AR.C.H.I.ves - A comparative history of archives

Italy has one of the largest and most diverse archival patrimony in the world, including documents from the Middle Ages to the Modern era. Thanks to their exceptional holdings, Italian archives have attracted scholars from around the world since the nineteenth century. However, in the course of the last decades, the Italian archival system has suffered serious and continuous funding cuts, as well as of the reduction of information professional staff. The result is that Italian archival patrimony is at high risk of deterioration. We therefore strongly support the purposes of the event 'Get Inspired by the Archives', hoping that it will demonstrate the importance of our archival patrimonynot only to the Italian government, but also to all citizens. What is a stake is not just a huge amount of paper, but our history.


Additional Info

  • Intestazione estesa:

    AR.C.H.I.ves - A comparative history of archives in late medieval and early modern Italy

  • Indirizzo:

    Birkbeck, University of London 28 Russell Square - WC1B 5DQ

  • Località: London
  • Informazioni:

    The AR.C.H.I.ves project, funded by the European Research Council, studies the history of the archives and of the chanceries that oversaw their production, storage and organization in late medieval and early modern Italy: essentially from the creation of the first chanceries in city-states in the late twelfth century to the opening of the Archivi di Stato that, after the ancient states’ dissolution, preserved documents as tools for scholarship rather than administration. Italian states were at the forefront in the institutionalization of documentary preservation on a large scale, and the country as a whole has an extraordinary rich and diverse archival patrimony. Because of its fragmented political history, concentrating on Italy means having access to the archives of a wide variety of regimes; in turn, as institutions pursuing similar functions, archives lend themselves to comparison and therefore such research may help us overcome the traditional disconnectedness in the study of Italy’s past. On the other hand, the lack of central repositories, and the diversity of the organizing principles of each archive, have meant that Italian archives have often seemed disorderly to scholars who have no local knowledge. Yet this project builds precisely on the basis of the plurality of Italy’s archives, and on their overwhelming closeness to the premodern institutions that created them, to demonstrate the importance of their history. We have recently published the volume 'Archivi e archivisti in Italia tra medioevo ed età moderna' (Roma: Viella, 2015), focused on the history of 'archive professionals' between the Fifteenth and the eighteenth century. We are now working on a special issued dedicated to the archival turn in Early Modern Europe for the Journal of European History Quarterly, and a collection of sources concerning the history of Italian archives.