1947 Partition Archives

Next week I complete my 2-month (30 hours per week) internship at The 1947 Partition Archives in Berkeley, Ca. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the archive, preserving the stories of firsthand witnesses to the upheaval caused by Partition. In August 1947, British India was divided to create the new Muslim country of Pakistan (East and West) by dividing the provinces of Punjab and Bengal. Pakistan East is now known as Bangladesh. Partition coincided with the independence of India from British rule. Massive upheaval followed as Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs migrated into or out of the newly created nations. Religious-based violence killed hundreds of thousands and 10 million people were displaced in an unprecedented refugee crisis.

Since 2010, The 1947 Partition Archive has preserved the stories of the survivors. Their goal is to collect 10,000 stories by video interview. The Archive currently holds 7,500 preserved accounts. Story Scholars around the globe are interviewing survivors, who are now in their 70s, 80s or 90s, before their experiences and memories are lost from history.

My internship consisted of ensuring all required documents, consents, videos, photos had been received digitally in good condition. I would then make database entries of the individual interviewed, their contacts, their migration start and end points. Videos, photos and documents could then be archived to Amazon Web Services, local hard drives and other online repositories. Redundancy in archiving helps ensure preservation.  I archived just under 100 stories during my two-month commitment.

The 1947 Partition Archive website gives access to preserved stories and visually represents the migration paths of 1000’s. Oral histories in the archive are widely distributed on social media and to universities across the world for access to researchers. The archive is an irreplaceable resource for historians, researchers and it can also become an important genealogical resource. Some of the interviews can be found on The Archive YouTube channel.

The #ChasingMemories Campaign is currently underway. Volunteers are retracing their ancestors’ migration route. Or they are swimming, biking, running the same number of miles that a survivor endured during Partition. These efforts are to raise awareness on the history of Partition and to raise much need funds so Archive can achieve its goals. Please consider donating your time or money to the preservation of history.