As part of the Government ICT project, the Montserrat National Trust is continuing its programme of cataloguing and digitistaion, which began in 2014 under the British Library funded Endangered Archive Project. Books of Deeds from the Government Registry Container have been prioritised for this project, as well as the Trust’s own archives and historic records, which include the Sturge Family Collection.
Books of Deeds for 1762-1765, 1772, 1787-1792, 1792, 1811-1815, 1819, 1829-1832, 1839-1844 and 1853-1860 have already been digitised by volunteers Neil How and Mike Owen, and ICT Cadets Javon Sweeney and John Jeffers. Last month Francesca Franchi, Visiting Curator and Archivist, and Neil How visited the Government container and brought seven more 18th century volumes back to the Trust for digitisation and cataloguing, the earliest of which dates from 1749. There appear to be 37 volumes of 18th and 19th century registers in total in the container, covering the years up to 1892.
Some of the volumes are very fragile, and show signs of water damage and insect infestation. Bringing them to the Trust allows us to clean off the worst of the dust, and repackage them using acid-free archival tissue and boxes, before beginning the process of digital photography and cataloguing. They are all stored on new shelving, kindly provided by Neil How, in an air-conditioned room where the cataloguing and digitisation takes place.
The catalogue and digital images will be made available online as soon as possible, meaning that further physical access to the fragile ledgers will be kept to a minimum. Both processes are lengthy and require a commitment to hard work and attention to detail. The Trust currently has five cadets working on the project, but we would welcome further assistance with the detailed cataloguing from volunteers both on and off island.
Please contact the Trust if you think you would like to become involved in this exciting project to open up access to Montserrat’s past.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org – Tel: +1 664 – 491-3086