, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 19 – Google on Tuesday announced that historical copies of the Kenya Gazette, dating back to 1906, will be searchable and viewable in their original form, for free, via Google Books.
The Gazette is a weekly official government publication, containing important notices such as government appointments, as well as individual notices that are required to be made public by law.
Anyone around the world can now browse the Gazette online, as if it were a magazine. Over 190,000 pages of information, including notices about the Mau Mau, Migingo Island, and even precursors to the first state of emergency can now be accessed and perused by historians and students around the world.
The initiative to digitise the Gazettes began over two years ago with the National Council for Law Reporting (NCLR), under the authority of the Attorney General.
Through a model public-private partnership with NCLR, Google was able to scan the documents, automatically identify text from images, and index over 190,000 pages of Gazettes. Internet users can search the Gazettes by title, year of publication or keyword, across an entire archive, or within a single issue.
Future versions of the Gazettes will now also be available online, providing timely and accessible notices.
Joe Mucheru, Google Lead for Sub Saharan Africa said: "The Internet presents new ways to preserve and share our historical heritage, and we believe that huge benefits can be derived by making this information more accessible and useful. Over a century of Gazette records are now freely available and searchable in Google books. We applaud the Government of Kenya for taking the bold step of embracing the Internet to connect with their citizens, and to make this rich content more accessible to Kenyans and to the world."
Michael Murungi, Editor and CEO at the National Council for Law Reporting, said: "The digitisation of the Kenyan Gazettes is a huge milestone. We are using sophisticated technology to grant our citizens access to records that contain information of enormous value in terms of Kenya\’s social, legal and political heritage. The records range from the laws and policies of the British settlers in the Colony and Protectorate of East Africa, to the birth of the Republic of Kenya; from the declaration in 1952 of the Mau Mau as an unlawful society, to the lifting of the declaration in 2003."
Other recent examples of Google\’s ongoing global efforts to bring historical and cultural heritage online include partnerships with Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem-based archive of Holocaust materials, with 17 of the world\’s most famous art museums, through the Google Art Project, and with many libraries that hold rare collections.
In March this year, Google also announced a grant of $2.5 million to digitise Nelson Mandela\’s and Desmond Tutu\’s archives.
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