A 30-day rewind

Updated: Apr 13, 2019, 15:59 IST | The Guide Team

A ballot box used in India's first general elections, a safe from the 1920s weighing a ton: a city-based archive is sharing fascinating nuggets from the past as part of a month-long global online initiative

A 30-day rewind
This is how well-known industrial photographer Mitter Bedi chose to arrange chairs for a photo shoot in the early 1970s. Pic courtesy/Mitter Bedi Collection, Godrej Archives

In the many ways the world has shrunk in the last two decades, one of the best things to have happened is that the gargantuan collections of museums across the globe are no longer accessible to only those who visit the brick-and-mortar structure they are housed in. A virtual tour now lets you click on and zoom into a da Vinci masterpiece, which is as close to viewing it at the Louvre as it can get. And as the digital experience evolves, these repositories of history, art and culture are not just offering interactive avenues to their visitors, but museums and archives are now finding ways to interact among themselves, too.

#Archive30 is one such initiative by ARA Scotland, the Scottish arm of The Archives and Records Association, a professional body for archivists, archive conservators and records managers in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The annual online campaign lists 30 topics for each day of the month of April, and participating institutions from across the world then post relevant information and photographs from their collections on the daily themes. In its second year of participation, the Godrej Archives (GA) from Mumbai has been sharing interesting nuggets, which also present a slice of India's modern history.

A ballot box used  during India's first general elections
A ballot box used during India's first general elections

Under the Favourite Item category on day five, for instance, the Vikhroli-based archives shared a picture of one of the 12.83 lakh ballot boxes that the company manufactured for India's first general elections. "When we were putting together the archive in 2006, one of our visits took us to the Lalbaug factory from where it all began for the company in 1897. It was there that we found the ballot box," says Vrunda Pathare, chief archivist, GA. In the category for Something Big on day two, the team shared a photograph of a safe from the 1920s that almost weighed a ton. It came from Capitol Cinema opposite CSMT, which was built in 1879.

What is also interesting is how the participating institutions are interpreting the themes. For the Animals theme, for instance, GA chose to post pictures of refrigerators from the '90s that carried pictures of dolphins and polar bears, while the British Museum shared photographs of three of the 100 cats it used to employ to keep the mouse population in check.

The safe from the 1920s, posted under Something Big. Pics courtesy/Godrej Archives
The safe from the 1920s, posted under Something Big. Pics courtesy/Godrej Archives

"We strongly believe that academic research can be fun, too. And dipping into our archives to find photographs, documents and objects relevant to the themes has been a great exercise," says Pathare, adding, "Such social media initiatives not only give us an opportunity to showcase our collection, but also feel a part of the global fraternity. Archives are always associated with the concept of guarding things. But opening up our collection on social media democratises the process."

Log on to Godrej Archives on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

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