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History

Located in the South West of the Indian Ocean, the Republic of Mauritius lies at Longitude 057E00 and Latitude 021S00, with an area of 1,865 square km. The Republic of Mauritius also includes the islands of Rodrigues, St. Brandon, Chagos Archipelago, Tromelin and the Agalega Islands. The administrative history of Mauritius dates as far back as 1598 namely with the first settlement by the Dutch. However, the Dutch did not leave any of the official records of Teylandt Mauritius, when they left in 1710 and moved to the Cape, in South Africa.

 

In 1715, Guillaume Dufresne D'Arsel took possession of the island and named it Isle de France. The official records generated during the early days of French occupation of the island were located in a small building, where the Provincial Council used to meet. The building was situated in Port Louis in the street called Rue du Vieux Conseil. Nevertheless, this building was badly damaged in a cyclone in 1731 and most of the records previous to this date were lost. A new building (Government House)was constructed in 1736 and the archival records were housed in a room found in the left wing of the building. The records remained deposited there until the year 1810. During the period 1715 to 1810, many changes took place, especially brought about by the French Revolution. This resulted in an increase amount of paperwork and in 1790, a first archivist, Mr. Jean Pierre Auffray, former notary, was appointed to look after the administrative records. Afterwards, these records remained with General Decaen until the British take-over.

 

In December 1810, the British forces captured the island and its dependencies from the French ones. An Act of Capitulation was signed by the British and French, but the archives were not included within the Act. After the signature of the Treaty of Paris in 1814, the archives records which were since the capitulation, in the custody of a French Officer, were returned to their former abode in the Government House. Sir Robert Farquhar, first British Governor appointed Baron Antoine Marrier d'Unienville Colonial Archivist with effect from the 1st May 1815. By 1819 an inventory of the records had been completed. During the following years, a state of chaos prevailed; many documents which were considered as 'worthless' were destroyed. The bulk of records were transferred now and then either to the Registry of Court of Appeal or to the Colonial Secretary's office. Several committees were held and the last one emphasized the importance of documents and finally on 29th December 1893, the Archives Department was created under Ordinance No. 23 of 1893. However, later the Archives Department was merged with the Registrar General's Department. It was only in 1950 that the Archives Department regained its autonomy.

 

The National Archives Department is presently housed in a concrete building situated at Coromandel and occupies about 26,500 square feet in terms of physical space. It operates under the aegis of the Ministry of Arts and Culture.


 

 
Last Updated: 14 September, 2017
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