The Malta Independent 22 October 2020, Thursday

Over 700 volumes of genealogy records added to National Archives collection

Giulia Magri Tuesday, 4 August 2020, 17:11 Last update: about 4 months ago

The Letard-Ciantar collection of around 700 volumes and hundreds of loose documents of dates of birth notes, deaths, contracts, notarial deeds, benefits, legacies, wills and concessions on titles of Maltese and Gozo nobility has been added to the National Archives collection.

An in depth and priceless collection is now under the protection of the National Archives in Mdina, the Minister for the National Heritage, Arts and Local Government Jose Herrera explained.

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Herrera was speaking at the National Archives on Tuesday, after he was given a tour of the facilities and was shown the Guljana Letard-Ciantar, which has been acquired to the National Archives.

The Letard-Ciantar family archive is the basic tool in genealogical research and consists of an in depth collection of notes on birth, marriages and deaths. Genealogy is the study of families, family history and the tracing of their lineages.

National Archivist, Charles Farrugia explained that Malta’s Public Registry has been registering all births, marriages and deaths in Malta and Gozo since 1863 and that this particular archive is built primarily from the Parish Registers.

In 1547, Pope Paul III had ordered each parish to begin keeping a register where baptisms, marriages and burials were recorded.

Farrugia recalled how previously there was a time when Malta had no way to trace Maltese family heritage locally, but that there are now five leading genealogist archives collected in Malta.

Farrugia explained that the archives of the Letard-Ciantar collection are to the most in depth collection. “We have just finished the fumigation process on the archives and files and now our professionals we begin the process of cataloguing the files,” said Farrugia.

“We hope that works will be completed in the upcoming months so that the collection will be open for research and studies.” He added that there are plans to digitise the collection so that there will be full access to the archives.

Plan for a main archives building on the island

National Heritage Minister Herrera said that there are plans and ideas to invest a large sum in one building which will hold all the archives in one area.

“In Malta, we have archives and documents spread all over the island, which can make it difficult to research. As a ministry we have an idea to invest in a large sum in one place for a building which will hold all the archives in one area, just like in other countries,” Herrera explained.

He said that he wishes there will be a central archive building, which will be state of the art, with the most recent technology which will be easily accessible for everyone.

He added that some archives and collections from the Curia and other religious groups will also form part of this important central archive. “This will provide the space for research and reserving the identity of the nation.” 

More information on the Letard-Ciantar

The genealogy records began to be collected more than 200 years ago and continued to be updated until recently. Apparently, Gian Frangisk Abela also makes reference to the records in the Malta Illustrata. Chierico Michele Scerri Rev.Can. Dr Dun Giovanni Battista Borg, Arturo Scerri and Doris Scerri are a few of the people who worked on this collection.

The information in the collection dates from the year 1400 and sometimes even dates back to 1380 and also includes information about urban lands, leases and genealogical links.

There are five leading genealogy collections in Malta: the Letard Ciantar, Armando Mifsud, Dun Gan Karl Muscat and Goffredo Adami. In Gozo there is also Perit Pietru Attard, a collection which covers Gozo between the period 1509 and 1940 and includes 88 volumes).

These genealogists went around different parish archives and collected the notes on the marriage registers.

The Goffredo Adami can be found in the National Library in Valletta, whilst the Pietru Attard is in the National Archives of Malta under the name of Guljana Masini, since it was donated to the National Archives by Dr Franco Masini in 2011.

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