A proposal from Associate Professor of History Lisa Trivedi to make digital copies of the 19th- and early 20th-century Gujarati women’s journals Stri bodh (1857-1944) and Sundari subodh (1904-1921) was funded at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies. The proposal was co-authored by Abigail McGowen of the University of Vermont and Laura Ring, assistant South Asia bibliographer at the University of Chicago library, and will be funded through a grant from the South Asia Microfilm Project (SAMP).
The funding will enable the creation of digital copies of the only existing copies of Stri bodh and Sundari subodh. The journals are currently located at the B.J. Institute in Ahmedabad, India, which maintains the library of the former Gujarati Vernacular Society.
Having visited the library at the B.J. Institute while on sabbatical in 2011, Trivedi and McGowen realized that the periodicals were rare and in danger of destruction. Upon her return from India, Trivedi sought the assistance of the University of Chicago’s South Asia bibliographers to find a means of preserving the journals.
According to Trivedi, “Stri bodh is of significant interest not only because it was the first monthly magazine in Gujarati for women, but specifically because it was aimed at women and published women writers. The publications will be of interest to a wide variety of scholars in the humanities and social sciences, particularly those with interests in the history of social reform, nationalism, and women.”
Although SAMP has funded microfilming of rare and endangered materials in South Asia since 1967, the approved funding will be its first digital project. Trivedi said she hopes this will be the first of several archival preservation projects she will be able to facilitate in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, where she has conducted research since the mid-1990s.
The South Asia Microfilm Project website describes SAMP as a cooperative that “seeks to acquire and maintain a readily accessible microform collection of unique materials related to the study of South Asia. Materials are collected both through the project’s filming efforts and through the purchase of positive copies of materials filmed by other groups, institutions, and companies.”
The University of Chicago’s Center for Research Libraries, an international consortium of university, college and independent research libraries, houses and administers the collection.