Kyrenia National Archive and
(Milli Arşiv ve Arastirma Merkezi)
By Ismail Veli
During my last visit to Cyprus in November 2013 my aim was to search for any archive material available at the National Archive and Research Institute in Kyrenia and the Vakif Dairesi in Nicosia.
The purpose of my research was to find anything and everything on my birthplace of Akincilar/Lurucina. I have to admit that having been in the UK since 1962 I was very apprehensive as my previous visits to the Kyrenia Archives on other subjects was disappointing as I found the facilities very limited to say the least, therefore my expectations were not very high. Many friends who have supported me in the search for our village history and roots were also of the same opinion, but there is an old saying in English “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”.
I had planned on spending at least 3 days from morning until closing time. My first impression of the new and expanded building was one of surprise and hope. It’s been expanded & renovated to a much higher standard. On entering the main building I requested assistance on how to search for any Ottoman archives relating to Lurucina, To my amazement within a few minutes a young lady Alev Kaymakamoglu and a young gentleman Ayhan Darcan advised that it would be best to call an Ottoman translator.
Within 10 minutes or less Mrs Esin Fatma Dogac came to the research room and after a brief explanation of what I was looking for Mrs Dogac and Mr A Darcan checked the Ottoman archive records on their computer and lo and behold at least 60 pages of Documents, including a comprehensive list of the last Ottoman census of 1878/9 was offered to me on a disc.
The whole process including a friendly conversation took no more than half an hour. I was so happy that my planned 3 days of searching was given to me on a plate with no searching whatsoever. Using the spare time I looked around and was amazed at the immense amount of Ottoman and other documents waiting to be filed and above all translated. It seems there are only around 60 persons in the TRNC who can actually read the Ottoman Script and most of these are currently students.
The point of this article is that while I spent 3 days in acquiring my army discharge papers in an endless cycle of visits to the Internal Ministry, Police Station, Asal Sube, Kaymakamlik etc the bureaucratic pass the parcel style establishment is nothing short of a farce.
Frankly without my friend Ekrem Feride Öztürkler I would not have had any time to visit family and friends. 3 days was long enough.
On my own it would have taken much longer. While the government is content to support a bloated bureaucratic whale that only serves to stifle a viable economic base, it seems much slower in diverting valuable personnel into Institutions like the National archive translations where thousands of younger people not to mention, journalists, researchers, students etc could and should benefit from the wealth of information available, but not yet translated or filed to a standard that will encourage a much higher level of visits to such an important place. The ability to then share this wealth of information should in theory present a much better understanding of our history and culture. The confidence in the ability to present ourselves on the international stage as a result of a much better informed public may in itself pay greater dividends in our people’s capacity to lobby and inform the International community of our rights, history and culture in a more concise and positive manner. In addition the revenue increase from the sales of archive materials will in time improve the facilities even further.
No doubt a lot of money has been spent and is still being spent there, but more needs to be done. In the meantime people like Mrs Esin Fatma Dogac, Ayhan Darcan & Alev Kaymakamoglu together with Director, Gõkhan Şenĝor and few other staff are doing an incredible job of assisting and helping visitors with typical Turkish hospitality.
Their dedication and love for their profession left me in no doubt that with more assistance and personnel the staff at the National Archive and Research Institute (Milli Arşiv ve Arastirma Merkesi) have the ability to serve the public in a way that other offices ( as mentioned above) have failed.
I would like to thank Chris Elliott of cyprusscene.com for his sharing of the following information given below.
Visitors can find surviving archive documents on the following periods. There is also a website available. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0392 815 2156
1570-1878 Latter Ottoman Period
1878-1960 British Colonial Period
1960-1963 Republic of Cyprus Period
1964-1983 Turkish Administration Period
1983- To date TRNC Period
Visit the webpage to see even more: http://arsiv.kamunet.net. As this is in Turkish language only, select the tab Eserler and then you can select a number of English language records to read. For PC users, by right and left clicking on your mouse on the web page you can achieve a rudimentary translation. It’s not a perfect solution but you can toggle back and forth to find articles to read.
Also try reading the cyprusscene.com article click here it also explains how to navigate through this website to find English language information plus the article has a large number of interesting pictures about Milli Arşiv.
A particular thank you to Mrs Fatma Esin Dogac for her amazing support, guidance and advice on the Ottoman records of the village of Lurucina/ Akincilar.
Anyone wishing to see the families of Lurucina on my website can do so by clicking here.