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Government officials unveil the new name for the Cayman Islands National Archive building.

Published 11th August 2011, 5:31pm

The Cayman Islands National Archive (CINA) building has been renamed in memory of Dr. Philip E. Pedley, who passed away last year.

During an unveiling ceremony on the compound, the founding CINA director was posthumously lauded for 15 years of contributions towards preserving Cayman’s oral, written and photographic history. 

Remembering his colleague and friend, Deputy Governor, the Hon. Donovan Ebanks, MBE, noted how tirelessly Dr. Pedley worked to gather historical information and records housed in local and overseas institutions.

“He conducted extensive research in several European countries, including the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Spain and he also visited Cuba, Jamaica and Bermuda. He returned with numerous copies of historical records which were incorporated into the archive’s ever-increasing collection,” Mr. Ebanks explained.

“He also established a fully functioning micrographics and conservation laboratory and shared knowledge of these processes with archival institutions in Belize and Guyana.”

Mr. Ebanks also applauded his involvement in the release of numerous historical publications, particularly the 32 Storm, the Our Islands’ Past series and Dr. Pedley’s most notable contribution, to Founded upon the Seas: A History of the Cayman Islands and Their People, by Dr. Michael Craton and the New History Committee.

Premier the Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP, also had high praise for Dr. Pedley: “He was rare indeed, a real man amongst men. He never faltered in dedicating his trademark attentiveness and energy to the historical treasure-trove that CINA [became], In fact it was due to his efforts that the National Archive and Public Records Law was passed.”

The accolades continued with Education, Training and Employment Minister, the Hon. Rolston Anglin, JP, noting, “Dr. Pedley showed the hallmarks of a great leader because he clearly recognised that the organisation was bigger than he was.”

He also expressed confidence that the archive would grow from strength-to-strength, “because Dr. Pedley had laid a solid foundation and had groomed his successor with care.”  

In conveying her thanks to government, Dr. Pedley’s widow, Arthurlyn Pedley, admitted that she was initially surprised when she heard that the archive would be renamed in memory of her husband.

“The idea had never once entered my mind,” she said. “But then, as I thought about it, and contemplated all that he’d done for the National Archive during his tenure as director, it seemed very fitting.

“He believed that the work was extremely important to the Cayman Islands and he considered himself privileged to have been hired to spearhead the task.”

She also seized the opportunity to advocate for another of her husband’s passions: a purpose-built archive building: “Most people here know that the financial constraints faced by various governments over the years, caused these plans to be shelved,” she said.

“But Ivan reinforced the fact that had we had a building prior to 2004, many government records would have been saved and the time and money that went into restoring damaged documents would most likely have been averted.”

The ceremony ended with the unveiling of new signage and a dedication plaque bearing a quote from Dr. Pedley. Attendees were also able to view some of CINA’s historical documents on display in the reference library.

Others attending the ceremony included HE the Governor, Mr. Duncan Taylor, CBE; George Town Legislative Assembly Member Ellio Solomon; Education Ministry Deputy Chief Officers Vaughan Carter and Christen Suckoo; CINA Director Kimlon Lawrence, and Dr. Pedley’s son James.

Sidebar: Dr. Pedley joined the public service in 1974, as an English and religious education teacher at the Cayman Islands High School. He continued his own education, obtaining a PhD in Literature in 1988.

Then in 1990 he was appointed director of the new National Archive, and he earned a master’s in records management and archive administration the following year. He went on to nurture the National Archive to its official opening in 1994.

Under his leadership the archive’s collection grew from a few boxes of documents, to more than 15,000 photographic images and 3,600-catalogued items, the oldest of which dates from 1810. The archive also has a moving image collection of 66-catalogued titles and a reference library containing over 4,400 titles. (GIS)