This Archive is the repository of all the data collected by the Centre for Community Knowledge during its multiple projects and documentation exercises in the mega city of Delhi. To be expanded in stages, it is designed to hold the collections of photographs, audio and video recordings, transcripts of interviews collected from residents of the city.
The first phase of this repository is the Delhi Visual Archive first unveiled in September 2018, a collection of photographs collected from non-institutional sources from personal holdings and donations by amateur photographers. Delhi Visual Archive is an attempt to fill the gaps in the historical record of Delhi, by promoting research to collect and present a visual record of the everyday city as seen by residents and visitors. The Centre’s digitised collection has 3,854 images and almost about a 700 photographs in its physical collection on Delhi and its outskirts from 1880 to the 1990's.
The Centre began its first collection on 2013 with Lala Narain Prasad’s donated photographs. At present, 2,990 photographs have been digitised. Lala Narain Prasad was a photographer since the late 1930's. Upon his death in 2016, many of his photographs were discarded, and they are presently available only in digital form, due to the timely digitization efforts by the Centre. Some of the smaller collections include the Fozan Ali Ahmed collection. His khala Nafeesa, the last of the survivors from the time period in which the photos were clicked, has very kindly spent time explaining the context of many of the photographs. Custodian of the Jan Freise collection, Kai Freise, has also spent much time elaborating the life and times of his photographer father who has captured the flavour of Delhi's emerging cultures in his photographs. Christophe Fanjat’s collection include the photographs of Central Delhi and Connaught Place, that he explored as a French scholar living in Delhi during 1980's. Gossi Soto was a Mexican journalist who came to India post-independence to study in Miranda House. She later worked and lived in India as well. Her collection includes her life as a student surrounding student politics, theater and cultural events that occurred in Delhi University campuses in the 1950’s. Her interaction with political leaders and artists such as Indira Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Satish Gujral and foreign dignitaries can be traced in her memoirs and photographs.
As a part of the community outreach programme, CCK has been contributing to building a people's history of Delhi by the regular collection and exhibition of narratives and artefacts in Delhi's diverse neighbourhoods through Neighbourhood Museum Projects- Shadi-Khampur(2013), Nizamuddin(2015) and Mehrauli (2017). The Neighbourhoud Museum Collections include photographs collected from residents during the fieldwork of the projects. Contributors such as Kehar Singh, Ravi, Raj Chouhan, brothers Mohammed Tauhir and Anwar, Seema Taneja, Rustom Seth, Shahid Siddiqui and others narrates their life in the transforming neighbourhood of Shadi-Khampur, Nizamuddin and Mehrauli over the years.
These images see the city of Delhi as marked by multiple life-worlds, of being many things to many people. The collection goes beyond the popular images of monuments and landmarks, to see lives, livelihoods, professions, street life, festivity and other happenings in the city.