Endangered archives blog

7 posts categorized "Microfilm"

10 November 2014

New online collections – November 2014 Part 1

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This month we have had eight new collections go up online, with over five hundred thousand new images now available to view on our website. This blog will focus on four of the new projects, EAP148, EAP128, EAP180 and EAP183. Part 2 will be published next week and will cover the remaining four projects EAP285, EAP618, EAP110 and EAP211

The first collection is EAP148, this project carried out an inventory of archival holdings in Jamaica. This targeted libraries and archives which contain valuable historical collections that focus on the lives of enslaved Africans and free blacks in Jamaica during the period 1655-1800. The documents are important to scholars studying the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, and supplement the extensive records that are held in Britain on the forced migration of Africans to Jamaica.

The project compiled inventories of original documentation published before 1800, which are in the possession of four institutions, the Jamaica Archives, Roman Catholic Chancery’s Archive, University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Mona and the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ). At the Jamaica Archives, the Manumission of Slaves, volumes 5 through 12 were digitised, which cover the period 1747-1778. At UWI the team compiled an inventory of approximately 150 items and 10 primary sources were digitised, these documents cover the historical period 1493-1800. At the Chancery, Several burial, baptismal and marriage records were digitised. At the NLJ, the team compiled an inventory of approximately 90 items and 12 primary sources were digitised. 

EAP148_NLJ_MS1647_40EAP148/1/10 – Image 40

EAP128 digitised publications related to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities in Thailand. Bangkok is home to some of Asia's earliest and largest GLBT communities.

Since the 1970s, Thailand's GLBT communities have produced large quantities of Thai language publications including multi-issue periodicals and magazines and community organisation newsletters. This large volume of material, totalling several thousand items, documents the history of one of the world's most important non-Western homosexual/transgender cultures and is a largely untouched research resource. These materials are in danger of being destroyed and disappearing completely. Since no Thai or western library or archive has collected these materials, the only remaining copies are in the hands of private collectors.

A total of 648 issues of Thai gay, lesbian and transgender community organisations and commercial magazines from 32 different series were collected and digitised. These are now available to view online.

Anu-trp7662_cherngchai_1982_1_1_1_masterEAP128/1/14/1 – Image 1

EAP180 digitised one of the largest collections of early printed books and periodicals in the Republic of Armenia, located in the Fundamental Scientific Library (FSL).

After the establishment of the communist regime in Armenia in 1920 and the ideological cleansings of 1937, substantial numbers of manuscripts and books were destroyed and the remaining material was confined to the archives. A huge number of Armenian periodicals published during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were placed in closed archives, as they represented views which the Soviet regime did not want circulated. The FSL was selected by the authorities to house this material and a very limited number of researchers had access to these materials. Since 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet regime and the emergence of Armenia as an independent republic, all spheres of Armenian society have experienced a tremendous and fundamental change. This category of material previously closed is now open to all users. Periodical literature is a vital and unique source of information for the study of the history of the Armenian diaspora, literature, culture, institutions, church life and politics. The condition of the material is in danger because of its storage conditions and the quality of the paper they were printed on. The fluctuation of temperatures and level of humidity in the stacks during the autumn and spring seasons remains uncontrolled. This has caused the physical condition of the materials to deteriorate and many of the rare books have been lost already. 

This project digitised over 4200 volumes and has ensured that the information contained in these volumes will be preserved for research.

If you would like to know more about this project and gain insight into the digitisation procedures of an EAP project you can read an article by the project leaders Alan Hopkinson and Tigran Zargaryan, “Peculiarities of digitising materials from the collections of the National Academy of Sciences, Armenia”.

Eap180patmutyun hajoc-149EAP180/1/1/116 Image 149

EAP183 preserved early print literature on the history of Tamilnadu. The aim of the project was to preserve and provide access to a very important segment of cultural material that reflects the history of Tamilnadu. The project preserved over 150,000 images on microfilm reels and then digitised them for better access. The materials were identified through library surveys and were borrowed and shipped to the Roja Muthiah Research Library (RMRL) for microfilming and digitisation. The subject material is important for scholars to reconstruct the history of Tamilnadu, covering areas such as the Self-Respect Movement, Dravidian movement, Bhakti movement and other social and cultural histories of the 19th and early 20th century Tamilnadu.

183_RMR6154_1044EAP183/1/1/261 – Image 11

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

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


04 March 2011

February Accessions

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Last month we received material from five very different projects:

EAP231: Social History of the Gambia: rescuing an endangered archive, police and court records

This pilot project is undertaking a survey of court records from the Department of State for Justice in Banjul, the Gambia. It is also copying a selection of these records. The records chosen for copying originate from the Muhammedan Court, the Police Court, the Court of Requests in Bathurst, the Police Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court. The records held by the Department of State for Justice date back to the 1820s. 

EAP248: Preserving more Marathi manuscripts and making them accessible - major project

Carrying on from an earlier pilot project, EAP248 is microfilming Marathi manuscripts currenlty held by libraries and private homes in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Some of these manuscripts are unique in that they have not been published. The project will thus make valuable material widely available to scholars for the first time.

EAP262: Retrieval of two major and endangered newspapers: Jugantar and Amrita Bazar Patrika

The Jugantar and Amrita Bazar Patrika are two leading newspapers from colonial and post-colonial Bengal. Both newspapers cover important periods in history, including the partition of Bengal in 1905, both world wars and the independence of India. Here is a page from the Amrita Bazar Patrika from December 1872:

EAP262 Amrita Bazar Patrika Dec 1872 1 

EAP284: Before the war, after the war: preserving history in Sierra Leone

Also a pilot project, EAP284 is surveying records held by the Sirerra Leone Archives, and digitising a selection of these that relate to the Atlantic trade in slaves. Among the records held are Registers of Liberated Slaves and Letter Books that contain details of captured slave ships and Africans who disembarked at Freetown. Significantly, these latter records include details on individuals.

EAP285: Preservation of Gypsy/Roma historical and cultural heritage in Bulgaria - major project

This project has continued copying material identified by a previous pilot project, and new material found during the current project. Included in this are photographs, posters, political flyers, publications and political documents. The project has copied a mix of administrative, political records, and material relating to the legends, history and customs of Gypsy communities in Bulgaria. Here is an image of a wedding group:

EAP285 N_31 


09 July 2010

June Accessions 2010

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Last month we received material from only one project: 'Faces drawn in the sand': a rescue project of Native Peoples' photographs stored at the Museum of La Plata, Argentina - major project.

Led by Dr Irina Podgorny, this project built on the work of an earlier pilot project that successfully identified and re-located 'forgotten collections' within the Museum of La Plata. The major project created microfilm and digital images of 11 Collections. All the material is photographic and include glass plate negatives, celluloid film, glass lantern slides and albumen prints. They are quite amazing. Some of the originals are cracked or damaged because of their age and the project team has done a great job making good quality copies. It was difficult choosing only a few images to show in this post. Here are three:



EAP207 AFO-002-00X-023-0001 

This project is now finished and the full Collections available for access.


05 February 2010

January Accessions 2010

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Last month we received material from two EAP projects.

The project Preserving early print literature on the history of Tamilnadu is microfilming books and periodicals. It's actively seeking out libraries and private owners with collections most in need of preservation. Like many archival and library collections the contents of these vary in scope, themes and formats. Details are on their EAP Project webpage.

Normally at this point I would include an image from one of the copied books or manuscripts. Instead, below you'll see two photographs taken by the project team of libraries they're working with. These show the original materials where they live. These pictures are important to me as they provide a real-life background to the microfilm and digital copies we receive.

EAP183 MMA Library_Chennai 3 

EAP183 Cayabu Maraikayar Nulakam_Karaikkal 2 

The project Riau manuscripts: the gateway to the Malay intellectual world is copying material from private collections. The project hopes to expand the number of manuscripts available to scholars and thus allow wider research into the Malay-Muslim world. Many of the items are being copied from book sellers and antique dealers, meaning that texts not owned by public institutions will be made available for public use. Here is a page from one of these books.

EAP153 10_ 


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 


09 November 2009

October Accessions

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Last month we received material from two projects. Towards the end of October we received another consignment of discs from the United National Independence Party of Zambia. Included were correspondence papers from Regional Headquarters and minutes of government and provincial committee meetings, plus correspondence concerning elections. This project is nearly completed and we expect to receive more material in November.

We also received microfilm from the project Preserving early print literature on the history of Tamilnadu.


This project aims to produce both microfilm and digital copies of 19th and 20th century books and periodicals and to make them available to researchers. The material is currently housed in different library and private collections. The items being copied relate to the Dravidian and politicals movements. They also cover the histories of Vaishnaviam, Saivism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. The images here have been produced from the microfilm by the project.


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.