Place of birth
National identity

Joel Benjamin

Short biography
Joel Benjamin was the Deputy Librarian and Archivist at the University of Guyana. Before he died at the tragically early age of 45 in 1989, he contributed immensely to the collating and preserving of material and information vital to Guyana’s historical and cultural knowledge. His articles, on little known Guyanese literature and 19th century drama, were published in Kyk-over-Al.

Ian McDonald records the following tribute which was published in Kyk 40:

". . . In the larger sweep of a nation’s life very, very few people are of any importance at all. Joel Benjamin was one of those truly valuable Guyanese. The work he was doing was absolutely indispensable, completely irreplaceable. . . He was, quite simply, the supreme authority on Guyanese books and documents and maps and prints. He was Guyana’s greatest bibliophile by far. His whole life was devoted to seeking out, recording, catalguing and preserving and writing about Guyanese history and Guyanese books and documents. . .

. . . Joel Benjamin was one of the most remarkable men I ever met. His life overflowed with delight and a sense of deepest satisfaction in what he did. And what he did was infinitely important to his country, to its history, to its heritage - to the nation’s soul."

Jeremy Poynting adds: "I met Joel Benjamin in the course of my own research in Guyana. He was unfailingly helpful and generous with his time and encouragement. The period in which we met was a bleak one in Guyana’s history, but unlike some I met he refused to despair. There had been as difficult times in the past, he told me, from which Guyana had always shown the capacity to recover. It is preservers like Joel Benjamin who ensure the means of recovery."