24 August 2023
ستامبا ميجرانتى : نافذة على مصر المتعددة اللغات
Stampa Migrante: una finestra sull’Egitto multilingue
So much unfolding on a single page. I wandered and wondered in the past just by leafing through the holdings of the Centro Archeologico Italiano (CAI) in Cairo, managed by the Italian Institute of Culture (IIC) in the same city. In a relatively good state yet vulnerable, this historical collection of daily newspapers published in Italian in the late 19th and 20th centuries in Egypt provides an exceptional window on the history of Italian migration to and through Egypt as well as the larger migratory movements through the Mediterranean and the Middle East of the time. A mix of political convenience and economic opportunity made nineteenth-century Egypt attractive to underemployed Italian labour and others (Gorman, 141).
هكذا يتكشف الكثير في صفحة واحدة فقط. بينما كنت اتصفح مقتنيات المركز الإيطالي للآثار في القاهرة، والذي يديره المعهد الثقافى الإيطالي بالمدينة نفسها, حيث من الممكن التجول بين الماضى و التسأل عنه و اكتشاف الكثير عن خباياه, وجدت هذه المجموعة التاريخية من الصحف اليومية التي نُشرت باللغة الإيطالية في أواخر القرنين التاسع عشر والعشرون في مصر. هي في حالة جيدة نسبيًا ولكنها معرّضة للتدهور. وتمثل هذه المجموعة نافذة استثنائية على تاريخ الهجرة الإيطالية إلى مصر وعبرها بالإضافة إلى حركات الهجرة الأكبر عبر البحر المتوسط والشرق الأوسط في ذلك الوقت. مزيج من الفرص السياسية والاقتصادية جعل من مصر في القرن التاسع عشر بلداً جاذباً للعمالة الإيطالية وغيرها التي تبحث عن فرص عمل
Così tanto si dispiega in una sola pagina. Sfogliando i volumi in possesso del Centro Archeologico Italiano (CAI) del Cairo, gestito dall’Istituto Italiano di Cultura (IIC) con sede nella stessa città, è possibile girovagare nel passato e scoprirvi meraviglie. Conservata in uno stato relativamente buono, anche se di vulnerabilità, questa collezione storica dei quotidiani pubblicati in lingua italiana nel tardo Ottocento e inizio Novecento in Egitto costituisce una finestra eccezionale da cui osservare la storia della migrazione italiana verso e attraverso l’Egitto nonché dei movimenti migratori nel Mediterraneo e nel Medio Oriente del tempo. La presenza di un insieme di opportunità politiche ed economiche rese l’Egitto del diciannovesimo secolo particolarmente attraente per lavoratori italiani e di altre nazionalità che erano alla ricerca di impiego (Gorman, 141).
Lucia Carminati reading (Photograph taken by Sebastiano Mussi, 2015)
Entrance of CAI in Cairo (Photograph taken by Raffaele Pentangelo, IIC)
I was immediately struck by the richness of these sources when I encountered them for the first time in 2015-2016, following the generous lead of then-fellow PhD adventurer Joseph Viscomi- during doctoral fieldwork in Egypt and across Europe. I kept mulling over ways to preserve and make this collection available beyond Egypt’s fickle attitude towards academic researchers, capricious access rules to the CAI holdings, and unpredictable travel restrictions. The discovery of the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) came at a fortuitous if yet chaotic time, as I transitioned from Texas to Norway. I quickly found out that similar efforts had already been under way by Helwan University’s Dr. Wafaa El Beih and Dante Campioni of Alexbank, both of whom I thank.
أدهشني على الفور ثراء هذه المصادر عندما قابلتها أول مرة بين عامي ٢٠١٥ و٢٠١٦, بناء على النصائح السخية من زميلى طالب الدكتوراه آنذاك جوزيف فيسكومي أثناء بحثي للدكتوراه في مصر و أوروبا. ظللت أفكر في طرق للحفاظ على هذه المجموعة وإتاحتها بما يتجاوز موقف مصر المتقلب تجاه الباحثين الأكاديميين و بما يتجاوز قواعد الوصول المتقلبة إلى المقتنيات وبما يتجاوز قيود السفر غير المتوقعة. جاء اكتشاف برنامج المحفوظات المهددة بالانقراض التابع للمكتبة البريطانية في وقت مناسب وإن كانت الظروف مضطربة الى حد ما, حيث كانت فترة انتقالى من تكساس إلى النرويج. سرعان ما اكتشفت أن جهود مماثلة قد بذلت بالفعل من قبل الدكتورة وفاء البيه من جامعة حلوان ودانتي كامبيوني من بنك الإسكندرية واوجه لهما جزيل الشكر
La ricchezza di queste fonti colpisce immediatamente. Ne fui catturata per la prima volta nel 2015-2016, seguendo il generoso consiglio dell’allora compagno di avventure e collega dottorando Joseph Viscomi, durante il mio lavoro di ricerca sul campo in Egitto e in Europa per la preparazione della tesi di dottorato. In seguito, ho continuato a rimuginare su come poter conservare e rendere disponibile questa collezione a prescindere dall'atteggiamento volubile dell’Egitto nei confronti dei ricercatori accademici, dalle mutevoli regole di accesso ai materiali CAI e dalle imprevedibili restrizioni di viaggio. La scoperta dell’Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) della British Library è capitata in un momento fortuito anche se caotico durante la mia transizione accademica dal Texas alla Norvegia. Ho subito scoperto che sforzi simili erano già in corso da parte di Wafaa El Beih dell'Università di Helwan e di Dante Campioni di Alexbank e ringrazio entrambi.
IIC materials (Photographs taken by Raffaele Pentangelo, IIC)
The CAI/IIC collection of daily newspapers that EAP1474 “Stampa Migrante” will finish to digitise and broadcast by September 30, 2023, are the following:
Il Messaggero Egiziano (the issues tentatively comprised between July 1926 and March 1930), born as Lloyd egiziano in 1875 in Alexandria, then morphed into Messaggiere or Messaggere; L’Imparziale (March 1892 - December 1929), founded in 1892 in Cairo; Il Giornale d’Oriente-L’Imparziale of Cairo (April 1930 - June 1940); Il Giornale d’Oriente-Messaggero Egiziano in Alexandria (July 1930 - June 1940). Thanks to EAP, more than 70,000 pages will go live instead of gathering dust in locked cabinets.
مجموعة الصحف اليومية التي سينتهي المشروع ستامپا ميجرانتي -الصحافة المهاجرة- من تحويلها رقميًا وبثها عبر الإنترنت بحلول ٣٠ سبتمبر ٢٠٢٣ هي كالتالي
تقريبا بين يوليو ١٩٢٦ ومارس ١٩٣٠, تأسست في عام ١٨٧٥ في الإسكندرية Il Messaggero Egiziano
تقريبا بين مارس ١٨٩٢ وديسمبر ١٩٢٩, تأسست عام ١٨٩٢ في القاهرة L’Imparziale
تقريبا بين أبريل ١٩٣٠ ويونيو ١٩٤٠ في القاهرة Il Giornale d’Oriente-L’Imparziale
تقريبا بين يوليو ١٩٣٠ ويونيو ١٩٤٠ في الإسكندرية Il Giornale d’Oriente-Messaggero Egiziano
بفضل هذا البرنامج سيتم نشر أكثر من ٦٠٠٠٠ صفحة بدلاً من تجمع الغبارعليها في الخزانات المغلقة
La collezione di quotidiani del CAI/IIC che il progetto EAP1474 “Stampa Migrante” finirà di digitalizzare e diffondere entro il 30 settembre 2023 comprende i seguenti: Il Messaggero Egiziano (i numeri contenuti provvisoriamente tra il luglio 1926 e il marzo 1930), nato come Lloyd egiziano nel 1875 ad Alessandria d’Egitto, poi trasformatosi in Messaggiere o Messaggere; L’Imparziale (marzo 1892 - dicembre 1929), fondato nel 1892 al Cairo; Il Giornale d'Oriente-L'Imparziale del Cairo (aprile 1930 - giugno 1940); Il Giornale d’Oriente-Messaggero Egiziano di Alessandria (luglio 1930 - giugno 1940). Grazie al programma EAP, più di 70.000 pagine acquisiranno nuova vita invece di continuare ad impolverarsi in armadi chiusi.
More IIC materials (Photographs taken by Raffaele Pentangelo, IIC)
It may be confusing to determine whether the collection is made of three or four newspapers. This is due to the fact that, in April 1930, L’Imparziale and Il Messaggero Egiziano merged under the name of Il Giornale d’Oriente. But they continued to coexist in two different editions, respectively based in Cairo and in Alexandria, apparently so that the Italian community in each city could have its own paper (Petricioli, 293; Marchi 2010, 115). But why did the Alexandrine and Cairine communities want or need two separate dailies? Here is where questions running deep below the surface of this project burst forth: for whom and by whom was the Italian language press printed at the time? Who was writing it? Who was financing it? What perspectives and biases transpire through its pages? Who was reading it? Why and how were people reading it? Are such Italian-language sources circumscribed to the history of Egypt-bound migration from the Italian peninsula or do they reach much farther away?
قد يكون من المربك تحديد ما إذا كانت المجموعة مكونة من ثلاث أو أربع صحف. هذا يرجع إلى حقيقة أنه في أبريل ١٩٣٠ اندمجت "الميساجيرو" و"ليمپارزيالي" تحت اسم "الجورنال دوريينتي". لكنهم استمروا في التعايش في نسختين مختلفتين في القاهرة والإسكندرية ، على ما يبدو بحيث يمكن للجالية الإيطالية في كل مدينة أن يكون لها صحيفتها الخاصة. ولكن لماذا أرادت جاليات الإسكندرية والقاهرة أو احتاجتا إلى صحيفتين يوميتين منفصلتين؟ هنا حيث تتوارد بعض الأسئلة المُلحّة التي تدور بعمق تحت سطح هذا المشروع: لمن ومن قام بطباعة الصحافة الناطقة باللغة الإيطالية في ذلك الوقت؟ من كان يكتبها؟ من كان يمولها؟ ما هي وجهات النظر والتحيزات التي تظهر من خلال صفحاتها؟ من كان يقرأها؟ لماذا وكيف كان الناس يقرؤونها؟ هل هذه المصادر باللغة الإيطالية مقيدة بتاريخ الهجرة المتجهة إلى مصر من شبه الجزيرة الإيطالية أم أنها تصل إلى أبعد من ذلك؟
Stabilire se la collezione sia composta da tre o quattro giornali può creare confusione. Ciò è dovuto al fatto che, nell’aprile del 1930, L'Imparziale e Il Messaggero Egiziano si fusero sotto il nome di Il Giornale d'Oriente, ma continuarono a coesistere in due edizioni diverse rispettivamente con sede al Cairo e ad Alessandria, a quanto pare perché la comunità italiana di ciascuna città potesse avere il proprio giornale (Petricioli, 293; Marchi 2010, 115). Ma perché la comunità alessandrina e quella cairota volevano o necessitavano di due quotidiani separati? È qui che emergono prepotentemente alcune delle domande che scorrono appena sotto la superficie di questo progetto: per chi e da chi veniva prodotta la stampa in lingua italiana dell’epoca? Chi vi scriveva? Chi la finanziava? Quali prospettive e pregiudizi trasparivano dalle sue pagine? Chi la leggeva? Perché e come la si leggeva? Queste fonti in lingua italiana sono circoscritte alla storia della migrazione verso l’Egitto dalla penisola italiana o hanno il potenziale di spaziare oltre?
Example pages from the newspapers (Photographs taken by Irina Schmid, AUC)
The potential of the CAI/IIC collection goes beyond Egypt’s strictly defined “Italian” community to embrace at the very least all those who could speak and read Italian. Sure, as I suggest in my book Seeking Bread and Fortune in Port Said: Labor Migration and the Making of the Suez Canal, 1859-1906, Egypt’s foreign-language newspapers tended to divide the public along linguistic and political lines. Retracing their history is useful to understand the process by which immigrant communities tried to settle down, imagine their identity, shape their boundaries. Yet, a study of the contents of these very same newspapers reveals how deeply fractured these foreign communities were along -for example- fault lines dictated by class and education (Gorman, 146). Even beyond the communities they apparently targeted, these mono-lingual newspapers are windows into a multi-lingual world. More research on language politics and multi-lingual practices is necessary and ongoing, as in Olga Verlato’s exciting dissertation work. I will only provide one example here: one third of Alexandria’s readers of Il Giornale d’Oriente were Maltese and Greeks; two thirds of its readers in Port Said were originally from Malta (Petricioli, 297).
يتجاوز تأثير مجموعة الصحف اليومية الجالية "الإيطالية" في مصر ليضم على الأقل كل أولئك الذين يمكنهم التحدث باللغة الإيطالية وقراءتها. بالتأكيد ، كما اقترحت في كتابي البحث عن الخبز والثروة في بورسعيد: هجرة العمالة وصناعة قناة السويس ١٨٥٩ـ١٩٠٦، تميل الصحف المصرية الصادرة باللغات الأجنبية إلى تقسيم الجمهور على أسس لغوية وسياسية . يعد تتبع تاريخهم مفيدًا لفهم كيف حاولت جاليات المهاجرين الاستقرار وتخيل هويتهم وتشكيل حدودهم. ومع ذلك تكشف دراسة لمحتويات هذه الصحف نفسها عن مدى انقسام هذه الجاليات الأجنبية بعمق على طول خطوط الطبقة الاجتماعية والتعليم . حتى خارج الجاليات التي استهدفتها على ما يبدو فإن هذه الصحف أحادية اللغة هي نوافذ في عالم متعدد اللغات. المزيد من البحث حول سياسة اللغة والممارسات متعددة اللغات ضروري ومستمر كما هو الحال في بحث الدكتوراه لأولغا فيرلاتو. سأقدم هنا مثالاً واحداً فقط: ثلث قراء الإسكندرية للجورنال دوريينتي كانوا مالطيين ويونانيين. ثلثى قراءها في بورسعيد كانوا من اصول مالطيه
Il potenziale della collezione del CAI/IIC va oltre la comunità “italiana” d’Egitto. Come minimo, arriva a includere tutti coloro che potevano parlare e leggere l’italiano. È vero che, come suggerisco nel mio libro Seeking Bread and Fortune in Port Said: Labor Migration and the Making of the Suez Canal, 1859-1906, i giornali egiziani in lingua straniera tendevano a dividere il pubblico lungo linee linguistiche e politiche. Ripercorrere la loro storia è quindi utile per comprendere il processo attraverso il quale le comunità di immigrati cercarono di insediarsi, di immaginare la propria identità, di delineare i propri confini. Tuttavia, uno studio dei contenuti di questi stessi giornali rivela quanto queste comunità straniere fossero profondamente fratturate, ad esempio lungo linee di faglia dettate dall’appartenenza di classe e dal livello di istruzione (Gorman, 146). Anche al di là delle comunità a cui apparentemente si rivolgevano, questi giornali monolingui sono finestre su un mondo multilingue. Sono necessarie e in corso ulteriori ricerche sulle politiche linguistiche e sulle pratiche multilinguistiche, come nell'appassionante lavoro di dottorato di Olga Verlato. Mi limito qui a fornire un esempio: un terzo dei lettori alessandrini de Il Giornale d'Oriente erano maltesi e greci; due terzi dei lettori dello stesso in Port Said erano originari di Malta (Petricioli, 297).
Ahmed Wali Al Din Series - Two men walking on the beach, 1937 [ref931] (Copyright Al Akkasah)
In sum, EAP1474 provides a privileged yet accessible gateway into underexplored aspects of the history of modern Egypt, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. But it also opens up a broad-ranging conversation on the ways in which we study the history of migration and the history of the press. As any archive, it houses and excludes; it has its cracks and silences. It will need yet other ideas and resources to complete its gaps by retrieving missing issues from the public library of Alexandria; Italian libraries and archives; even private collections. It will have to follow in the steps of the experts who have pioneered this field at Transfopress, at the ΕΛΙΑ archives, and at the Centre d’Etudes Alexandrines, now looking up from Egypt’s francophone press to embrace the multiple shapes of the Mediterranean’s allophone press. That is a welcome and promising new opening.
باختصار، يوفر هذا المشروع بوابة متميزة ومتاحة في الجوانب الغيرمستكشفة من تاريخ مصر الحديثة والبحر المتوسط والشرق الأوسط. لكنه يفتح أيضًا نقاشًا واسع النطاق حول الطرق التي ندرس بها تاريخ الهجرة وتاريخ الصحافة. مثل أي أرشيف فإنه يضم ويستبعد ؛ له ثغرات ومناطق صمت. سوف يحتاج إلى أفكار وموارد أخرى لسد الثغرات من خلال استرجاع الأعداد المفقودة من مكتبة الإسكندرية العامة والمكتبات ودور المحفوظات الإيطالية وحتى المجموعات الخاصة. سيتعين اذا اتباع خطوات الخبراء الذين كانوا رائدين في هذا المجال في "ترانسفوپريس" وفي دار المحفوظات ΕΛΙΑ وفي مركز دراسات الإسكندرية ، الذي ينظر الأن الى ابعد من الصحافة الفرنكوفونية في مصر لاحتضان الصحافة بلغات أجنبية متعددة في البحر الأبيض المتوسط. هذه بداية جديدة واعدة ومرحب بها
In sintesi, il progetto EAP1474 offre un punto d’accesso privilegiato ma accessibile ad aspetti poco esplorati della storia dell’Egitto moderno, del Mediterraneo e del Medio Oriente. Tuttavia, il progetto apre anche una conversazione di ampio respiro sui modi in cui studiamo la storia delle migrazioni e la storia della stampa. Come ogni archivio, ospita ed esclude; ha le sue crepe e i suoi silenzi. Avrà bisogno di altre idee e risorse per completare le sue lacune, recuperando i numeri mancanti dalla collezione della biblioteca pubblica di Alessandria, dalle biblioteche e dagli archivi italiani e persino da collezioni private. Dovrà seguire le orme degli esperti che hanno aperto la strada con Transfopress, con gli archivi ΕΛΙΑ e del Centre d'Etudes Alexandrines, dove ora si solleva lo sguardo oltre la stampa francofona dell’Egitto per abbracciare le molteplici forme della stampa allofona del Mediterraneo: una promettente e benvenuta apertura.
Today’s Egypt: man reading the newspaper in Zamalek (Photograph taken by the author, 2022)
I have discussed a few initial findings (in Italian) in the context of a conference at the Università di Pavia titled “Sguardi incrociati. Editoria e oltremare tra colonialismo e post-colonialismo” (9 June 2023).
لقد شاركت بعض الاعتبارات الأولية (بالإيطالية) خلال مؤتمر في جامعة بافيا بعنوان "النظرات المتقاطعة. النشر وما وراء البحار بين الاستعمار وما بعد الاستعمار" (9 يونيو 2023).
Ho condiviso alcune considerazioni iniziali (in italiano) durante una conferenza all’Università di Pavia dal titolo“Sguardi incrociati. Editoria e oltremare tra colonialismo e post-colonialismo” (9 giugno 2023).
For offering support and expertise throughout the project, I want to thank:
:على تقديم دعمهم ومشاركة خبراتهم أثناء المشروع, أشكر
Per aver offerto il loro sostegno e condiviso le loro competenze durante il progetto, ringrazio:
Atef Khalil; Francesca Biancani, Alessandra Marchi, Costantino Paonessa, Teresa Pepe. Grazie a Davide Scalmani; Raffaele Pentangelo; Isabella Bommarito (IIC); Mohamed Abdel Rehim, Heba Sayed, Irina Schmid, Stephen Urgola (AUC); Ingrid Stange Ytterstad (UiO); Alexbank; Helwan university; Marie-Delphine Martèlliere (CeAlex).
Written by Dr Lucia Carminati (University of Oslo), Project Lead for EAP1474
A short bibliography on this topic includes:
Offro di seguito una breve bibliografia sull’argomento:
ʻAbduh, Ibrāhīm. Taṭawwur al-ṣiḥāfah al-Miṣrīyah, 1798-1981. Cairo: Muʼassasat Sijill al-ʻArab, 1982.
Baldinetti, Anna. Orientalismo e colonialismo: la ricerca di consenso in Egitto per l’impresa di Libia. Roma: Istituto per l’Oriente C.A. Nallino, 1997.
Bigiavi, Edoardo D. Noi e l’Egitto. Livorno: Arti Grafiche S. Belforte E C., 1911.
Briani, Vittorio. Italiani in Egitto. Roma: Istituto poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, 1982.
Danovaro, G. B. L’Égypte à l’aurore du XXème siècle. Alexandrie: J.C. Lagoudakis, 1901.
Degli Oddi in Società Dante Alighieri. Calendario Nazionale Della Società Dante Alighieri. Firenze: R. Bemporad e Figlio, 1904.
Empereur, J.-Y., and Marie-Delphine Martellière, eds. Presses allophones de Méditerranée. Etudes alexandrines. Alexandrie: Centre d’études alexandrines, 2017.
Gorman, Anthony. “The Italians of Egypt: Return to Diaspora.” In Diasporas of the Modern Middle East: Contextualising Community, by Anthony Gorman and Sossie Kasbarian, 138–70. Edinburgh: University Press, 2015.
Marchi, Alessandra. “La presse d’expression italienne en Égypte, de 1845 à 1950.” Rivista dell’Istituto di Storia dell’Europa Mediterranea, no. 5 (2010): 91–125.
———. “La presse italophone d’Egypte. Un long siècle d’histoire.” In Presses allophones de Méditerranée, edited by J.-Y. Empereur and Marie-Delphine Martellière. Etudes alexandrines. Alexandrie: Centre d’études alexandrines, 2017.
Munier, Jules. La presse en Égypte (1799-1900). Notes et souvenirs. Le Caire: Impr. de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale, 1930.
Petricioli, Marta. Oltre il mito: l’Egitto degli italiani (1917-1947). Milano: Mondadori, 2007.
Rizzitano, Umberto. “Un Secolo Di Giornalismo Italiano in Egitto (1845-1945).” Cahiers d’histoire Égyptienne Série VIII, no. fasc. 2/3 (Avril 1956).
Sadgrove, Philip. “The European Press in Khedive Isma’il’s Egypt (1863-1866): A Neglected FIeld,” In P.C. Sadgrove (Ed.), Printing and Publishing in the Middle East, Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement 24, 2008, 109-128.
Sammarco, Angelo. Gli italiani in Egitto: il contributo italiano nella formazione dell’Egitto moderno. Alessandria D’Egitto: Edizioni del Fascio, 1937.
22 June 2022
We have another 4 new projects online to bring to your attention. This time from Indonesia, Iran, India, and West Africa:
- Bima Manuscripts [EAP988]
- Zoroastrian historical documents and Avestan manuscripts [EAP1014]
- Private records of leading business families of Early Colonial Bengal [EAP1104]
- Pulaar Islamic Texts: Six Archives of the Taal Families in Senegal and Mali [EAP1245]
Bima Manuscripts [EAP988]
Led by Dr Titik Pudjiastuti, this pilot project digitised 205 manuscripts that represent the history and culture of Bima - one of the provinces in Nusa Tenggara Barat, in the eastern part of Sumabawa Island, Indonesia.
In 2016, these manuscripts survived an avalanche and flood that affected the region. And this project has gone some way to helping protecting the manuscripts against future natural disasters.
This major project was led by Dr Saloumeh Gholami. It digitised 11 manuscripts containing more than 8,000 pages. It also digitised more than 15,000 historical, economic, and legal documents regarding the religious minority of Zoroastrians in Iran.
The collection came to light in February 2016 in a Zoroastrian house in the Priests' Quarter [Maḥalle-ye dastūrān] in Yazd in Iran. Arabab Mehraban Poulad, a famous Zoroastrian merchant from a priest family, had accumulated and archived his own documents and Avestan manuscripts as well as the documents of his father and grandfather over the course of his lifetime. This collection now belongs to his grandchild Mehran Pouladi.
Led by Dr Tridibsantapa Kundu, this major project digitised the private records of 11 leading business families of colonial Bengal. This project built on the EAP906 pilot project, also led by Dr Tridibsantapa Kundu, where 25 business families were approached and a survey of the various collections was produced.
These collections are important for understanding the Bengali business community and their strategies in dealing with the English East India Company and the British Raj.
Led by Dr Mohamed Mwamzandi and Dr Samba Camara, this project digitised manuscripts written by some of the most influential Haalpulaar (speakers of Pulaar) Islamic scholars of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Pulaar is a variety of the Fula/Fulani language spoken by over five million people in the West African countries of Senegal, The Gambia, Mauritania, Guinea, and Mali. About 40 million Africans use varieties of the Fula/Fulani language. And you can read more about these manuscripts and the project to digitise them in a blog post written by the project's co-lead, Dr Samba Camara.
30 July 2020
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:
- Sufi Islamic Manuscripts from Western Sumatra and Jambi, Indonesia [EAP352]
- Rare Manuscripts from Balochistan, Pakistan [EAP766]
- Pre-modern Hindu Ritual Manuscripts from Kathmandu Valley, Nepal [EAP945]
- The Barbadian Newspaper (1822-1861) [EAP1251]
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.
The collection also includes some correspondence, including a letter from Siti Afīyah to ʻAbd al-Karīm Amr Allāh, dated 22 September 1928.
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.
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.
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.
These manuscripts date from the 17th-19th centuries and are mostly manuals on Hindu rites and rituals.
- Prachalit Nepal
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.
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.
17 June 2020
The Barbadian newspaper is EAP’s latest digitised collection to go online. It does so at a particularly apposite moment. From coronavirus to #BlackLivesMatter this 19th century colonial era newspaper provides stark parallels with the cultural and political issues so prevalent today.
These parallels first came into focus the day after I began working on the collection when, on Saturday 23 May 2020, The New York Times published an emotive front page: a solemn list of obituaries; the names and descriptions of 1,000 people killed by Covid-19. It was a format strikingly similar to a series of front pages issued by The Barbadian almost 200 years previously, during the spring of 1835. Two days later, after the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed, the parallels came into even sharper focus because The Barbadian printed an altogether different list of people. These were not the victims of a disease, but the supposed victims of the abolition of slavery.
While the NYT informed us that 85 year old Ellis Marshal from New Orleans was ‘a jazz pianist and patriarch of a family of musicians’; ‘no-one made creamed potatoes or fried sweet corn the way’ 85 year old June Beverley Hill from Sacramento did; and that John Herman Cloxer Jr, 62, was ‘one of the few African-American corporate bond traders on Wall Street’. In contrast, The Barbadian informed its readers that the honourable Nathaniel Forte claimed compensation for 53 slaves in Warley; John Frere sought recompense for 238 slaves at the Lower Estate; and Maria Frazer and her children requested indemnity for 1 slave in the parish of St Michael.
Compensation for abolition
Britain's slave plantation model began in Barbados in the 17th century before spreading throughout the Caribbean. Built on the enslavement of men, women, and children from Africa, it was a lucrative system that generated excessive wealth for many slave owners and drove the British economy. As the anti-slavery movement gained momentum in the late 18th century, plantation owners and merchants throughout the empire blamed abolitionists for their own economic woes. In tandem with calls to abolish slavery, they demanded reciprocal compensation on the basis that laws protecting inanimate property also applied to slaves. This campaign had political support from absentee proprietors in the UK parliament and when the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act came into force, it was in conjunction with a system that enabled 46,000 slave owners, including more than 80 MPs, to claim compensation.
The British government paid a total of £20 million - 40% of its national budget - to compensate thousands of slave owners; the equivalent of approximately £17 billion today. It required enormous borrowing by the government, so much that the debt was not fully repaid until 2015.
This statistic was announced to the world in a 2018 fact of the day tweet by the UK Treasury and prompted a sharp rebuke by historian David Olusoga. The tweet was pitched as a pat on the back for UK taxpayers’ contribution towards abolishing slavery. Instead it was an unsightly reminder that 21st century taxpayers had continued to fund the ill-gotten gains of human enslavement.
The Treasury’s tweet is indicative of a predilection towards a patriotic view of the past. One that gravitates towards remembering Britain’s role in abolition, rather than its part in establishing and maintaining a system of racial servitude; and one that obscures the structural inequalities that abolition failed to end.
This patriotic imagining of Britain’s imperial legacy is prevalent in the tendency to laud British advocates of abolition, the white allies of those enslaved, such as campaigner William Wilberforce and missionary John Smith - also known as the Demerera Martyr.
Black advocates of abolition such as the formerly enslaved man Olaudah Equiano, or Bussa - the enslaved person widely attributed with leading the largest Barbados rebellion in 1816 - are largely absent from British public discourse on the topic.
Within the Barbadian context, an article published in 1979 by J T Gilmore concluded that Reverend William Marshall Harte made ‘a change in Barbadian society as great as that brought by the Emancipation Act’. Quite the accolade for a man who successfully claimed more than £2,500 in compensation for 112 slaves across four locations, and who preached that ‘slavery [was] not inconsistent with Christianity’.
Harte could be considered a quintessential example of the white colonialist on a civilising mission. His contribution to emancipation, according to Gilmore, was his belief that despite his ‘very low opinion of the morals and capacities of the negroes, he firmly believed that these could be improved by instruction, and that at least where matters of grace were concerned, the black slave could truly be made the equal of his white master’.
Freedom of expression
The case of William Harte is indicative of one of the key structural tenets of racial inequality. Colonial control is often based on three principles: expression, violence, and law. Newspapers often represent all three. The Barbadian reported violence, announced laws, and offered a means of expression to men like Reverend William Harte.
Harte’s attempts to civilise the enslaved were not well received by a significant chunk of the white population in Barbados. When, in 1819, he and his associates were threatened by white parishioners angry that enslaved black people were invited into the church, his privileged position enabled him a right of reply in the form of a letter to the editor of the Barbados Mercury and Bridgetown Gazette (which is also available on the EAP website). And when he was chastised in the Barbados Mercury in 1827, his friendship with Abel Clinckett, the editor and proprietor of The Barbadian, afforded him an indirect defence in the form of a supportive editorial. The enslaved had no such right of reply.
Licence to kill
Without freedom of expression, the enslaved were reliant on the legal system for protection. But the system of governance was intentionally rigged against them. Laws are not inherently moral or just. Often they are means of enforcing compliance and subjugation in the interests of those who make them. An 1824 proclamation by King George IV asserted that the ‘Slave Population … will be undeserving of Our Protection if they shall fail to render entire Submission to the Laws, as well as dutiful Obedience to their Masters’. The objective was to dampen thoughts of rebellion; the means was to suggest that continued enslavement was a slave’s only hope of protection. Protection from what, was left unsaid. Had the king wished to be more succinct, he may simply have remarked that ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts’.
If enslaved people were to comply with the law, it was surely only right that the colonial powers did too. The traditionalist argument in support of the British Empire is that in comparison to other imperial powers, British imperialists mostly acted legally. But as Matthew Hughes’s recent study of Britain’s colonial pacification of Palestine showed, the British maintained colonial control by constantly altering the law to make considerable brutality permissible.
The counter-insurgency tactics employed by the British in the Middle East in the 1930s - the combination of brutal force and legal dictate - are not so different from the methods used to control the colonies in the Americas one hundred years earlier.
In August 1823 The Barbadian reported on a revolt in the colony of Demerera-Essequibo (modern day Guyana), in which more than 10,000 enslaved people detained their enslavers and demanded that the governor listen to their grievances and grant them ‘rights’. While the revolt itself was predominantly non-violent, the government response was uncompromising. Governor John Murray proclaimed martial law and military detachments, including the British army’s all black West India Regiment, killed and wounded rebelling slaves.
Moreover, in the interests of protecting British subjects and property, the governor’s proclamation of martial law included an instruction for all ‘faithful subjects of His Majesty … to govern themselves accordingly’. It was a call to arms that essentially permitted the white population to kill members of the black population.
Police brutality beyond emancipation
The trans-Atlantic slave system was inherently racist, but the 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act, despite its stated intention, did little to dismantle the structures of racial inequality. Freedom was not immediate. Instead, slavery was replaced by a new system of apprenticeships: a transitional scheme that required hitherto enslaved persons to continue working for their previous enslavers for 45 hours per week in return for free board and lodging. By any other name they remained enslaved.
They also remained reliant on a system of law and order that privileged the white settler population. Emancipation coincided with the establishment, in 1834, of the first formal police force in Barbados and one of the first reported interactions between the police and the black community was indicative of the continued inequality.
According to a report printed in The Barbadian, police officer Thomas Green took a loose goat from the market. When the goat was claimed by an ‘apprenticed’ woman named Benebah, the officer refused to return the goat unless she paid him. But Benebah did not comply. Instead she returned to the market where she vented her frustration. When the officer heard that she had been abusing him, he confronted the pregnant woman. Still enraged at the injustice, she abused him directly. The officer grabbed Benebah, intent on dragging her to the police station. She resisted; clenched her teeth on his hand. Green responded, pulled her towards him, and forced his knee into her abdomen. Benebah threw the officer to the floor, before others joined the scuffle and the officer was retrieved by two colleagues.
When the incident was over, Green was brought before the magistrate and sent to prison. But he was swiftly released on the basis of a certificate from Dr Cleare stating that ‘the woman [was] in no immediate danger’.
Bolster the police
Beyond the lack of legal accountability for the police officer, the editorial comment was starkly in the officer’s favour. The Barbadian demanded an increased police presence and lamented that: ‘The overbearing insolence of the ill disposed negroes, especially the females, when they see so small a portion of the police in the way, is very trying to human patience, as we find in the case of Saturday’. While the piece went on to ‘earnestly intreat our Police officers to keep a strict guard over their own tempers, to be patient under provocation, but firm in the execution of their duty, not regarding colour, rank, or station’, the subtle distinction between ‘human’ and ‘negroes’ puts the racial motivation of the views expressed into sharp relief.
The racial slant was reminiscent of the editorial comment on the 1823 revolt in Demerera, which took the form of a vitriolic tirade against the abolitionist African Institution and its leading figures, including William Wilberforce and James Stephen, blaming them for sowing disorder and describing them as ‘a junta of fanatics … specious friends of humanity, who have not one spark of christian feeling for the millions of human beings of their own colour’.
Telling the stories of the enslaved
As a newspaper written by the white community, for the white community, The Barbadian does not provide a mouthpiece for the enslaved. But it is a vital historical source that reveals much about the attitudes and incidents of this period and of the overt and covert forms of racial inequality that preceded and succeeded emancipation.
It is also a useful resource for tracing the stories of those enslaved. Take pregnant Benebah, for example. The newspaper report of the police incident remarked that she was an apprentice of John Piggot Maynard. By cross referencing this with the slave register available online via Ancestry.com, we find that in 1834 Benebah was a 30 year old black Barbadian gifted to John Maynard’s 7 year old daughter by Richard Grannum.
Slave registration was first introduced in 1812. After the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, this was one method of combatting illegal trading and the registers later became integral to the calculation of slave owners’ compensation claims. In January 1823, The Barbadian printed a schedule, which it copied from the Barbados Mercury, as guidance for enslavers.
These registers were essentially a census that had to be completed every three years, and they enable us to trace the registration of 13 year old Benebah as a sheep keeper in 1817, through to her final registration in 1834.
With a bit more digging it may well be possible to track Benebah’s story further, including that of her unborn child who felt the full force of the law while still in his/her mother’s womb.
The degree to which the voices of the enslaved emerge from the page often depends on the needs of the enslaver. When offered for sale, enslaved people usually remained nameless. The very first edition of The Barbadian contained an advertisement for the sale of two enslaved people; both identified simply by their gender, number of children, and domestic skills.
But when enslavers were seeking the return of those who had absconded, their identities were necessarily revealed. The Barbados Mercury is strewn with advertisements requesting the recapture of enslaved people who had escaped.
To achieve their objective, these adverts required detailed descriptions and consequently offer a significant means of identifying individuals and revealing their lineage. This enhanced level of detail represents the interests of the enslaver; but it reflects the actions of the enslaved. The publication of these adverts, and the stories they reveal, were created by the enslaver, but born out acts of resistance.
For those tracing their ancestors or broadly researching the period, newspapers such as these can therefore be crucial for starting that search or expanding upon it. It shines a light on individual stories, highlights moments of protest, and demonstrates the structural inequalities that continued during the transition towards and beyond emancipation.
21st century parallels
Recent events have shown that the transition from slavery to racial equality is far from complete. US citizen George Floyd was a free man. But he lacked freedom to express. He had no access to an opinion piece in a national newspaper. He did not even have the freedom to breathe or express his opposition to being strangled to death by an officer of the law. Freedom of expression, though, was afforded to US Senator Tom Cotton whose recent opinion piece on the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd called on the US Government to ‘send in the troops’. Like the response to the 1823 revolt in Demerera and the 1816 rebellion in Barbados, Tom Cotton essentially advocated the implementation of martial law in order to subdue those people protesting racial inequality. Reminiscent of the response to the assault on Benebah, Tom Cotton called for more force rather than more understanding; prioritised punishment over change.
While racism in its most overt form - black people in chains - may be largely in the past, its legacy continues. When comments on slavery in a 19th century newspaper draw parallels with 21st century attitudes to race; when standing for the national anthem is deemed more important than protesting racial injustice; and when the fate of a statue is more concerning than the death of a fellow human being; it is clear that for some, jingoism trumps equality, and that the structural inequities of slavery remain significantly unchanged.
By Graham Jevon
Related digital resources
The Barbadian (1822-1861)
The Barbados Mercury and Bridgetown Gazette (1783-1848)
Selected further reading
Colonial counterinsurgency methods
David Anderson, Histories of the Hanged: Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005).
Ilana Feldman, Governing Gaza: Bureaucracy, Authority, and the Work of Rule, 1917-1967 (Duke University Press, 2008).
Laleh Khalili, Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies (Stanford University Press, 2012).
Matthew Hughes, Britain’s Pacification of Palestine: The British Army, the Colonial State, and the Arab Revolt, 1936-1939 (Cambridge University Press, 2019).
Slavery and emancipation
Hilary Beckles, A History of Barbados: From Amerindian Settlement to Caribbean Single Market (Cambridge University Press, 2006)
Hilary Beckles and Verene A Shepherd, Liberties Lost: The Indigenous Caribbean and Slave Systems (Cambridge University Press, 2004).
Hilary Beckles, Jerome S Handler, and Diane Lumsden Brandis, 'The 1816 Slave Revolt in Barbados: An Exchange in Barbados Newspapers', https://glc.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/mpi/2011/1816-Revolt-2000.pdf.
Kathleen Mary Butler, The Economics of Emancipation: Jamaica & Barbados, 1823-1843 (University of North Carolina Press, 1995).
Emilia Viotti da Costa, Crowns of Glory, Tears of Blood: The Demerera Slave Rebellion of 1823 (Oxford University Press, 1997).
Don Foster, Chapter 1: ‘Liberation psychology’, in Norman Duncan, Kopano Ratele, Derek Hook, Nhlanhla Mkhize, Peace Kiguwa, Anthony Collins (eds.), Self, Community and Psychology (UCT Press, 2004).
J T Gilmore, ‘The Rev. William Harte and Attitudes to Slavery in Early Nineteenth-Century Barbados’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 30/4 (October 1979).
Miles Ogborn, The Freedom of Speech: Talk and Slavery in the Anglo-Caribbean World (University of Chicago Press, 2019).
Edwin Angel Wallbridge, The Demerera Martyr: Memoirs of the Rev. John Smith, Missionary to Demerera (Charles Gilpin, 1848).
19 June 2019
Over the past few months we have made six new projects available to view online through our website. These new collections demonstrate the diverse variety of archives the EAP digitises, and includes eighteenth-century Brazilian royal orders, artwork and photography by Lalit Mohan Sen, colonial archives, Coptic manuscripts and prayer scrolls, war photography, and historic newspapers.
EAP627 - Digitising endangered seventeenth to nineteenth century secular and ecclesiastical sources in São João do Carirí e João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil
The aim of EAP627 was to digitise the oldest historical documents in the state of Paraíba, Brazil (located in the semi-arid hinterlands and on the humid coastline). The project team successfully digitised 266 historical documents, ranging from 1660 to 1931 and their digitisation resulted in c. 83,000 TIFF images being created. It includes the entire collection of ecclesiastical documents at Paróquia de Nossa Senhora dos Milagres do São João do Cariri (comprised of 54 volumes produced between 1752 and 1931). During digitisation, the team uncovered the original, signed Constitution of Paraíba of 1891 – the first constitution of this state after Brazil was declared a republic in 1889. To the best of their knowledge and research, the project team believes this is the only existing copy of the document. The digital preservation of these documents have already contributed to shifting the historical narrative of the state’s back lands, and will ensure the ongoing possibility of study in the history of Paraíba’s Afro-Brazilian, indigenous, and mestiço populations.
EAP781 - Santipur and its neighbourhood: text and image production history from early modern Bengal through public and private collections
This was a continuation of EAP643, an earlier pilot project. The project team were able to digitise almost all the records discovered in the pilot. The collection includes 1265 manuscripts from Santipur Bangiya Puran Parishad, 78 bound volumes from Santipur Municipality, and 510 images of Lalit Mohan Sen’s artwork and photography. Some of Sen’s work can be seen in this previous EAP blog post.
Kita is an important site in the history of rural slave emancipation in Western Mali (occurring at the turn of the twentieth century). It hosted the highest number of ‘Liberty villages’ (17 in total) following the French conquest (Western Mali was the first region of today’s Mali to be colonised by the French from the 1890s). Liberty villages hosted the slaves of the defeated enemies of the French army. The project team captured this specific history of slavery and emancipation in Kita through digitised reports, correspondence and court registers held in the Cercle archives of Kita. The collection is extensive, ancient and rare in its content, and is of great scholarly significance.
EAP823 - Digitisation and preservation of the manuscript collection at the Monastery of St Saviour in Old Jerusalem
The objective of this project was to digitise and make widely available the manuscripts at the Franciscan monastery of St Saviour in the Old City of Jerusalem. The collection dates from the 12th to the 20th century, and is written in seventeen languages: Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Classical Ethiopic, Coptic (Bohairic & Sahidic), English, French, Old German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Samaritan, Spanish, Syriac and Turkish. The digitised material is remarkably diverse and is a valuable resource for scholars interested in Christian, Islamic and Jewish traditions, as well as to linguists and philologists, art historians, and musicologists. The texts contain theological and philosophical treatises, biblical and liturgical books, dictionaries, profane and religious poetry, collections of sermons, pilgrim accounts, and also cooking recipes and magic prayers. Among the books are also rare items, for instance texts written in Armenian and Arabic scripts but in Turkish language, and the fragments of Byzantine manuscripts used for the flyleaves in bindings. A special group is made up by large size liturgical books with musical notations, produced for monastic choirs, as well as precious volumes lavishly decorated and illuminated with miniatures, initials and aniconic ornamentation. Research material of particular value consists of a variety of book covers (leather, textile, metal, decorative cardboards etc.) representing diverse binding methods.
EAP894 - Endangered photographic collections about the participation of pre-industrial Bulgaria in three wars in the beginning of the 20th century
The EAP894 project team digitised two collections of photographs (and other records) from the pre-industrial development era of Bulgaria, covering the period 1880-1930. Colonel Petar Darvingov, the Chief of Staff of the Bulgarian Army and a commander of the occupation corps in Moravia (now the Czech Republic and Serbia) created the first collection. He captured moments of military action in the Balkans and Central Europe across three wars: the Balkan War, the Second Balkan War, and World War I. Within the collection are a large volume of photos from different fronts – positional photos of infantry and artillery units, fighting marches, frontline parades and prayers, aviation and motorized units, moments from tactical exercises, building of trenches, laying of roads and telephone wires, views of settlements, etc. Preserved are also the portraits, both group and individual, of the entire command staff of the Bulgarian army during the wars. The photographs record not only the military life at the front, but also at the rear – the camps and bivouacs, clothing, supplies, military equipment and everyday life of the Bulgarian soldier. Many of the backs of the photos have explanatory notes about specific events and characters. They include initiations, names and occasionally short biographical data on individual persons etc. The collection also includes military business cards with author´s notes, operational sketches of battlefields, sketches of the Bulgarian headquarters where the Serbian and Bulgarian troops were positioned during the Balkan Wars, stories of warfare during World War I, and sketches of military sites.
The second collection contains photos, cartoons and caricatures created by the renowned artist and photographer Aleksandar Bozhinov. He was one of the first significant cartoonists of the 20th century and a war correspondent. He documented military positions and the social life in the Balkan villages and towns in the time of war – daily life, work, calendar and festive rituals. The sketches and caricatures in the collection are both the originals and those published in albums and newspapers from the early 20th century. Copies of the Bulgarian comic newspaper (authored by Aleksandar Bozhinov) are also preserved in this collection.
This project digitised the Barbados Mercury and Bridgetown Gazette, a newspaper printed in Barbados from 1783 to 1839. The Gazette was printed biweekly and each issue was four pages long. It is the most complete set of the Gazette and the only copies known to exist. The newspaper is crucial for understanding Barbados’ 18th and 19th century history, particularly because these were formative years for the island. The newspaper sheds light on the everyday life of a slaveholding society; Bussa’s 1816 rebellion; and the events that led to the abolition of the slavery on the island (1834). Digitisation of the newspaper offers the opportunity to unearth an untold history of the enslaved people of the island and their resistance in the early nineteenth century. EAP1086 was a collaborative effort between a team of practitioners and scholars, based both in Barbados and abroad. At the end of the project around 2,331 issues were digitised with around 9,000 digital images in total.
Written by Alyssa Ali, EAP Apprentice
24 September 2018
Do you know of any collections that are currently at risk and need preserving? The Endangered Archives Programme is now accepting preliminary applications for the next annual funding round – the deadline for submission of preliminary applications is 12 noon 19 November 2018 and full details of the application procedures and documentation are available on the EAP website.
The Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) has been running at the British Library since 2004 through funding by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, with the aim of preserving rare vulnerable archival material around the world. The Programme awards grants to relocate the material to a safe local archival home where possible, to digitise it, 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 Programme has funded over 350 projects in 90 countries world-wide and has helped to preserve manuscripts, rare printed books, newspapers and periodicals, audio and audio-visual materials, photographs and temple murals.
There three main types of grant:
- Pilot projects investigate the potential for and/or feasibility of a major grant. A pilot can also be a small digitisation project. They should last for no more than 12 months and have a budget limit of £15,000.
- Major projects gather and copy material. This type of grant may also relocate the material to a more secure location/institution within the country. These projects usually last 12 months, or up to 24 months and have a budget limit of £60,000.
- Area grants will be awarded for larger scale projects. They are similar to a major grant, but larger in scale and ambition. Applicants must demonstrate an outstanding track record of archival preservation work and be associated with an institution that has the capacity to facilitate a large-scale project. The EAP will only award a maximum of two area grants in each funding round. They can last for up to 24 months and have a budget limit of £150,000.
A further type of grant will be introduced in 2019:
- Rapid-response grants can be used to safeguard an archive which is in immediate and severe danger. These grants are intended for the most urgent situations where a delay in the decision process could result in extensive damage to the material. These grants are not subject to the time restrictions of the yearly EAP funding cycle and can be applied for at any time. They must last for less than 12 months and have a budget limit of £15,000.
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 [email protected]
12 February 2018
World Radio Day has been held annually on 13th February since 2012 following its proclamation by the UNESCO Conference. The following year the United Nations General Assembly formally endorsed this proclamation and adopted it as an official ‘International Day’ to be celebrated on the anniversary of the establishment of United Nations Radio in 1946.
It is celebrated as a way of showing the continuing importance of radio around the world. The UN Secretary General António Guterres, speaking in the build-up to World Radio Day 2018 states,
“Radio reaches the widest audience in the world! In an era of dramatic advances in communications, radio retains its power to entertain, educate, inform and inspire. It can unite and empower communities and give voice to the marginalized” 1
Whilst the Endangered Archives Programme is more widely known for digitising vulnerable collections of manuscripts, books, newspapers and other written or visual based mediums, we have also funded a number of audio digitisation projects. Several of these are available to listen to now on BL Sounds, including two important collections of digitised radio archives from Iran and Micronesia. For this post celebrating World Radio Day we thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight these two collections and feature a few of the recordings from the thousands that are available for you to listen to freely.
This eclectic collection of sound recordings from Micronesia were digitised with the help of the Micronesian Seminar (MicSem), a research-pastoral institute founded by the Catholic Church in 1972. The project team were made aware of hundreds of audio tapes sitting on the shelves of government radio stations throughout the region that were in danger of being lost. These tapes contained a rich and diverse collection of recordings played on local radio from the 1950s right up until the early 21st century. Many had already been lost or destroyed, some through theft and others damaged in natural disasters. These low-lying islands are regularly threatened by typhoons and some are already seeing the consequences of climate change. Many of the islands have already lost land mass due to erosion caused by rising sea levels, some are likely to disappear completely within the coming decades, and others have even been lost altogether within living memory. The threat of typhoons, rising sea levels and the usual factors that endanger vulnerable archives – poor storage conditions, theft, pests, humidity, decay and degradation of the original medium, etc. – uniquely placed these radio archives in need of preservation.
The project mainly digitised recordings from government radio stations in Majuro, Marshall Islands; Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap, Federated States of Micronesia; and Koror, Palau. The project team also digitised recordings from a number of private radio stations, including V6AJ on Kosrae, and some from former Palau national congress Senator Alfonso Diaz’s private radio station (WWFM). Other sources for recordings include private individuals and the Liebenzel Mission and Catholic Church media studio in Chuuk.
The recordings feature a wide variety of musical styles and chart the evolution of music in the region, with recordings ranging from traditional music, religious chants and hymns, to acoustic rock and reggae songs. Given the importance music has on the islands, these recordings can give some context into the cultural evolution of these island societies.
Over 7000 recordings available to listen to here.
Abdolvahab Shahidi with accompanying musicians © Golha Project
The Golha radio programmes were broadcast on Iranian National Radio between 1956 and 1979 and consist of a mixture of musical pieces, poetry, and literary commentary. They were the brainchild of Davoud Pirnia, a one-time Assistant Prime Minister who harboured a deep love for Persian culture and its rich literary and musical traditions, and who devoted himself to producing the Golha programmes upon his retirement from political life in 1956. The foremost literary, academic and musical talents of his day offered Mr. Pirnia their collaboration and support, and many of the greatest Iranian vocalists of the twentieth century saw their careers launched on these radio programmes. The programmes constitute an unrivalled encyclopaedia of classical Persian music and poetry. Over 250 poets were introduced to the general public at the time of these broadcasts and they helped to reintroduce and preserve Persian classical music and poetry.
Prior to the digitisation of the Golha radio programmes, these recordings were previously inaccessible to students and scholars of Persian poetry and music. The original tapes were scattered between a number of different archives and private collections with no single archive containing all recordings. The Iranian government withheld access to their archives of music broadcast before the 1979 Islamic revolution, especially those which feature female voices (which all of the Golha programmes contain). Because of the regime's ideological stance to this type of music in particular, it was unlikely they would have committed the resources needed to preserve these recordings. Thanks to the hard work of the EAP088 project team, this important collection of recordings is now saved and freely available both on BL Sounds and the Golha website.
The first of these series of programmes, Golha-yi Javidan (Immortal Flowers of Song and Verse), began its broadcast on March 21 1956 and it concluded, as did all further episodes, with
“This has been an immortal flower from the peerless rose garden of Persia Literature, a flower that shall never perish. Good night”
(In ham goli bud javidan az golzar-e bi-hamta-ye adab-e Iran, goli ke hargez namirad. Shab khosh!).2
1296 recordings available to listen to here.
2 LEWISOHN, J., ‘Flowers of Persian Song and Music: Davud Pirnia and the Genesis of the Golha Programs’, Journal of Persianate Studies (2008) 1, 79-101
Robert Miles, EAP Cataloguer
01 September 2016
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.
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.
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
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 [email protected]
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