Archives of South Asian oral history housed in India

(14 July 2018, New Delhi) Hundreds of rare ethnographic sound recordings, including parables, songs, hymns, instrumental music, and poems, made their way to India as part of a collaborative project between British Library and Archives and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology (ARCE).

The project, entitled South Asian Audiovisual Heritage, aims at preserving these historic recordings and generating research and engagement around south Asian heritage.

In a push to the aural heritage of the Indian subcontinent, digital copies of “valuable collections of ethnographic wax cylinder recordings” — with the oldest dating back to 1909 — have been shared by the British Library.

These include the Madras Museum Cylinder collection recorded onto wax cylinders between 1905 and 1910, by ethnographer Edgar Thurston and his assistant K. Rangachari. It has vocal solos, instrumental solos and other recordings from the region around Chennai (then Madras).

All these recordings are available at the ARCE’s Gurugram centre. has the full story.