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Fundraising Campaign 2009-10: The Lucy Gura Archive

On Saturday 10 October the Society launched its fundraising campaign for 2009-10 at the Society of Antiquaries of London. For a selection of images from the event please see here.




We have drawn much encouragement from the success last year of our campaign to raise money for the inaugural ‘Amelia Edwards Projects’ – three small, discrete and relatively inexpensive ventures – and this year it was decided that we should extend our ambitions and attempt to raise funds for a single, much larger project: that of rehousing, cataloguing and digitising the Society’s Lucy Gura Archive.


A selection of images from the Society's photographic archive. Clockwise from top left: a fallen colossus at Tanis taken by Petrie the day after the great storm of February 1884; Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt at Oxyrhynchus; Deir el Bahri, Excavation of Middle Platform, Dec 1894; an Archaic Greek statuette from Naukratis.

The archives represent the Society’s most important material resource and a unique record of the history of scientific archaeology in Egypt, from its very beginnings in 1882 when the EES was founded. It is also a veritable treasure-trove of historically important material, from handwritten letters from Edouard Naville to Amelia Edwards, to paintings made by Howard Carter during his first visit to Egypt, photographs taken on-site by Flinders Petrie himself, and the notebooks of Bryan Emery.

Despite considerable interest from members, scholars and others, a lack of resources has meant that facilities for researchers and other visitors are at present inadequate. More problematic, however, are the current storage conditions which are threatening the preservation of some elements of the collection. In March 2009 a preliminary survey of the material and facilities was undertaken. and the subsequent report concluded that without proper housing and shelving, the glass negatives are likely to deteriorate or break and eventually thus become unusable, and that the thousands of manuscripts should be stored in non-acidic folders as soon as possible.

The Society's Archives (top left); box files containing early correspondence (bottom left); glass plate photographs taken at Abydos in 1911-12 (centre); a room at Doughty Mews currently used for general storage which we are now hoping to convert for the rehousing of the collection.

We are now planning to take action to improve the situation and to ensure the long-term preservation of the collection. We will not be able to do this without your help however. The archives currently have no dedicated member of staff and no funding other donations from members and others. Although the collection is very large and scope for expenditure on it almost limitless we believe the situation is now so urgent that even if we are only able to raise a small amount as a result of this campaign we will quickly be able to make great steps forward. The work we will be able to undertake partly depends on the amount we are able to raise, but our priority is the rehousing of the material that is most at risk, particularly the oldest photographs and correspondence.

£250 would buy 700 conservation-standard clear plastic wallets for the storage of negatives.
£500 would pay for an assistant to transfer the photos from their present situation to the new cabinets.
£750 would buy a storage cabinet for negatives.
£1,250 would allow us to refurbish a room currently used for general storage.
£50 would pay for an assistant to catalogue the contents of one of the existing drawers of archival material.
£36 would buy 100 conservation-standard clear plastic wallets for the storage of negatives.
£25 would buy 50 conservation-standard wallets for the storage of paper documents including letters.
£5 would buy a pH-testing pen to test the acidity of existing storage materials.

Several very generous donations were received immediately following the launch event at which members were treated to inspiring talks from Stephen Quirke, Robert Morkot and Chris Naunton, followed by a reception. Further contributions will be necessary however if we are to succeed in our aim of ensuring that the Lucy Gura archive is preserved and made accessible for students, scholars and anyone else interested in these fascinating documents, for years to come.

To find out more about how you can support the campaign and to make a donation please click here.

Alternatively, you can download a donation form here.

Publication date: 01.10.2009
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