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Celebrating the Life


A product of broad international collaboration, these digitized documents from the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive (AHPN) aim to facilitate scholarly and legal research into a vast cache of historical documentation. The discovery of the National Police Historical Archive in 2005 opened an extensive and timely resource for the study of Guatemalan history and human rights in the region, spanning a broad array of topics from Guatemala's armed conflict between 1960 and 1996 to the sexually transmitted disease experiments performed at the behest of the United States government in the 1940s. This site currently includes over 10 million scanned images of documents from the National Police Historical Archive. This digital archive mirrors and extends the physical archive that remains preserved in Guatemala as an important historical patrimony of the Guatemalan people.

There are three main resources users can access from here to assist in making the research process with the AHPN digital archive as productive as possible. First, some brief instructions and sample search strategies can be found on the About this Site page. For more in depth research, we suggest taking some time to read our AHPN Digital Archive User Guide, which includes numerous examples of how to locate specific types of documents. Ultimately, productive research in the archive will require an in-depth understanding of the organizational structure and functions of the National Police and its many constituent units.

The single best source for this information is the book, From Silence to Memory: Revelations of the AHPN.

This is not a full text search engine like Google, but rather a digital iteration of what you would encounter working in the massive paper archive in Guatemala. When you go to an archive, you will seldom find the exact document you are looking for right away. It will often take many hours of investigation to find relevant documents, if they exist at all. This Archive is arranged in accordance with the professional archival principles of provenance and original order to reflect the Guatemalan National Police administrative structure, and understanding that structure is a valuable way to start.

The AHPN Digital Archive is a collaborative project of the University of Texas' Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies, Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, and Benson Latin American Collection, with the Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional de Guatemala. We hope this resource will serve to promote a better understanding of the social and political history of Guatemala and will facilitate the search for truth and respect for human rights in the region.

The brief video below shows parts of the archival processing work that takes place at the AHPN, as well as the digitization which ultimately culminates in the documents being put online here on the AHPN Digital Archive.