Endangered Archives

EAP839: Endangered Urdu periodicals: Further preservation and access for vulnerable scholarly resources

Mr Nasir Javaid, Mushfiq Khwaja Trust for the Advancement of Knowledge and Culture
2015 award - Major project
£36,628 for 24 months

Archival partner: Sharfabad Bedil Library (Trust), Abdul Majeed Khokhar Yadgar Library

Project Overview

This project at the Mushfiq Khwaja Trust for the Advancement of Knowledge and Culture will digitise a minimum of forty carefully selected titles or Urdu periodicals and newspapers, continuing the work started in the previous project EAP566.

Urdu periodicals have enormous significance for the understanding of Urdu culture and the creation of new knowledge about colonial India. Urdu language was the dominant language of interchange in India through most of the nineteenth century. Since printing in India was cheap, anyone with an opinion might and often did publish a statement of their views. Often such publications were of limited editions, frequently, a few hundred copies, and were not collected by many libraries. Yet these publications provide us today with a broad spectrum of writings by colonial Indians on all the major and many minor issues that stirred them in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Such writings are invaluable to historians of social, cultural, literary, and intellectual change; to those interested in the development of South Asian languages and the ways these languages were used expressively during the last century; for pedagogical purposes in advanced language courses; and to other scholars.

Unfortunately, political disenfranchisement of Urdu culture in much of South Asia, and the high acid paper used to produce the periodicals, have made this literature highly vulnerable. It is rare to find complete runs of even the most important Urdu periodicals in South Asian libraries. Further, many of the periodicals are not in the British colonial archives. Some periodicals have already completely vanished.

A panel of eminent Urdu scholars in the social sciences and humanities, and librarians has already selected forty of the most important Urdu periodical titles. This project will preserve selected titles by creating high-resolution digital page images of the periodicals available at the Mushfiq Khwaja Library and Research Centre and collaborating libraries.

Access to the preserved Urdu periodicals will be provided through digital images deposited with the British Library. Further, digital images and catalogue data will be accessible on the Digital South Asia Library Web site and the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

Collaborating partners include: The Mushfiq Khwaja Library and Research Centre; Urdu Research Library; Sharfabad Bedil Library; Abdul Majeed Khokhar Yadgar Library; The University of Chicago; South Asia Microform Project;Center for Research Libraries; Digital South Asia Library; Urdu Documentation Centre; and Library of Congress Field Offices in Islamabad and New Delhi.

Project Outcome