JAMnews: How Abkhazia is trying to restore its historic archive which burned down 27 years ago during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. “The process of restoring files of the national archive of Abkhazia, which burned to the ground on the night of October 22, 1992 during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, has picked up speed. On both sides of the conflict, many believe that the building was then deliberately set on fire by the Georgian military. Although on the Georgian side, there are many who refute this. One way or another, this tragedy affected the whole of Abkhaz society, and to this day, many there speak of a keen sense of loss.”
The Conversation: Building a digital archive for decaying paper documents, preserving centuries of records about enslaved people. “The goal is to ensure this information – including some from documents that no longer exist physically – is accessible to future generations. But preserving history by taking high-resolution photographs of centuries-old documents is only the beginning. Technological advances help scholars and archivists like me do a better job of preserving these records and learning from them, but don’t always make it easy.”
The Guardian: Ancient scrolls charred by Vesuvius could be read once again. “When Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79 it destroyed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, their inhabitants and their prized possessions – among them a fine library of scrolls that were carbonised by the searing heat of ash and gas. But scientists say there may still be hope that the fragile documents can once more be read thanks to an innovative approach involving high-energy x-rays and artificial intelligence.”
Genealogy’s Star: The Ultimate Digital Preservation Guide, Part Fourteen: Remediating the Damage. “As genealogists, we may come in contact with documents and records that are clearly damaged from water, mold, natural deterioration, fire or many other causes. It is important to understand that our efforts to curate this damage may do more harm than good.”
Loop Trinidad and Tobago: Digital history: Tobago archives return to Scarborough Library. “Many of Tobago’s historical records are once again accessible to the public. Tobago’s archives were formally reopened on June 26 at Scarborough Library Facility.”
Global Press Journal: How Sri Lankans Are Preserving History, One Manuscript At a Time. “Thousands of one-of-a-kind manuscripts written on palmyrah leaves that were lost during Sri Lanka’s civil war, are being recovered. Now, local people are working to digitize them and preserve the history they contain.” This Web site was a bit of a slow load for me, but I found the article well worth it.
Smithsonian Institution Archives: Stabilizing Lacquer Transcription Discs. “Audiovisual preservation is a complicated topic, and one we’ve discussed several times on The Bigger Picture. Often times, digitization is the best course of action to preserve the content on at-risk formats, such as ¼-inch open reel audio tapes, compact audio cassettes, or VHS. However, improved housing can also aid in extending the lifespan of audiovisual media until digitization can occur. In 2018, the Archives was fortunate to receive funding from the Smithsonian’s Collection Care Initiative (CCI) for custom housing enclosures for an at-risk format found within the collections – 16-inch lacquer transcription discs. “
Pacific Standard Magazine: Has Hurricane Florence Destroyed Records Of America’s Slave Trade?. “North Carolina’s archivists are worried that fragile collections of documents, covering centuries of history, could have been destroyed by Hurricane Florence. Forecasters have predicted that the storm could cost up to $60 billion in economic damage, as people lost their homes, cars, and possessions to rainfall and flood water when the hurricane hit the eastern coast of the United States. But it’s harder to place a dollar value on the loss of North Carolina’s historic archives, which trace, among other things, the history of the slave trade and, later, Southern systems of racial segregation.”
Smithsonian Magazine: Buried by the Ash of Vesuvius, These Scrolls Are Being Read for the First Time in Millennia. “The scrolls represent the only intact library known from the classical world, an unprecedented cache of ancient knowledge. Most classical texts we know today were copied, and were therefore filtered and distorted, by scribes over centuries, but these works came straight from the hands of the Greek and Roman scholars themselves. Yet the tremendous volcanic heat and gases spewed by Vesuvius carbonized the scrolls, turning them black and hard like lumps of coal. Over the years, various attempts to open some of them created a mess of fragile flakes that yielded only brief snippets of text. Hundreds of the papyri were therefore left unopened, with no realistic prospect that their contents would ever be revealed. And it probably would have remained that way except for an American computer scientist named Brent Seales, director of the Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments at the University of Kentucky.”
Berkeley Library: Project IRENE: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Library unite to save Native American voices. “In the twinkle-lit cafes and sage-incensed dorms around town, vinyl is all the rage among the youths. But in the unassuming Moffitt Library — still shy about its hipster cred — it’s all about wax cylinders. Tucked away on Moffitt’s second floor, in the Digital Imaging Lab, a team of researchers are restoring a trove of wax cylinders: the original vinyl. The objects hiss and pop just like a record, but they also happen to contain the sacred songs and voices of Native Americans, recorded by field anthropologists over four decades, from 1900 to 1940.” Fascinating information about how wax cylinders are being restored or repaired.
XinhuaNet: China Focus: Frame by frame, China’s film restorers revive classics. “Jiao Xiang, 31, a true film aficionado, watches movies frame by frame. Jiao stares at a screen for hours to spot flaws in old films so they can be restored. His waist hurts and head spins after a day’s work. But that is the life of a film restorer at the China Film Archive.”
Global News: N.B. provincial archives offering to restore photos, documents damaged by flooding. “The Provincial Archives in New Brunswick is offering to help residents restore or copy heirloom photos and documents damaged by recent flooding. The province says repairs of single documents will be done free of charge. Larger document recovery projects will be given quotes on a case-by-case basis.”
The Revelator: These Decaying Film Canisters Could Hold Secrets to Saving Species from Extinction. “It’s a cool and rainy June morning in upstate Jamestown, N.Y., when I first catch a glimpse of the rustic river-rock façade of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History. In 1984 Roger Tory Peterson, the pioneering American naturalist and ornithologist of Peterson-Field-Guides-fame, founded this scientific establishment to serve as an educational storehouse for his life’s work. Nearly 21 years after his death, I’m here to learn more about efforts to preserve Peterson’s vast and varied collection of sketches, drawings, films, research equipment, slides, letters, bird feathers and skins.”
Library of Congress: Technology at the Library: Long-Hidden Text Is Uncovered in Alexander Hamilton Letter. “When the Library of Congress recently digitized the Alexander Hamilton Papers, that letter, unedited, with its 14 obliterated lines, became visible to all for the first time. However, the lines were still unreadable. To find out what lay beneath the scratchings-out, Fenella France, chief of the Preservation Research and Testing Division, and preservation staff Meghan Wilson and Chris Bolser used hyperspectral imaging. A noninvasive analysis that employs light at different wavelengths to capture information not visible to the eye, hyperspectral imaging can determine the composition of inks and pigments, track changes in documents over time and reveal faded, erased or covered writing.”
The Guardian: Stasi files: scanner struggles to stitch together surveillance state scraps. “The world’s biggest jigsaw puzzle may have to be solved by hand, as technology struggles to piece together millions of Stasi files ripped to shreds in the dying days of the East German regime. The government-funded Stasi records agency confirmed this week that it had had to halt an €8m (£7m) project to digitally reassemble the contents of 23 bags stuffed with torn-up documents detailing the activity of the secret police, because the scanning hardware it was using was not advanced enough.”