The British Voices from South Asia series is now fully processed, cataloged, and available for public access, with finding aids available on the Williams Center’s website. These documents and the digitized audio will be posted to the LOUISiana Digital Libraries in the near future. Erin Hess, who finalized the finding aids, wrote an article about this legacy collection in the Spring issue of the Society of American Archivists Newsletter.
Folklorists Dr. Frank de Caro and Rosan Jordan donated this collection to the Center in the mid-1990s. They recorded the interviews in 1978 and 1980, about thirty years after India attained independence from British Rule in 1947. The interviews capture experiences of men and women living in British colonial India and present colonists’ perspectives. Topics include details of the journey from Britain to India, military expeditions, daily life, domestic routines, hunting, and leisure activities. Narrators reveal information about cultural and political divides that separated the British and South Asians, as well as the social stratification in Indian society. Many interviewees recall the end of the British Empire’s reign in India and some discuss the emergence of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan as independent states.
The collection consists of approximately forty interviews with over fifty people and totals over eighty-five hours of recordings. All recordings have been converted from analog cassettes to digital files (MP3s) and are available for duplication through Special Collections Public Services. In the upcoming year, the entire collection will be posted to the LOUISiana Digital Libraries, where patrons can access streaming audio alongside thorough index summaries of each interview. Currently, all indexes are online in their entirety at http://lib.lsu.edu/oralhistory/collections/britishvoices.html. Additionally, there is a “Collection Guide” and a “Series Spreadsheet” to assist with patron access and navigation of the collection, and is available upon request.
The Center shares copyright of this collection with the University of Cambridge’s Centre of South Asian Studies, who have several interviews posted with streaming audio and transcripts: http://www.s-asian.cam.ac.uk/.
Also, please visit the online exhibition, designed by Jeffrey Brady, featuring this oral history collection along with a vast array of images. This site represents a 1996 gallery exhibit curated by de Caro and Jordan.
And stay tuned for an upcoming podcast with Manuscripts Processor, Erin Hess, who shares with listeners some of her favorite excerpts.
Thanks to Center staff and Libraries faculty over the years for working to process this collection to make it available: Erin Hess, Hans Rasmussen, Rob Fleming, Jenn Tiegs, Blake Renfro, Caroline Richard, Mary Price, and Teresa Bergen.