The 2010 Heritage Trust Project Grant Recipients

  • The 2010 Heritage Trust Project Grant Recipients

Guizhou University, College of the Humanities

Guizhou, China

Guizhou University, established in 1902, is the oldest and largest university in China’s Guizhou Province and has been continuously enlisted as one of China’s key universities by the Ministry of Education. The College of Humanities at Guizhou University is intensively involved in the study of the Hmong, a global ethnic group with a population of about 11 million dispersed in China, Southeast Asia, North America, Australia, and France.

The university is launching a project to work with the Wendou Hmong, who occupy a cluster of natural villages located in the middle and lower range of the Qingshuijiang River Valley in Southeast Guizhou, to preserve a highly valuable collection of 300-year-old agroforestry contracts held by local Hmong families. According to Chinese historical records and non-Chinese ethnohistorical materials, this range of the valley has long been inhabited mainly by the Hmong and Kam peoples who practiced agroforestry and developed a sophisticated commercial timber industry during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911). It was a renowned production base of high quality timbers for the royal court of late imperial China.

While many of the contracts depicting the history of the timber industry during this time period were destroyed in the 1950s-1970s, Hmong families in Wendou took great risks to save most of their old contracts from destruction. However, many of these manuscripts are now deteriorating and endangered.

Guizhou University Hmong Humanities Group, in conjunction with Wendou residents, will use the EMC Heritage Trust Project grant to digitally photograph at least 1000 of the most endangered manuscripts to preserve and protect the original copies. The project will also create a database system to make them accessible to the public.

Karveer Nagar Vachan Mandir

Kolhapur, India

The Karveer Nagar Vachan Mandir is the largest public library in western part of Maharashtra, India. Dating back 160 years, it is the center of educational, cultural and social activities in the Kolhapur district and has an extensive collection of rare books and manuscripts.
Karveer Nagar Vachan Mandir is working to digitize a very rare manuscript and book collection from 16th century up to the year 1900. The manuscript collection is a rich source of Indian heritage, useful information, and skills related to Ayurveda, including medicine, Yoga, Vedic history and culture, social rituals and practices, epic literature (Mahabharata, Ramayana, The Bhagavad-Gita, Bible) along with English, Marathi, Sanskrit classics. All the manuscripts are handwritten with handmade ink on handmade paper. Some contain very rare sketches.
The library will use EMC’s Heritage Trust Project grant to purchase scanning equipment, digitize, and catalog this valuable collection and create a database to make it available to the public on the library’s website. The project is part of the library’s commitment to be an important part of supporting “the local-to-global flow of information and knowledge.”

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WIMSA Digital Library and Equitable Access Project

Windhoek, Namibia

The Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA) is a regional nongovernmental organization formed in 1996 and governed by the San peoples (also referred to as Bushmen) of Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, and Angola. WIMSA’s role is as an advocacy, human rights, heritage, and networking organization in the region, as well as the representative body for the San.

WIMSA has become a focal point for those interacting with the San as well as the San themselves. Numerous academics, journalists, filmmakers, and officials are in contact with the organization and WIMSA attempts to coordinate and monitor their work. Text-based publications are often donated to WIMSA’s library through these channels as well as some film. WIMSA has accrued more than 1,400 documents on the San, ranging from academic tomes to historical documents.

The written records of the San are very limited and, though WIMSA’s collection is relatively small, it is the most thorough collection of material on the San in the world. It therefore carries significant value as a record of language, culture, history, and intellectual property. The library is used by students and researchers, but is also an important reference point for human rights and legal cases involving the San. As more San students enroll in tertiary education, the library is increasingly a cultural resource for the San themselves; a place where literature, interviews, photos, and film are available for free access.

Because most of the resources at the WIMSA library remain in original form only, they are jeopardized due to theft or failure of borrowers to return them. Access to the materials is also limited by the lack of cataloging and reference system for the library. Any potential research involves long periods of looking through items to find information.

WIMSA will use the EMC Heritage Trust Project grant to begin a two-year process of establishing a digital library that provides a secure and accessible archive of San history and culture. Digitization will also enable WIMSA to make these materials available to users over a much boarder geographic area through San education centers. This project will further the library’s goal to be a unique centre for future generations of San to learn about traditional knowledge, customs, and history that may be forgotten as the current generation of elders pass away.

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History Meeting House

Warsaw, Poland

The History Meeting House features individual testimonies of the 20th century history of Poland and Eastern Europe. It offers temporary exhibitions, which serve as a basis for intensive educational work, and organizes documentary film presentations, meetings with eye-witnesses, historical debates, and workshops. It is supported by resources collected by the KARTA Center Foundation, an independent NGO focused on documenting, archiving, and popularizing modern Polish history since the beginning of 20th century.

The Oral History Archive (OHA) of the History Meeting House and the KARTA Center Foundation have recorded thousands of oral histories offering unique, firsthand insights into the 20th century history of Central and Eastern Europe. The interviews describe many aspects of the tragic history spanning the pre-war times, World War II, German and Soviet occupation of Poland, and the years of communist government in Poland and Eastern and Central Europe. The collection is divided into thematic chapters, such as "Poles in the East," "Women in totalitarian states," and "Warsaw in the first after-war years." From 2002 to 2006, the OHA conducted two large international projects. The first, "Mauthausen Survivors Documentation Project," focused on former Polish prisoners of German concentration camps, and the second, "International Slave- and Forced Laborers Documentation Project," on Polish forced laborers in the Third Reich. In addition, the two institutions conducted a project on lesser known German Nazi concentration camps in Poland entitled "Forgotten Nazi-Camps."

Currently, 2,800 complete interviews are accessible in the Multimedia Reading Room and 300 excerpts at the project's website. In addition to the personal interviews, the archive includes a large selection of original photographs. Access to all data is free of charge. Many of the interviews taped in the early days of collecting the data were recorded on audiotapes and VHS. These need to be digitized in a uniform way in order to store and preserve the material and enable its presentation to the public. In addition, a vast amount of the information collected has not yet been digitized.

The EMC Heritage Trust Project grant will enable the History Meeting House to double the amount of publicly available information. The grant will fund the digitization of some 700 hours of interviews now on tape. It will also provide for the preparation of excerpts and photographs which accompany the interviews on the OHA website.

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ARCHEION: Ontario's Archival Information Network

Ontario, Canada

ARCHEION is an online catalog of descriptions of archival records (textual and media) located in archives, libraries, historical societies, and museums across Ontario. It provides Ontario heritage institutions with an easy means of establishing an online presence while offering online users free access to information about Ontario’s rich and diverse archival resources, including diaries, personal accounts, maps, films, photographs, and administrative and genealogical records.

The network is a powerful tool for archival institutions (particularly those who lack technological support and stable funding) to establish a web presence, provide updated contact information, and participate in a program that frames their activities within shared professional values and practices.

ARCHEION currently hosts collection-level descriptions but is seeking to upgrade its operational platform to provide multi-level descriptions to an expanded range of participants via an open-source archival descriptive software, ICA-AtoM. ICA-AtoM allows for attractive and robust multi-level descriptions and the hosting of digital objects nested within a collection’s contextual hierarchy.

With the support of the EMC Heritage Trust project grant, ARCHEION will launch a pilot to begin migrating to an ICA-AtoM platform. It will also invite participants with smaller archives throughout the province to a workshop to develop new skills and digital content to promote and advocate on behalf of their holdings. The aim of the workshop is to help these members upgrade their skills on how to leverage new open-source software, access digitization equipment, and take advantage of the social networking possibilities of Web 2.0 innovations.

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University of Victoria, Faculty of Education, and Lower Vancouver Island Retired Teachers Association

Victoria, Canada

The Education Heritage Museum is a joint project undertaken by the Faculty of Education, University of Victoria, and the Lower Vancouver Island Retired Teachers Association Heritage Committee. Since 2005, the Museum has collected, catalogued and displayed invaluable classroom artifacts donated by retired teachers in a searchable database.

On the website—still under development—researchers, students and teachers can download audio files, photographs and images of artifacts dating back to the mid-1800s. Professors can assign students to study various items as part of their coursework. Students can then “publish” their histories on the museum website. Community museums and archives can access the images and information to augment their own local collections. Museum offerings include a collection of fairy stories from 1881, a slate used by students in the 1920s, a 1915 math game for elementary students, and a health poster from 1945 promoting good bathing habits.

The University and the Lower Vancouver Island Retired Teachers Association are thankful for the EMC Heritage Trust Project grant as it will allow them to finish scanning or photographing items for the website. The digitization of these materials has the potential to expand the general public’s understanding of the schooling heritage, to preserve aspects of social history that would otherwise be lost, and to improve research and teaching. Educational history has tended to focus on documents depicting political, regulatory, and general philosophical movements, which tend not to reflect life in the classroom and how teachers actually taught. This project is significant in that it connects the past world of teachers and their classrooms to today’s future educators.

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St. John Fisher College

Rochester, N.Y.

Dr. George W. Goler was a pioneering physician in public health who served as city health officer in Rochester, N.Y., from 1896-1932. He was an early and tireless advocate of preventive medicine, improved the living conditions of the working poor, and drew attention to the ethical debate about community responsibility for what we now call public health. Although his notes, correspondence, and reports have been cited as a historically important collection by the National Library of Medicine/NIH, the papers remain non-circulating in 72 cardboard Hollinger boxes at the Rochester Public Library.

St. John Fisher College is working to digitize, archive, index, and promote the study of the Goler collection, in partnership with the Rochester Public Library and the Office of the Monroe County Historian.

St. John Fisher College will use the EMC Heritage Trust Project grant to digitize these invaluable resources for exploring medical ethics, narratives of health and wellness, gender and race politics, and the philosophy of medicine in the early twentieth century. The digital images will be hosted on a server at the Rochester Public Library, with a mirror site hosted at St. John Fisher College. The project will support the creation of pathfinders that will make the archives accessible free of charge to scholars, students, and the public, sparking a new humanities-based discourse about ethics and community engagement with public health issues.

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