The Aruba Collection offers a glance into Aruban history, one click away!

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(Oranjestad)—This week marked a huge accomplishment for Aruban historians and archivists, as the National Library of Aruba (BNA), announced that they, in collaboration with The Internet Archive, have created an online platform in which people from all around the globe can access the history and culture of Aruba. Containing over 100,000 files so far, the Aruba Collection holds documents, photos, and even 3D images that date back hundreds—or even thousands of years.

Aruba Today sat down with Mr. Peter Scholing from the BNA and Edrick Croes from the national archives of Aruba (ANA) to talk about their mission regarding the (digital) Aruban collection, and the types of documents they currently have and continue to receive throughout the years form all around the world.

There are thousands of different files in the Aruba Collection, including documents ranging from earlier settlements in the colonial era, slavery on the islands, the families that have come and gone throughout hundreds of years, to recipes on traditional Aruban cooking, digital copies of old (and discontinued) newspapers, and even pictures submitted from the time when the first refinery LAGO opened on Aruba, and the island saw a boom in migration from different parts of the Caribbean and the US.

Scholing and Croes mentioned that one of the main challenges about this project was the fact that historical documents and stories about Aruba have been scattered all over the world over the past hundreds of years, and so it has been a continuous effort to search for those lost stories and to link missing pieces to incomplete puzzles. For them it has also been an adventure at the very least, as they continue to uncover more random pieces of lost records—some even by accident.

Through collaborative efforts with 11 separate entities, the collection data base was set up to offer the visitor an accessible experience navigating the rich deposit of the database. The database acts as a hub where materials and documents housed under these different entities can be found right under one website domain. These entities include the BNA, ANA, UNOCA, the national museum (MANA), Monumentenfonds, University of Aruba and more.

A few years ago, the BNA campaigned for people to bring their own collection of old documents or photos through their program called “Trece” (bring) that could be stored in the archives of Aruba. This way it creates a pathway for the new generation to feel more connected to their cultural heritage and also inspire them to keep preserving the fragile, yet important files of our island’s stories.

The archivists have also emphasized about the contribution that tourists have had on the growth of the collection, as many visitors have shared their collections of old photos of relatives that have either visited or work at the refinery during the early 1920/30s, offering a different glance of the Aruban landscape, and taking us back in time to a place where Aruba was experiencing its first stages of industrial development.

3D scans of ancient artifacts are also a project that is currently being developed at the BNA. In collaboration with 1403 with the Brenchie’s lab, they started creating 3D images of ancient artifacts, offering an entire view of the object from all angles. This can be found as well on the website.

There are hundreds of documents that you can find and read, all ranging in languages like Papiamento, Dutch, English, and Spanish. The national library is interested in digitalizing all of their files, as well as those found in the Netherlands. This was especially important during the pandemic, when they realized that many people were starting to use their already existing digital database all over the world.

The collection can be found on