Parliamentary secretary Clyde Puli said the digitisation of National Archives documents has so far created about two million digital images of documents and now, an electronic infrastructure is being built for some of them to be put online and made accessible to the public.
He was addressing an activity organised for volunteers of the archives. The digitisation is being sponsored by two foreign organisations which provided equipment and paid employees to digitise the antique documents without them leaving the National Archives.
Some documents are highly valuable historically, including shipping registers and passport applications going back to the 19th century and a collection of court cases dating back to the 16th century.
Investment in the archives include a university course, scholarships and a restoration laboratory with the latest technology. About 50 volunteers have, over the past few years, contributed to the archives. The Friends of the Archives Association was set up in 2000 – last year 39 volunteers from Malta, France, Italy, Romania, Germany, Austria and Ethiopia contributed 2,000 hours of voluntary work to the National Archives between them.
Mr Puli said the activity saw the launch of several projects, including the restoration of the old hospital bakery, done by volunteer Michael Bonnici, a donation of documents of Zebbug civic council, also by Mr Bonnici, the launch of a guide on the use of the electronic site, European Archives Portal, funded by Europe and done by volunteer Tony Bonello, and the launch of a database of thousands of names of Maltese who emigrated to Australia, by migrant volunteer Mark Caruana.