Archives Guatemala History

The Importance of Archives for Guatemala’s Historical Memory

The Importance of Archives for Guatemala’s Historical Memory

“Events from past eras can be brought into the present through documents that help us discover our history,” wrote the Ministry of Culture of Guatemala in a June 8th press release. The Ministry celebrated International Archives Day by reflecting on the importance of preserving historical memory, which reflects the culture, traditions, and identity of Guatemala.

 

 

The Importance of Archives for Guatemala’s Historical Memory. Image Credit: Salvador Minueza/Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte, Guatemala.

 

 

Guatemala houses the Archivo General de Centroamérica (General Archive of Central America), which safeguards documentary treasures from 1524 to 1980. Among its valuable collections are the original document of the Act of Independence and the score of the National Anthem, both moved to the National Museum of Art of Guatemala (MUNAG) located in the Colonial City.

Carolina Ferrer, in user services, explains that there is a safe where the documents considered the most valuable are stored, including the “Recordación Florida” by Fuentes y Guzmán.

 

 

“In total, there are 22 linear kilometers of documentation. Only 60% of the archives are classified and available to the public,” she indicates. The rest of the archives have restrictions to prevent deterioration as they are very old documents.

 

 

Among the oldest archives is a land titling file from 1793 originating from Huehuetenango, which includes the original design of the land map. Ferrer emphasizes that the Archive also holds documents from Chiapas, El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica.

 

 

The Importance of Archives for Guatemala’s Historical Memory. Image Credit: Salvador Minueza/Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte, Guatemala.

 

 

Guatemala's Historical Memory
The Importance of Archives for Guatemala’s Historical Memory. Image Credit: Salvador Minueza/Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte, Guatemala.

 

 

Guatemala has 40 archivists graduated from USAC, and two professionals work in the General Archive.

Anyone, both national and international, can visit the General Archive of Central America free of charge. “The photography fee is Q30 per file, and the electricity costs are Q10 per hour for nationals and Q20 for foreigners,” adds Ferrer.

The building of the General Archive of Central America, located at 4th Avenue 7-41 zone 1, was constructed from 1948 to 1962 and has nine levels. Public service hours are Monday to Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

 

 

Guatemala's Historical Memory
The Importance of Archives for Guatemala’s Historical Memory. Image Credit: Salvador Minueza/Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte, Guatemala.

 

 

 

Guatemala's Historical Memory
The Importance of Archives for Guatemala’s Historical Memory. Image Credit: Salvador Minueza/Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte, Guatemala.

 

 

Journalistic Material with Historical Facts

There is also the National Newspaper Library where Guatemalans and foreigners can access old newspapers and magazines to gather information about news and events that have marked the history of the country.

Dating back to 1879 with the birth of the National Library, the Newspaper Library became independent in 1960 at the request of director Rigoberto Bran Azmitia.

 

 

Guatemala's Historical Memory
The Importance of Archives for Guatemala’s Historical Memory. Image Credit: Salvador Minueza/Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte, Guatemala.

 

 

Mayra Marroquín Natareno, director of the Newspaper Library, explains that Albertina Gálvez, a library worker at that time, dedicated herself to classifying all the hemerographic material to be transferred to the National Newspaper Library.

Its hemerographic collection is divided into three groups: Newspapers, magazines, and vertical files. The Official Gazette of 1820 was one of the first newspapers registered. “It is one of the jewels of the Newspaper Library,” comments the director.

 

 

Guatemala's Historical Memory
The Importance of Archives for Guatemala’s Historical Memory. Image Credit: Salvador Minueza/Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte, Guatemala.

 

 

Among the notable journalistic material are the inauguration of President Juan José Arévalo Bermejo on March 15, 1945, and the Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Miguel Ángel Asturias on October 19, 1967.

One of the most requested news topics by visitors is about the Internal Armed Conflict, Marroquín Natareno notes.

In January 2023, the National Newspaper Library started the Digitization Project with expert equipment to prevent damage to newspapers and magazines.

 

 

Guatemala's Historical Memory
The Importance of Archives for Guatemala’s Historical Memory. Image Credit: Salvador Minueza/Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte, Guatemala.

 

 

The Newspaper Library is open to the public from Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM at 5th Avenue 7-26, zone 1. Services include hemerographic material consultation, reading room, guided tours, and consultation certificates.

To defend the protection and conservation of documentary heritage, the International Council on Archives established June 9 as International Archives Day during the General Assembly held in November 2007.

 


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