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Types and formats of an archival collection

Manuscripts are one-of-a-kind items that are generally only located in one library or institution (though digital copies or copies on microfilm or microfiche may be available elsewhere). Manuscripts, traditionally referred to as handwritten documents, today refer to an individual's or family's whole collection of papers. This includes a wide range of papers and records in a variety of forms and kinds. Business and personal letters, diaries and journals, legal and financial records, pictures, maps, architectural plans, music manuscripts, printed music, items and artefacts, film, sound recordings, literary works, and digital media are examples of these types of materials.
Our manuscript collection ranges from-

  • The earliest handwritten manuscript is the Madras Observatory Annual report of 1792 maintained during Goldinghams period. The other two important manuscripts are Madras M S records relating to the years 1794-1812 and 1795-1800.
  • Two interesting items from the old manuscripts are presented here. The first is a reproduction from an early manuscript which confirmed that the Madras Observatory, the forerunner of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, was established in 1786.
  • Handwritten write-up on Kodaikanal and Kavalur by MKV Bappu.

    Irrespective of the handwritten manuscripts, the archive also has a collection of published catalogs and monographs such as Taylor Catalog.

    Our means of communication have primarily become ephemeral and digital in recent times, particularly during this age, including text messaging, video, and audio. For centuries, however, this was not the case. Unless you could speak to someone face to face, written communication was the only option until the telephone was invented in the late 1800s. As a result, many archival collections contain correspondence in the form of letters, notes, and subsequently telegrams and postcards.
    Our collection of correspondence ranges from-

  • Correspondence to and from Evershed with W. Huggins, Innes, Chowla, Meldola, Eddington, Fowler
  • Correspondence to and from Evershed with Sir S. Sulaiman
  • Correspondence to and from Bappu with Islamish high school principal, CV Raman, Harlow Shapley, A.S. Grewal, Fred Whipple, I.S. Bowen, Beverlwy Oke, Otto Shruve, Chief Minister V.P. Sampurnanand, M.Zaheer, Ch. V. Sastry
    Papers on Indian Observatories 1890-1935 (Received from RGO 7/158)

    Annual Reports:
    An annual report is a detailed account of a company's operations during the previous year. Annual reports are meant to provide information about the company's operations and financial performance to shareholders and other interested parties. They may be categorized as "grey literature."
    In our collection, we have annual reports of:

  • Annual Report of the Kodaikanal Observatory for the year 1922 - 1955
  • Annual Report of the Kodaikanal Observatory for the year 1956 - 1969
  • Annual Report of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics for the year 1971 - 1982
  • Annual Report of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics for the year 1982 - 1987
  • Annual Report of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics for the year 1987 - 1992
  • Annual Report of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics for the year 1992 - 2000
  • Annual Report of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics for the year 2000 - 2009

    Photographs and plates:
    A historical photo archive that will be available for at least 50 years will be treated differently from a personal photo collection. The original photos in a historical archive are designed to be useful for a variety of purposes for decades to come. The documentation for an item is kept with the original picture indefinitely.
    In our collection, we have a collection of both physical photographs in 50+ albums and digital photographs in 150GB+ storage. We also maintain negatives in two volumes of all the physical photographs.
    The subject of the photographs includes all the events related to IIA, photographs of famous personalities and buildings, and sceneries in and around IIA.
    Irrespective of physical and digital photographs, we house a plentiful number of photographic plates of various events and planets, comets, and other cosmic phenomena as mentioned below:

  • Comet Halley(44)
  • Comet West(21)
  • Comet Ikeya - Seki(1)
  • Photograph of Spectra of Comet Kohoutek(3)
  • Comet Brooks(1)
  • CK Spectrum(25)
  • Eclipse Plates(4)
  • Comet Wilson(29)

    Maps are visual and written representations of location and landscape made by humans in certain cultural settings. Maps have a point of view because they are representations of the world as viewed through the eyes of the mapmaker, much like texts and art. They can show how political, social, or geographic change has occurred through time. They also provide information about the people who produced them as well as the time period during which they were manufactured and used. Because they may incorporate data from other maps, data sets, or main sources of information, maps may also be used as secondary sources.
    IIA archive houses a wide range of physical map collections, mainly in the geographic category. Original rare copies of maps published under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge are preserved in the archive from 1831-1834.

    Paintings and sketches:
    IIA houses a good collection of paintings and sketches of various observatories and cosmic events like-

  • Painting of the Kodaikanal Observatory by an unknown artist, 1908
  • Uranus as painted by Dr.M.K.V. Bappu, 1979

    IIA archives being a top-level research institute, stores different kinds of instruments that have been used since the inception of the institute. Below mentioned are the instrument collection available:

    • Photometer (Designed by Dr.Hartmann, 1912)
    • Drum Chronograph (Designed by Eicheus & Hadly, 1872)
    • The Transit Circle (Designed by Sir George Airy, 1850)
    • Theodolite (Probably, 1850)
    • The Cambridge Spectroheliograph
    • Grating and lens of the Auto-collimating spectroheliograph attached to the side of the Cambridge spectroheliograph
    • Transit Circle, 1858
    • 6inch Equatorial, 1850
    • 8inch Equatorial, 1866
    • Victor Kaullberg
    • Shelton Clock
    • Siderostat
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