Meet the team behind The Notarial Archives Foundation

Meet the team behind The Notarial Archives Foundation

Is-Sigill comes to life from a collaboration between Mvintage and the Notarial Archives Foundation. In our campaign blog, we divulged with you the details behind our collection and where the inspiration came from. Today, we are introducing the amazing team of women behind NAF!

The Notarial Archives date back to the time of the Order of the Knights of St John and the Archives are an amazing source of information. Here you can find notarial deeds to trace inheritances and are also a source of primary historical research.

What makes our new collection even more special is the hard work this group of women put to preserve a crucial part of Malta’s history. They are on a mission to restore a national treasure. So, without further ado, let’s meet the ladies!

Joan Abela: 

Joan, also Joan of Archives, is visiting Senior Lecturer at the Department of Legal History and Research Methods and the Faculty of Laws and the University of Malta. Furthermore, Consultant Historian on the ERDF Project for the Rehabilitation of the Notarial Archives between 2017 and 2020. In 2005, while still doing her master’s degree in history, she founded a voluntary organisation, the Notarial Archives Resource Council, in a bid to generate funds from the private sector to save these historic archives from their pitiful state of preservation and to create much needed awareness about the importance of Maltese paper heritage. Joan is also a Member of the National Order of Merit for her role in preserving Malta’s heritage and is also a published author.


Chanelle Briffa:

Chanelle was introduced to the world of Maltese archives during her studies. She immediately signed up to start volunteering and completed her BA in Library Information and Archive studies as well as an MA in Conservation of Books and Library Materials at West Dean college in the UK. Chanelle is an Archives Conservator at the Notarial Archives and an MPhil/Ph.D. candidate at the University of Malta.



Charlene Ellul:

Charlene’s journey with the Notarial Archives Foundation started when she felt her life was at a crossroad. She desired to dedicate her time to something she’s truly passionate about: computing and history. With the help of Dr Joan Abela, Charlene enrolled at the University of Malta for a Masters in Artificial Intelligence within the ICT department. Charlene embarked on a project called Notarypedia – a knowledge graph of automatically extracted data using AI trained models and won the special prize for innovation of the presidency by the Council of Notaries of the EU.


Christina Meli:

Christina’s love for research and the thrill of finding new information about Malta’s history was kindled by her experience at The Notarial Archives. She volunteers at the Foundation but also worked on the ‘Adopt a Notary’ scheme, countless NAF projects and was also a Research Support Officer with the Department of Art and Art History at UM. She believes that raising awareness through simple activities is essential for more people to know about the enthralling heritage laying within the walls of the Notarial Archives.


Isabelle Camilleri:

Isabelle was introduced to the Notarial Archives Foundation eight years ago through voluntary work at the Foundation. A couple of months later, she started working at the Archives in Valletta and never looked back. She started looking through the manuscripts and learned so much about Malta’s history and sorted endless loose documents into various centuries, stored away in acid-free blotting paper folders for future research.


Maria Borg:

Maria Borg began her journey at the Notarial Archives as a volunteer in 2013 while she was still a student. Her time at the Archives continued to encourage and inspire her to pursue a career in conservation and completed her BA in History of Art and MA in Conservation of Books and Library Materials at West Dean College in the UK. She is particularly interested in decorative features in buildings and is fascinated by cross-cultural influences between East and West


Theresa Zammit Lupi:

Theresa started working at the Archives in 2013 and continues to do voluntary work on a regular basis. Her passion is to save the Archive’s historic collection. In 2017, Theresa was awarded a Fellowship at Harvard University. She also studied book and paper conservation in Florence for three years and travelled all over the world for leisure and work including UK, Italy, Egypt, and Switzerland.


Vanessa Buhagiar:

Vanessa’s journey with NAF started in 2018 while sitting for her MA in Mediterranean Studies at the University of Malta. Her wish was always to work in the Maltese heritage sector, but she didn’t know exactly how. That was until Joan introduced her to the world of palaeography which in a nutshell, is the study of scripts and handwriting. Vanessa is now employed as a palaeographer and part of her duties is cataloguing early modern documents. She is a dedicated volunteer with the NAF and conducts research on Maltese manuscripts.

What an inspirational group of ladies! NAF introduced an initiative called ‘Adoption Scheme’ through which companies and private individuals ‘adopt’ an item, volume, or entire notarial collection from the Notarial Archives, thus sponsoring its conservation and ensuring its preservation for future generations. You too can help in this. Head over to NAF’s Facebook page to find out more.