Karachi Municipal Records, stuffed in gunny bags, were discovered in 2005 by Ms. Nasreen Jalil, Naib Nazim, City District Government Karachi (CDGK). At the same time a large number of iron tubes were found containing historic maps of Karachi in an extremely fragile condition. This was followed by shifting the bags and tubes from the clock tower to a secure place, until the nature of records could be determined.
At the time Heritage Foundation, on an honorary basis helped to set up the display of selected maps and records on the occasion of city-wide celebrations by Hamara Karachi Foundation..
In 2009, through the generous support over one year from the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands, the Heritage Foundation initiated the process of scientific safeguarding of the records. The valuable archives spanning from the 19th century to 1950, comprising papers, ledgers, files, drawings and maps etc. are being conserved. The work has continued through the generous support of the Consulate General of Federal Republic of Germany over 18 months.
The Karachi Municipal Records unit has been set up on the ground floor of the historic KMC Building where the process of methodical sifting, cleaning, numbering & cataloguing, repairing & conserving, photographing and scanning etc. has been organized.
In view of extensive and varied nature of the records the work is being carried out meticulously according to archival procedures. For long-term storage, after cleaning and repairs the records are placed in acid-free folders and archival boxes.
Over two thousand gunny bags and 59 tubes containing maps have been found to contain archival material. The earliest document found so far is dated 1910, while the earliest maps were prepared in 1874. As the work of opening and cleaning documents and files is undertaken, a large number of drawings of Karachi’s architecture continue to be revealed.
Through the process of scanning and digitization, the unique and valuable collection of Karachi Municipal Records is being made available in the form of a digital depository for scholars and researchers.
The Karachi e-Library (TKeL) is designed as a comprehensive resource for Karachi research. It will act as a storage depository to ensure long term survival of Pakistan’s intellectual heritage which will serve the future generation of researchers. Its aim is to be one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive collections on Karachi. This global dissemination of primary and secondary source material on Karachi will advance the world’s awareness and knowledge of South Asia - its historiography, cartography, tangible and intangible heritage.