Eric Chin, Director of the National Archives of Singapore (left); Edward Stokes; Nick Doggett (second from right); and Yit Chin Chuan, Senior Archivist at the Archives (right) – soon after the July 2016 accession of Marjorie Doggett’s collection of photographs and documents to the Archives.

 

‘The Foundation has been instrumental in the donation of Marjorie Doggett’s photographic collection to the National Archives of Singapore. Our Archives play an important role in preserving Singapore’s history and heritage, and these photos tell a fascinating story of Singapore in 1940s and 50s which we hope will be appreciated and treasured by future generations. We look forward to more collaboration with the Foundation to build up Singapore’s documentary heritage and to make history more accessible to all.’

Elaine Ng, Chief Executive Officer, National Library Board, Singapore

Parallel to its book publishing, the Foundation plays a role in helping to preserve the photographic collections it envisages for publication, and held by individuals. The conservation of negatives and prints in public museums, libraries or archives is the only sure way to preserve them for posterity, and to make them available for further research. Image high resolution scans on public websites make them accessible to audiences across Asia and worldwide. The Foundation’s efforts led to Lee Fook Chee’s photographs being brought to institutional attention. In Singapore, the Foundation was the catalyst and prime mover for Marjorie Doggett’s invaluable 1950s photographs and documents being donated by her son, Nicholas Doggett, to the National Archives of Singapore.

Where the Foundation publishes from photos still held privately, we encourage the holders to consider their collection’s long-term safe-keeping. Most people welcome this. They appreciate the intrinsic value of their materials, but lack the experience or contacts to approach library repositories and archives.

To date the Foundation has only scratched the surface of Asia’s photo record. All archivists know of collections that await accessing, cataloguing and publication. For publishers like the Foundation, and for archives, greater support is needed for their similarly inspired work. Such funding represents a unique opportunity to share and perpetuate Asia’s photographic heritage, to build libraries with books, to add to archives with photos – and to thus benefit future generations.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1791: ‘The lost cannot be recovered; but let us save what remains, not by vaults and locks which fence them from the public eye and use, consigning them to the waste of time, but by such multiplication of copies, as shall place them beyond the reach of accident.’