#TheNationalArchivesoftheUnitedKingdom; #UniversityofOldenburginGermany; #DrAmandaBevan; #PrizePapers; #GottingenAcademyofSciencesandHumanities
Ottawa, May 24 (Canadian-Media): The National Archives of the United Kingdom has partnered with the University of Oldenburg in Germany in a 20-year project to digitize digitize and catalogue about 160,000 undelivered letters known as the "Prize Papers," and make them freely available, media reports said.
The National Archives of the United Kingdom/Facebook
This project, launched this month, was funded by Gottingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
Records for digitization are being prepared by the archivists with plans to write brief descriptions about the letters and take multiple pictures for a free online research database.
Thousands of letters from all over the world were never delivered between 1650 and 1815.
Those undelivered letters will be read by the world reportedly nearly hundreds of years later.
Enemy ships had seized about 160,000 letters in mailbags that never made it to their intended recipients when Britain was involved in a series of wars.
Dr. Amanda Bevan, head of Legal Records at the National Archives of the U.K., since 2013 had been involved with the Prize Papers.
She told ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast that reading the letters is like "eavesdropping on people from the past,” since people were writing to those they loved and missed back at home.
“It's touching, you feel as though you actually are in touch with the people who wrote them at the time,” she said.
“Heart-wrenching” stories, she were being uncovered by the archivists as many of the letters were sent during wartime.
The project is still in its early stage and about a quarter of the estimated 160,000 total letters are unorganized from poor storage over the years.
Bevan said the period between the 1770s and early 1780s has one of the worst collections of random papers.
“You get letters from the 1770s mixed up with letters from the 1780s. You’ll get French ones stored with Spanish ones … it’s clear that they’re messed up. Now we just need the time and resources to sort them out.”
The whole universe could benefit from the information the Prize Papers provide for the history of slavery, for the history of the development of the colonies, [and] for the history of consumerism, said Bevan
“This is unmediated material, it’s from the heart,” she said. “And I think that’s really unusual because these kinds of letters, had they been delivered, probably wouldn’t survive any longer because they’re written by just ordinary people.”
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)