Endangered Archives

EAP038: Survey, conservation and archiving of pre-1947 Telugu printed materials in India

Professor Murali Atlury, Sundarayya Vigna Kendram, India
2005 award - Major project
£34,468 for 12 months

Archival partner: Sundarayya Vignana Kendram Library, Hyderabad

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Project Overview

The objective of this project is to microfilm/digitise 2,000 pre-1920s printed materials, in Telugu located in old libraries, which are fast disintegrating.

The collections that will be selected for copying under this project are the books and periodicals published during the 19th and first half of 20th centuries in Telugu language in South India. Some of them are typical local/small town publications that were preserved in village and town libraries. The Telugu language is considered the Italian of the East. The first stirrings of cultural and religious renaissance were felt in the Telugu speaking districts of Madras Presidency under the British rule. The most powerful expression of social and cultural interaction between the East and the West could be seen in Telugu print culture. From the revival of medical knowledge to various forms of literary genre - classical Prabandha, Ithihasa and Puranic tradition and Panchangas [from 1860s] and Satakas, western forms like novel, short story, poem, drama and literary criticism - could be seen in Telugu printed materials. The print materials are the only living source for the reconstruction of South Indian history. This region is attracting a lot of attention by global community of scholars working on South Asia. Making this valuable material available to the wider audience is therefore imperative.

Most of the print materials are now housed in old village and small town libraries, mostly started during 1890s and 1930s.

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Project Outcome

Although the project identified endangered printed materials in more than 50 village and 10 town libraries, the limitation of time and resources meant that work was prioritised on the oldest collections kept at five libraries in Andhra Pradesh.

A total of 159,260 images were created: out of this 157,285 were Microfilm images and an additional 6,378 Digital images were also created out of pre-1929 Telugu publications. While the microfilming of the rare books enabled the libraries to preserve their valuable archival printed materials, the digital data turned out to be an ideal medium to provide easy access.

The most important and visible impact of the project has been the psychological impact it had on the libraries in Andhra Pradesh. The enthusiasm they are showing in taking forward the conservation of the endangered printed materials will certainly facilitate the survival of the valuable collections.

The surrogate material is housed at the partner institutions, at the Sundarayya Vignana Kendram and also at the British Library.

The partner institutions from where the materials are microfilmed are:

  1. Saraswata Niketanam Library, Vetapalem, Andhra Pradesh, India.
  2. Sri Krishnadevaraya Andhra Basha Nilayam, Hyderabad.
  3. C.P. Brown Library, Cuddapah, Andhra Pradesh.
  4. Sundarayya Vignana Kendram Library, Hyderabad.
  5. Andhra Pradesh State Archives, Hyderabad.

The records copied by this project have been catalogued as:

  • EAP038/1 Sundarayya Vignana Kendram Collection
  • EAP038/2 SKD Collection
  • EAP038/3 Andhra Pradesh State Archives Collection
  • EAP038/4 Saraswata Niketanam Library Collection
  • EAP038/5 C.P. Brown Library Collection
  • EAP038/6 CRF Collection

The catalogue is available here.