A conference, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Central State Archive (CSA), has taken place in a conference hall of the Main Archives Department under the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan.
Among those invited to attend the event were CSA professionals and long-time employees, records and archive management specialists from different ministries and agencies, the Academy of Sciences, specialized higher education institutions, and media representatives.
The country’s Central State Archive is a main archival depository that holds hundreds of thousands of materials, including a wealth of rare and unique documents, which are a primary source of invaluable information about Turkmenistan, its glorious past and present.
In their speeches, conference participants identified the development stages of records-keeping and archives practices in Turkmenistan. The forum provided an opportunity to exchange expertise on archival systematization of collected materials, their research and processing.
According to historical documents, archival practices in the Muslim Orient stretch back to antiquity, but archives in the modern sense emerged in Turkmenistan in the late nineteenth century, when administrative bodies were formed in the Transcaspian region and each of them kept their own records – documents that later became part of the first archival collections. November 5, 1929 was a day of the formal establishment of the Central State Archive.
Over the decades, archival institutions of Turkmenistan collected, recorded, systematized, researched and processed documents, exercised supervision over archival procedures and managed institutional archives. This is how the National Archival Fund was created. With 235 organizations officially registered at the Central State Archive, massive efforts are being made to preserve their records and documents.
The conference attendees highlighted that the archive sector and its development receive strong state support. The protection and worldwide popularization of the Turkmen nation’s material and spiritual heritage has now been identified as priority areas of Turkmenistan’s policy. The archives, containing a large array of valuable documents, which are part of the historical and cultural heritage, have a huge role to play in tackling the tasks.
Some of the conference reports focused on the efforts undertaken in the late 1950s to collect and store documents from personal archives of the country’s outstanding people: writers, scientists, composers, musicians, bagshis (folk musicians), painters, performing artists, doctors, prominent statesmen, military commanders, and veterans of the Great Patriotic War. In 1959, the Department of Literature and Art was created in the Central State Archive to deal with the issues.
As noted, the archive complex tooled with high-tech equipment has everything necessary for storing documentary films, photographs and other materials.
Turkmen archivists also conduct research, search and publishing activities. Eloquent examples are the five-volume editions: ‘Khatyra’ published to commemorate soldiers and military officers, who valiantly fought in the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), those missing in action and those who died in battle; and ‘Shokhrat’– to honor soldiers who returned home victorious.
Aside from that, the Main Archives Department under the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan publishes the historical and document-based journal, Türkmen Arhiwi, intended for a wide readership. The main aim of the journal published in the Turkmen and Russian languages is to popularize documents of the National Archival Fund of Turkmenistan (NAFT), to develop the theoretical basis of archival science in the country and to give coverage to achievements in the field.
Access to archival records and materials allows looking back into the past and stimulating interest to the country’s history. Among those actively using NAFT documents are scientists, undergraduate and postgraduate students, composers, conductors, ethnographers, etc. It has become traditional for the Archive to host film screenings and lectures, meetings of students’ research societies and to offer tours of its museum.
Photo exhibitions were organized for the conference participants and guests, who came to congratulate the Central State Archive on this glorious occasion. One of them illustrates the history and development of archival science in Turkmenistan and activities of the Central State Archive, as well as tells the stories of people who devoted much of their lives to the profession.
The second exhibition, featuring documents from special archival collections, is dedicated to scientists, cultural and art workers. To mark the special occasion, the Central State Archive’s depository, its holy of holies, opened its doors for a tour.
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