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Foreign Ministry Archives, Santiago

Page history last edited by Paul Keenan 12 years, 10 months ago

Date of tip: 6 May 2005

Source: Tanya Harmer, t.harmer@lse.ac.uk


Location:  Ministry of Foreign Relations, Bandera 52, entrepiso, Santiago. Chile.


Contact Details:

Teléfonos: 56-2 -6794522 / 56-2- 6794523

Fax: 56-2-6883550 


How to get there: The Ministry is on Bandera between the Alameda (or Avenida Bernado O’Higgins) and Moneda. Metro stops: La Moneda or Universidad de Chile


Link to archive:  http://www.minrel.gov.cl  Follow link to Gestión Administrativa and then click on Archivo General Histórico for link to archive.


Language: Spanish


Getting started: There appears to be no official application process to gain access to the archive but you will need to write to the head of the archive and explain your topic of research before you arrive (details below). If you are granted access to the archives you will need to present a letter from you supervisor confirming your status and research topic so that they can confirm that you are a serious researcher.


Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday (9am-6pm), Friday (9am-5pm)


General working conditions: There is a small but comfortable room with 7 desks where you will be able to consult the documents and you are free to take notebooks, pens and personal belongings including your laptop/scanner/camera into the room. The archives are located in the Foreign Ministry but there is very little security and it is very open and friendly.


Consultation: You are able to order as many files as you want but in most cases, and especially with the most contemporary documents, you will not have any idea as to how many files you will receive until the archivist brings them up as there is no index for them. Once you have finished with individual files you can place them on a trolley outside the reading room and they will be refilled. If you wish to keep them until the next day, you can store them in a cabinet in the reading room that is locked every night. You are largely responsible for this process although you may be asked to confirm how many files you have occasionally. However, the cabinet is often full so it is wise not to order too much at once otherwise it is difficult to store them.


Policy on technology: Laptops, scanners and cameras are all permitted as long as you are not consulting records relating to countries that have borders with Chile. (Mobile phones are also allowed in the reading room but reception is terrible).  


Photocopy policy: The receptionist will make photocopies at your request for a fee of 30 pesos per page (In autumn 2004 the exchange rate was 1000 pesos to the £1).  


Particularities: There is a very small kiosk shop just outside the door to the archives where you can purchase soft drinks, snacks and sandwiches or empanadas but if this doesn’t appeal, you are in central Santiago so there are plenty of choices for eating and drinking very near by. 


How to apply for classified files: As there is no index for documents relating to the period after 1943 it is difficult to know what to ask for but the documents are generally divided by the country you are looking at and then normally appear to be divided into ‘ordinary’ and ‘confidential’, the latter of which will include secret and strictly confidential files. You can specify that you only want confidential files but be careful not to forget ‘telexes’ and ‘aerograms’ which have a collection of ordinary and confidential documents within one file. It is probably best to order all files on a specific country initially and then discard any that you don’t want so that you can see how the system works. There is no way of telling if classified documents have been withheld from files, where they are if this is the case, and how you might be able to access them in the future. I recommend that you speak to the archivists and quiz them on what other files may be available because in my case, after persistent requests, I found useful documents in folders marked ‘Memorandos’ which did not pertain to any country or dates. If you wish to consult files relating to countries that have borders with Chile then the process is completely different. You will have to get special permission from the Ambassador in charge of this department (“Países Limitrofes”) but the archivists can arrange a meeting for you or put you in touch with the relevant people prior to your visit and depending on your subject you will be granted or denied access. If you are granted access, you will not be able to photocopy, scan or photograph documents pertaining to these countries because the relations between Chile and its neighbours are considered to be sensitive and ongoing. 


Contact name in case of questions regarding classified files: Sandra Gutierrez can be contacted by email on: s.gutierrez@minrel.gov.cl 


Etc: Please note that the web page also has comprehensive lists of information about other archives in Latin America under the link ‘RADI’ which is stands for the RED DE ARCHIVOS DIPLOMÁTICOS IBEROAMERICANOS This information was compiled by Carmen Gloria Duhart in collaboration with Sandra Guitarrez and provides an impressive database for historians. You can access this information directly at: 



Places to stay: Hostal Bellavista. It is incredibly friendly and clean and within 30 minutes’ walk from the archives or 5 minutes’ walks from the metro. See http://www.bellavistahostel.com/  

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