Endangered archives blog

23 posts categorized "Europe"

15 August 2012

Images of indigenous lives in Southern Siberia

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Images from five Collections were recently added to the EAP WebPages. These come from the successful project EAP016 Digitising the photographic archive of southern Siberian indigenous peoples.


The project copied over 3500 glass plate negatives. In addition to helping preserve the originals by providing digital surrogates, the project provided suitable storage for the original fragile negatives by placing them in acid-free envelopes and boxes.


These images document the lives of indigenous peoples during the late 19th and early 20th century. The scope of the Collections is vast. They include images of individuals and family groups, habitations including towns, villages, isolated homes and domestic farms, and transportation in the form of boats, sleds, automobiles, camels and horses. They also show the landscape of southern Siberia: immense open spaces, craggy hills, high mountains and lots of snow. Against this background you can see activities such as farming, fishing, hunting, boat construction, trading and travelling.


The images themselves are fantastic. They can be browsed using the EAP WebPages.


It was difficult to decide which images to include in this post, and just as difficult to limit the number! In the end I was captivated by the different places people lived, from yurts and mobile tents to small farmsteads to modern cities. It was the variety of homes that seemed most interesting. That, and the activities you can see in the background. For example, the images presented here show herds of deer, a pack of Siberian puppies and preparations for a fishing trip. When the pictures include people they also show clothing and fashion.


The pictures here all come from EAP016/1 Selection of Ethnographic Images from the Arkhiv Pisateli Urala (Archive of the Writers of the Ural).




14 December 2011

November Accessions

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A little later than usual, but we have not forgotten our monthly 'Accessions' post. During November the Programme received material from three projects:

EAP128: Thai rainbow archives project: a digitised collection of Thai gay, lesbian and transgender publications

The EAP128 project digitised Thai LGBT publications and arranged for the original materials to be transferred to a local archive where they will be safely housed and made available for research. Further details about this project can be found in the October Accession post, or by clicking on the link above.

EAP164: Preservation, storage and accessibility for archives of pre-industrial rural society of the Ukrainian Steppe

This project is creating surrogate copies of written personal memoirs, diaries and other family archives as well as oral histories of inhabitants of the South and South-East Ukraine originally taped during 1994-2006.

EAP372: Preserving early periodicals and newspapers of Tamilnadu and Pondichery

EAP372 is copying endangered newspaper and periodical titles from South India.

EAP372 Janacakthi_Ital_06_1


21 April 2011

The Easter Story

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Many EAP projects are copying material from religious collections or records that cover religious or spiritual themes and stories. Some of these have been highlighted in previous posts, as we accession material or as projects finish. Because tomorrow is Easter Friday, I thought I would look at some of these projects and the wonderful Christian manuscripts and materials they're copying. There are more than a few to choose from. With difficulty, I have limited myself to three.

EAP040: Securing of the medieval and early modern archival material of Brasov/Kronstadt and the Burzenland Region

One of our very early projects, EAP040 copied records held in the Honterus parish building of Brazov, in Central Romania. This material dates back to the 14th century. The project copied ecclesiastical records and records that touch on life in the parish encompassing topics such as education and marriage, local traditions and music. The original records are now kept in the Lutheran parish house. Details are available on their webpages:

EAP040 lutheran records 

EAP099: Collecting and preserving the records of the Evangelican Lutheran Church of Tanzania in Moshi, Tanzania

Another of our earlier projects, EAP099 targeted records relating to the first missionaries sent by the Leipzig Mission from Germany to the Kilimanjaro region, between the late 1890s and 1930. The project team copied correspondence, mission station diaries, church registers (baptisms, marriages and funerals), parish council minutes, files on education and cash books, and some photographs. The work of this project has carried on and valuable material continues to be identified and preserved.

EAP099 Kid_N.N._1.1_9 

EAP336: Preserving the lay bet andemta: the Ethiopian intellectual legacy on the verge of extinction

A more recent project, EAP336 is copying manuscripts containing biblical and patristic commentaries. Below are some illustrations from a late 16th or early 17th century Gospel text, showing scenes from the Easter story.


EAP336_ML005_078 cropped 


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.


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 


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.


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.