Records of Dutch era in Guyana now online

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─ “To know nothing of what happened before is to forever remain a child”-Minister Norton 

DPI, Guyana, Friday, October 12, 2018

A large portion of documents related to Dutch history, in what is now present-day Guyana, is now preserved and digitized following a collaboration which began in 2016, between Guyana and the Netherlands.

The repaired and preserved documents were handed over to the National Archives, October 1. Following a decision made by President David Granger, a team from the National Archives of the Netherlands took historic documents and maps which they repaired and then made digital copies.

Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton underscored the documents’ importance, noting that Guyana’s Dutch influence must be preserved and protected so that it can be used as a tool to sustain generations to come. According to Minister Norton, to know nothing of what happened before is to forever remain a child.

“We would want our children and our children’s children to be more au fait with what took place in our history. It is important that we preserve all things related to our history. We owe it to those before just as we owe it to those who will come after us. And so, I am indeed pleased and happy to know that this initiative was taken.”

Minister Norton said now that the facts are more easily accessible to the public there is no excuse for Guyanese not to be aware of their history.

Head of the Digitization Department of the Netherlands’ National Archives, Arjan Agema explained the documents are accessible on the Netherlands archives’ website. He noted that very soon these will be accessible on Guyana’s National Archive’s website.

Agema said: “We are happy now to bring back the paper material as well as the scanned material so we can now show it. Nearly 100,000 scans on the internet which helps the researcher for history and at the same time, the material has been conserved for a long period. It was very brittle and damaged and now it is conserved so it can be kept for years.”

As part of the partnership, 12 staffers from the National Library, Deeds Registry and the National Museum, University of Guyana Library, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Registrar Officer and the National Archives were trained in paper conservation techniques.

Guyana was ruled by the Dutch between the 17th and 19th centuries.

Isaiah Braithwaite.

Images: Giovanni Gajie.