09 August 2023
Recent online collections include zoological records from Kenya, documents from a Sufi shrine in India, manuscripts from Java, and records from monasteries of cloistered nuns in Lima. You can read a brief overview about these projects below, or go straight to the online collections using these links:
- Preserving endangered zoological archival material in the National Museums of Kenya
- Exploring the archives of cloistered nuns in colonial Lima (Peru)
- Documents in the Sufi shrine at Dhar (India)
- Identifying and Digitising Eastern Salient Manuscripts of Java (Indonesia)
This project digitised zoological archival records from the Zoology department of the National Museums of Kenya. The records include field trip reports and catalogues that capture details such as species notes, the localities where samples were collected or recorded, and the sources or names of donors. The material spans four taxa: mammalogy, ornithology, ichthyology, and invertebrate zoology. Containing valuable research information on species taxonomy, natural history, and distribution, these records offer insights into historical animal species distribution, shedding light on habitat destruction and helping to map out the extent of species decline.
This project digitised archives from the 17th to 20th centuries of two monasteries of cloistered nuns in Lima, Peru: the Monasterio de Santa Rosa de Lima and the Monasterio Jesus, María y José (Clarisas Capuchinas). Most of these documents shed light on aspects of daily life in colonial and early republican Peru, areas that have been minimally investigated. Due to the scarcity of sources, the lives of nuns and women in general during this period have been under-researched. It is hoped that the materials now digitised will stimulate ongoing and future studies, offering insights into religious and everyday life in late colonial and early republican Lima.
The goal of this project was to digitise and examine documents related to the tomb complex of Kamal al-Din Chishti in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh, India. Kamal al-Din was a member of the renowned Chishti lineage of Sufis. After spending a period with Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi, he migrated to central India in the late 1200s and passed away in 1331. His descendants have overseen Kamal al-Din’s tomb for seven centuries. Following some known and published inscriptions from the 1400s, the earliest extant documents from the shrine originate from the late 1600s, bearing seals linked to the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707). Subsequent documents correspond with the reigns of Bahadur Shah, Farrukhsiyar, Muhammad Shah, and Shah Alam II. The archive extends into the Maratha rule of central India, with examples persisting into the 20th century. Predominantly detailing property transactions and endowments, these documents offer invaluable insights into institutional history, charitable endeavours, officials, local geography, and land stewardship.
This project digitised 97 manuscripts from 24 different owners or collections in the regions of Banyuwangi, Jember, Bondowoso, Situbondo, and Lumajang on the island of Java, Indonesia. The manuscripts cover the subjects of religion, history, culture, metaphysics, etc, predominantly written in Javanese and Arabic, but including some in Madurese, Indonesian and Malay.
03 March 2023
This month we would like to highlight five new collections that can be accessed via the EAP website. Two of these are from India, with the others from Mali, Mongolia, and Brazil.
- Creating a digital archive of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century criminal and notarial records in Mamanguape, São João do Cariri, and João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil (EAP853)
- Digitisation and preservation of rare historical sources of Mongolia written in the 19th and early 20th centuries (EAP927)
- Survey and Creation of the Digital Documentary Resources in Nilgiri and Coimbatore (1850-1970) (EAP1274)
- Documenting royalty through the changing political culture in Kongu Nadu, South India, 1400-1950 (EAP1160)
- Recovering the rich local history of Kita (Mali) through the salvaging of its archival heritage (EAP1085)
Creating a digital archive of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century criminal and notarial records in Mamanguape, São João do Cariri, and João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil (EAP853)
This project digitised four collections of criminal and notarial records in Paraíba, Brazil. They should prove to be a great resource for studies of slavery and abolition, orphans and wards of the court, crime, and property ownership in the Brazilian Northeast. The four collections digitised are:
• EAP853/1 Fórum Miguel Levino de Oliveira Ramos, Comarca de Mamanguape (1846-1918)
• EAP853/2 Arquivo do Fórum Judicial da Comarca de João Pessoa (21 Mar 1855-27 Mar 1909)
• EAP853/3 Arquivo do Memorial do Tribunal de Justiça da Paraíba (1778-1893)
• EAP853/4 Arquivo do Fórum Nivaldo Farias Brito, Comarca de São João do Cariri (17 Sep 1782-11 Apr 1921)
The records consist mostly of legal proceedings from criminal, civil, and commercial courts. They include deeds of sale, powers of attorney, inventories, criminal lawsuits, eviction orders, and many other records created in the jurisdictions. More detailed information is available on each of the four collections catalogue records.
Digitisation and preservation of rare historical sources of Mongolia written in the 19th and early 20th centuries (EAP927)
This project digitised c. 3000 rare, unpublished documents in seven different sub-collections, held by the Institute of History and Ethnography at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences (MAS). The majority are typewritten copies of 19th century-early 20th century materials created in the 1940s-1950s by scholars copying them into Uyghur Mongolian or Cyrillic script. The documents illustrate the events of the Manchu empire (lasted until 1911), Mongolian sovereignty (1911-1921), Chinese-Russian-Mongolian connections, and the start of socialism (from 1921 on).
Survey and Creation of the Digital Documentary Resources in Nilgiri and Coimbatore (1850-1970) (EAP1274)
The four collections digitised in this project consist mostly of photographs dating from the late 19th to mid 20th centuries. Other records digitised include newspaper clippings, postcards, and other documents. The four collections available are:
• EAP1274/1 Collections of Rao Bahadur C.M. Ramachandran Chettiar of Coimbatore (1925-1953)
• EAP1274/2 Annual Meeting photographs of the United Planters' Association of South India (1893-1953)
• EAP1274/3 Collections of Nilgiri Documentation Centre (NDC) (1st half of the 20th century)
• EAP1274/4 Badaga Family Collection (Mid 20th century)
EAP1274/1 contains photographs of various temples in India, portraits of celebrities, and newspaper cuttings related to temples and monuments. The EAP1274/3 collection includes the records of Dr. Philo Irudhayanath, and Mr. A. Dharmalingam who founded the Nilgiri Documentation Centre in the 1940s, and created a collection of photographs related to the Nilgiris.
Documenting royalty through the changing political culture in Kongu Nadu, South India, 1400-1950 (EAP1160)
This project carried out a survey of records from various locations in Kongu Nadu, in addition to digitising notebooks and registers from one of them – the Idayakottai Zamin Collection. The records address a variety of issues of Idayakottai Zamin and their estate, and include acquittance rolls, complaints, land accounts, minutes books, temple accounts and leases. Many of the documents are related to the social history and financial activity of the Idayakottai Zamin, their participation in municipal administration, and association with various government departments and officials.
Recovering the rich local history of Kita (Mali) through the salvaging of its archival heritage (EAP1085)
This is a continuation of the EAP820 project which carried out a survey (and sample digitisation) of archives of the Kita Cercle in Mali. The project revealed a larger number of records in poor condition and in need of digitising resulting in this follow-on project with more material preserved digitally.
Kita played a crucial role in the French colonisation of western Mali, partly because of it being the location of one of the earliest colonial railroad stations in the country. The Cercle was the main colonial administrative authority and created a tremendous amount of information on social and economic life in the region. Records digitised include those related to political affairs; state surveillance; meteorological reports; decrees, ordinances, and circulars; administrative records and correspondence.
19 December 2022
This month we are highlighting the following three projects that have recently been made available to view online.
- EAP1073: Creation of Historical Photography Archive at the History Department of Khartoum University [Sudan]
- EAP1293: Documenting and Copying (Estampage) Sluice Inscriptions: A Case Study of Pudukottai [India]
- EAP1294: Safeguarding for Posterity Two Private Collections of Palm-Leaf Manuscripts from the Tamil Country [India]
This project carried out a survey of private photography collections in Sudan and included the digitisation of images from one of these, the Ali Muhammad Osman Collection. This collection is made up of personal photographic material from his childhood, his teenage years in which he experimented as a photographer and sought connections with other photographers, and into his early adulthood in which he went to university and studied visual arts, joined the scouts and briefly the military, and traveled across Sudan. 319 photographs were digitised in total.
This project visited 60 sites in Tamil Nadu to document inscriptions found on the sluices used in ancient irrigation tanks for water management. The inscriptions can help researchers to understand the history, irrigation techniques, water management, social structure, rituals and many other cultural aspects associated with the sluices.
This project catalogued and digitised two collections of palm-leaf manuscripts in Tamil Nadu: the Kalliṭaikuṟicci and Villiampākkam collections. 186 Sanskrit, Tamil, and Manipravala manuscripts from the 18th-19th centuries were digitised in total and include works on: theology, philosophy, poetry, medical texts, temple rites, Śaiva praise verses, vedic, Pāninian Grammar, Śrīvaiṣṇava treatise, Śrīvaiṣṇava poetry, Dharmaśāstra, Citrakāvyam, Kāvya, Mīmāṃsā, vedic, Pramāṇa, Vyākaraṇa.
05 October 2022
We have another four projects that recently went online to highlight this month. Two projects from India, and one each from Cuba and Columbia:
- Preservation and Digitisation of Manuscripts Belonging to 16th to 20th Century of Central Kerala (EAP1320)
- Creating a digital archive of ecclesiastical records in the original seven Villas of Cuba (EAP955)
- Digitisation of Documentary Heritage of the Colombian Caribbean in the Maritime Port of Cartagena de Indias (EAP1212)
- Songs of the Old Madmen: Recovering Baul Songs from the Note-Books of 19th and 20th Century Bengali Saint-Composers (EAP1247)
The project team has digitised 84 documents, made up of a total of 77 palm leaves documents and seven old books. The palm leaves belong to the period 1600 to 1910 AD. Notable outcomes are the recovery and digitisation of assumingly ‘lost’ ancient works like ‘Lagnaprakarana’ of renowned ancient scholars and a Palm leaf manuscript text of Rgveda. The records cover the topics of Astronomy related mathematics, Ayurveda, Upanayana, Astrology, Commentaries, amongst others. The sources of these collections are mainly from two families with renowned tradition of knowledge in ancient Kerala. One is the Irinjadapilly Mana the ancestral home of Sangamagrama Madhava, the legendary Mathematician of the 14th century. The other is Kunnathur Padinjaredath Mana, known for their knowledge in Vasthu Sastra and Tantra.
This project digitised records owned by the Bishopric of Santa Clara in Cuba, and held at three separate locations: the Catedral de Santa Clara, the Iglesia de San Juan, and the Iglesia of La Caridad. Records include baptism, death, and burial registers.
This project digitised notarial documents from 1853-1900 corresponding to the First Notary Office of Cartagena, and notarial documents from 1859-1861 corresponding to the Notary Public of the Municipality of El Carmen de Bolívar. Such documents are found in the Historical Archive of Cartagena de Indias, an administrative unit of the Historical Museum of the same city. The digitised material accounts for the social history of both the city of Cartagena de Indias and the Municipality of El Carmen de Bolívar. It addresses aspects related to economic life (including: trade, formation of commercial companies, purchase-sale of possessions and rural and urban properties, production and marketing of tobacco, public administrative contracts, mortgages), as well as characteristics of social, public and private life (civil marriages, successions of post-mortuary assets, appraisals, wills), both in rural and urban areas.
This project digitised records from six different Baul collections in West Bengal, India. The songs of the Bauls (literally “mad”, intoxicated by divine love) are composed by gurus or spiritual teachers, and performed by itinerant folk musicians. They are performed among low-caste communities in India and Bangladesh, where they are recognized as intangible cultural heritage. An encyclopedia of beliefs and practices, Baul songs discuss ideas on cosmogony, health, sexuality, meditation and everyday life.
The collections provide important primary sources for the study of the Baul tradition of Bengal, showing how the songs are passed down across the generations and transmitted from older gurus to contemporary singers/practitioners. They provide information about the continuity and change in the repertoire of Baul songs, while also offering a window to understand the intimate and devotional relationship between gurus and disciples of this tradition.
The records include handwritten notebooks of Baul songs, three albums of correspondence between guru and disciple, historical documents, and numerous photographs of Baul performers and their families which have been found within the pages of the notebooks.
30 September 2022
EAP recently commissioned a short film, in the hope that it would raise the profile of the Programme and highlight the importance of making digitised content freely available to everyone. The video is now available on the Library’s YouTube channel and we hope you enjoying watching it.
EAP would like to thank the British Library Collections Trust for generously supporting the making of the film.
06 May 2022
In this month's round-up we have a collection of portrait photographs from Lima, Peru (EAP1234), and two collections from Sri Lanka, palm-leaf manuscripts from the Jaffna, Vanni, and Mannar districts (EAP1056), and Tamil Protestant records from the Jaffna Peninsula (EAP971). You can read more about each of the projects below and follow the links to see the catalogued records, digitised images, and project information.
EAP1234 - Preservation of Film Negatives of the Elias del Aguila Collection of the Historical Archive of Centro de la Imagen
When the Elías del Águila collection first arrived at the Centro de la Imagen in Lima, Peru, it was concealed within another acquisition, the Fotografia Central/Estudio Courret archive. Though originally attributed to the Courret brothers, research in 2015 revealed the true source to be the photographer Elías del Águila and his studio, E. del Águila y Cía in central Lima, operational from 1903 until the late 1930s. Until this discovery, Elías remained practically unknown and there are still relatively few details known about his life.
His studio was popular with Lima’s burgeoning middle class of the early 20th century. Among his subjects, researchers have identified important businessmen, intellectuals, and politicians, including child portraits of the two-time President of Peru, Fernando Belaúnde Terry. Other notable portraits in the archive include those of the architect Ricardo Malachowski, the former mayor of Lima Augusto Benavides, and the scientist and diplomat Vitold de Szyszlo.
The Centro de la Imagen holds over 20,000 of Elías’s negatives in their archive. For this pilot project the local team catalogued, digitised, and rehoused some of the most endangered of them. Over 2,000 of these images are now available to view on the EAP website.
This project surveyed and digitised endangered Tamil and Sanskrit palm-leaf manuscript collections in the Jaffna, Vanni, and Mannar districts of Northern Sri Lanka. The team conducted more than 150 field visits and identified 49 different collections. Many of these were located in temples, medical centres, and local libraries, while others are in the care of families and individuals including priests, medical practitioners, and astrologers.
135 manuscripts were digitised from 21 different collections in total and broadly cover the following subjects: traditional Siddha and Ayurvedic medicine; Hindu religious and temple ritual texts; astrology/astronomy works; local histories; literature; mathematics; unorthodox Hindu folk practice-related works including those on tantra, mesmerism, witchcraft, and folklore; and archival records including birth charts and budgets.
This project is a continuation of the EAP835 pilot project, which produced a survey (and some sample digitisation) of archives from the Tamil Protestant community of the Jaffna Peninsula. EAP971 built on the knowledge and experience from this earlier project and returned to carry out larger-scale digitisation from eight different archives. They include collections from Jaffna College Archive, St John's College, Evelyn Rutnam Institute, and Uduvil Girls' College. Digitised records include church record and ledger books, correspondence, and college magazines.
17 January 2022
This month's round-up of newly available collections features archives from India, Romania, Moldova, and Indonesia.
- Digitisation of the Kováts Napfényműterem photographic archive (Odorheiu Secuiesc, Romania) (EAP1130)
- Preserving the History of Indian Cinema through Digitising Early Urdu Film Magazines (EAP1262)
- Safeguarding of the intangible Romani heritage in the Republic of Moldova threatened by the volatilisation of the individual unexplored collections (EAP699)
- Personal Manuscripts on the Periphery of Javanese Literature: A Survey and Digitisation of Private Collections from the Javanese North Coast, its Sundanese Hinterlands and the Fringes of Court (EAP1268)
EAP1130 - Digitisation of the Kováts Napfényműterem photographic archive (Odorheiu Secuiesc, Romania)
This project digitised photographs from the Kovats Photographic Museum and Studio in Romania. The vast majority of the photos represent the work of several generations of photographers from the Kovats family. A small part of the photographic archive consists of images created by collaborators of the Kovats studio, and of donations of photographic materials from the local population of Odorheiul Secuiesc.
The first photographic studio in Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc) was founded by Ferenczy Lukács (1850-1926) in 1876. In 1903 Kováts István Sr.(1881-1942) bought the studio from Lukács and in 1906 reopened it under his own name – Kováts Napfényműterem (Kováts Sunlight Studio). It still operates today at the same address. Ferenczy Lukács and Kováts István Sr. were not only photographers, but also amateur historians and ethnographers. They documented with passion and attention for detail the life of the small rural communities, mainly of Hungarian and Székely ethnicity, around Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc).
Kováts István Sr. was also a photographer in the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the First World War, and he was dispatched throughout Europe on the Romanian, Galician and Italian battlefields. He brought back around 400 negatives with images from the trenches, portraits of fellow soldiers, and daily life of his company – a personal view of a war that re-shaped Europe and changed the life of millions of its inhabitants, a view that offers to any military historian precious documents. Living for most of his life in Székelyudvarhely, Kováts István Sr. documented everything – social life, architecture, traditions, and his studio was a central point in the life of the city.
Over 5000 photographs can be viewed here.
This project aimed to preserve the rich record of cinema history in India through digitising Urdu film magazines and periodicals from the early twentieth century. Shedding new light on South Asian film journalism and readership, this material highlights aspects of local engagement with film that have remained unexamined so far and are under threat of being lost forever. Given the scarcity of Urdu material that survives today, the digitisation of rare film magazines makes a significant contribution to future scholarship on the subject. This material constitutes an invaluable resource for early Indian film history and Urdu writing on cinema.
While Indian film journalism has not been widely studied, this is all the more concerning for Urdu materials that are less accessible and less widely read than those in other languages, especially English. The production triangle of Hindu-Urdu cinema that spanned Bombay, Calcutta, and Lahore changed irrevocably with partition, and many publications and films from Lahore are believed to be lost forever. The periodicals surveyed and digitised under EAP1262 were largely published in Calcutta, with the exception of one very rare publication from Lahore, and represent a valuable record of an undivided Hindi-Urdu film culture. While Bombay became the major centre for Hindi-Urdu film production, and a more important site for Urdu publishing than Calcutta, these publications offer an invaluable off-centre vantage point of colonial-era Hindi-Urdu film culture and journalism.
The archives can be viewed here.
EAP699 - Safeguarding of the intangible Romani heritage in the Republic of Moldova threatened by the volatilisation of the individual unexplored collections
This project digitised the personal archives of several Roma families in Moldova. The archives mostly consist of individual photographs and photo albums. The albums are notable for their use of illustrations and collage alongside the photographs of loved ones.
During the project the team were able to discover and digitise material from the families of some well-known Roma personalities from the past, as well as material from ordinary Roma families. The digitised material is now publicly available in the Moldovan National Archive as well as the British Library, and is an important source of information for Romani studies.
The project digitised 2557 images from 36 individual collections dating from between 1925-2013. They can be viewed here.
EAP1268 - Personal Manuscripts on the Periphery of Javanese Literature: A Survey and Digitisation of Private Collections from the Javanese North Coast, its Sundanese Hinterlands and the Fringes of Court
The project highlights the periphery of Javanese and Sundanese literature. It covers tales written by scribes residing near shrines, notebooks scribbled by commoners, and works produced by courtiers on their own behalf without apparent patronage from nobles or sovereigns. The grant holder came across these sources while doing fieldwork in places like Gresik, Yogyakarta, Surakarta and Tasikmalaya. Their vernacular provenance increases their obscurity and simultaneously limits their preservation due to a lack of patrons. Thus, it also allows for an interesting survey on the more personal sides of Javanese and Sundanese writing.
Other than surveying and digitising these sources, the project team also used them for Natural Language Processing (NLP). The diversity of the writing styles and vernacular languages found within these manuscripts is expected to contribute to the development of a comprehensive Javanese handwritten text and entity recognition model called Gado2.
399 digitised records can be viewed here.
21 September 2021
This month's round-up of newly available collections features archives from India, Mauritius, and Bulgaria.
- Lama Mani: the texts and narrative thangkas of India’s exiled Tibetan storytellers [EAP1016]
- Preserving a unique archive of diaspora and disease in the Indian Ocean from 1867 to 1930: a test case from Mauritius [EAP863]
- Minority press in Ottoman Turkish in Bulgaria [EAP696]
Lama Manis are traditional storytellers who travel around Tibet visiting communities to perform and tell stories of Buddhist practices. They travel with performance related objects, texts, and sets of large colourful thangkas (traditional Tibetan painted scrolls).
The material in this collection was brought to India from Tibet by Lami Mani storytellers who continued to perform within the communities of the Tibetan diaspora in India and Nepal. It includes items from Dolma Ling Nunnery, and several prominent Lami Mani figures. The project team digitised texts and thangkas, as well as objects including a prayer wheel, dagger, and brass pointers.
EAP863 - Preserving a unique archive of diaspora and disease in the Indian Ocean from 1867 to 1930: a test case from Mauritius
This project digitised a near-complete set of burial records of individuals buried in the Bois Marchand Cemetery since 1867. These records effectively provide a unique repository of demographic and disease data, and bridge historic, archaeological and anthropological concerns. It has huge potential for historians, archaeologists and anthropologists researching disease, demography, and diaspora in this part of the world.
The records detail the demographic data for individuals buried in Bois Marchand, a cemetery that is segregated according to religious/vocational affiliation i.e. Christian, Hindu or Muslim, for example, or, Military Personnel, or Police Force. Along with its local historical value, the records include details as to the point of origin for the interred, in some instances as far afield as Ireland and Jamaica, but generally focused on India, Africa and China; cause of death; where the individual died on Mauritius etc. This forms a remarkable dataset for historians to mine in order to better understand the context of political action and reaction in response to death and disease.
This project digitised a small selection of Ottoman Turkish language periodicals from the Bulgarian National Library’s collections. The Ottoman Turkish press in Bulgaria in the 1878-1943 period was a unique phenomenon within the post Ottoman Balkans. Not only for the significant number of newspapers and magazines published, but also because some of them continued to be printed in Arabic script years after 1928 when Turkey itself changed to the Latin script.
There was a literal publishing explosion in the ten years following 1878 in which there were more Ottoman Turkish newspapers in circulation than during all the previous years of the 19th century combined. The newly founded Bulgarian state was a multi-ethnic country with a significant minority population – a predominantly Turkish speaking one. The official Bulgarian authorities recognised this as evidenced by the Bulgarian State Gazette, which was printed in both Ottoman Turkish and Bulgarian for the first two years of its run. Yet surprisingly these issues are extremely hard to come by and are not digitised. These newspapers are an invaluable source for understanding the transitions and obstacles for modernisation for the minority populations in the Balkans.
Further reading: Motherhood: A Form of Emancipation in the Turkish Minority Press in Bulgaria (1878-1944), by Seda İzmirli-Karamanlı. Published on the British Library’s Asian and African studies blog, 19 August 2021.