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Digitization of the Archives Project

In order to protect precious printed materials, as well as manuscripts hosted by Moriija Museum & Archives, plus, provide wider access to on-line researchers and other academics, a digitization project has been undertaken.

Morija Archives contains documents dating from as far back as the 18th century (early books regarding Southern Africa), but those with specific reference to Lesotho begin with the arrival of the French Protestant missionaries in 1833. Many of these are primary source material. One of the most important resources housed here is the newspaper Leselinyana (primarily written in Sesotho) dating from its first issue in 1863 to the present. It is without doubt the most valuable single source of information on a wide range of subjects with regard to Lesotho/the Basotho, at least for the period up to the 1950s.

In order to protect this fragile printed material as well as manuscripts, a proposal has been made to different potential partners to undertake certain preservation measures concerning these documents, especially their digitization, which would also make these available on-line to a much wider range of researchers and academics.

Preparation for digitization began in 2011 with two assistant archivists compiling a catalogue of church archival material in its different categories, since by that point the only available detailed listings described the monographs and other publications at Morija Archives, not the church archival materials. This compilation continues to grow in anticipation that the actual scanning of documents will begin in early 2013. The compilation already includes a listing of all diaries, sermons, correspondence, minutes, reports, financial records, registers (baptismal, marriage, membership), specific materials related to various missionaries (DF Ellenberger and his descendents, Adolphe Mabille, Hermann Dieterlen, Albert Brutsch), as well as additional material concerning over 100 different parishes of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (PEMS)/Lesotho Evangelical Church (LEC) covering the whole of Lesotho as well as parts of South Africa.

The Church Archives stretch beyond those at Morija Museum & Archives, as many valuable documents are also housed at other church offices such as Casalis House in Maseru and other Administration Offices. Hence, digitization is the key solution to ensure that copies of all these documents, wherever these may be housed, are preserved and made available to others according to the Records Management & Archival Policy of the Lesotho Evangelical Church.

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