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Snoa archives in Mongui Maduro Library, Curaçao

Mongui Maduro Library not only holds a varied collection of around 9.500 historical maps, records, musical scores, photographs, postcards, newspapers, magazines books and thematically categorized news clippings . The library is honored to host the archives of the synagogue Mikvé Israel-Emanuel (MIE) generally referred to as the “ Snoa archives” . This archival collection of the Curaçao Sephardic Jewish community, dating back to 1711, is safely preserved in the library’s climate-controlled depot .

S.A.L. 'Mongui' Maduro bibliotheek, Curaçao
S.A.L. ‘Mongui’ Maduro bibliotheek, Curaçao / foto Aart G. Broek

The archives are a  collection of minutes, financial transactions and the registers of births, circumcisions, Marriages (Ketubot) and deaths. These are valuable sources for genealogical research of Jewish ancestry. One can journey through these historical records to trace the diaspora of the Curaçaoan Jewish community, which is one of the oldest in the Western hemisphere. The documents not only provide information about the Sephardi of Curaçao’s community and its conviviality with the rest of Curaçaoan society. They also reveal its social and economic connection with other Jewish communities worldwide.

Snoa Curaçao - foto Aart G. Broek
Snoa Curaçao – foto Aart G. Broek

For several years now the MIE synagogue receives a lot of requests in the wake of the opportunity for descendants of Sephardi to apply for Spanish or Portuguese nationality. Most of the requesters are Venezuelans and Colombians. Any person who can evidence his or her Sephardic Jewish ancestry may apply through the appropriate channels for Spanish or Portuguese citizenship.  The staff of the Mongui  Maduro Library  conducts the background research in the MIE archives which is needed to prove the Sephardic origin of these applicants.
Based on this research the board of the MIE synagogue provides the applicants with certificates proving their Sephardic Jewish ancestry. As a result of this successful cooperation between our library and MIE the synagogue was able to give out  a total of 709 of these  certificates since the beginning of 2016.
The researchers often  have to go back until the 18th century to find a  great-great-great grandfather who indeed was Jewish, because the connection with the Jewish community was lost due to a non-Jewish marriage.
Anyone who wishes to consult the MIE archive material can send a request to to receive the “Rules and Regulations for Access to the MIE-Archives” or contact Lianne Leonora at Tel. 7375119 or email  Persons interested in the application procedure for certificates of Sephardic origin can contact our library via these two e-mail addresses as well.

source: Mongui Maduro Newsletter 3, which contains quite some information worth reading

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