Endangered archives blog

17 posts categorized "Slavery"

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.


08 August 2014

New online collections – August 2014

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Last month seven collections went up online EAP140, EAP184, EAP231, EAP272, EAP454, EAP569 and EAP657.

EAP140 was a project to digitise the Tangut collection held at the Institute of Oriental Studies in St Petersburg.  The Tanguts were a people who established a kingdom during the 10th-13th centuries in present day northwest China. Once the area had been invaded by the Mongols in 1227 the usage of the Tangut language began to decline. These unique historical, literary, and administrative texts are of great value in understanding and preserving a lost writing system and culture. If you haven’t seen it already you can read more about this collection and the Tangut people in our last blog

140_IOS681_Tang334201VBF21V_REAP140/1/35 – Image 92

EAP184 digitised items from the Matanzas province in Cuba. The records that were digitised relate to African slaves and their descendants. Collections from seven different archives were digitised, six of these collections came from parish archives; the final collection from the Archives of the Provincial Government of Matanzas. 

During the nineteenth century, Matanzas became the centre of Cuban sugar production, which meant a high demand for slave labour. The territory became the major destination for African slaves in Cuba. The region's archives are very rich in all kinds of information on the African population living in Matanzas from the early 16th century to the end of the 19th century. This includes demographic statistics, information on ethnicity, resistance and occupations of free and enslaved Africans.

CIMG1574EAP184/1/11 Pt 1 – Image 257

EAP231 digitised court records of the Department of State for Justice in Banjul, the Gambia. The collections are valuable for researchers hoping to gain a deeper understanding of how colonial agents and local communities engaged with one another. Court records reveal struggles between men and women, elders and youths, elites and commoners. Since African women could visit colonial courts to seek divorce, court transcripts are one of the few places where historians can hear African women's voices. The records also reveal disputes over land, other forms of property, child custody and many other subjects.

Due to the nature of the material some items in this collection are only available to view via the reading rooms at the British Library.

IMG_4136Court of Request 1902-1904EAP231/1/1 - Image 177

EAP272 digitised and preserved 1,400 ephemera and 215 manuscripts that came from the Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya in Nepal.

The ephemera are mainly political but also cover religious, social and cultural topics. They are mainly pamphlets and leaflets, with some posters and postcards. The ephemera dating from 1900-1951 represents the last 50 years of the Rana Period.  The remainder date from 1951-1960, this covers the period of Nepal's short stint with parliamentary democracy, until the first elected government was toppled by a coup from King Mahendra in December 1960, replacing the multiparty democracy with his own brand of political system named the 'Panchayat'.

The manuscripts date from 1808 and cover a wide range of subjects such as religion, culture, philosophy, law, medicine, hagiography, natural history, and literature. The project rescued these items from poor storage conditions and ensured their long term preservation.

EAP272_MPP_Ephemera_226EAP272/1/1/226 - Image 1

EAP454 was a pilot project which surveyed privately held ecclesiastical documents in Mizoram, India.

The main focus was early religious and related records, particularly English and Welsh missionary records that recorded a history otherwise only transmitted by the then exclusively oral Mizo society. The project’s scope widened with the surprising discovery of hitherto unknown and early collections written in vernacular Mizo. Many of the earliest missionary educated Mizos were prolific writers of letters, manuscripts, diaries, and notebooks. Most of these sources still revolve around the distinctly religious axis of the Project's focus, but from the perspective of the Mizo.

The Project digitised much more material than initially expected; over 10,000 images are now available to view online.

EAP454_Lalengliani_296EAP454/2/9 Pt 2 – Image 3

EAP569 identified and collected information on relevant documents about Nzema in Ghana. These documents pertain to the land management system and local power structure that has been in place in Ghana since pre-colonial times and that still plays a fundamental role in Nzema society today.

The project looked at records from the Public Records and Archive Administration Department (PRAAD) in Secondi-Takoradi as well as the Western Nzema Traditional Council Archive in Beyin and the Eastern Nzema Traditional Council Archive in Atuabo (Ellembele District, Eastern Region).

The project was successful in identifying many relevant records, creating a list of these items and packaging the documents in archival materials. The project digitized 46 files (15 in the Eastern Nzema Traditional Council Archive, 31 in the Western Nzema Traditional Council Archive) and generated 5,039 digital photographs, which are now available to view on our website.

Due to the nature of the material some items in this collection are only available to view via the reading rooms at the British Library.

EAP569_ENTC_4_1_135EAP569/1/1/1 (as above) Image 135

EAP657 digitised and preserved a collection of archival material related to Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko (9 March 1814–10 March 1861), the famous Ukrainian writer and painter whose literary heritage is regarded to be the foundation of modern Ukrainian writing. His archival collection had been dispersed until recently, and valuable nineteenth century documents had been kept in deteriorating conditions.

The materials digitised reflect different periods of the life of T H Shevchenko. The archival material had been held in different private collections of Shevchenko’s friends and relatives from all over Ukraine until just 10 years ago.

Some of the items in this collection, due to copyright reasons, are only available to view via the reading rooms at the British Library.

EAP657_Archival documents_3_002EAP657/1/3 – Image 2

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 CalchaquĂ­ Album was presented at the Paris World Exhibition of 1878 and both contain very rare images.

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.

 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.

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.

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.

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.


03 February 2014

New online collections - February 2014

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 EAP now has over one million images available online!

We have four new online collections this month which has taken the total number of images available in our collections over the one million mark; EAP201, EAP279, EAP295, EAP529. These collections come from India, Lesotho in Southern Africa, Grenada and Mongolia.

EAP201 surveyed and digitised collections of Hakku Patras in Andhra Pradesh, one of the 28 states of India. Hakku Patras are documents which grant folk performers and artisans the right to carry out certain activities in specific villages and areas.  These performers are prohibited from performing in a region not assigned to them. Within their region they carry out folk performances and perform religious rituals, for providing these services they are paid renumerations (katnam).

Copper Plate of Turpati Shankaraiah
EAP201/1/5/8 Image 1

The project found the details for many Hakku Patras held by nomadic and non-nomadic performing communities. The documents are inscribed on copper plates or written paper. The contents of Hakku Patras contain the name of the village, performing community, date of the sanctioning of the grant and the form of the performance.

EAP279 digitised the Matsieng Royal Archives, Lesotho. The Royal Family of Lesotho has been based there continuously since the founding of Matsieng, which has been a 'royal hub' of the Basotho kingship and chieftainship. The documents cover material dating from the early 19th century. The archives include records of historical, political, legal and economic significance.

72-18-P   095B
EAP279/1/2/34 Image 159

The project digitised two main collections of documents. The first are Bewis (Bewys) records dating from 1942-1973, these records are certificates of ownership which were issued by chiefs to animal owners as a proof that they are the rightful owners of their animals. When acquiring or disposing of an animal the person had to apply for bewis from his chief. Even when a person was selling wool, mohair, skin or hides he had to have a bewis. The chief on his part had to satisfy himself that the animal had not been stolen. Bewis were issued for cows, horses, donkeys, sheep and goats as proof of ownership. It was mandatory for owners of animals to have bewis.

The second series of documents relates to the chieftaincy. These records include correspondence between the office of the paramount chief and the principal and ward chiefs, correspondence between the paramount chief and the resident commissioner, complaints between the chiefs and complaints between chiefs and the public.

EAP295 digitised the unique historical archives of Grenada. The material provides a micro-vision of how Grenada was transformed in the late eighteenth century by imperial conflicts, the expansion of plantation slavery and revolutionary politics. The two main sources of records are from Government House and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court records reveal the multi-racial alliances and conflicts that marked slave society while the Government House correspondence shows the local negotiations and conflicts that shaped the prolonged transition to a free society during the mid-nineteenth century.

During Hurricane Ivan in 2004 the Grenada Public library lost part of its roof and the Government House correspondence became displaced and out of order. The project had to reorder this material chronologically before digitising it. 

The material at the Supreme Court Registry was far better preserved than at Government House as it was relatively unaffected by Hurricane Ivan. Loose-leaf documents previously identified as connected to the eighteenth century French Deeds formed the initial focus of in situ digitisation in the Supreme Court Registry. Digitisation also covered some of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registers.

EAP295_GH C1_003EAP295/1/1/1 Image 3

EAP529 set out to digitise the 19-20th century collection of Buddhist Manuscripts from Dambadarjaa monastery in Mongolia. The communist purges from 1937-1938 saw the destruction of many monasteries in Mongolia. The Dambadarjaa monastery, one of the first three monasteries in Mongolia which was built between 1761 and 1765, was reduced to two temples and two shrines from an original total of 25 buildings.

Today, what remains of the monastery is subject to structural aging and is in a critical condition since no repair works have been undertaken since the 1930s. One of the temples holds around 1,500 Buddhist manuscripts and ritual items used in the religious service for the public. All the manuscripts are subject to damage by mice, temperature fluctuations and fire.

The project focused on 200 of the most old and fragile Buddhist Manuscripts dating from 1860-1920s. All 200 manuscripts were repackaged in fire-proof and acid-free containers, while 51 of the manuscripts were selected for digitisation and can now be viewed online.

EAP529_001_ (3)
EAP529/1/1 Image 3

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 April 2011

March Accessions Part One

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March was an extremely busy month for the EAP, as we received material from eight different projects.

EAP254 Preservation of the historical literary heritage of Tigray, Ethiopia: the library of Romanat Qeddus Mika'el

This project aims to digitise the library holdings of the Romanat Qeddus Mika'el Dabre Mehet Church in Enderta. The library posesses around 70 codices and manuscripts of high quality, many of them containing illuminations and marginalia. The collection stands as an indigenous and integral local documentary archive in a region of crucial importance to Ethiopian history.


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

Marathi is a New Indo-Aryan language with inscriptional evidence extending back to A.D. 1012, and a literature dated to the 13th century. Marathi manuscripts are predominantly found in the Indian state of Maharashtra, in many cases in private collections which cannot offer a suitable level of archival care, meaning that these valuable materials are under threat from inhospitable environmental conditions, and unavailable to researchers.

The EAP248 project is creating digital and microfilm surrogates of 510 catalogued manuscripts at the library of Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute in Pune, and 359 manuscripts from the Prajna Pathshala collection of Wai, which has been donated to the Marathi Manuscript Centre.

EAP256 Preservation of endangered historical records in the Public Records and Archives Administration (PRAAD) in Tamale, Northern Ghana

This pilot project will conduct a survey of the endangered archival materials within the PRAAD's regional branch in Tamale, Northern Ghana. These materials are threatened due to inadequate facilities for conservation, overuse and deterioration from humidity and other hazards of the tropical climate. Some of the documents most urgently in need of preservation will be digitised, in order to preserve their content and also as a mechanism for training the Archive's staff.


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

This pilot project aims to relocate, survey and list the endangered collections of the Sierra Leone Archives, and to digitise a selection of the Liberated African Letter Books. These registers record slave ships captured by navy patrols, and list those men, women and children released at the Vice-Admiralty Court at Freetown.

Here is an example entry from a Liberated African Register, November 1816 to February 1819, Nos 9759 - 11905. This entry gives the following information: Number, Name, Sex, Stature, and a brief description of identifying physical marks:


Description reads "Scar on left knee a[nd] on back of right shoulder tattoed [sic] on right shoulder".

The remaining projects will be discussed in next week's blog entry.




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 


05 November 2009

The Collections - Political Records

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

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

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

First Yap State Constitutional Convention audio tapes conversion project

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preserving the archives of the National Independence Party of Zambia

Inventory of archival holdings in Jamaica

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

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

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

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

Digitising the endangered archives of Grenada

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

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

EAP057 Alb53-6

03 July 2009

Records from Jamaica

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This week we received material from another project copying records relating to slavery: Inventory of archival holdings in Jamaica. It seems appropriate to highlight this material, following on from my last post.

The project focused on undertaking a survey of endangered records, but also copied items from the Jamaica Archives and Records Department, the National Library of Jamaica, the Library of the University of the West Indies and the Roman Catholic Chancery in Kingston. All four institutions contain valuable material relating to the lives of enslaved Africans and free blacks in Jamaica during the period 1655-1800. The material chosen to be copied covers birth, death and marriage registers, manumission registers, indentures, correspondence and petitions. The surveys reveal many other records containing genealogical and historical information relating to slaves and slavery in Jamaica.

Here's a page from one of the Manumission Registers:


These Registers were deposited with the Office of the Island Secretary of Jamaica. They contain certificates, or deeds, of freedom for free people of "colour", which included people with both black and mixed-race backgrounds. They're written in English and Spanish and give names, dates and other information. They're currently housed at the Jamaica Archives and Records Department.

While looking over this new accession I noticed the poor condition of some of the original records. Jamaica's tropical climate and warm temperatures provide less than ideal conditions for storing historical material long term. Paper and other materials suffer from heat and fluctuations in temperature due to their chemical make-up; and vermin and insects particularly like hot and humid climates, and can be very tenacious in discovering ways into archival stores. In this, the records of Jamaica have something in common with those from Tuvalu.