First Aid for Documentary Heritage under Threat

Cultural Emergency Response and the Whiting Foundation have been working since 2017 to safeguard documentary heritage that is acutely threatened by recent conflict or disaster.

“Documentary heritage” includes objects designed to carry information in writing, such as books, archives, manuscripts, tablets, carvings or inscriptions. These written records are sometimes the local stakeholder’s only surviving tangible connection to their past. Whether etched onto tombstones, drawn onto cave walls, or painted onto parchment these documentary records hold a wealth of information that once lost would be irretrievable. Owing to the effects of time they are incredibly fragile, susceptible to fire, insects, and the effects of our acute climate crisis. They are also sometimes singled out for deliberate destruction by those afraid of their potential to resist narratives that seek to exclude and marginalise. In the face of an interruption – whether natural or man-made, together with our partners we make sure their critical heritage is not lost forever.

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