Monday, 19 September 2011

The Endangered Archives Programme - new round of grants open and an example of recent project

The Endangered Archives Programme is funded by Arcadia and managed by the British Library, and offers a number of grants every year to individual researchers world-wide to locate vulnerable archival collections, to arrange their transfer wherever possible to a suitable local archival home, and to deliver copies into the international research domain via the British Library.

NB The specific focus of this Programme is upon archives relating to the pre-industrial stages of a society's development, whether in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, or even Europe.

These grants will be the primary means by which Arcadia will contribute to the urgent task of identifying, preserving and making accessible such archival collections before they are lost to international scholarship forever.

How to Apply

Applications are now invited for the Pilot Project Grant and Major Research Project Grant schemes. All applicants must initially submit a preliminary application.

The deadline for submission of preliminary applications is 4 November 2011.

After assessment of the preliminary applications has taken place, only those subsequently invited to do so may submit a detailed application.

The deadline for submission of detailed applications is 24 February 2012.

Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their applications by the end of May 2012.

All the application documentation can be found here.
Applicants must read carefully the Guidelines for Applicants (PDF format 52KB) and Terms and Conditions of Award (PDF format 49KB) and refer to these documents for details on how to submit an application.

An August Accession

During August material was received from a number of projects including:

EAP279: A rescue programme for the Matsieng Royal Archives, Lesotho

Mrs Celina Qobo, National University of Lesotho

2009 award - Major project

£13,956 for 12 months

The Royal Family of Lesotho has been based in Matsieng since just after the 1858 war, when Matsieng was established by the second Lesotho king, Mohato (Letsie 1). Matsieng is near Morija, the original missionary settlement in Lesotho dating from 1843, where King Letsie 111 was born. The royal family has been based at Matsieng continuously since the founding of Matsieng, which has been a 'royal hub' of the Basotho kingship and chieftainship. The documents that have accumulated at Matsieng cover material dating from the early 19th century. The collection includes records of historical, political, legal and economic significance:
     •records on chieftainship and succession to high office
     •court proceedings and judgements
     •boundary disputes and resolutions
     •traditional marriage systems and records
     •inheritance documentation and disputes
     •official speeches
     •correspondence (of national and international significance, as it includes official communications between Lesotho and the UK, and diplomatic contacts with many other countries)
     •books and serials
     •official administrative records covering the colonial period
     •records of public works
     •financial records of governmental divisions

Most of this material is unique. Repatriation of the Royal Archives material will allow a much more comprehensive, complete and coherent record to be established, documenting the national history of Lesotho from the early 19th century.

The material was in poor storage at the Royal residence in Matsieng, Lesotho. The ceiling then collapsed leaving the materials exposed to rain. The University Archives arranged 'emergency repatriation' in December 2007 and January 2008. The material is all paper, though in a range of physical formats: papers in folders, paper assembled with treasury tags, ledgers and other bound record books, and many stacks of individual papers.

The University has fumigated the material and re-boxed it, with box-level content listing. About 20% of the material may be too damaged to scan; about 40% is damaged but copying should be possible. This project will scan all the documents from Matsieng that can be scanned. The files will be organised by a database, with detailed cataloguing in the archive's existing system. Additionally, each document will exist as a PDF of one or more scans, accessible from a digital library using the Greenstone (open source) software. The University will host one copy of the digital library, the Internet Archive will also host the collection, and the full data will be available to the British Library.

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