Records/Archives in the News r990402b
There are 5 stories in this posting.

Addis Tribune (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) 4/2/99
How To Lose Your History

Waco Herald Tribune 4/20/99
Gibson seeks answers to school's operations

Seattle Times 4/2/99
Bill would raise penalty for revealing HIV patients' names

The Indian Express (India) 4/2/99
Fire in Punjab and Haryana High Court destroys records

Dallas Morning News 4/1/99
What's in a name? Ask Southwestern Bell

Addis Tribune (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) 4/2/99
How To Lose Your History

By Dr Richard Pankhurst
Addis Ababa - Almost thirty years ago, in what some people like to call the
Good Old Days, Dr Walter Harrelson, Dean of the Divinity School of Vanderbilt
University, Tennessee, visited Ethiopia in search of manuscripts of Old
Testament Pseudepigrapha.

While in Addis Ababa, he met His Holiness Abuna Theophilus, the then Acting
Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, who suggested to his American
visitor that funds might be sought to microfilm all manuscripts in Ethiopia,
thus enabling scholars with varied interests to have access to documentation.

To this end, Abuna Theophilus appointed a committee, chaired by Dr Harrelson,
to explore the possibilities of microfilming the manuscripts, and of securing
the funds to do so. The First Joint Consultation Meeting for Microfilming
Ethiopian Church Manuscripts was accordingly held in Addis Ababa, on April
22-23 1971.

It was in this way, and readers may note that I have been quoting directly
from an Ethiopian Manuscript Microfilm Library brochure, that the justly
renowned EMML project was launched.

Highly Regarded

The project was so highly regarded that it received initial financial support
from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for
the Humanities, and by 30 June 1977 had received American financial support,
to a the tune of US$ 170,000.

Microfilming was, as far as possible systematic, and carried out church (or
other institution), by church, and the filming of manuscripts was as far as
possible complete. Only the most common items, such as copies of Dawit, i.e.
the Psalms of David, were excluded from filming.

The project published its first detailed catalogue, of the first 300
Ethiopian manuscripts, in 1975; and its last catalogue to date, Volume X,
with 999 entries - edited by Dr Getatchew Haile - six years ago, in 1993.

These catalogues, mainly, though not exclusively the work of Dr Getatchew,
now cover no less than five thousand items, and are works of meticulous
scholarship, on any showing.

There is in addition a back-log of many uncatalogued manuscript (how many we
do not know), as well as, we may suppose, a number of already catalogued
manuscripts awaiting publication.

Works Microfilmed

The EMML project, which won the admiration of virtually all scholars in the
field (Leslau, Ullendorff, Strelcyn, Hammerchmidt, Chojnacki, Tubiana, et
al.) and is widely quoted in works of scholarship, was based on a partnership
between three institutions: the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture, the Ethiopian
Orthodox Church, and St John's Abbey and University in Collegeville,

Cataloguing of manuscripts by the EMML revealed that the majority of
Ethiopia's manuscripts consisted, as one would expect, of Bibles, Biblical
Commentaries, Service books, Lives of Saints, and other religious works
essential for the understanding of Ethiopian religion, religious
institutions, and history; but also covered many other matters, including
philosophy, secular and church history (such as Ethiopian royal chronicles),
law, mathematics, medicine, and other subjects.

The Lives of Ethiopian Saints, though often full of unbelievable miracles,
are, it should be emphasised, also full of historical information of crucial
importance for the study of Ethiopian history. Many such works contain
moreover unavailable data on such varied subjects as traditional church
education, famines and epidemics.

Many Ethiopian manuscripts also contain "marginalia", or otherwise unwritten
pages at the beginning, end, or elsewhere in the volume, which have been
used, sometimes over a period of centuries, to enter a wide variety of
historically important data. This may cover such questions as royal land
grants, land purchases and sales by both men and women, using gold, Maria
Theresa dollars, or "primitive money"; marriage agreements and contracts; tax
records (see for example the volume I edited, with Girma-Sellassie Asfaw, on
the tax records of Emperor Tewodros); lists of books, usually specified by
name; church paraphernalia and other property, including guns, in various
churches and monasteries, etc., etc. - a rich store in effect of historical


Not a few manuscripts also contain illustrations, likewise of immense
historical and cultural importance. Invaluable for the history of Ethiopian
art, they also provide unique documentation on almost all aspects of
Ethiopia's historic past.

They depict such subjects as agriculture and handicrafts; wood-cutting, and
house-building; clothing and dress, both male and female; crowns, and other
royal decorations; crosses, and church paraphernalia; cattle-slaughtering,
preparation and serving of food and drink; banquets, complete with dining
tables, waiters, and slaves; hair-styles and decorations; jewellery and
tattooing; horse and mule decorations; local weapons, such as spears and
shields, and imported ones, like rifles; furniture and household objects,
including masob, agagil, and gambo; sports and games, among them guks and
gabata; diseases and debilities, among them leprosy and other skin diseases,
and loss of limbs; and wild and domestic animals.

Not a few paintings consist portraits, albeit often highly stylized, of
Ethiopian personalities of the past both religious and lay, while others
depict class relations, with rulers, servants, and slaves. Such material, you
will appreciate, dear reader, is of crucial importance to the Ethiopian
political, military, medical and social historian, no less than to the
historian of art.

The EMML project microfilmed only in black-and-white, though it did take some
colour photographs of paintings: for the future the possibility of working in
colour, with digital cameras, needs serious consideration.

Archival Material

The EMML did not confine itself only (as some may think) to manuscripts on
parchment, but also microfilmed a large amount of archival material, for the
most part on paper.

This is not the place to provide a catalogue of EMML microfilms (spare us
that!), but take for example a few of the items in Volume IX: It contains
biographical material on Ethiopia's first foreign-educated physician-cum
diplomat, Hakim Warqnah, known abroad as Dr Martin; papers on many subjects
written by the assiduous, but unassuming Ethiopian scholar, Blatta Mars'e
Hazen; a life of the heroic, yet little-studied, Ethiopian Patriot, Tashoma
Shangut; entirely unpublished Ethiopian documents belonging to Ethiopia's
pre-war Minister of Public Works, Fitawrari Taffesa Habta Mikael; an
Ethiopian Government report on the movement of Somali pastoralists; reports
(from the Ethiopian as well as the British side) on the Anglo-Ethiopian
Boundary Commission defining the frontier between Ethiopia and British
Somaliland in the early 1930s; documents on the Wal Wal incident of December
1934, which Mussolini was to use shortly afterwards as a pretext for the
Fascist invasion of Ethiopia; and much much more!

EMML microfilming was also carried out at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies
Library, where manuscripts and archival material was filmed - a valuable
insurance against possible destruction by fire at that institution.


Microfilming, it should be emphasised, also has a significant security
aspect. Once items are microfilmed they can much more easily identified if
stolen; and EMML films, if need-be, can be made available to the Ethiopian
police, or Interpol.

Where to See Them

EMML, as a co-operative project conceived with vision made copies of its
microfilms widely available to the scholarly community, both in Ethiopia and
abroad. Microfilm copies can be viewed, in Addis Ababa, at both the Ministry
of Culture and the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, and, in the United States,
at St John's University, at Collegeville, Minnesota. And if, dear reader, you
are not so privileged as to live in either of these towns, you can consult
the published EMML catalogues, which are to be found in libraries in the main
centres of learning, and easily order microfilm copies from Collegeville, for
a modest fee.

But What Now?

Praise for EMML brings us to the sad point that the project, for lack of
funds, or vision, has in recent years come to an end. Though microfilming of
manuscripts was carried on fairly exhaustively for almost two decades in much
of the country, manuscripts in many other areas, including Tegray, let alone
Eritrea, have still not been touched by the project at all.

And yet the need for the systematic recording of Ethiopian manuscripts is as
great, nay, far greater, than ever before!

The question with which we are now confronted is: will Ethiopia in the
twenty-first Century be able to live up to the achievements, and
expectations, of the Twentieth?

Waco Herald Tribune 4/20/99
Gibson seeks answers to school's operations

McLennan County Commissioner Lester Gibson is seeking public documents and
the answers to 82 questions relating to the operation of the Emma L. Harrison
Charter School,the East Waco Community Center and the Heart of Texas Black
Chamber of Commerce.

Many of Gibson's questions concern who controlled finances and made
management decisions at the three entities.

Gibson, whose youngest son attends the financially troubled charter school,
sent letters this week to Mac Florence, chairman of the East Waco Community
Center board, asking for materials and information under the Texas Public
Information Act.

The community center holds the charter for the school and operates out of the
same building at 409 Turner St. as the school and the chamber of commerce.
Gibson has been trying to rally support to keep the Harrison Charter School
open at least through the end of the school year. Along with a delegation of
black community leaders from Waco, Gibson met Tuesday with Pat Pringle, state
associate commissioner of education, to talk about the school, which is
deeply in debt, and the prospects of keeping it open through June 3.

The Texas Education Agency placed an accreditation master at the school to
direct its operation after financial problems surfaced. Projections call for
the school, which has received about $700,000 from the state since August, to
be about $400,000 in debt by the end of the school year.

Gibson said his requests for information are "self-explanatory.''

"They are a board and the state of Texas granted a charter to them and that
makes them subject to the Texas Government Code and to the Open Meetings Act
and the Open Records Act," he said. "That information should be for public
consumption and I am going to review it. There are a lot of questions that
have been put out there that are very ambiguous in the minds of a lot of

In his letter dated Wednesday, Gibson seeks documents relating to board
minutes of the charter school; the current constitution and bylaws of the
community center board; a list of center board members and copies of any
resignation letters they may have tendered; and a copy of the annual budget
approved by the center board for the charter school.

Gibson also has asked for proof of postings of all meetings of the center
board that related to the school; center board meeting minutes in which the
school salaries of Pinkard, Florence and school principal Roma Spivey were
approved; and the center's policies regarding conflicts-of-interest and

State officials have said there is no evidence that some of those documents

Seattle Times 4/2/99
Bill would raise penalty for revealing HIV patients' names

by Dionne Searcey
OLYMPIA - Doctors who negligently reveal the names of patients infected with
the AIDS virus would be subject to a $10,000 fine under a measure gaining
momentum in the Legislature.

The bill, which advanced yesterday from the House Health Care Committee,
would stiffen the $2,000 penalty now in place for doctors who intentionally
disclose names of HIV-positive patients. It also would call on the state
Department of Health to report to the state Board of Health any unauthorized
disclosures of names, along with recommendations to doctors for improving

It also would require the department to help health-care providers understand
confidentiality rules.

"We need to ingrain in doctors their No. 1 priority is protecting the
patient," said Rep. Shay Schual-Berke, D-Seattle, a committee member.

Schual-Berke, a cardiologist, said lawmakers need to emphasize privacy
protections as the health profession becomes bigger and more complicated,
with everyone from insurance officials to copy clerks having access to some
portions of medical records.

"To make people comfortable that they can go in and have an HIV test, it's
important that there be strong penalties for people who would intentionally
share that information," said Judith Billings, chairwoman on the Governor's
Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. Billings was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1995.

"My medical records are my business," she said, noting the anger she felt
when reporters learned about her infection before she had a chance to tell
family members.

The Indian Express (India) 4/2/99
Fire in Punjab and Haryana High Court destroys records
CHANDIGARH: A fire in the Punjab and Haryana high court here today destroyed
court stationery and records of a large number of old cases, a fire brigade
spokesman said. The fire, which broke out in the morning, was brought under
control around 11:00am by 14 fire tenders of Chandigarh fire service, Indian
Air Force and those of neighbouring towns. Chandigarh fire officer Rajinder
Singh told reporters that the fire originated in the records room and spread
to the stationery stores nearby in the early hours of the day, reports PTI.

Since the records room was tucked away behind the office buildings, the fire
tenders had difficulty reaching the spot. An earth mover had to be called in
to break the side walls so that the hoses could reach the fire. High court
officials declined to give any details of the losses. The cause of fire was
being ascertained, Singh added.

Dallas Morning News 4/1/99
What's in a name? Ask Southwestern Bell

By Jennifer Files / The Dallas Morning News
The blame game between Southwestern Bell and AT&T turned into the
claim-the-name game Wednesday.

The Partnership for a Competitive Texas is behind all the anti-Southwestern
Bell ads on the air lately, which accuse the company of charging fees that
keep Texas long-distance rates high. The group's most prominent backer is

One day recently, for reasons it didn't volunteer, Southwestern Bell was
searching through state records for a list of the partnership's officers and
directors. It discovered that the group was so late in filing some tax
paperwork that, by state law, it forfeited its corporate charter - and the
right to its name.

Before the partnership people realized what had happened, Bell signed up with
state officials to take the name for its own.

"We think it's deceptive to have AT&T's name associated with the word
'competitive,' " said Glenn Smith, a spokesman for Southwestern Bell.

Luis Wilmot, executive director for the group formerly known as the
partnership, took the loss with a reasonable amount of humor. "It's a bit
curious to me why Southwestern Bell would go to this trouble. Perhaps they
like our ads so much that they wanted to take credit for them."

He said his team considered appealing but will probably just find another

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