I began my career as an archivist in July 1974, and by August 1974 I discovered, among the badly classified archives meant to destruction, real treasures that I can not reveal here. But the following photos illustrate the danger represented by the temptation to destroy the unclassified magmas of archives considered as having no interest.


My second experience took place at the level of the archives of a wilaya: 5000 unclassified archival boxes piled up on the ground. The reclassification operation was carried out with my technical assistance by the archivist of the wilaya. In 1980 I had my third experience when the General Attorney of the Republic asked for my opinion on piles of archives in disorder that his collaborators considered uninteresting, and proposed consequently to destroy them.

I began by reminding the General Attorney and his collaborators of the legislative rules which prohibited the destruction of archives without the regulatory approval of the National Archives, and that it was necessary to identify the archives before making any decision on  their destruction. The General Attorney accepted our opinion, and ordered the implementation of our recommendations. A team was formed headed by Omar Mimouni, my deputy, to lead a large-scale operation. The reorganization and reclassification of archive magmas was completed for almost two years. At the end of this operation, treasures were unearthed including records of the Malki Cadi (Muslim judge) dating from 1792 to 1837, before the colonial invasion. The Cadi recorded the marriage and divorce documents, as well as the official proclamations of the Beys (Princes) of Constantine. It should be noted that the marriage documents specified the cash dowry paid to the bride, which could be scattered over a maximum of five years. In the case  of a divorce, before five years  the husband had to pay his debt to his wife before filing the divorce petition. Other vital information about the society of Constantine at the end of the 18th century was discovered in addition to the conditions of marriage and divorce: currency at that time (Rial), type of jewelry and precious tissue offered to wives, addresses of witnesses, their professions, ... Add to these precious records, the archives of the colonial administration: Notaries studies, civil status archives, minutes and records of justice, conviction proves, simple police tickets...

During his visit to these places, the Minister of Justice was wonderfully surprised by the results of this work which had mobilized the staff of the archives of the wilaya, the staff of the Palace of Justice, and also the liberable prisoners. Rewards fell for the Attorney General and the Registrar for Archives. The minister also ordered to organize in Constantine a national seminar on judicial archives in which the chief clerks of all the courts of Algeria participated.

And such discoveries have staked my entire professional life.

Thus, I had to work with  two methods for the scientific treatment of archives in disorder: the first for the scattered bundles and boxes, the second ,more difficult , for disordered  archives piled on the ground in the form of scattered papers  from exploded files of various origins dating from different eras. I operated like archaeologists; I avoided using the "bulldozer" method to deal with them. In the apparent disorder, there is always an order that must be preserved to restore the original files by reclassifying the sheets one by one.

Today, I am ready to take care of all archives in disorder, in any form they are,   in the activities of my office.



Step One: Diagnosing the state of the archives.

Step Two: Restoring the original files

Step Three: Developing the archives according to the recommendations of the International Council on Archives

My book in Arabic about setting up the "Integrated Archival System"

Step Four: Scanning and Microfilming the archives with a single view, using a hybrid camera.



Abdelkrim BADJADJA

Consultant in Archival Science 

P.O. Box 38393 - Abu Dhabi - UAE