All posts by Zoe Headley

Digital proof of trust

Most of the time we digitise a collection directly in the house of its owner. However, on one occasion the document holder allowed us to take his forefathers’ documents back the the IFP in Puducherry. The importance this document holder gave to our project was particularly gratifying. This was, however, not so surprising as Tavamani Tevar’s documents, which have been digitized as Collection 1, were at the very inception of the project.


From left to right: V. Krishnasamy, Zoe Headley, Tavamani Tevar and the late R.K. Kannan, © EAP 314


Though he insisted we take all documents with us, we declined to take the three 17th century copperplates with us, lest something should happen to them while in our custody. The paper, notebooks and palm-leave documents were in such a bad state that we thought it best to work on them in the IFP itself.  Though the document holder was prepared to lend s the documents unconditionally, we did not want to just walk out with them and thought it best to leave with him some kind of proof or acknowledgment that we had borrewed over 600 of his documents. The simplest way we found was to photograph the passing of the documents from Tavamani Tevar to ourselves, take a print of the photos in the nearby town, and return these to him before leaving his village.