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The Desmond Tutu Digital Archive

Contents:

  1. Project presentation
  2. Participants and beneficiaries
  3. The project
  4. Outcomes and benefits
  5. Contact

The purpose of the Desmond Tutu Digital Archive project is to create a multimedia digital archive of the personal papers and recordings of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, which will be made available over the internet free of charge. The Archive will be fully interactive, with tools to facilitate access by people of all cultures, all ages and all levels of learning and experience, not only in South Africa but all over the world. The project is fully endorsed and supported by Archbishop Tutu.

A multi-phase project is envisaged: in the first phases, archive materials held in a number of locations in South Africa will be digitised. These include more than 200,000 pages of documents, over 1,000 hours of live audio recordings, potentially hundreds of hours of video and large collections of photographs.

 

Project presentation

View a Flash presentation on the Desmond Tutu Digital Archive project. You can also download the presentation.

 

Participants and beneficiaries

The project has been initiated by, and will be co-ordinated by, the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London. King's wishes to undertake the project to honour the Archbishop, as one of its most illustrious alumni. At the same time, this is seen as primarily a South African project. It is crucial for the project that the institutions with significant holdings of Tutu papers and recordings are centrally involved. Foremost among these are the University of the Western Cape (of which the Archbishop is Chancellor) and the University of the Witwatersrand, whose Archive holds major collections of Tutu materials. The Archbishop's office in Cape Town is another key partner, along with his biographer, John Allen. In later phases, archives and institutions in other countries that hold relevant materials will be invited to participate.

The project has already received substantial support from the British Council South Africa, and the British High Commission South Africa. The British High Commissioner, the Right Honourable Paul Boateng, will be hosting a reception at his residence in Cape Town later this year to mark both Archbishop Tutu's 75th birthday and his support for the Archive project.

The Archive will be developed to appeal to a South African and a wider international audience which includes schoolchildren, academics, adult learners and Christians and other people of faith. Its impact over the long term is expected to be significant, with a massive potential worldwide user base.

 

The project

The Archive will be developed as a multi-media, multi-site 'virtual' resource, with the content managed and delivered by the current content-holders in South Africa. A distributed technical architecture will be developed that will present this diverse content to the users as a coherent whole. It will be based on the most robust international standards using open source software. Any tools developed by the project will themselves be available under an open source licence.

The Archive will also provide a comprehensive catalogue of all Tutu materials archived anywhere in the world, whether part of the digital collection or not. The Archive will be fully indexed and will offer extensive searchability and cross-referencing. Contextual information will be provided for key materials to ensure their wide understanding and use. This context will include internal links within the Archive, and external links to relevant online resources, e.g. newspaper content. Information will also be created on key persons, events and places mentioned in letters, speeches etc. An Editorial and Advisory Board will be established (with primarily South African membership) which will advise on the intellectual architecture of the Archive, and on priorities, both in the sequence of materials to be digitised, and in the range of access tools to be developed.

Where required, the project will provide funding for equipment and infrastructure in partner institutions, to enable the creation, storage and management of digital content. The project will also establish a comprehensive training programme to enable the partners to share experience and knowledge through workshops, courses, and a variety of training events, formal and informal. Elements of the training programme will be offered to archivists and librarians from other African countries.

The core role of King's will be to take the lead in fundraising, to provide management focus for the project, to facilitate the partnership, to ensure the integration of the resource into a cohesive whole, and to co-ordinate the training programme. The Centre for Computing in the Humanities (CCH) is an international leader in the application of technology in research in the arts and humanities, with a long-established record in delivering similar projects. King's already has considerable experience of a multi-site, multi-cultural, international project, being a key partner in Forced Migration Online hosted at the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University. See http://www.forcedmigration.org/.

 

Outcomes and benefits

Summary

  1. A unique information resource that will provide free access to an increasing range of Tutu's personal papers, including letters, speeches, sermons and writings.
  2. Content of significant interest to researchers, teachers and students in higher education across many discipline areas.
  3. Major learning resources for South African schools through the creation of mixed-media teaching and learning packs, including CD, audio and printed materials created from the core digital content. This will ensure access to the Archive materials where access to the internet or to computers is impossible or inappropriate.
  4. Benefit for schools and universities worldwide, as the Archive will offer learning opportunities for many curricula.
  5. Capacity-building and investment in infrastructure and technical skills which will enhance the capabilities of all project partners to pursue further digitisation projects. Projects relating to other African leaders and to other major collections are two obvious areas for future projects.

 

In detail

  1. The Tutu Digital Archive will be a unique information resource that will provide free access to an increasing range of Tutu's personal papers, including letters, speeches, sermons and writings.
  2. The Archive will engage with a South African and international audience.
  3. The Archive content will be of significant interest to researchers, teachers and students in higher education across many discipline areas, including: African studies; history; philosophy; theology and religious studies; human & social geography; library, archive and information studies; communications & documentation; media studies and journalism; politics; social studies.
  4. The project will reach out to South African schools through the creation of mixed-media teaching and learning resources, including CD, audio and printed materials created from the core digital content. This will ensure access to the Archive materials where access to the internet or to computers are impossible or inappropriate.
  5. Schools worldwide will benefit as the Archive will offer learning opportunities for many curricula; including citizenship, history, politics and cultural and religious studies.
  6. The creation of the Archive will transfer new skill sets between the partners and enhance current capabilities in areas such as management, technology, digitisation, software development, digital asset management and preservation, and education.
  7. It is intended that the capacity-building and the investment in infrastructure and technical skills will enhance the capabilities of all project partners to pursue further digitisation projects. Projects relating to other African leaders and to the wider church records and are two obvious areas for future projects.

 

Some key technical issues

  1. The Archive will be attractively compiled and user-friendly, offering straightforward searches and pathways for users of all abilities alongside tools for the more complex searches likely to be needed by specialist researchers.
  2. The Archive will provide a comprehensive catalogue of all Tutu materials archived anywhere in the world, whether part of the Digital collection or not.
  3. The Archive will be fully indexed. Contextual information will be provided for key materials to ensure their wide understanding and use. This context will include internal links within the Archive, and external links to relevant online resources, e.g. newspaper content. Information will also be created on key persons, events and places mentioned in letters, speeches etc.
  4. The Archive will utilise Topic Map technology, and partners will develop a shared set of ontologies that will benefit similar projects in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.
  5. The Archive project will provide funds for equipment and infrastructure in partner institutions, where needed, to enable the creation, storage and management of digital content. Each partner will retain complete control over the data created in their institution through a virtual network infrastructure.
  6. The project will establish a comprehensive, phased training programme to enable the partners to share experience and knowledge through workshops, courses, and a variety of training events, formal and informal.
  7. Many elements of the training programme will be offered to archivists and librarians from other African countries.
  8. An Editorial and Advisory Board will be established for the project, nominated by the partners. It is expected to comprise primarily South African academics and archivists, and will advise on the intellectual architecture of the Archive, and on priorities, both in the sequence of materials to be digitised, and in the range of access tools to be developed.
  9. The project is committed to open technical standards and open source software, and the tools developed in the project will be made freely available.

 

Contact

If you have any questions about the project or this web page please contact Simon Tanner.

If you wish to discuss ways to fund or contribute to the project please contact gemma.peters@kcl.ac.uk.