The National Archives of the Netherlands yesterday presented the Walter Rodney National Archives of Guyana with digital copies of Dutch colonial maps of Guyana at the National Archives building on Homestretch Avenue.
The handing over is part of a collaboration between the two countries aimed at expanding history and moving the local archives into the 21st century, Culture, Youth and Sport Minister Dr Frank Anthony said.
Making the presentation to Dr Anthony was Dr Roelof Hol, Director of the Mutual Cultural Heritage National Archives of the Netherlands.
The maps will be added to the cartographic section of the archives, Dr James Rose said. Dr Rose is the Director of Culture in the Ministry. The handing over of the maps came about after Hol was contacted by the ministry which has been in bilateral arrangements with its Netherlands counterpart, he added.
The minister meanwhile, stated that the ministry aims to bring the archives up to the 21st century. “When people think of archives they think of a boring place,” the minster said and added that work is being done to make the archives more “visible”.
The digital maps received from the Dutch will be added to a collection of maps which the minister said will then chronologically sequenced and put on display later in the year. Over the last year, Anthony said, cartographers were putting together these maps. The aim is to show the contours of the country as well as to show a clear picture of how the country evolved, Anthony stated.
Meanwhile, the minister stated that interest in the National Archives has been growing among the young people. This he said was “quite encouraging”. To further boost interest, “special days” at the archives, which would allow people to observe its operations, are held.
Further, the archives is on a quest to expand its holdings, the minister added as part of “presenting history in a fun way so people and appreciate it and are not be intimidated by it”.
And commenting on the partnership between the Netherlands and Guyana, the minister said it was the start of an ongoing and strengthening partnership with more collaboration between the two countries in the future.
Before the handing over of the maps, Hol who has been an archivist since 1979 stated that the archive should be more visible. He pointed out that the shared memory of the past was very good for development and that he was pleased to hand over the gift of maps which he called archival treasures of the country. Anthony meanwhile presented commemorative memorabilia of Guyana to Hol after receiving the maps.
Also attending the ceremony was Prime Minister Samuel Hinds who said that he was pleased to be at the event. He said the maps are an additive to developing a sense of Guyana and Guyanese. He commended Anthony and his ministry calling it the most important ministry of government.
The Walter Rodney Archives houses approximately 10,000 metres of textual materials. The Dutch collection is the oldest group dating back to 1735.