ICAS’ Next Project- Tuvalu

Our next ICAS project will begin later this week in Tuvalu. We will be appraising, processing and preserving the Public Records Collection at the Tuvalu National Library and Archives (TNLA). This will be our first project in Tuvalu and we look forward to working with the staff  at the TNLA.


The Tuvalu National Library and Archives

The project at the Tuvalu National Library and Archives will focus on one of the archive’s most important collections- The Public Records Collection. The collection consists of mostly records from the colonial period when Britain governed the island from 1892 until independence in 1978. Thus, the project will be to review, sort and appraise the records of the Public Records Collection. Then we will process and preserve the material. The project will include training for staff on appraising, processing and preserving records. Training in these key, archival functions is difficult for staff, as Tuvalu is a developing and isolated country.

The physical condition of the archival material within the project will be safeguarded and preserved. The majority of records in the Pacific Islands, including the Tuvalu National Library and Archives, are paper, and face harsh environmental condition such as heat and humidity. Preservation of their records is paramount. The Public Records Collections contains all the Government Ministry files such as personnel and personal files, correspondence letters, cabinet papers, memos, minutes, and other documents that are important to the people of Tuvalu. Rare, historical records are also prevalent within the collection that will need immediate conservation and preservation. The use of acid free file folders and boxes will ensure the longevity of the material by reducing the threat of mold, and keeping the records dry and insect-free. As I have seen at other archives throughout the Pacific Islands region, records can become quite dirty before being deposited at the archives. Naturally, the cleaning of records will be executed as part of the preservation process.

tuvalu map

Where is Tuvalu?

Tuvalu is a  is an independent constitutional monarchy in the southwest Pacific Ocean. It was formerly known as the Ellice Islands and separated from the Gilbert Islands after a referendum in 1975, and achieved independence from Great Britain on October 1, 1978. The country name roughly translates to  “8 standing together.” This refers to the eight traditional islands of Tuvalu.

Funafuti is the capital of Tuvalu. According to legend, Funafuti people originated from Samoa, arriving by canoe. The founding ancestors were Telematua and his two wives Futi (meaning banana) and Tupu (meaning “holy” or “abundant”). The island is named after the wife Futi, while funa is a feminine prefix.

Two famous authors visited Tuvalu. Australian author, George Lewis “Louis” Becke, spent time as a trader in Tuvalu. Before he took to writing, he traveled extensively in the South Pacific, finding employment in may areas. In early 1880, he took up a position with trader Tom de Wolf on Nanumanga, and eventually opened his own store on Nukufetau in February 1881. Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny visited Funafuti in 1890, traveling on the trader steamer Janet Nichol.  Although they stayed for only two days,  Fanny Stevenson recorded the visit in great detail in her diary.

Check back soon for updates on the project and more information regarding this unique atoll of the Pacific Islands.



About islandculturearchivalsupport

Island Culture Archival Support (ICAS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of records pertaining to the cultural identity of island peoples in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia whose national and public archives, libraries, cultural centers, and business organizations are underprivileged, underfunded, and understaffed. The specific purpose for which this nonprofit corporation was formed is to support the needs of these South Pacific cultural heritage institutions by helping to preserve and make accessible records created for business, accountability or cultural purposes. The organization will endeavor to add value by providing resources or volunteers to advise, train, and work among island residents to support their efforts in building their future and preserving their collective memory through the use of modern archival techniques.
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