Teasing records out of Malta
Malta is blessed with a unique legacy of historical records that have remained literally stacked in basements and cupboards until relatively recently.
In 1971, after seven years of independence from the UK, a committee was formed to decide how to deal with the archives. In 1986 the decision was made to create the National Archives of Malta, with its HQ in the modern-day capital, Rabat. Medieval capital, Mdina, was chosen to house court records, which date back to Malta’s occupation by the Knights Hospitallers in the 1530s all the way through to the early days of the British occupation in the 1800s.
In order to deal with the backlog of records, the University of Malta started degree level records management courses and professional training in archives and records management. Qualified records managers are present in the island’s ministries and departments and the National Archives oversees their work.
GDPR has brought its own challenges, as has designing retention schedules, but huge progress has been made in cataloging centuries’ worth of records. Many interesting discoveries have been made along the way – such as the 1964 independence referendum poster and passport photographs dating back to 1915. The passport photographs are stylish wonders, featuring pet dogs, cloche hats and cigarettes rather than the modern stony-gazed portraits.
This hard work by the National Archives is opening up an important resource for researchers and historians and proves just how valuable the work of records managers can be in preserving and cataloging historical records. If you have your own challenges with records management, you can call us on 03300 376 323 to chat through your archive and storage needs, or you can get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org, who manages our specialist heritage storage scheme.