Grants:Programs/Wikimedia Community Fund/Rapid Fund/Digitisation of early photographs of the terracotta temples of Bengal (ID: 22001418)

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Digitisation of early photographs of the terracotta temples of Bengal
proposed start date2023-06-30
proposed end date2023-12-29
grant start date2023-07-01T00:00:00Z
grant end date2024-04-30T00:00:00Z
budget (local currency)2950 GBP
budget (USD)3625 USD
amount recommended (USD)3750
grant typeIndividual
funding regionSA
decision fiscal year2022-23
applicant• AmitGuha
organization (if applicable)• N/A
Review Final Report

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Applicant Details[edit]

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Grant Proposal[edit]

M. Please state the title of your proposal. This will also be the Meta-Wiki page title.

Digitisation of early photographs of the terracotta temples of Bengal

Q. Indicate if it is a local, international, or regional proposal and if it involves several countries? (optional)


Q2. If you have answered regional or international, please write the country names and any other information that is useful for understanding your proposal.

UK and India. The photographs are with an individual in London, UK, and we are aiming to work with an organisation and with individuals in Kolkata on metadata creation. We also plan to utilise a metadata framework that has been created for a similar archive in Kolkata.

R. If you would like, please share any websites or social media accounts that your group or organization has.

1. What is the change that you are trying to bring about and why is this important.

The aim of this project is to digitise (and make publicly available) ~ 1200 photographs of heritage monuments in West Bengal and Bangladesh, taken by Dr George Michell in the 1980s and ~ 50 photographs taken by David McCutchion in the 1960s.

There is a significant funding gap in India for any digitisation work of this kind. Although digitisation funding is available in London it does not extend to monuments outside the UK.

These photographs of 16th to 19th century brick monuments were taken in 1970s and 1980s and remain largely unpublished. Due to the rainy weather in Bengali and the fragile nature of these brick monuments, many of these structures have since become overgrown, ruined or have been renovated. Therefore, these photographs are valuable as the only remaining documents of these historical buildings.

Furthermore, many terracotta temples have profuse figural ornamentation on their facades with depictions of mythology and contemporary society. The researchers photographed the monuments in considerable detail, taking separate photographs of each terracotta panel, leaving us with an invaluable archive of both the art-history of the temples and a catalogue of contemporary social scenes.

The project aims to digitise, document, and catalogue these photographs and make them available publicly so that they are useful to students and academics studying the history and art of Bengal.

There are at least 3 more such archives of early photographs of monuments (David McCutcion at the V&A, Tarapada Santra in Kolkata, and Amiya Bandyopadhyay in Bardhaman). Success in this project could pave the way to use the same approach to digitise and make available these archives as well.

2. Describe your main approaches or strategies to achieve these changes and why you think they will be effective.

The photographs were gifted by Dr George Michell to me (Amit Guha) are in currently with me in London.

Our approach/strategy will be as follows:

1. Use the British Library digitisation services to convert the photos to digital assets
2. Work with Wikimedia groups (WBUG) and academic researchers to create metadata for the photos
3. Work with Wikimedia groups (WBUG) to upload the photos and metadata to Wikimedia
4. Hold the digital photographs in the CSSSC Kolkata institutional repository as a permanent archive.
5. Work with partner organisations in India and the UK to publicise the project and its outputs
3. What are the activities you will be developing and delivering as part of these approaches or strategies?

1. Use the British Library's digitisation services to digitise ~ 1250 slides. This forms the bulk of the costs of this project.

2. Add meta-data to the digitised assets. This work will primarily be done by Kolkata-based research scholars Atmajit Mukherjee and Chayana Mondal, with assistance from West Bengal Wikimedians User Group, and supported by Amit Guha and Sujaan Mukherjee.
3. Once all the meta data has been captured, we will then upload to Wikimedia to make these assets publicly available. The team has the technical skills to be able to do this independently.
4. The project team will work with the following organisations to publicise the project and the availability of these assets:

A) In Kolkata: CSSSC ( B) In London: British Library C) West Bengal Wikimedians User Group

4. Are your activities part of a Wikimedia movement campaign or event? If so, please select the relevant campaign below. If so, please select all the relevant campaigns from the list below. If "other", please state which.

Not applicable

5. Do you have the team that is needed to implement this proposal?

Amit Guha (AmitGuha) -- Project Lead UK -- Volunteer, coordination and publicity Sujaan Mukherjee (SujaanM89) -- Project Lead India -- Volunteer, coordination and publicity Atmajit Mukherjee -- Research scholar -- Contractor, Meta-data creation and uploading Chayana Mondal -- Research scholar -- Contractor, Meta-data creation and uploading Bodhisattwa Mondal -- Member, West Bengal Wikimedians User Group West Bengal Wikimedians User Group (WBUG) -- members of this Wikimedia Group

6. Please state if your proposal aims to work to bridge any of the identified CONTENT knowledge gaps (Knowledge Inequity)? Select up to THREE that most apply to your work.

Geography, Cultural background, ethnicity, religion, racial, Other global topics for impact (topics considered to be of global importance)

6.1 In a few sentences, explain how your work is specifically addressing this content gap (or Knowledge inequity) to ensure a greater representation of knowledge.

1. West Bengal and Bangladesh have more than 4000 historical monuments, most of them built between the 17th and 19th century. In the 1970s and 1980s several researchers painstakingly surveyed these monuments but most of their work remains in physical archives, inaccessible to the general public.

2. Many of the monuments in these photographs are no longer extant and these images will never be available to researchers and the general public unless these documents are digitised.
7. Please state if your proposal includes any of these areas or THEMATIC focus. Select up to THREE that most apply to your work and explain the rationale for identifying these themes.

Culture, heritage or GLAM

8. Will your work focus on involving participants from any underrepresented communities?

Geographic , Ethnic/racial/religious or cultural background, Linguistic / Language

9. Who are the target participants and from which community? How will you engage participants before and during the activities? How will you follow up with participants after the activities?

Target participants: Students, academics and independent researchers studying the art, architecture, and social and religious history of Bengal from Wikimedia communities and academic institutions.

Engaging participants: Project updates to the community through our partners (Bengal Heritage Foundation, the British Library, CSSS); updates on relevant Facebook Groups such as "Terracotta Architecture of Bengal"; engaging the Wiki community via the West Bengal Wikimedians User Group (WBUG).

Retaining participants: There are further photographic archives of similar material that requires digitisation (David McCutchion archives at the V&A, Tarapada Santra archives at CAST). We expect this project to set the standard for the digitisation of the rest of the archives.

10. In what ways are you actively seeking to contribute towards creating a safer, supportive, more equitable environment for participants?

To ensure that all work is done in a safe, productive and equitable environment we will work with:

1. The experienced "West Bengal Wikimedians" group on meta-data creation and Wikimedia uploads
2. Reputable institutions in the UK and India such as the British Library UK, Bengal Heritage Foundation UK, and CSSS India.
11. Please tell us about how you have let your Wikimedia communities know about the planned activities and this proposal. Use this space to describe the processes you carried out to make the community more involved in planning this proposal. Please link the on-wiki community discussion(s) around the proposals.

We will work through the "West Bengal Wikimedians Group" to ensure Wikimedia communities know about the activities/outcomes of this project.

1. The team in CSSSC is already engaged and happy to be part of the project
2. Reached out the the West Bengal Wikimedians Group owners to make them aware of the project.
3. Drafted a request to this Wikimedians group summarising the project
12. Are you aware of other Rapid Fund proposals in your local group, community, or region that are being submitted and that align with your proposed project?


If yes:

12.1 Did you explore the possibility of doing a joint proposal with other leaders in your group?
12.2 How will this joint proposal allow you to have better results?
13. Will you be working with other external, non-Wikimedia partners to implement this proposal? Required.


13.1 Please describe these partnerships and what motivates the potential partner to be part of the proposal and how they add value to your work.

Bengal Heritage Foundation, UK - Advocacy and Communication British Library, UK - Digitisation Services CSSSC, India - Digitisation services, Advocacy, Logistics

14. In what ways do you think your proposal most contributes to the Movement Strategy 2030 recommendations. Select a maximum of THREE options that most apply.

Invest in Skills and Leadership Development, Identify Topics for Impact, Innovate in Free Knowledge

Learning, Sharing, and Evaluation[edit]

15. What do you hope to learn from your work in this fund proposal?

Benchmark the ability of the Wikimedia group and institutions to work together to: 1) Digitise ~1250 photos and slides taken in the 1970s-80s 2) Do the research necessary to create meta-data for the photographs 3) Upload the photos and meta-data to Wikimedia and an institutional archive 4) Publicise the project and its outputs and ensure public awareness of the repository

16. Based on these learning questions, what is the information or data you need to collect to answer these questions? Please register this information (as metric description) in the following spaces provided.
Main Open Metrics Data
Main Open Metrics Description Target
Photos Digitised Count of photos digitised 1250
Meta data created Count of photos for which complete meta-data created 1250
Photos uploaded Count of photos uploaded to Wikimedia and institutional archives 1250
External mentions Count of mentioned of the project and outputs in media articles and websites and social media feeds of partner institutions 10
17. Core quantitative metrics.
Core Metrics Summary
Core metrics Description Target
Number of participants Number of people involved in digitisation, research, and meta-data creation 10
Number of editors Number of people actually uploading photos and meta-data onto Wikimedia, and editing Wikipedia pages 5
Number of organizers Number of people coordinating activities in the UK and in India 3
Number of new content contributions per Wikimedia project
Wikimedia Project Description Target
Wikimedia Commons Photographs with meta-data uploaded 2000
Wikipedia Images used in Wikipedia articles 50
17.1 If for some reason your proposal will not measure these core metrics please provide an explanation.

18. What tools would you use to measure each metric selected? Please refer to the guide for a list of tools. You can also write that you are not sure and need support.

Not sure; Need Support

Financial Proposal[edit]

19. & 19.1 What is the amount you are requesting from Wikimedia Foundation? Please provide this amount in your local currency.

2950 GBP

19.2 What is this amount in US Currency (to the best of your knowledge)?

3625 USD

20. Please upload your budget for this proposal or indicate the link to it.

We/I have read the Application Privacy Statement, WMF Friendly Space Policy and Universal Code of Conduct.


Endorsements and Feedback[edit]

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Community members are invited to share meaningful feedback on the proposal and include reasons why they endorse the proposal. Consider the following:

  • Stating why the proposal is important for the communities involved and why they think the strategies chosen will achieve the results that are expected.
  • Highlighting any aspects they think are particularly well developed: for instance, the strategies and activities proposed, the levels of community engagement, outreach to underrepresented groups, addressing knowledge gaps, partnerships, the overall budget and learning and evaluation section of the proposal, etc.
  • Highlighting if the proposal focuses on any interesting research, learning or innovation, etc. Also if it builds on learning from past proposals developed by the individual or organization, or other Wikimedia communities.
  • Analyzing if the proposal is going to contribute in any way to important developments around specific Wikimedia projects or Movement Strategy.
  • Analysing if the proposal is coherent in terms of the objectives, strategies, budget, and expected results (metrics).