CHANDIGARH: The 1947 Partition Archive collection of over 4,300 witness interviews, and over 30,000 digital documents and photographs will soon be made accessible. The collection will be released in collaboration with a consortium of Indian, Pakistani, British and American universities.A portion of the oral interviews will be available to everyone via live streaming from Stanford University Library’s digital repository. The remaining collection, deemed too delicate or sensitive for open accessibility, will be available to researchers and interested parties by visiting select university libraries of Ashoka University, Delhi University, and Guru Nanak Dev University in India; and Lahore University of Management Sciences and Habib University in Pakistan. A pilot adoption of the collection into the three Indian university libraries is being supported by the Tata Trust.
“Our end goal is to record at least 10,000 oral history interviews from surviving witnesses. We receive requests daily from artistes, researchers, media persons, students and others, wanting access to the oral histories,” said Guneeta Singh Bhalla, founder of The 1947 Partition Archive.
Stanford University librarian Michael Keller says, “The videos being gathered are tremendously important and need to be preserved as part of historical record.”The material, according to Keller, is of particular interest to Stanford given that research is underway at the Centre for South Asia and the WSD Handa Centre for Human Rights and International Justice.
Historian Priya Satia, overseeing the collection’s adoption into Stanford University library, says, “For the last 70 years we have been telling the story of Partition through the lens of high-political negotiations between figures such as Jinnah, Gandhi, Nehru, Mountbatten. But we can only understand the shape that Partition actually took by looking at the stories of the people who gave it that shape.”“We have worked at preserving the archives, through digitisation, paper conservation and dissemination. This will be beneficial to both academics and the larger public,” says Deepika Sorabjee, Head, Arts and Culture, Tata Trusts.