Digitisation and conservation of endangered paper records of the British Indian Association (EAP922)

Aims and objectives

The project aims to digitise for open online access the most important holdings of the British Indian Association, Kolkata. The Association, set up in 1851, was one of the earliest and most important platforms from which Indians engaged with the British in India. Its own records, and its holdings of early newspapers and print material, are an invaluable source for the study of colonial relations in India from mid-19th to early 20th century, and the prehistory of the Indian freedom movement.The material includes unique records of its own history and activities as well as other issues, and correspondence, memoranda, minutes, reports submitted to various bodies and legal documents. There are also rare printed works both in Bengali and English, and runs of newspapers, including 'Forward', 'Hindoo Patriot', 'The Bengalee' and 'The Englishman'.

The material dates from 1851-c.1930. It is currently at risk of being lost as very little has been done to conserve this material. Large parts of it may soon become unusable as the paper becomes very brittle. Digitisation is the only feasible option for ensuring the survival of these invaluable documents so they are not lost to historians. The material is very poorly stored, large amounts have been placed in sacks or tied up in bundles. There also appears to have been an attempt at some point to bind selections of smaller publications together. The total holdings have been estimated to be in excess of 1,000,000 pages and the project will aim to carry out a survey and select approximately 100,000 of these to digitise. Selection will be based on the exclusiveness or rarity of the material, and the physcial condition of the items.

Outcomes

This was a digitisation project resulting in 66,882 images (amounting to 3.66TB). The British Indian Association, founded in 1851, was one of the earliest political associations of Indian colonial subjects. Its holdings include records of its own history and activities as well as other issues, viz. correspondence, memoranda, minutes, reports submitted to various bodies and legal documents.

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