History

The impetus to set up a National Archives for Malta was brought about in 1971, with the creation of a Committee for the Preservation of Public Records, chaired by Guze’ Cassar Pullicino. One year later a section housed at Casa Leone was opened and began providing research facilities for the public. Initially NAM formed part of the Ministry for Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, and a few months after its opening at Casa Leone, the archive was transferred to the Palace in Valletta. The officer in charge at that time was architect, Michael Ellul.  ​​


 

In January 1986, a committee was set up by the Administrative Secretary to study practices of preservation and disposal of public records.

A decision was taken to set up a more appropriate National Archives, with its head office in Rabat. The chosen premises were what used to be the Santo Spirito Hospital; one of the oldest hospitals in Europe, first mentioned in 1371, and with a fascinating history of its own.

The building had been derelict for a number of years, and so extensive structural repairs and restoration work was begun in preparation for the challenging move.

The Banca Giuratale, in nearby Mdina, was identified as a second repository. This was to house the records of the various courts and tribunals of the period of the Order of St. John, the French Occupation and the Early British Period.​​

In late September 1987, the records of the Courts of Justice were transferred from the Palace in Valletta to the Banca Giuratale in Mdina. The repository was inaugurated on 28th October 1988, with its doors opening for research soon after. The transfer of the archives from the Palace to Rabat was concluded on 28 July 1989. Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, then President of Malta, presided over the official opening of the National Archives on 28th May 1994. The officer in charge at that time was Mr Joe Caruana.
     
 
  
The first piece of legislation regulating NAM was The National Archives Act 1990 (Cap. 477 of the Laws of Malta). At that time several initiatives were taken such as the publishing of the first catalogues onto CD-ROM; the inauguration of an exhibition centre; the initiation of the Annual Public Lecture and newsletter; the setting up of a new cataloguing unit using International Standard for Archival Description (General), and a new computer network. A UNESCO-sponsored regional archives conference was also held in 2002.
 
        
After the first decade of operation, the National Archives was restructured and its legal framework updated, in order to improve performance and functionality. Parliament approved a new National Archives Act (V, 2005)​ which came into force on 1st September 2005, creating an opening for a Chief Executive Officer and National Archivist, Dr Charles Farrugia. By virtue of this Act, NAM became a new entity with its own legal persona. 
 
  
During the past eighteen years, NAM’s three sections have moved into refurbished premises, in Rabat (Head Office), Mdina (Legal Documentation Section) and Rabat, Gozo (Gozo Section).  Services have improved considerably, and continue to do so. There has been an increased focus on records management in government, and the 21st century challenge of managing and preserving born digital records. A significant number of items have been and continue to be digitised, providing access to records which may have previously been unavailable to researchers. ​​

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 (Old Woman selling flowers)