Pre-modern Visions, Modern Frames: Digitization and Conservation of Manuscripts and Books in Bardhaman and Nadia Districts, West Bengal

Private and institutional collections in West Bengal districts hold manuscripts, newspapers, and books that show the traditional, literary, artistic, judicial, political and social development of the region. To allow public access and preservation for posterity, it is imperative to digitise these collections immediately.

The rich collection of manuscripts in defunct public institutions and private collections in Murshidabad, Bardhaman, and Nadia districts of West Bengal (India) invaluable resource to understand literary traditions, religious practices, and legal cultures of the region in the pre-modern and the early-colonial period. The manuscripts also show development of medicinal practice, philosophical pedagogy, ritual and legal orthodoxy, and the literary traditions of the region in the early modern period. Moreover, the weekly local newspaper Jangipur Sambad is a unique window to the socio-economic processes, literary cultures, and political developments of northern Bengal in the 20th century.

The materials are in various stages of decay. The institutions and collectors lack the resources to restore and digitise their collections, or to preserve them in suitable conditions.

The project digitised all extant issues of Jangipur Sambad, around 300 manuscripts, over 400 books and some rare printed items. The project provided the Akshay Granthagar public institution in Santipur with a catalogue of its collection and basic equipment to allow the public to consult the digital images. The project trained two assistants in digitisation and metadata creation. This project is part of a wider effort to digitise collections in the region, led by CSSSC.

Project Details

Location: India, Southern Asia, Asia Organiser(s): Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) Project partner(s): Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta Funder(s): Arcadia Funding received: £32,925 Commencement Date: 09/2017 Project Status: Completed
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