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Repairing the damage at India’s National Archives

A four part series, by Dinyar Patel, a Ph.D. candidate in history at Harvard University published in the New York Times recently, examines the appalling condition of India’s archives, the reasons for the neglect and considers what can be done to fix the problem.

Part One: In India History Literally Rots Away Patel explains how priceless papers and other items have been allowed to disintegrate or have been stolen from, institutions starved of funding, bereft of proper facilities and trained staff, and lacking proper security.

Part Two: Repairing the Damage at India’s National Archives Patel describes the efforts of Mushirul Hasan, appointed director general in 2010, the to counter the decades of neglect, underfunding, and bad preservation techniques which have wrought considerable damage.

Part Three: India’s Archives: How Did Things Get This Bad? describes the historical context and explores some of the reasons for the neglect, or lack of investment in archives.

Part Four: The Parsis, Once India’s Curators, Now Shrug as History Rots The author explains the circumstances which have led his own community to neglect the archive.

It’s a fascinating series to which many struggling in under-resources archives, and in situations where there is little political will to preserve the records of the past will relate.

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  • Fascinating (and it’s left to us to draw parallels…)
    But please check the links, the link to part 2 actually points to part 4 - it would be good to get the whole story.

    By Werner Hillebrecht on 08/04/2012