A large number of reefs within the inner granitic islands of the archipelago of Seychelles could be entirely lost, unless concerted action is taken soon to control crown of thorns, warns Dr. Udo Englhardt, the expert on on the management of crown of thorns in a...
Seychelles National Archives
Seychelles National Archives is the official guardian of historical and government documents. The Archives collects, stores and conserves the history of Seychelles. The Archives contains the originals of the treaty of capitulation, government files, maps, paintings, photos, film, audio, stamps and money etc. It also contains history and documents during Seychelles colonization leading up to independence.
The mission of the Seychelles National Archives is to collect, preserve and make accessible archival documents of enduring value through the use of the latest information technology.
Of particular interest to the tourists is a vast collection of photographs of times gone by.
National Archives has an overseas office in France at 29 chemin du moulin de Testas – CS50062, 13182 Aix-en-Provence, CEDEX 5 France.
History of Seychelles National Archives
The earliest mention of the Seychelles National Archives is found in the instrument of capitulation of Seychelles that was executed by the French Commandant, Chevalier Quéau de Quincy, and the British Captain Henry Newcome of H.M.S. Orpheus on 17 May 1794. Although there was provision in the law for the preservation and maintenance of the national records, nothing was done for another 10 years. Then Mr. Lablache, an individual who understood the need to protect and classify the country’s archives requested that he be appointed as the executor of the archives. This request was refused.
During the British colonial rule some efforts were made to inventorize the documents. But it was found that all records during the French administration were transferred to France. There is reference to a fire and the great landslide of 1862 destroying a lot of archives. However, the destruction of archives could also have been due to the negligence of administrators. Seychelles National Archives Ordinance 27 of the 7th November 1964, was not implemented for another three years. In September 1961, the first Seychelles archivist, Captain William Tindall Wilfred Webb, was appointed as Seychelles’ first archivist. A temporary depot was allocated to house the documents. Captain Webb was a retired officer of the Army of India and the Political Services of Bombay. He held that post for seven years until his death in July 1968 at the age of 78 years old. During his tenure he selected, identified and inventorised the documents for the archives. The detailed inventory was published by l’OSTOM (Office pour la Recherche Sientifique et Technique Outre-Mer) in 1982, with some addition by his successor, Mr. Henri Mac Gaw. The latter joined the National Archives as Assistant Archivist in 1964 and assumed the direction of the National Archives from 1968 to 1987 when he was succeeded by Mr. Alain Lucas. In 2002, Mr. Peter Lalande took over until January 2008 and Mr. Alain Lucas once again took up the post of director.
Until 1982, the archives were housed in two rooms on the ground floor of the Carnegie Library (now the Natural History Museum building) in Victoria. After that, it was transferred to the La Bastille at Union Vale. This building was a private home that was acquired by the Government. This building, now a national monument, first housed the Ministry of Plans and Public Works followed by the Ministry of Education. After that National Archives occupied the prefabricated annex that permitted the storage of about 30 linear meters of records.
The National Archives and the National Library have created a mini committee to monitor the level of humidity and temperature to ensure a proper environment for documents and books.
In 1991, a new Library building was constructed and the archives moved in one wing of the National Library, now called the National Cultural Centre. After the outbreak of fungus in 2012 the archive’s location was moved to the Helena Complex in Port Island. The place is now equipped with wall and ceiling ultraviolet sterilisers, dehumidifiers and an ozone generator, and a treatment system that uses ozone and UV (ultra violet) light to purify the air and in turn eliminate the fungus. All legal documents are now housed in the Seychelles Magistrates’ Court in Victoria and data entry is in the Providence Atoll.
Functions of Seychelles National Archives
Records Management unit is responsible for the proper classification, storage and overall management of semi-current or semi-active records. Concerned ministry will decide which records are to be archived and will pass them on to the archives. Usually Bank notes, stamps, departmental and ministerial reports, political, sports, cultural, religious magazines, all local newspapers like Nation, Isola Bella, Rising Sun etc. are archived.
The Outreach Programme
The Outreach Programme Unit disseminates information about the history of Seychelles in schools, organised exhibitions at national and district level.
The Research and Reference Unit
The Research and Reference Unit is responsible for dissemination of archival information to the general public and making available documents in digital and textual formats for immediate consultation or for approved replication upon request.
The Digital Conservation Unit
The Digital Conservation Unit is responsible for electronic archival of documents and maintaining the database, network and website.
The Audio-visual Unit
The Audio-visual Unit is responsible for creating audio-visual presentations.
The Binding and De-acidification Unit
The Binding and De-acidification Unit provides the technical know-how for the preservation of archived material for a long time.
Family history research
Family history research is possible for self search for a fee of SR 350 and SR 500 if you require the archive staff to do the search. The search facility is available from Monday to Friday from 8:00am-4:00pm and on Saturdays from 9:00am to12:00pm.