Cultural heritage is captured in books, art, and artifacts stored in museums, libraries and other facilities around the world. However, many treasures are in locations where they are unprotected from the risks of degradation or destruction. EMC contributes our expertise to help ensure these cultural treasures are available for future generations to access and enjoy. Through our Information Heritage Initiative, EMC provides products, services and financial assistance for digital information preservation programs worldwide. Through our Heritage Trust Project, EMC provides grants to local institutions striving to preserve the artifacts under their care. Digitizing not only prevents these pieces from disappearing, but provides access for students, scholars and others who may not be able to visit these items in person. Since 2007, we have provided more than $42 million in products, services and financial assistance for digital information preservation programs worldwide.
Heritage Trust Project
EMC’s Heritage Trust Project recognizes the importance of local preservation projects. The Project supports community-based digital curation efforts around the world with cash grants to local cultural institutions, archives, or private collections. New grants are awarded every year through an open application process. The 2016 application cycle will open on April 6, 2016.
Beginning in 2012, we showcased the Project on EMC’s Facebook page, where applicants now submit their proposals directly. An internal group of judges reviews the proposed projects, looking specifically at the potential impact and the sensitive nature of the project. The group chooses seven finalists and then a public vote is held to pick the winners.
In 2015, 24 countries were eligible to participate in the Project. The three winners were:
The Secrets of Radar Museum, Canada
During World War II, Canada provided the 2nd largest radar contingent, loaning more than 6,000 personnel to the British Royal Air Force alone, as well as building and maintaining radar on shore. These men and women signed the Official Secrets Act, standing by as the history of the war unfolded in texts and film without their inclusion. The Secrets of Radar Museum is the only radar-specific history museum in Canada. It shares the stories that World War II veterans were not allowed to tell due to a 50-year oath of secrecy. Through digitization, the museum will be able to share these materials with a much broader audience.
University of Rosario, Colombia
The Historical Archive of the University of Rosario preserves and safeguards a collection of more than 950 volumes of manuscripts and printed documents concerning the history of the College between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries, including a set of Royal Decrees issued between the kingdoms of Felipe IV and Carlos IV. The Royal Decrees provide insights into colonial institutions and society. Despite their great historical importance, the royal decrees have not received adequate treatment and have begun to deteriorate, requiring digitization to preserve this important collection.
The Filipinas Heritage Library
The Ulahingan is a major epic of the Manobo indigenous group in Mindanao, Philippines, with 4,000-6,000 lines per episode and 79 episodes on average. This tradition is orally passed from one generation to the next. The epic has been orally recorded on over 1,200 items of reels and cassette tapes. The Filipinas Heritage Library (FHL) recognizes the need to digitally preserve these traditions as part of its mission to preserve and promote accessibility to educational resources on Philippine culture and heritage for the present and future generations.
Heritage Trust 2014: Where Are They Now?
In 2014, EMC awarded organizations from India, Canada and the United Kingdom with Heritage Trust grants. Updates on their progress are provided below.
The Merasi Legacy Project (India)
“Merasi” translates to “musician”, and is the name given to a community of people with a rich musical culture who live in the Thar Desert in northwestern Rajastthan, India. Existing on one of the bottom rungs of the Indian caste system, which to this day partially dictates how Indian society functions, the Merasi people have been denied access to education, healthcare, and political representation, with most living in dire poverty. In the past, the history and musical traditions of the Merasi people were handed down orally by older members of the community, but because of the abuse and negativity attached to Merasi history, many younger people have shunned cultural musical practices.
In 2014, Folk Arts Rajastthan (FAR), an organization that desired to preserve this musical tradition, was awarded an EMC Heritage Trust grant to work with and train the youth of the Merasi community to document their people’s musical heritage through audio and video recordings. Thanks to the grant, in addition to training within the community, FAR has been able to purchase the up-to-date software and audio and video equipment needed to preserve this threatened global musical treasure. The result will be an archive of audio and video recordings, a web site where the world-at-large can learn more about Merasi heritage, and a book about the community’s musical tradition.
“For a while, talented young people in the community were seeking any alternative they could to becoming musicians. Now, 10 years into our project, that’s no longer the case. Young people are beginning to understand that they have an honored legacy that is recognized around the world,” said Karen Lukas, Director of FAR.
Nikkei National Museum Internment Project (Canada)
On February 24, 1942, lives of more than 20,000 Japanese Canadians were forever altered when Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King called for the forced relocation of all persons of Japanese origin to designated “internment” sites at least 100 miles from the West Coast of British Columbia. Ten days following the order, the first 2,500 Japanese Canadians were removed to Hastings Park in Vancouver, where they were held for months at a time before being sent to internment camps in the British Columbia interior.
In 2014, the Nikkei National Museum was awarded an EMC Heritage Trust grant to aid its efforts to gather, preserve, and share information related to the internment at Hastings Park. The grant helped the museum catalogue, scan, digitize, and upload a growing collection of memorabilia to its searchable database (www.nikkeimuseum.org). The museum also used the funds to increase the website’s capacity and ease-of-use, hire contract archivists, and purchase desperately needed archival supplies. The museum hopes to one day include the names of all 8,000 Japanese Canadians once detained there on its website.
“There is an interest now to reclaim the history,” said Sherri Kajiwara, Director/Curator, Nikkei National Museum. “It’s not just for cultural reasons. It’s also for human rights reasons, so that things like this will be remembered, not forgotten, and won’t happen again.”
Christmas Lectures (United Kingdom)
For nearly 200 years, the Christmas Lectures hosted by the Royal Institution of Great Britain have brought science to life through spectacular presentations designed to capture the attention and engage the minds of young audiences. Aimed at children ages 11 to 17, the Christmas Lectures have covered a wide range of fascinating topics including astronomy, insect habits, the language of animals and robot technology. In 1966, BBC began broadcasting the Christmas Lectures annually, creating a library of 49 uninterrupted years’ worth of footage.
In 2014, the Royal Institute was awarded an EMC Heritage Trust grant to aid the digitization and online availability of this vast, educational video collection, and to help locate 16 years’ worth of missing footage. With help from EMC’s grant, 19 Christmas Lectures were online by October 2015, and 10 years’ of missing footage had been located. The Royal Institute plans to have all available lectures digitized and online by November 2016 to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the lectures’ first appearance on the BBC.
“We hear stories from teachers who remember watching the lectures as children, and now as teachers, they use our footage to explain an area of science to the next generation,” says Hayley Burwell, Royal Institute’s head of Marketing and Communications. “That’s a really wonderful legacy.”