A workshop focusing on the theme 'Safeguarding and promoting the documentary heritage of Mauritius' kicked off this morning at the Gold Crest Hotel in Quatre-Bornes. The workshop, a joint initiative of the Ministry of Arts and Culture and the National Archives Department, is organised in the context of the International Archives Day.

The objective of the workshop is to provide all the participants with a forum to discuss, share experience and provide guidance in archiving and to come up with new suggestions which will be used to draft an action plan for the National Archives Department.

In her address, the Deputy Director of the National Archives Department, Mrs H. Ramkalawan, highlighted that the International Archives Day, observed on 09 June, is an opportune moment to raise awareness among the public of the importance of records and archives as well as the profession. She emphasised that the National Archives since its setting up in 1815, has played a crucial role in the preservation of the documentary heritage of the country.

She underscored the mission of the National Archives which is to fulfil its historical and cultural roles by collecting, preserving and making accessible historical documents. She added that it has served as the nation's repository of public records for many years and now consists of around 200 000 volumes of documents.

The Deputy Director pointed out that the invaluable documents is a collective memory of the nation and are consulted by citizens and foreigners for different purposes such as historical, genealogical, cultural, legal and administrative. The Archives Department ensures that an efficient and economical management of the public records is properly carried out throughout their life cycle, she added.

The wide array of documents that the National Archives Department houses, consists of records of the French Administration( 1721- 1810), records of the British Administration (1810 � onwards), notarial deeds as from 1724, copies of maps and plans from 1502 onwards, specimen of every issue of postage stamps and currencies, minutes of proceedings from Municipalities and District Councils, special collection materials including lithographs, photographs and seals, and a collection of rare books and private papers.

The workshop

Representatives of Ministries, the private sector, academics, researchers, and historians are attending the workshop. The five major themes discussed are: the importance of a national archive for a country; the national archive holdings and its contribution in promoting cultural heritage sites; the conservation and preservation of archival documents; e-archiving, online access and on spot communication and; new challenges and future perspective for a modern archive.

Source: Government of Mauritius