A digital archive of Indian Christian manuscripts and other texts on colonial Goa

The Endangered Archives Project

by Leonard Fernandes

In addition to publishing texts, CinnamonTeal offers digitization and archival services to libraries such as the Central Library, Goa, and to publishers and authors, who did not have soft copies of their books or manuscripts, and used this route to develop them.

About the EAP 636 

Cinnamon Teal partnered with Dr. Ananya Chakravarti, who was awarded a grant by the Endangered Archives Programme that aims to preserve material  in danger of destruction, neglect or physical deterioration. Project 636 of the Endangered Archives Programme run by the British Library, London, is a digital archive of Indian Christian manuscripts, which had two goals: to identify and locate Konkani and Marathi Christian manuscripts in governmental, church, private, institutional, and family collections, and to start digitising texts pertinent to the history of Christianity in India. The project later included manuscripts and books in other languages, such as English and Portuguese.

Ananya Chakravarti, University of Georgetown

 

Apprehensions

A few organizations were apprehensive about where the digitized images would be stored and who might be able to access them. Libraries that are sensitive to the relative advantage they can command on account of possessions that are rare, sometimes see digitization as a threat to this advantage. They tend to reject such proposals outright or allow some less-sensitive material to be digitized. It took some convincing to assure these organizations that the images would be secure and would not be exploited commercially. On the other hand, others were only too happy to allow digitization as it ensured that they would obtain a copy of the digital images. Since the project was funded, the cost of digitization was not a factor in any of the decision-making.

Some of the online full-texts  at the EAP site

Boletim Eclesiástico da Arquidiocese de Goa (1944 – 1962): Ecclesiastical Bulletin of the Archdiocese of Goa, with information and articles related to the Archdiocese. It also had information about priests that were newly ordained. It was available on subscription.

Kristapurana: A 17th-century handwritten manuscript (written by more than one scribe), deemed to be a copy of Thomas Stephens’ Kristapurana

http://eap.bl.uk/database/large_image.a4d?digrec=5730480;catid=317823;r=6334

Possibly a 1571 record in Goykannada of the village community of Goalim-Moula.

The Gomes Catão papers: Papers written by Pe. Gomes Catão related to the genealogy of priests

Sancto Antonichi Acharya (1655): The book documents the miracles of St. Anthony of Padua. This was digitized from a microfilm.

Janua Indicasive pro Concanica et Decanica Linguis: A detailed comparison of the grammar of the Konkani language with that of Marathi.

A Campanha Luso-Marata de Baçaim: A series of books bound together, the first of which documents Luso-Maratha battles at Baçaim.

Adishankaracharya krut Aatmbodh Satik: Not much is known about this collection of sheets aside from the fact that Adishankaracharya authored the text, and its title, which is written on a paper wrapping these sheets.

As Gavetas da Torre do Tombo: The book describes the catalogue in the former Royal Archive. Each drawer was designated to documents relating to a particular subject of state: charters, wills, treaties and judgments, among others. This nomenclature is now not used and the lockers are referenced by numbers.

Collection II – Typewritten Manuscripts: A collection of typewritten manuscripts such as one on “The last Portuguese embassies at the Mughal Court”

Documentação Avulsa Moçambicana do Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino II: A documentation of the Mozambican archives

Garcia de Orta – Comemorativo do Quarto Centenário da Publicação: A commemorative magazine released to mark the fourth centenary of the publication of “Colóquios dos simples e drogas he cousas medicinais da Índia” by Garcia da Orta

The Poona Orientalist Supplements 1948-1963: A collection of bibliographies from various supplements of The Poona Orientalist, an annual journal devoted to Oriental Studies.

La Vieille-Goa: The book describes the city of Old Goa, with a historical overview of the city from accounts of travelers, with notes on St. Francis Xavier, and an archaeological sketch of the city.

Pelo clero de Goa: This book, about the Goan clergy, refers to the schisms in the clergy and the naiveté they displayed. The preface is written by Dom José da Costa Nunes, Bishop of Macau and Timor.

Those who participated

Thomas Stephens Konkani Kendra

a. Goenkaranchem Daiz, a small library in Margao, where only the accession registers were digitised.

b. Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol (here, the scope of the work was limited to the cataloguing of the library alone)
c. Percival Noronha’s private collectionparticularly the papers of Fr. Gomes Catao, prolific in the production of nineteenth century ecclesiastical and religious history
d. Goa University Library
e. Library of the Pilar Mission Seminary                                                                                                                                            f. Thomas Stephens Konkani Kendra                                                                                                                                                             g. Xavier Centre of Historical Research

In the case of the last four repositories, books, papers, unbound manuscripts, and microfilms were digitized.

Malayalam manuscript from the Pilar collection

Over a period of 18 months, we digitized more than 45 thousand pages, spread over 260 collections (books, manuscripts, microfilms, etc.). We were required to catalogue all files and information and ensure that the files were not damaged during the process of copying, using checksum manifests.

Museum at Pilar, from the Government of Goa site

The Process

For those interested in taking this up in their regions, this is what a project of this scale involves: We identified sources of such manuscripts, and requested permission to digitize, catalogue and store them.
a. The material was identified, handed to us for digitization and taken back before the next item was handed over.
b. The pages were cleaned with a brush to remove any dust.
c. These were then digitized, and where the sheets were too large, they were photographed one at a time.
d. Information related to the book and to the collection was recorded.
e. The digitized files were stored through a fixed naming convention. Files were stored in the RAW format at 300 dpi (at 48-bit colour depth). All files related to a single book or manuscript or collection of papers were stored in its own folder. The folder was then subjected to a checksum test.                                         f. A separate folder was created with the TIFF equivalents of each RAW file.

Equipment

In the mission field

We used a Nikon D5100 to capture the images. The software ViewNX 2.1W was used to convert RAW images to TIFF. We set up 1 or 2 stations depending upon the space available, and at all times, digitization was carried out at the premises of the organization concerned. To digitize microfilms, the Epson V500 scanner was used.

For each file, the following information was recorded

a. The title of the book or manuscript                                                                                                                                                 b. A description (a complete statement describing the form and subject matter of the material, including the following as appropriate: function of material, record type, context, geographical areas/places/locations/buildings, topics, events, people, organizations, languages, decoration etc.)
c. Custodial history (brief details of the provenance/history of ownership of the material being described)
d. Dates of original material
e. Physical characteristics
f. Languages of material
g. Creator(s) – (and whether the creator was an author, scribe or publisher)
h. Rights (If the material is still in copyright,  the name of the person who owns the copyright to the material is required.)
i. Sensitive personal data (Racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, membership of a trade union, physical or mental health, sexual life, commission/alleged commission of an offense or proceedings for any offense/ alleged offense, or sentence of court).
j. Digital folder name (related to the book or manuscript name)
k. Digital file name
l.  Creation dates of digital copies
m. Extent and format of digital copies                                                                                                                                           The details of the contributing organization was also recorded.

 

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