Agreement between Identity Malta and National Archives leads to restoration of ancient public registers
Among the most ancient registered documents which Identity Malta has, there are public contracts which go back almost 200 years. These are now being restored thanks to an agreement entered into with the National Archives. Staff from the Research Division still need to refer back to these documents to this day.
The oldest public registers go back to 1859 where one finds every type of contract of sale of properties, mortgages, wills, warrants and sale by auction, with the aim of keeping track of the relationship between the property’s various owners.
The registers are in form of files, with paper which dates back more than 100 years and is considered extremely fragile. Not only that, but attempts at restoration carried out in the past included repairing the paper with tape and glue which by time caused even more damage. The fact that the files were used all the time has rapidly increased their deterioration.
Now, thanks to the agreement between Identity Malta and the National Archives, the oldest public registers are being restored meticulously, work which requires a lot of patience and dedication as explained by restorer, Simon Dimech.
”We make sure to document the work before, during and even after the conservation process. This involves cleaning, numeration, removing older repairs, and strengthening the documents with special paper so that when it is handled in the future it is preserved better. We are also working on the binding so that we can preserve the file as much as possible,” said Mr Dimech.
These public registries are also being digitalized, however, Senior Manager Michael Mifsud from Identity Malta says that technology will not necessarily eliminate the need for these documents to be consulted physically.
Mr Mifsud pointed out that ”here you have a computerized system of things which were handwritten. They did not have computers or typewriters, so to read certain writing we still have to go back to the original document.”
The amount of public registers go into the tens of thousands. Every register requires about a week to be restored.