24 April 2017

Suriname: Paper memory of Suriname returns home

After a two-week journey from the Netherlands, two shipping containers with the last meters of archives have arrived in Paramaribo.

Arrival of the archives at the NAS.

Suriname is receiving the archives after a hundred-year absence. The official transfer of the archives was on 5 April, and the National Archives of Suriname (NAS) organised a symposium to put this unique project into context. The director of NAS, Rita Tjien Fooh, calls it a historic moment for Suriname. She announced, ‘It’s about time that we write history from our own perspective.’

Digital archives
All of the collections have been digitised by the National Archives of the Netherlands (NAN). These scans are available online, on the websites of both the NAN and the NAS. Now researchers all over the world can consult these archives from their desks at home. This is an important improvement, according to Maurits Hassankhan, head of the Council of Archives in Suriname: ‘Digitisation is a huge advantage for researchers.’ He especially emphasizes that Surinamese researchers no longer need to travel to the Netherlands to conduct research on Surinamese history.

The conclusion of this project is not the end of the collaboration between the Netherlands and Suriname, however. During the event on 5 April, the directors of NAS and NAN signed a Memorandum of Understanding to continue their co-operative efforts and start new projects in the future, such as training programmes on conservation, digitisation projects and exchanges of scans.