History and traditions recounted in memorial cards donated to Heritage Malta

The history of a popular funerary tradition and a wealth of information on thousands of Maltese transpire from a significant collection of memorial cards donated to Heritage Malta by Mr Alfred Calleja.

Mr Calleja donated his collection of memorial cards to Heritage Malta CEO, Mr Kenneth Gambin, in the presence of Senior Curator Mr Kenneth Cassar, this morning at the Inquisitors Palace and National Museum of Ethnography.

The collection of memorial cards amounts to thousands. These cards illustrate individuals from various walks of life ranging from important politicians who shaped Maltese history, footballers, ecclesiastics and artists among others. These have shared a common fate with the simpler, yet equally important categories of teachers, fishermen, farmers and bus drivers who made it to this collection. Some of the memorial cards remind us of war victims and major tragedies.

This donation is the result of a collecting spree which started 35  years ago when Alfred Calleja was sorry to come across a discarded memorial card. He amassed a collection which ranges from the late 19th century to more recent examples to illustrate the developments of this funerary tradition. Besides, this collection is a treasure trove of ethnographic details such as hobbies, professions and fashion along the years.

Heritage Malta CEO, Mr Gambin, thanked Mr Calleja and emphasized that such initiatives widen the national collection and falls within Heritage Malta’s remit of enhancing cultural heritage through conservation and accessibility.

Mr Calleja confessed that upon picking his first card, he never imagined collecting memorial cards was going to become his hobby. He thanked Heritage Malta and was satisfied that his collection has ended in good hands that will guarantee their preservation and accessibility to researchers.