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Archive digitally preserves post-quake Pledge books

UC’s earthquake archive digitally preserves Christchurch’s post-quake Pledge books

The University of Canterbury (UC) earthquake archive CEISMIC has digitally preserved the signatures and comments in The Pledge books set up following the February 22, 2011 earthquake.

Archive director Professor Paul Millar says the archive’s mission is to preserve the memories and experiences of Cantabrians.

``The Pledge is a very important document and we’re honoured to help ensure its digital preservation. The fact that thousands of people publicly pledged themselves to Christchurch's future immediately after the most damaging earthquake speaks volumes about the strong feelings so many of us have for our city and province.’’

Professor Millar says the digital version of the signatures and comments collected in volumes of The Pledge is now publicly available at http://www.ceismic.org.nz/search?q&creator=The+Pledge.

``CEISMIC's primary mission is to document and protect our post-quake social history. Making the digital version of The Pledge available online has been collaboration with NZ Micrographics who are digital preservation specialists based at Wigram's Canterbury Cultural Collections Recovery Centre.’’

The Pledge was a community campaign created by lawyer Garth Gallaway to support Christchurch's recovery.

About 27,000 names, signatures and messages of support for Christchurch were gathered after the devastation of the 2011 earthquake.

Gallaway says when he had the idea of The Pledge, his dream was to create a document that would be a unique record about how Christchurch’s citizens felt about their city.

``On the one hand it was an opportunity to express love for what was lost; and on the other, to express determination and hope for the future. I am extraordinarily grateful to UC and its digital archive and NZ Micrographics for their outstanding support and for making this unique record available to all via the internet,’’ Gallaway says.

The volumes, which have been under temporary care of the UC digital archivists, will be returned to Mayor Lianne Dalziel and the people of Christchurch on Friday, February 21.

Professor Millar says The Pledge is just one of many significant collections in CEISMIC.

``We now have researchers and institutions working with us because we’re becoming world leaders in the collection of material about the social impacts of a disaster. We are developing strong links with similar archives internationally, in particular Hinagiku, the Japanese government's archive of the 2011 great east Japan earthquake in which more than 20,000 people lost their lives.

``We and the Japanese feel a responsibility to preserve this material so we can learn from these events and share what we learn with similarly affected communities.

``Here at UC we want to share what we are learning about risk, resilience and renewal with the world. We want students coming to Christchurch to know how challenging and exciting it is to be part of history and see an entire city being rebuilt,’’ Professor Millar says.


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