National Archives of the Netherlands (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science)

Opening new National Archives of Surinam and MCH-meeting at Paramaribo

The twelfth of April 2010 former Surinam President R.R. Venetiaan officially declared the new building of the National Archives of Surinam to be open. With this building Surinam has at its disposal a very professional accommodation for its archives. Together with well trained staff and modern archival law it is now possible to safeguard the Surinamese archives for the future and to make them well accessible for researchers and general public.

Surinam archives in the Netherlands

At the opening ceremony the National Archivist of the Netherlands, Mr. Martin Berendse, returned more than 100 metres of records to the National Archives of Surinam. Because of fire in the past a lot of Surinamese records had been lost. Also the tropical climate and poor conditions made the Dutch colonial government at the time decide to translocate the Mutual Heritage records, which contain three centuries of mutual history Netherlands-Surinam, to the Netherlands for an indefinite period. The archives were subsequently shipped to the Netherlands in 1916, 1930, 1975 and 1977.

A new archives in Surinam

Many years later, in 1996, the former Dutch Minister of Development, Mr J. Pronk, discussed the idea of creating a new suitable Archives in Surinam after another fire had struck the archives. Proper storage would also create the perfect moment for returning the Mutual Heritage Archives. This idea was met with great enthusiasm by the Surinamese authorities and in 2002 cooperation started. It was not only the physical environment that needed improvement though, another priority was to create the right infrastructure and legal conditions to ensure the future of the Surinamese archives. Therefore with help of the Netherlands a renewed archival law was set up and people were trained in record management and digitization of records.

Return of 800 metres of archival material

With all these improvements the colonial archives are safe to return to the place they were once created. In the coming seven years 800 metres of archives will return to Surinam. These are colonial archives dating from 1667 till 1975, the year of the independance of Surinam. Before sending, the archives are being treated and brought to a stable condition by conservaton workers at the Nationaal Archief in the Netherlands. Next they are digitized. This way the records will also stay accessible for Dutch researchers and for everyone who is interested in the mutual history of Surinam and the Netherlands.