Archives around the world can be at risk due to general neglect, poor storage or damaging environmental conditions; they can also be at danger due to wanton destruction. The Endangered Archives Programme, which was set up in 2004, tries to address these issues. Since 2004 we have supported over 300 projects in 90 countries worldwide, resulting in over 6.5 million images and 25 thousand sound tracks being preserved. In addition to being accessible through local archival partners, the material is available freely online for the benefit of researchers everywhere.
Each year the Programme awards grants to researchers to identify and preserve culturally important archives. Applicants are encouraged, where appropriate, to incorporate professional development and training within their proposals. The original material will not leave the country of origin (unless there are exceptional reasons for doing so). There are two types of grant available:
- Pilot projects. Pilot grants are up to £10,000 and last less than a year. Researchers may apply for funds to assess the necessity, importance and feasibility of preserving a particular archive. Usually this will produce an in-depth survey and sample digitisation. Successful pilot projects are often encouraged to apply for a major grant. Small scale digitisation projects would also be considered pilot projects.
- Major projects. Major grants typically range from £20,000 to £50,000 and last up to two years. Researchers may apply for funds to locate relevant collections, arrange transferral of the documents to a suitable local archival home where appropriate, and to digitise the material.
The Programme aims to preserve material relating to pre-industrialised societies. Any theme or regional interest will be considered, although applications concerned with non-Western societies are particularly welcome. The Endangered Archives Programme has a very broad interpretation of the word 'archive'. Projects relating to these types of material have been funded: Rare printed sources (books, serials, newspapers, ephemera, etc.); Manuscripts; Visual materials (drawings, paintings, prints, posters, photographs); Audiovisual recordings; Other objects and artefacts - but normally only where they are found in association within a documentary archive.
Applications are considered by an international panel of historians and archivists on an annual basis. Preliminary applications - September - early November. Invitation to submit a full application - December - February. Announcement of final decision - May - early June.
If you have a story to tell about how you have used the materials collected by EAP, please share it with us. Send us an email and tell us directly, or send us a pointer to your article, book, blog post, artwork so that we can learn more about it. You are doing amazing things, and we want to know more!