President of Malta George Vella visited the National Archives in Rabat. He was given a tour of the building by the Chief Executive Officer, National Archivist Dr Charles J. Farrugia, who also introduced him to the staff, as well as students who are currently fulfilling part of their studies at this institution. The President was briefed on the processes of cataloguing, restoration, and cleaning of documents, as well as on research and digitalisation. He was also shown several documents of historical relevance, including a Notification issued by the Governor of Malta during the Plague of 1813, which shows how, even then as is the case today in face of COVID-19, there was an obligation of quarantine and penalties for violations.
“The public should know more about this place, because this is a repository of a large part of our country’s history; a history written through documents, maps, or building plans and books that reflect what has been going on in our country for many years”, said the President of Malta. “This is a place where all items with a link to our country’s history, as chosen by experts, are kept. It is very interesting to meet students and researchers who are using this material for their studies and to produce their dissertations. I am very happy to see that these great treasures are being professionally curated”. He also voiced his hope that the National Archives would continue to develop and referred to the plan for them to move to a new, state-of-the-art building that will be constructed on a site already identified in Ta’ Qali. At the same time, he expressed his wish that the present building, which formerly served as the Santu Spirtu Hospital and which was first documented as such in the 14th century, be preserved and turned into a museum.
At the end of the visit, the President was presented with a donation collected by the staff of the National Archives in aid of the Community Chest Fund. Also present was Minister for National Heritage, the Arts, and Local Government José Herrera.