Ruia, St Xavier's colleges start digitising their institution's archives

Apr 24, 2018, 10:02 IST | Suyash Karangutkar

Ruia, St Xavier's colleges start the process of digitising all of their respective institution's archives, many of which date to the pre-independence era; city historians laud move

The group of students and teachers from Ramnarain Ruia College, Matunga, working on digitising archives. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
The group of students and teachers from Ramnarain Ruia College, Matunga, working on digitising archives. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

Two prominent city colleges want to ensure that illustrious stories of their historic institutions live on. And, to that end, they have decided to digitise their archives. While at Ramnarain Ruia College in Matunga, the process began two weeks ago, St Xavier's in Fort too has begun the all-important work.

Ruia well on the way
The group of students and teachers working on this project at Ruia college is digitising not only the written and published archives, but also oral archives, which it is gathering through personal interviews with alumni from across the world, present and former teachers, students, and non-teaching staff.

"Several leaders who participated in the Indian freedom struggle have visited the college. Also, several students from our college have participated in these movements. This is an attempt to preserve the college's history and make it accessible for everybody through the medium most preferred," said Louiza Rodrigues, associate professor of the college's history department and convenor of Ruia archives.

"Students learn many subjects in college, but they hardly get to learn about their own college." The data that would be digitised dates back to 1937 and includes photographs, documents, awards, paintings, artefacts, videos, audio clips, manuscripts, rare books, research publications and documentation of important activities and moments.

Among these are the records of students' participation in the Quit India Movement, a complete draft of the speech delivered by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose to Ruia students, articles that actor Dilip Prabhavalkar and writer Vinda Karandikar wrote during the 1960s, contributions of the college's erstwhile Gujarati Literature Department, and an advertisement of the National Warfront of Bombay making an appeal to use less paper during World War II.

The idea, said Rodriguez, came to her when it came to storing artefacts and archives in the history department. "We received a grant of Rs 1 lakh from Dr Varsha Shirgaonkar, the history department head at SNDT University, Churchgate," she said. Principal Dr Suhas Pednekar said, "As the college completed 80 years, we felt we must digitise our archives. We are working on this with great dedication."

St Xavier's in the process
Meanwhile, at St Xavier's College, principal Dr Angelo Menzes said, "After our 150th anniversary, we have started digitising our college's history and memories. We are also digitising our college magazines." City historians have lauded the move. "It is important to move to the digital world. Digitisation is currently the best way to preserve the old and gold. Hard copies of archives often rot; so, the Internet is the best way to save the treasures," said Bombay historian Deepak Rao, adding, "It is high time every institution started doing this."

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