THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Endangered archives blog

42 posts categorized "Religious records"

14 April 2014

New online collections - April 2014 - Part 2

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This is the second part of this month’s blog updating you on the new EAP collections which are now available online. This edition covers four projects, EAP408, EAP450, EAP570 and EAP596.
Two of these collections come from Caribbean Islands the Turks and Caicos Islands and Anguilla. The other two collections come from Sri Lanka and Bhutan.

EAP408 was a pilot project which carried out a survey of archives of the Turks and Caicos Islands. These islands do not have a formal national archive, which has left the islands archives vulnerable to loss. Only the Turks and Caicos National Museum has a mandate to collect and care for historical records and before this project its archival collection, which spans around 50 linear feet, represented the islands only known archival records.

The project searched to find collections of archives; it located the major repository of Government Archive records and investigated any other reported or potential storage areas on the inhabited islands of Grand Turk, Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, South Caicos and Salt Cay. A sample of the records was digitised and this is now available to view on our website.

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EAP408/1/1/78 – Image 3

The second project, EAP596,  is from the Caribbean as well, aiming to survey the endangered records of Anguilla. Anguilla also has no formal archive for the collection of records relating to the island. Most archival work has been undertaken on a voluntary basis. Most notably, the Anguilla Archaeological & Historical Society (AAHS), although lacking in resources, has intervened on an ad hoc basis in order to prevent the destruction of historical records wherever possible.
The survey yielded somewhat more pre-1900 material than expected. It represents a valuable resource for research into the island’s history. The material offers a portrait of social and economic conditions, distilled from the King’s Bench records of the 18th century as well as from the Deed series that begin in 1824 and continue through into the later 20th century.

There is abundant documentary material that relates to the Revolutionary period, although much of it has been destroyed by natural disaster and human neglect. The Revolutionary documents have stimulated the most local interest and also detail the extraordinary transformation of Anguilla from an island in 1970 without telephones or electricity to the complex tourist-based economy and society of the present day.

The project’s secondary focus was on creating a digital sample of some of the material. Four document series, comprising six bound volumes, one newspaper and one group of unbound documents were digitised, resulting in the creation of 2,491 digital images. These are now available to view via our website.

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EAP596/1/3/1 – Image 56

EAP450 undertook a survey of manuscripts in Sri Lanka that had been written in the Malay language. The history of the ‘Malay’ community in Sri Lanka goes back to the middle of the seventeenth century, following the foundation of Dutch rule in the island in 1640. The designation ‘Malay’ has been commonly used to refer to people from the Indonesian Archipelago who were exiled to Sri Lanka by the Dutch as political exiles and convicts, sent there in various capacities to serve the Dutch, or recruited as soldiers to colonial armies, both Dutch and, at a later stage, British.

The Malays of Sri Lanka produced a diverse range of manuscripts in the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries. These included Islamic theological treatises, poetry, biographies of the prophets, mystical writings and more.

This pilot project documented approximately 50 Malay manuscripts, books, letters and notes. It provided a digital sample of 5 of these manuscripts. These are now available to view via our website.

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EAP450/1/2 – Image 129

EAP570 is our largest collection to date, containing over two hundred and ninety thousand images.  It digitised the archives of several Buddhist temples in Bhutan. With a long history and undisturbed continuity, Bhutan’s far flung temples and monastic archives represent a literary trove which is still largely unexplored. The project went to the temples of Dongkala, Chizhing, Dodedra and Phojoding; they all have significant manuscript collections dating from the 16th century and later, covering a wide range of subjects from canonical writings to local biographical and ritual literature.

The books are housed in the temple halls, and were generally wrapped in cloth or sometimes bound with a rope and stacked on shelves. They are vulnerable to damage and even possible destruction. For instance, the earthquake on 19 September 2011 has affected 339 temples in western Bhutan including those mentioned here, and destroyed 17 beyond repair. Despite the spiritual, academic and artistic significance of these collections to the local communities, scholars and wider audience, they remain in precarious conditions.

Making digital copies has proven to be the most effective and economical method of preservation, also allowing these fantastic resources to reach a much wider audience. The project was exceptionally successful, even managing to digitise some manuscripts from four additional temples Phurdogkha, Menrikha, Thujedra and Pumola. The project digitised nearly 800 manuscripts. During the process they also cleaned bookshelves, changed book covers and helped to improve the conditions in which the original books were stored.

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EAP570/1/1/1 Part 2 – Image 213

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

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

 

07 April 2014

New online collections - April 2014 - Part 1

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This month has been a bumper one with nine collections going up online, adding over three hundred and fifty thousand images. To avoid an overload of projects April’s blog has been split into two parts. This blog is part one and describes the first five projects which are available; these are EAP207, EAP234, EAP284, EAP314 and EAP401. Two of these collections are South American, coming from Argentina and Peru.  Another two come from Africa, originating from Sierra Leone and Ethiopia. The final collection comes from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

EAP207 digitised various collections of items stored at Museo de La Plata; these had been identified in a previous pilot project, EAP095. Museo de La Plata was established in Argentina in 1888. It was the first institution of its kind in South America, resulting from the donation of several anthropological and archaeological collections gathered during the 1870s. These  collections provide a picture of pre-industrial societies across a wide area of South America during the late 19th - early 20th centuries.

The albums Boggiani, Bonaparte (Old and New World), and the Bolivian Collection represent objects used by ethnologists as visual data of indigenous peoples. The Moreno Album contains images from F. P. Moreno's collections at the Anthropology and Ethnography Museum of Buenos Aires, founded in 1878. This album along with the Calchaquí Album was presented at the Paris World Exhibition of 1878 and both contain very rare images.

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EAP207/2/1 – Image 1

The second project EAP234 identified and catalogued colonial documents (1535-1929) held at the Lima Metropolitan Welfare Society, Peru.  The archive holds documents about benefactors, foundations, brotherhoods, chaplaincies, rural and urban properties, slaves, wills, payments letters and accounts records which provide information on the daily operations of many charitable institutions. These documents are especially valuable as sources of economic, social, religious, art and medicinal history. As well as listing and organizing the material the project also produced a digital sample of the records, this is now available to view on our website.

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 EAP234/1/2/14/1 – Image 2

EAP284 is a pilot project which surveyed the records held at the Sierra Leone Public Archives. Sierra Leone was settled in 1787 by the 'black poor', who were mostly former slaves from London. Sierra Leone received successive waves of immigration, African American ex-slaves who had fled to Nova Scotia, Jamaican Maroons who had been removed from Jamaica and initially settled in Nova Scotia, but after facing cold winters and racism came to Freetown. There were also thousands of people who had been liberated from slave ships by the Royal Navy after 1815 and settled in Freetown. As well as these there were migrants from the hinterland, including Muslims from the north and north east, and local ethnic groups - Mende, Temne, Vai, Sherbro. Sierra Leone became home to a unique polyglot Atlantic community. The records provide an insight into slavery, abolition, race, meanings of freedom and political sovereignty throughout the region.

The project was successful in surveying these archives and supplied a digital sample of some of the records; this is now available on our website.

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EAP284/2/1 – Image 9

EAP401 was based in Ethiopia and looked at digitising records relating to Ethiopia’s Islamic Heritage. Islam was introduced to Ethiopia nearly 1500 years ago. The project undertook a survey to identify the most endangered Islamic manuscripts and archives in functioning and abandoned mosques, as well as looking at private holdings in North Shewa (Goze, Husiso), South Wello (Gedo Toleha, and Dodota) and Gacheni.

The project identified six abandoned mosques in the towns of Cheno, Dera and in South Wallo, 21 manuscripts were listed. Some manuscripts in poor conditions were relocated to the Gaceni District Culture and Tourism Bureau. Ten manuscripts were digitised and these are now available on our website.

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EAP401/1/3 - Image 94

EAP314 located handwritten documents of village judicial assemblies, or traditional courts of customary law, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Though these assemblies never acquired legal sanctity the practice of recording the nature of the dispute and the judgment handed down by village elders became a standard procedure in this region of India. The records will enable researchers to acquire new insight into Tamil rural social life.

The project identified 45 individuals holding documents related to Tamil customary law and rural social history. The collections of 10 individuals were digitised, comprising 619 paper documents, 24 notebooks and 9 copperplates, these are now available to view on our website.

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EAP314/10/2 – Image 19

Check back next week to see the final four projects!

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

1. Pham, John-Peter (2005). Child soldiers, adult interests: the global dimensions of the Sierra Leonean tragedy. Nova Publishers. pp. 4–8. ISBN 978-1-59454-671-6.

 

17 March 2014

New online collections - March 2014

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This month we have five collections which have gone up onto the EAP website. These are EAP177, EAP326, EAP212, EAP507 and EAP556. These collections come from Laos, Peru, Russia and Indonesia.

EAP177 and EAP326 both digitised photographic collections from Buddhist monasteries in Luang Prabang. Coming from more than 20 distinct monastery collections these images provide a unique view of over 120 years of monastic life. The photographs show rituals, pilgrimages, portraits, history and social life. They also document historic and political events including French colonialism, civil war, the Indochina and Vietnam wars, revolution and socialist rule. This rich collection was created because of a particular inclination towards photography that had been introduced very early by the French. It was practiced in the Royal court where young princes would learn about it and take it with them when they were ordained as monks and became abbots of the various monasteries.

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EAP177/3/1/5 Image 181

Together the projects have discovered 33,933 photographs from 21 monasteries in Luang Prabang. These have been digitised and safely stored. Most of the original photographs (prints and negatives) are now stored in specially designed wooden archive cabinets.

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EAP326/8/1 Image 55

EAP507 digitised a large amount of material from the historical archive of San Marcos National University in Peru. The project digitised approximately 26,000 pages of theses and dissertations dating from 1857-1920 as well as four historical documents dating from 1551-1821. San Marcos National University is the oldest university in Peru, holding important documents on several scarcely studied aspects of Peruvian and Hispanic American history. As well as digitising the collections they were also catalogued, making available for researchers an important part of the remaining archival material held in the Historical Archive of the San Marcos National University.

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EAP507/3/2/3 Image 9

EAP556 digitised books related to the Ural Old Believers. In the second half of the 17th century, Patriarch Nikon of the Russian Orthodox Church reformed church ceremonies and text books. The purpose of the reform was the convergence of Russian, Greek, Belorussian and Ukrainian cultures. This led to a rupture where the Old Russian traditions and Russian society were split into two camps, supporters of reforms "Niconiane" and its opponents “Old Believers”.

From the end of the 17th century the Ural region of Russia became a place of residence for Old Believers who had fled from the persecutions of the authorities in the central areas of the country. From 1974 to 2002 a group of workers from Ural State University organised expeditions to settlements from the Volga region to Western Siberia. During these expeditions, around 6,000 items related to the Old Believers were found. The project succeeded in creating an inventory of 1,975 old printed books and 3,876 manuscripts. 35 of the books were digitised, these date from the 16th-19th century.

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EAP556/1/1/1 Image 9

EAP212 digitised family collections of manuscripts in the insular region of the former Butonese Sultanate, which is now included in the territory of South-Eastern Sulawesi Province, Indonesia.
The project digitised almost 100 manuscripts from six collections. These Butonese manuscripts are mostly written in Arabic and Wolio languages. A few others were written in Buginese and Dutch languages. They date from the 17th to the 20th century. The contents are varied, among them are genealogies, correspondence (official letters, contract letters, personal letters), and accounts of traditional ceremonies. Other manuscripts contain Islamic and Sufism teaching, Islamic mysticism, Arabic grammar, Al-Qur'an, language, traditional maritime knowledge of sea navigation, Butonese traditional laws (taxation, customary law, maritime law, Islamic law), traditional medicine, and divination manuals. These documents are an important source for the study of language, literature, Islam, politics, culture and society in Indonesia.

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EAP212/2/6 Image 9

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

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

 

06 January 2014

New online collections - January 2014

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Happy new year from the Endangered Archives Programme! To celebrate the start of 2014 we have four new online collections available with over one hundred thousand images. Two of these collections come from India with the other two collections originating in China and Indonesia.

The first collection is EAP143, this project preserved Shui manuscripts in China. These are considered to be one of the few remaining types of documents in China that are written in a hieroglyphic style.

The manuscripts give a rare insight into Shui culture as well as being useful for studying history, anthropology, folklore and even palaeography in general. Shui manuscripts are written, kept and taught by the native priesthood. The manuscripts are used in rituals, as well as in teaching the next generation of priests. The contents of the manuscripts cover a variety of topics including Shui knowledge on astronomy, geography, folklore, religion, ethics, philosophy, art and history.

The project surveyed about twenty villages in Libo County and a selection of approximately 600 Shui manuscripts was chosen and then digitised; these are now available to view online.

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EAP143/2/118 – Image 9

EAP208 set out to digitise palm leaf manuscripts from northern Kerala, India. These documents, which are in a fragile and endangered condition, contain several insights into areas of knowledge such as ecology, agriculture, science, art (the arts) and spirituality.

The project was successful in digitising 275 manuscripts with over 50,000 images.

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EAP208/15/37 – Image 21

EAP281 located and identified Lepcha manuscripts in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sikkim in India. The Lepcha people are local to Sikkim but represent a minority of the population in Sikkim and neighbouring areas. The culture and language has been diminishing for over a century as many young Lepcha give preference to learning English or Nepalese and are less interested in their traditions.

The Lepcha people have their own indigenous script which dates back to the 18th century. The manuscripts reveal the earliest stages of Lepcha literary heritage. The oldest handwritten materials that have so far been identified were written in the second half of the 19th century. Many of the manuscripts contain texts of a Buddhist nature, a smaller number of texts reflect older Lepcha traditions. The project successfully digitised 40 manuscripts and located many more.

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EAP281/1/5 Image 9

EAP329 digitised private collections of Acehnese manuscripts located in Pidie and Aceh Besar regencies. These had been surveyed by a previous pilot project EAP229. The content of the manuscripts is a part of Acehnese history with regards to lifestyle, the kingdom of Aceh, and the war against colonialism. They also relate to Islamic knowledge and Islamic mysticism (Sufism) and its order. The project successfully digitised 483 manuscripts with over 46,000 images.

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EAP329/1/17 Image 1

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

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

07 May 2013

New online collections – May 2013

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This is the first of a new series of monthly blog posts which will highlight the collections that have become available to view online on the EAP website over the past month. 

 Four collections went up last month, the first of which was EAP375, this project digitised over 25,000 images of archives from the Haynes Publishing Company of Argentina.

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EAP375/1/1/1 – Image 25

The Haynes publishing company was created by Albert M. Haynes, a British citizen who went to Argentina to work for the Buenos Aires Western Railway. After his retirement he founded the Haynes Publishing Company in 1904, it remained active until its closure in 1968. The company produced several publications including the magazine El Hogar and the daily newspaper El Mundo. The company was active during some important periods of Argentine history. In particular it covers the period of the presidencies of José Félix Uriburu, Agustín Pedro Justo, Roberto María Ortiz and Ramón Castillo during the Infamous Decade (1930-1943) as well as the first presidency of Juan Perón (1946-1955)

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EAP375/1/1/59 – Image 82

Another collection now available is EAP368, this contains some fascinating images depicting the indigenous peoples of Western Siberia.

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EAP368/1/1/1 – Image 9

The project identified glass plate negatives and photographic material depicting Western Siberian life during the early 20th century. These were then catalogued and digitised. The images present a fascinating window into this society before it was affected by modernisation.

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EAP368/1/1/1 Image 155

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EAP368/1/1/1 – Image 319

The final two collections are EAP340 and EAP365. EAP340 digitised a selection of manuscript collections in the monastic church of Ewostatewos at Däbrä Särabi in Tigray, Ethopia.

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EAP340/1/2 – Image 4

EAP365 was a pilot project which aimed to discover collections of lontara’ manuscripts in the Makassarese language of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Lontara’ manuscripts consist largely of chronicles or histories of local kingdoms, collections of rules relating to customary law, or court diaries/daybooks. The project was successful in collecting representative images from several lontara' in Makassar, and in a number of villages in Kecamatan Galesong south of the city.

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EAP365/1/2 – Image 7

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

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

 

20 March 2013

11 February 2013

Mongolian New Year

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Today is the start of Mongolian New Year, known as Tsagaan Sar – it is celebrated on the first day of the lunar year according to the Mongolian calendar.

So, it seems appropriate to do a quick EAP Blog on a Mongolian project. One of my first tasks when I became EAP Curator was to check the sample images sent in from EAP529 which is currently digitising 19th and early 20th century Buddhist manuscripts from Dambadarjaa Monastery. The history of this monastery is a fascinating one, and I recommend you have a read of the project page. This photograph is of the library which was turned into a pharmacy when the monastery was converted into a hospital and then an old people’s care home during the political repression of the 20th century.

Monastery library

This is an image from a page of one of the manuscripts being digitised.

page from a manuscript showing a seated deity

 

 

We have four EAP projects from Mongolia and I would like to wish everyone who has worked on them a very Happy New Year.

25 September 2012

Pa'O religious and literary manuscripts now online

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We are pleased to announce that materials created as part of the EAP104 project are now available to view via the EAP Webpages. EAP104 digitised 71 religious and literary manuscripts housed in the Pa'O Literary and Cultural Council Committee (PLCCC) Library in Taunggyi, Myanmar (Burma).

EAP104 A pilot project aimed at the preservation of Pa'O religious and literary manuscripts

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EAP104/1/1 Lokadippa lokavvat' phrekyam [1986 (1343 Burmese Era)], elucidation of the Vinaya

The collection consists of parabaik (folded paper manuscripts), bound scrolls and palm leaf texts, written in the Pa'O, Burmese and Shan languages. The EAP104 project focussed on the Pa'O interpretations of the Theravada Buddhist canon, alongside texts detailing Pa'O dynasties and historical sites.

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EAP104/1/20 Charākrui' tasī'' kyam, treatise on meditation