GUWAHATI, April 22 � The National Archives of India, which is celebrating its 125 th anniversary, has decided to digitise around 4.9 million pages of records. The National Archives have a regular series of records that started in 1748, including the collections of the private records, besides the public ones, which number about 50 lakh in total and in the length of 50 linear kilometres, said Deputy Director of the National Archives Tassaduque Hussain.
Hussain was delivering a lecture on the history of the National Archives, its collection and role in popularising the documentary heritage in the country on the ultimate day of the two-day concluding ceremony of the platinum jubilee celebration of the State Museum here today. The function was presided over by Nazmeen AH Anam, Museum Curator of the State Government-run Assam Institute of Research for Tribals and Scheduled Castes.
Hussain said the National Archives, which is regarded to be one of the best of its kind in the world, has made around 22 lakh records available on the internet. It has been working on a mission to make the records available with it easily accessible for the people.
The records available with it include the 1826 Yandabu Treaty, the 1835 records on the discovery of tea in Assam, the 1619-1759 Cooch Behar documents, the Macaulay minutes of introduction of English education in 1835, the personal collections of Assam historians Dr SK Bhuyan and Dr HK Barpujari, among others. It also has the map of the Brahmaputra that was drawn in 1870 in its cartography section.
Around 500 scholars from across the country and globe visit the National Archives every month on an average. With the growing popularity of family history, environmental history, gender history, the rush of visitors to the National Archives has been growing, he said.
The National Archives extends grants-in-aid to a single entity, and the NGOs registered with the appropriate authorities may avail of this grant for preservation of the valuable records, manuscripts and publication of rare books. The Sattra institutions may also avail of this grant for these purposes, he said.
Addressing the later half of the function, presided over by noted scholar Dr SN Goswami, Dr Subhra Devi of Tezpur University spoke on the recent developments in preventive conservation of museum objects.
She said that concerns have been expressed on the use of air-conditioners in the museums nowadays. Because the air-conditioners may lead to damages if not monitored properly, she said.
Preventive conservation is meant for extending the life of the cultural objects preserved in the museums, etc. It reduces the use of chemicals and results in less intervention in matters of preservation of such items. Thus, it reduces the risk of catastrophic loss of cultural property.
The damage caused to the objects by the conventional methods of intervention-intensive preservation can be prevented with simple methods in most of the cases. These include use of acid-free papers, cushions made of cotton, etc., and black cloth cover, etc., for preservation of manuscripts, books and textile items. These methods may lengthen the life of these objects, she said.
In this connection, she said that the traditional method of preserving the sanchipat manuscripts of Assam in special wooden boxes made of particular timber and specified techniques is found to be useful. A similar method for preserving scroll paintings is also followed in Japan.