Public access to historical records now more accessible -as National Archives continues digitisation process
Georgetown, Guyana – (October 31, 2017) Historical records are being made more accessible to students and members of the public as the process of digitisation of valuable primary source documents continues. Archivist at the National Archives of Guyana, Department of Culture, Ministry of Social Cohesion, Ms. Nadia Gamel-Carter, provided this update at the opening of the Archives Week Exhibition. The week-long exhibition dedicated to the commemoration of the Centenary Anniversary for the Abolition of Indentureship targets secondary and tertiary students and aims to raise awareness about the genealogical research and other services that the agency provides.
Ms. Gamel-Carter explained that the digitisation process is being done in two phases. In 2013 the first phase, which was done in collaboration with United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) and funded by the Government of Guyana, entailed the purchasing of microfilm and other relevant equipment from ICAM Archive Services, which had installed the equipment and provided conducted training. The second phase has begun and sees the agency digitising delicate documents, which allows it to be published on its website to increase access to the public. “Over the last couple of years the National Archives have made a lot of strides not just to have paper but to have the [records] in digital form. So we do have a website … on [which] we have genealogical research, as well as a large special newspaper collection that persons can access,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ms. Gamel-Carter expressed the hope that the members of the public, particularly students, will visit the agency during this special memorial exhibition. “We put [on] an exhibition, which focuses on documents, records, artefacts, pictures, music, which marks the life of the [indentured servant]. Now this is important because most persons would like to know who they are and where they are from and you can do that in the form of genealogical research. So what we’re doing this week, we’re inviting the public to come, look through our records, and we’ll assist you in finding your family. So we have records of persons who came from India and we also have other records available that persons could look for their African [ancestors] through their baptism records, through regular birth records and other information that we have in the National Archives,” she said. She then invited the public to visit the Archives’ sister agencies such as the Museum of African Heritage, the National Trust and the National Museum, to access genealogy and other records.
In addition, Counsellor at the High Commission of India in Guyana, Mr. Rajender K. Perindia, lauded organisers of the exhibition and noted that in addition to commemorating the abolition of Indentureship, it is important for persons to know their genealogy. “Remembering history is … a must and remembering your ancestors is of paramount importance… In this regard, what is being done by the National Archives is part of that exercise. Your ancestors from India not only brought their expertise and skills but also a treasure of cultural traditions and art forms, religious practices, festivities and societal values… Events such as this one will rekindle the memories of today’s generation, particularly the youth and will help to preserve and carry forward the cultural traditions of the past for the generations to come,” he said.
Director of Culture (Ag), Ms. Tamika Boatswain, Representative of the Indian Action Committee, Mr. Evan Persaud, representatives from the Indian Cultural Centre and secondary school students also attended the event. The theme for this year’s exhibition is “Documentary Heritage of Indian Indentured Labourers, History and Genealogical Research using National Archives of Guyana”.