Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Walter Rodney Archives

Walter Rodney Archives which is known as the National Archives in Guyana holds a vast quantity of historical data valuable to the overall National Development thrust of the country. Their main purpose is to acquire and preserve all public records that are of value for administrative purposes and historical research. Research reveals that the archival collection dates back to the period of Dutch occupation when documents were stored in the dome of Parliament Buildings. It also reveals that in 1982, the National Archives of Guyana Act was passed, thereby establishing the National Archives as a department. Under the National Archives Act, records include any manuscript, newspaper, picture, painting, document, register, printed material, map, plan, drawing, photograph, negative and positive pictures; recorded information in any medium. This act provides for a National Archives Advisory committee which is appointed by the Minister of Culture Youth and Sport. Their main function is to advise the Minister on matters of general archival policy and to review the work and progress of the department.

The holdings of the National archives is fairly extensive with approximately 700 meters of textual material, 10,000 printed materials and 55 meters of newspapers (32 titles). The total holdings approximately 5% date from the 18th century, 55% from the 19th century, 40% from the 20th century. The Dutch section is the oldest group.

The collection include:

Gazettes- The Governing authorities of British, later Guyana, published these gazettes, such contain official acts and notices, by laws, circular etc, and cover a wide variety of business of the colony.

Immigration documents, certificates, Registers, Books- Recorded the official government business related to indentureship of Indian immigrants to Guyana

Policy and combine court proceedings- records of minutes of official meetings accompanied by papers, petitions, draft bills.

Key Functions of the Archive

Appraisal - this is an on going process that may done through various stages of the life cycle of a document although it is of particular relevance to evaluate the historical and informative importance of the record before entering it into the national archives fond.

Accession - after a document is identified as valuable it must be transferred to the custody of the National Archives.

Processing – includes arrangement and description. The document need to be arranged within their original fond in the manner in which they were created and described accordingly for their posterior recuperation.

Preservation – is divided into two main activities: conservation and restoration. This function understands the necessity of maintaining the merit of the original physical form in which the document was created and restoring it to that condition should it be necessary.

Dissemination – a result of the services offered by the archives in relation to the use of the information contained in archival document. This function may be achieved by such activities as reference services on matters pertaining to the archives

The Walter Rodney Archives can be reached at Homestretch Avenue D’urban Park, Georgetown. It opens at 8:30am and closes at 4:15pm from Mondays to Thursday, and on Fridays it opens at 8:30 am and closes at 3:15pm.


  1. Are the Walter Rodney Archives accessible online for those of us who do not live in Guyana? I am doing some family research for a friend whose father, an American, lived in British Guiana between about 1929 and 1937. We live in Canada and have precious little information to go on.

    Any help that can be given from anyone reading this post would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Hi,

    How do I get in touch with the archives to get research done?

    Colleen Fitzpatrick
    Huntington Beach, CA

  3. I have the same question that someone else posted 6 years ago: Are the Walter Rodney Archives accessible online for those of us who do not live in Guyana?

  4. I have the same question that someone else posted 6 years ago: Are the Walter Rodney Archives accessible online for those of us who do not live in Guyana?

    - Ian
    New Jersey, USA

    1. The archives can be accessed for research on