The necessity of a general archives for Gozo had been felt for ages. Actually, the Universitas Gaudisii – the medieval regional government of Gozo – did have a Gozo Archives; however, this had long become a thing of the past.
The issue of establishing a deposit for the records produced or received by Government entities in Gozo in the transaction of their affairs was brought up in many a formal and informal meeting. In 1960s, the Gozo Civic Council – established as a statutory government in 1961 – discussed the question on more than one occasion but nothing materialized. For many years, the issue went into hibernation with the result that thousands upon thousands of important documents were destroyed or lost.
The ball for the foundation of the Gozo Archives, the NAG – The National Archives (Gozo section) – was set rolling by the Honorable Anton Tabone, first Minister for Gozo, and Joseph Bezzina, a professional archivist. A new hall built adjacent to the Public Library of Gozo was earmarked for this deposit or archives.
The term archives designates the organized body of records produced or received by an entity in the transaction of its affairs and preserved by it, its successors or an authorized repository through extension of its original meaning as the repository for such material. The term National Archives refers to the deposit of records of a public nature that are no longer in use for the purpose of administration. The National Archives (Gozo Section) serves as a public record office of past and present official entities of the islands of Gozo and Comino whose records have survived the ravages of time.
The first archives in Gozo was kept, as already referred to, by the Universitas Gaudisii. This municipal body was founded around 1350 as a corporation defending local interests – at a time when Malta and Gozo were ruled by the Aragonese from Sicily. It was broadly similar to many town councils throughout the Mediterranean regions of the Latin West with a Hakem or Capitano della Verga assisted by four imhallfin or giurati and other officials. Its Council dealt with numerous items of local business: it was responsible for the fortifications, the markets, and the hygiene of the town. It could elect its own officials, raise taxes, and petition the Crown.