Preservation: Protects our rights

On 22nd September 2020, DsporA Tamil Archive received a request on Messenger by a Tamil living in Eelam (Sri Lanka). The person, “Nilavan”, sent this photo to us and asked how they could make this document readable.

Photo: Nilavan´s personal archives

This is a digital photo of the land title deed document (காணி உரிமை நிலப் பத்திரம்) from 1897. Based on “Nilavan´s” grandfather he is the fourth generation, who inherit this land. Now he is facing the situation of seized rights to their inherited land, said “Nilavan” to DsporA Tamil Archive on a Messenger call.

This document has been in a tube for 123 years without preservation for generations. After trying all available opportunities in Sri Lanka, “Nilavan” is struggling to protect their rights and seeks expertise in document preservation in the diaspora. “Nilavan” wants also to share his story with everyone to create an awareness of documentation that is the only source to protect the rights of generations.

Preservation is to keep a document readable, understandable, accessible and usable in present and future. Preservation means to protect an analogue document, such as a paper document, from any kind of man-made or natural destruction. Preservation means, in another word, converting a document to another medium according to the development of technology. For instance, the VHS video cassette is converted to a digital file format. This conversion is called digitalisation.

DsporA Tamil Archive gathered information from various Norwegian archival resources. But this is a challenging process since this document contains non-roman letters. However, we have been suggested to scan the document in high resolution and photo process it to a readable document. Or consult a paper conservator for the restoration of the paper. In addition, DsporA Tamil Archive welcomes advice and guidance from other archival institutions or specialists in other parts of the world, who can handle the Tamil language.


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