Although occupied for more than 300 years, the Turks and Caicos Islands have been historically governed from afar. The absence of direct governance has resulted in limited archival conservation measures, leaving tens of thousands of rare documents in peril. The absence of funding and conservation consultation has resulted in failed digitisation attempts.
During the 17th through 18th centuries the Turks and Caicos islands were occupied by French, Spanish and English settlers, with limited permanent settlements and virtually no direct governance. It was not until the late 18th Century that British Loyalists, with substantial numbers of slaves, began to arrive and establish settlements throughout the islands. A 1983 survey of colonial archives inventoried 2,000 titles, representing thousands of records. These include church birth-marriage-death records, government correspondence, dispatches, and departmental records, land transactions, newspapers, maps, and donated private collections.
Archives of the Turks and Caicos Islands are limited in scope and availability and given the geographic, cultural and political isolation of this region, and have been and continue to be subject to rapid deterioration.
Stemming from a previous pilot survey project in 2011, the project digitised 15,120 records from two collections: the Government Records and Church Records at the Turks and Caicos National Museum. All staff members of the Turks and Caicos National Museum Foundation were given the opportunity to participate in the digitisation process, to ensure the continuation of the digitisation efforts in the Museum. The ZEMI Foundation also created a manual for the Museum to allow future staff and volunteers to be trained.