda

05 November 2009

The Collections - Political Records

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It's November 5, Guy Fawkes Day. In Britain, on this day, we commemorate the gun powder plot of 1605 which failed to blow up James I's parliament. The lives of many politicians and other people were saved. I often think, though, that in the act of destroying parliament the explosion would also have destroyed a large number of government papers and archives.

It's worth reflecting that, by thwarting the conspirators, the authorities simultaneously rescued some of Britain's important and irreplaceable political documentary heritage. This made me wonder how many political archives are the subject of EAP surveying or copying activities. As it turns out, quite a few. And they are:

Tuvalu National Archives preservatoin pilot project and Tuvalu National Archives major project

First Yap State Constitutional Convention audio tapes conversion project

Rescuing Liberian history: a pilot study to preserve and enable access to Liberia's Presidential and National Archives and Rescuing Liberian history: preserving the personal papers of William V S Tubman, Liberia's longest serving President and Rescuing Liberian history - preserving the photographs of William VS Tubman, Liberia's longest serving President

Pilot project to seek, identify, contact and report on collections of the endangered archives of the states of Maranhao and Para in the Amazon region of Brazil and Endangered African diaspora collections of the State of Para in the Amazon region of Brazil

Rescuing Eastern Nigerian history: preserving the holdings of Enugu and Calabar regional archives

Digitising the photo documents of Georgia's central state audio-visual archive

Pilot project to identify endangered African diaspora collections at the major archives of the province of Matanzas, Cuba and Digitisation of endangered African diaspora collections at the major archives of the province of Matanzas, Cuba

A survey of the endangered court records of Nevis, West Indies

Preserving the archives of the National Independence Party of Zambia

Inventory of archival holdings in Jamaica

Digitisation of Bolivian indigenous communities' records on ayllu structure, tax and land tenure

Creating a digital archive of Afro-Colombian history and culture: black ecclesiastical, governmental and private records from the Choco, Colombia

Preservation of endangered historical records in the Public Records and Archives Administration (PRAAD) in Tamale, Northern Ghana

History of Bolama, the first capital of Portuguese Guinea (1879-1941), as reflected in the Guinean National Historical Archives

Digitising the endangered archives of Grenada

The titles alone display the variety and reach of these collections. They comprise and document African diaspora and slavery records, the struggle for political independence or separation from colonial powers, land use and taxation of indigenous populations, the early histories of new states, the correspondence of local and national governments, the relationship between church and state and the papers of long serving political leaders and their parties.

Some of these projects have been the subject of past blog entries. One early project focused on photographs held by Georgia's central state audio-visual archive. This was a pilot project and the team aimed to survey the existing photographs. In this they were successful. Although no major copying was done, some sample images were made:

EAP057 Alb53-6

05 March 2009

Collapse of Cologne City Archives

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On 5 March the Cologne City Archive building collapsed. The archive contained over 26 kilometres of records dating back to the 10th century. This includes the personal papers of Nobel prize-winning author Heinrich Boell and records belonging to the composer Jacques Offenbach, Karl Marx, Hegel, and West Germany’s first Chancellor Konrad Adenauer - as well as photographs, maps and rare books. How much will be recovered is still unknown.

This disaster brought home just how fragile archives are, and how important. The people of Cologne have lost a vital link with their past. As a story from The Times states: 'The German city of Cologne woke up yesterday without a memory'. This memory loss, however large it turns out to be, will touch not just Cologne but the whole of Europe and the world.

Increasingly, libraries and archives are copying their holdings partly to mitigate the effects of a disaster. This has been going on for a long time, and indeed records from the Cologne City Archives had been copied onto microfilm and stored in another location. Many of the records copied as part of the EAP are endangered because they are at risk of being damaged or lost through disasters such as fire and flood. Many simply exist in unhealthy storage environments.

Bumka1 One of the more unusual threats to archives is butter lamps. The project Digital documentation of manuscript collection in Gangtey made digital copies of Buddhist manuscripts from Gangtey Monastery in Bhutan. These manuscripts are kept at the monastery and are in danger of accidentally being burnt from the butter lamps used by the monks. The project successfully digitised the entire collection of manuscripts at Gangety.

Bumka2

Most of these were written in the 17th century and are beautiful artefacts in their own right. Many were written in the dbu can calligraphy and begin with miniatures of the Buddha and Buddhist hierarchs.