Digitizing Our Cultural Heritage

Humans have been recording cultural history since the beginning of mankind. Our culture has been captured in art, books, audio and film recordings, as well as stored in museums and libraries around the world. Unfortunately, many of these treasures are in locations where they are at risk of degradation or destruction.

In this time of digital advancement, we have an opportunity to digitize and preserve aspects of our heritage that might otherwise be lost. This is the basis of the EMC Heritage Trust program, which provides funding to high priority cultural preservation projects.

I’m incredibly proud that this year’s recipient of EMC’s Heritage Trust grand prize is the Universidad Del Rosario in Bogotá, Colombia. The University’s Historical Archive preserves and safeguards 950 volumes of manuscripts and printed documents dating from the 17th – 19th centuries, including the royal decrees where Felipe IV of Spain established the school in 1651. Despite their great historical importance, some of these assets have never been available to scholars due to deterioration of the original manuscripts.

Courtyard at El Colegio Mayor in the Universidad del Rosario (Bogotá, Colombia)Digitizing these works will make them available for studying Latin American history, colonial society, and the formation of educational institutions. It also creates an opportunity to initiate projects with other universities and academic centers worldwide because the material will be available to anyone in the world connected by the internet.

Latin Americans are known for being proud of our heritage. It should be no surprise that this part of the world has also actively participated in EMC’s Heritage Trust program in the past, with grants won by institutions such as the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos and the Teatro Municipal in Chile, as well as the Chiquinha Gonzaga Foundation in Brazil to assist in preserving their assets and making them globally available. These projects range from helping us remember past atrocities so they are never repeated to preserving musical collections, and EMC has been a part of them all.

I would love to see more institutions worldwide participate in the Heritage Trust program, especially in Latin America!

Humanity will only be truly global when we learn to appreciate and protect what makes our cultures unique.

For more information, visit the Heritage Trust program on Facebook.

About the Author: Octavio Osorio