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Archival Survival Guide

These pages provide the practical details which are invariably crucial for successful research, such as the nature of the holdings (including special collections), price of photocopying, languages spoken, accessibility of documents, availability of staff, location of nearby restaurants and accommodation -- as well as contact details and web site links.


Country Index
Austria : Czech Republic : Slovakia : Poland : Ukraine : Hungary : Italy : USA : UK : Canada


General Notes

One of the first rules of thumb when dealing with archives in Central Europe is to find out when they close for the summer. Often, archives close through July, August, and sometimes part of September. The dates are sometimes set without much publicity. It is always advisable to telephone or E-mail the archive ahead of time and ask the staff the dates for summer closings.

Our member Jaroslav Miller has noted that 'practically all sources which are more than 500 years old are in Latin or German in Central Europe. In Poland and Hungary, Latin was widely used even in later periods. From the 16th to 17th century onwards, German prevails. Bohemia and Moravia are exceptions for the early modern period: the law of the land explicitly said that all official documents had to be written in Czech.'

Wherever possible, the survival guides include address information and/or website links.

Please note that contact information and stated conditions for archives and libraries is always changing. We are endeavouring to keep these guides as up-to-date as possible; however, our members only visit these institutions intermittently. Therefore, we have provided dates on all submissions for site visitors' information.

The HABSBURG mailing list and the Austrian Studies Newsletter from the University of Minnesota (see their "Streetwise Guide to the Archives" -- http://www.cas.umn.edu/) have recently begun cataloguing reports from historians who have been working in various Central European archives.

In this series, Mark Pittaway has given the most detailed description of archival work in Hungary (post-1945) so far. It is available on H-net: click here. -- Thanks to Martin Mevius


Some archives require you to state their or othersf copyright with unusual documents such as manuscripts. Take note when browsing through the websites.


Our member Monika Baar tells me that when you search online catalogues for Hungarian libraries and archives from abroad, you might only find the newest acquisitions, if any, and you will have to consult the card catalogues on site.


Guides to Archives in Austria


Austrian National Library (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek)

The Austrian National Library is in the Hofburg, with the entrance directly onto Heroes Square (Heldenplatz). To the right, as you go in, are the lockers and you should always have 10 Ös for the deposit. To use the library you require a day card (20 Ös) or a year card (100 Ös). You can get this at the front desk. The main reading room is on the ground floor and to collect your books you must go to the desk directly opposite the reading room. To order books you can either use the internet and order on-line (www.onb.ac.at) or fill in the standard form found in the library. It normally takes from a few hours to a day for delivery. There is a bank of computers to the right as you enter the library which can be used to access the library's catalogues. You should then give a standard form to the people at the front desk. You can order ten books at a time and they are kept for one week from the date of order or the last time you used them. Newspapers are found downstairs and must be ordered at the desk there. Current journals and newspapers are found upstairs.

There is also a relatively good and cheap canteen downstairs with meals for about 50 Ös. The Austrian National Library has a very extensive collection and is an invaluable resource for a researcher. You can purchase a photocopy card (at the desk opposite the main reading room) and there are no real restrictions on what you photocopy (i.e. for books published in the last 200 years).

  Jonathan Kwan, Summer 2001

Visit/Contact: http://www.onb.ac.at/about/kontakt/index.htm

Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
Josefplatz 1
Postfach 308
A-1015 Wien

Telephone: +43 (0)1 534 10
Fax: +43 (0)1 534 10 / 280
E-mail: onb@onb.ac.at

Opening hours: http://www.onb.ac.at/ben/oeff/index.htm

Online: http://www.onb.ac.at/


Vienna City and Regional Library (Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek)

The Vienna City and Regional Library is located in the town hall (Rathaus). To get there, go to the University side of the Rathaus (right as you face the Rathaus) and walk in the delivery entrance. Go through the doors to the left, take the lift to the 1st floor and the library is directly to the right. You must have a reader's card (available at the front desk for free). To order books either order on-line (by email at www.stadtbibliothek.wien.at) or ask the librarian on duty. It may take a few hours or they may attend to it immediately. There are only 30-40 reading places but the reading room is normally not full. For photocopies you must fill in a form and give the book and form to the librarian. The holdings are extensive and, for newspapers, is much more pleasant than the newspaper room in the National Library.

  Jonathan Kwan, Summer 2001


Rathaus, Magistratsabteilung 8
A-1082 Wien

Telephone: +43 (0)1 4000 84815, 84808
Fax: +43 (0)1 4000 99 84819

Online: http://www.magwien.gv.at/ma08/m08_leit.htm


Vienna University History Library (Fachbibliothek für Geschichtswissenschaften)

This library is in the main University building on the Ringstraße. Go in the main entrance, go to the right and then left along the inner courtyard. Halfway along is a doorway to a staircase. Go to the top floor and then turn right. The library is at the end, to the right. The lockers are to the right as you go in and require a 10 Ös deposit. The great advantage is that all the books are open shelf. Unfortunately many books have disappeared. The journals are also open shelf and in a separate room. The books, however, cannot be taken out unless you are enrolled at the Vienna University and in any case can only be taken out over weekend.

  Jonathan Kwan, Summer 2001

Online: http://www.univie.ac.at/Wirtschaftsgeschichte/Bibliothek.html


Theatersammlung der österreichischen Nationalbibliothek

Housed in the Palais Lobokowitz in the heart of the First District, adjacent to the Albertina collection and behind the Opera House, the Theatersammlung occupies a wing of the National Theatre Museum. Built around the substantial bequest of early 20th Century Burgtheater director Hugo Thimig, the collection is a unique specialist resource, equally indispensable to Theaterwissenschaftler and Cultural Historians examining the Performing Arts, especially from the 1800s. The collection technically constitutes a specialist part of the National Libraryfs holdings. The printed and published collection (Druckschriftensammlung) is housed for ease of reference above a pleasant, airy reading room with large desks and helpful staff.

Newspaper documentation is housed in the ÖNB proper, but a veritable trove of materials, ranging from Repertoires across the German-speaking territories from the late 19th Century, to compendia of actors, performances and dramas may be found and consulted here. An extensive, though patchily catalogued and in places poorly ordered collection of primary materials constitute the bulk of the Handschriftensammlung, which is housed in a different part of the building under the guardianship of Jarmila Weissenboeck (contact details from the Librarian). Consultations are by appointment only, and be prepared to be flexible, as the reading area is extremely limited, thus necessitating 'timeshare' arrangements with other researchers. These problems aside, the collection is an indispensible source for the specialist; the basic list of materials and bequests given on the Theatermuseum website scarcely does justice to its range and wealth. Of particular note here, of course, is the Hermann Bahr bequest, containing an immensely broad range of correspondence (reflecting his own range, perhaps).

Photocopies are available from both collections, but at the time of writing, the cost of copying printed materials had been raised to a rather prohibitive 50 cents per A4 sheet, although I understand that passive resistance may yet sway the direction to revise the prices. Watch this space. Also, beware the opening hours: lunch breaks are strictly observed, and the library is closed two days a week (Sundays and Mondays). Check the hours ahead of time. If you're exhausted, the nearby Café Tirolerhof offers a passable Apfelstrudel and cream-topped Einspänner, and possibly one of Vienna's best coffee house selections of international newspapers; otherwise the delights of the Ring and the Kärntnerstrasse are easily within reach on foot.

  Robert Pyrah, REVISED May 2002

Online: http://www.theatermuseum.at/flash/page/index1.htm


Guides to Archives in the Czech Republic


The State Central Archive, Prague (Statni Ustredni archiv)

The new State Central Archive building has certainly improved since last winter. It is currently under construction, with only part of the facility in use. The building is situated in Chodov, south of downtown, in Prague 4. Take Metro C to Opatov, then Bus 213 (direction: Zelivskeho) 3 stops to Chodovec. The SUA is a big multi-coloured building on the right. This complex also houses the State Regional Archives and, now, the Archive of the City of Prague. Please note that the main offices of the SUA are still downtown at Karmelitska 2, 11801 Prague 1 - Mala Strana. The new building has opened again after closing in the late 1990s. However, the archive is operating only with a provisional study room which is open Mondays to Thursdays 9-12, 1-3 and Fridays 9-12. You have to leave the building at lunch, but there is the "TOP HOTEL PRAHA" behind the archive with a cafeteria with cheap, if only slightly comforting, meals, and the hotel has a bar with coffee and desserts available.

The SUA will be closing again on the 13th of July (always call them and confirm all dates); they might reopen from August 8th to September 1st, whereupon they will close again until the 28th of September, although it might not be possible to have ordered documents arrive until October 1st. Book your seat and order your sources (3 maximum) by E-mail (sua@mvcr.cz) or telephone well in advance.

The staff speak a little German; some of the archivists speak English and German. Laptops are permitted. The staff are pleasant, and range from being reasonably to extremely helpful, albeit some are a bit talkative. Photocopies are limited to 100 copies (these can be double-sided) per person, per collection; therefore, if you're working with different collections, this will not be a problem. The copies can be mailed abroad upon receipt of payment via post. Copy prices (A4) are: 1-sided - 9 CZK, and 2-sided - 12 CZK, which is fairly steep. The SUA is worth visiting for its great wealth of materials which are indispensable in the study of Czech, Slovak, and Habsburg History and Politics. These include the whole range of government documents, as well as newspaper collections, and information on non-governmental organizations and developments. Its catalogues are searchable at: http://www.mvcr.cz/archivy/index.htm

LIBRARIANS/ARCHIVISTS OF NOTE: Mr. Roman Horky and Ms. Měštanková are extremely helpful. (Summer 2001)

  Larissa Douglass, Summer 2001


Archivni 4
14900 Prague 4

Telephone: +420 (0)2 67 91 10 00
Fax: +420 (0)2 67 91 10 03

Online: http://www.mvcr.cz/archivy/index.htm


Národní Knihovna (National Library), Prague

There aren't enough good things to say about the Czech National Library. It opens early and closes late (except on Sunday, when it's closed). Its staff are pleasant, helpful and generally multilingual. It is conveniently located in the heart of Prague 1 in the Old Town. It is situated within the Klementinum, the Baroque Jesuit complex and courtyard which shields the National Library its neighbour, the State Technical Library, from the street traffic. The entrance to the library is almost directly opposite the walkway onto Charles Bridge on Křižovnická Street. When you enter the library from the Klementinum, turn right. There is an information desk through the first doors. Turn right again to drop off all bags and coats in the cloakroom. Continue into the Hala Služeb (Main Hall) to register as a reader (20 Kč for a one month pass). You can also order books there to the Všeobecná studovna (Main reading room) by filling out paper slips (drop them in the unobtrusive box at the back of the room one day in advance). Check the card catalogues there for older books before you check the online catalogue. Card catalogues are divided linguistically according to Czech or non-Czech sources. Microfilms must be ordered to the Studovna periodik on the second floor.

Upon entering the Library proper you must fill out a slip for the security guards, stating your name, reader number and number and type of books you are carrying into the reading rooms with you. On your left from the guards' station is the Referenční Centrum, where you can use the Internet for free in 15 minute or 1 hour (maximum) blocks upon producing your reader's card.

The Všeobecná studovna is further down the hall from the guards' station on your right. The General, or Main Reading Room dates from the early eighteenth century, and is decorated with dark frescoes. Besides the frescoes, the ceilings are decked with huge, slightly cob-webbed white violin swirls and suspended cherubs. The ornate surroundings are grounded in a pragmatic but easygoing atmosphere. The evenings make for pleasant reading, when classical music concerts from the neighbouring buildings can be heard by the readers.

The Library's holdings are a Czech gem. A large collection of newspapers - current and historical - is complemented by other periodical literature and many other primary sources essential to the study of Czech history. You can search the online catalogue and request sources from the librarians before you arrive. That said, older sources are not necessarily catalogued online and mus t be located in the card catalogues; the librarians may help you with this problem if you write to them before your arrival. Some years of certain newspapers are damaged or missing, in which case you will likely be advised to check the vast newspaper and periodicals collections of the National Museum's Library out in Prague 7. Collections are described here: http://conspectus.nkp.cz/. Photocopying is straightforward. For most newer sources you do it yourself: from the General Reading Room, you ask the librarians for permission to copy the book(s) you've ordered, and they pass them to the desk in the adjoining Main Hall where you can pick them up and photocopy them. There is a cash desk there to pay for copies you make. For older sources, you order everything you want copied on a special form (pages should be marked with slips available from the desk in the General Reading Room). You turn in the book with the order form and pay the Library upon pick up or delivery of the photocopies. Microfilm orders operate similarly. When planning to read microfilms, note that there are only two readers in the Studovna periodik. If you are short of time, make sure you arrive when the library opens in order to gain access to a machine. Otherwise, you may be shunted from reading room to reading room where there are other microfilm readers, if you are lucky; if you are unlucky, you will have to come back the next day.

For breaks, the Library has vending machines and a grim little café. Look instead to the main offerings of the city centre which surround the Klementinum. Some two blocks away on Křižovnická, the U Rudôlfina Pivnice offers Czech fare in its basement at low prices. If you work into the evening, Belle Epoque is nearby also on Křižovnická with good American offerings and excellent steaks. For coffee, go to Café Slavia several blocks down Smetanovo nábřeží (across from the National Theatre) or Café Louvre further down Národní Street (near Tescos). If you want to stretch your legs, avoid the kitsch tourist-ridden theatrics of the lovely Obecní dům (Municipal House), and follow Na poříčí to Café Imperial where there are better prices, worse salads, and a free doughnut with every coffee.

  Larissa Douglass, Autumn 2003 (Visited Library in 2001 and 2003)


The National Library of the Czech Republic
Klementinum 190
110 01 Prague 1

Online: http://www.nkp.cz/


Jihlava State District Archive

Located in the famous mining town in Moravia, this State District Archive offers huge collections of sources of municipal provenance from the 12th century onwards, and records of laws regulating medieval and early modern mining. The new building opened in 1999: laptops are permitted; photocopies are possible; you can scan documents as well. The study room seats approximately ten people. The staff are incredibly polite and willing. You can even have photocopies made free of charge. If you telephone in advance, you can work there even if the archive is officially closed. No one speaks English fluently, but German is Lingua Franca.

  Jaroslav Miller, Autumn 1999


Fritzova 19
586 01 Jihlava

Telephone: +420 (0)66 730 19 63
Fax: +420 (0)66 732 20 67
E-mail: archiv@oku-ji.cz


State District Archive, Znojmo City

The archive is located 5 km from the Austrian border in an old building, but the holdings are rich. Service is good: the wait for documents is no more than ten minutes. The archive is good for researchers who are interested in cultural and social coexistence in the Czech-Austrian border area. Photocopies are possible; and laptops are permitted. Those speaking German will fare better than English-speakers. The staff is friendly.

  Jaroslav Miller, Autumn 1999


Divisovo nam. 5
669 02 Znojmo
Director: Lubomir Mala

Telephone: +420 (0)624 224 330


District and Land Archives, Olomouc

Olomouc is the former capital of Moravian Margravate. As a consequence both archives (which occupy one building) are packed with sources. Documents of possible interest include those which show the relationship between the City and Moravian nobility, or the complete archive of Olomouc bishopric (and, from the second half of the 18th century, archbishopric). Those studying the Reformation or Jewish history would also find valuable material. There is a new building and experts say, 'it is the only fully intelligent house in Olomouc.' Constant humidity in the facility is maintained by computer not only in the deposit halls but also in the toilets! The staff are experienced and willing: their inventories are well done and the study room has 30 seats. The waiting time of delivery of sources is 15 to 25 minutes. Laptops are permitted, and photocopies are possible - even the colourful ones! Everybody speaks German; a few of the staff speak English. If you have problems with reading sources, the staff will assist at any time to provide an explanation and with useful literature. Be aware that on Friday the archive is closed. The staff are currently working on a database of all people whose names appear in sources. It is a giant and long-term project, but if you are looking for particular historical figures, it is extremely helpful.

  Jaroslav Miller, Autumn 1999


U Husova sboru 10
771 11 Olomouc
Director: Jitka Balatkova

Telephone: +420 (0)68 522 04 11, 522 09 19


Municipal Archive in Pilsen

The hometown of Pilsner beer! The Municipal Archive of Pilsen is one of few archives which escaped being moved to a new building. As a result, researchers sit in an old gloomy room and work with sources still covered with "historical dust." The entrance to the archive is located off of the main square - go to the town hall gate, and ask for directions to the archive at the information office at the gate. The Director of the archive is a pleasant man, but his colleague, an elderly woman, would perhaps need a lesson in politeness. Nonetheless, laptops are permitted, as are photocopies.

  Jaroslav Miller, Autumn 1999


Veleslavinova 19, post box 277
301 14 Plzen

Telephone: +420 (0)19 703 26 00, 703 26 01
Fax: +420 (0)19 703 26 02


Moravian Land Archive in Brno

The Central Moravian Archive houses all important documents relating to Moravia, Moravian-Austrian relations, and Moravia-Bohemian relations from the 11th to 20th centuries. It also preserves correspondence of Moravian and Czech nobility and much more. It is a giant edifice, but badly in need of reconstruction or an entirely new building. The study room is relatively small but interest is high. Therefore, researchers should book seats in the archive at least two or three weeks in advance! The delivery time for sources, however, is only 30 minutes. Laptops are permitted, and photocopies are possible. But you should insist on having the photocopy on the same day. Otherwise, you can be left waiting for two or three days.

In general, according to Czech law, sources older than 200 years can be photocopied only with permission of a competent person. But usually, there are no problems. Everybody speaks German, and some people speak English.

  Jaroslav Miller, Autumn 1999


Rajhrad - Klaster
664 61
Director: Marie Kasubova

Telephone: +420 (0)5 472 301 56
Fax: +420 (0)5 472 300 13


The Czech Jewish Museum Library and Archives, Prague

The Czech Jewish Museum Library and Archives building is located in the heart of Josefov, the Jewish quarter of Prague's Old Town. It is best to make an appointment ahead of time with one of the librarians or archivists for your initial visit. When you arrive, you must identify yourself to the guards to get a pass key to enter the rest of the building and will direct you to the Library study room on the first floor.

The Archives hold the records of the Prague Jewish community and collections of private papers, including members of the Brandeis family. You must contact the archivists directly to determine the precise nature of holdings and to gain access to documents. The Library has a good collection of primary and secondary source books, pamphlets and newspapers relevant to the study of Czech Jewish history. Its catalogues are organised thematically in bound volumes; the Library also has an online search engine.

Photocopying is done by the librarians who are generally kind, helpful and multilingual. Still, it's not their prices (A3 5Kč; A4 Kč), but their policy on not photocopying older books and documents (!) that may make for some anxious moments, especially if you only have a limited time for research. In this respect, it is worth noting that the Library is open only on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 to 17:00.

For breaks, you'll find the whole quarter filled with eating establishments which serve the tourist trade and the shoppers on Pařižská Street. For good coffee, sandwiches and French and Czech pastries, try the Au Gourmand café at Dlouhá 1; and if you don't mind the backpacking crowd, for good club sandwiches (and bagels) try Bohemia Bagel around the corner at Masná 2. Franz Kafka would probably wince, but you can also try the café named after him at 12 Široká Street. It has good salads and walls emblazoned with Kafkaesque remarks which may or may not inspire further research: "Wir graben den Babylonischen schacht." and "Die Kerkerzelle - meine Festung."

For a recent history of the Museum during the Second World War, see Dirk Rupnow, Täter Gedächtnis Opfer: Das Jüdische Zentralmuseum in Prag, 1942-1945. Vienna: Picus Verlag, 2000.

  Larissa Douglass, Autumn 2003 (Visited Library and Archives in 2001 and 2003)

There are now three research establishments working out of the Prague Jewish Museum. The first is the Museum's library, open every Tuesday and Thursday, which is located in Josefov on U Stare Skoly street. Here you will find lots of books relating to broader Jewish themes and specific Czech-Jewish themes as well as the entire run of the Prague Jewish Community newspaper (Vestnik) and the Museum's periodical (Judaica Bohemiae). Most of the books have to be requested, but they generally bring the books up immediately upon request. Once you order books/journals, if you want to continue working with them on days when the Library is closed, you can request to have these books moved to the Reference Center (located on the first floor of the same building). The Reference Center also has the full run of the Museum’s journal, a smaller collection of books, and computers and dictionaries available. It is quite beneficial if you can find the books you want in the Library and then have them moved down to the Reference Center so you can work with them every day of the week.

The third research area in the Jewish Museum is in Smichov and just recently opened (Fall 2004). Across from Novy Smichov at the Andel tram/metro stop there is a converted synagogue now housing all the archival collections of the Jewish Museum. There are lots of untapped treasures here, but as the archive just opened not all of them are catalogued or even available for research. It is best to contact the archivists on the Jewish Museum website and tell them specifically what you are looking for and hopefully they will help you. Be prepared for this process to take time, as they sometimes seems a bit reluctant to give you exactly what you want, even if you know exactly what you want! Copies at all three locations are done by staff and some older papers are barred from the copy machine. Computers are welcome at all sites.

Sarah Cramsey, Winter 2005 (Visited archive 2003-2005)


U Staré školy 1, 3
110 00 Prague 1

Online: http://www.jewishmuseum.cz


Guides to Archives in Slovakia


Matica Slovenska, Martin, Slovak Republic
Slovenska narodna kniznica [National Library]
Archiv literatury a umenia [Archive of Literature and Learning]

As a person of Czech origin visiting Slovakia for the first time, I was full of anticipation for what the recently lost Slav brothers of the Czechs could offer a researcher of 'Czechoslovak' history. What I found, much to my surprise, was a conspicuous concrete building, built in similar style (but rather more grandiose and about fifteen floors taller) to the Hilda Besse Building at St Antony's College, Oxford. The exterior did a great disservice to what I found behind the post-Normalization architectural façade. Inside the largest and most forbidding of four buildings which make up the Matica Slovenska in Martin, Slovakia - the seat of cultural learning and the 'heart of the Slovak nation' closed down by Hungarian authorities in 1874, only to be reopened again by 'Czech authorities' after the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic after 1918 - I discovered a highly professional, helpful and charming team of researchers, archivists, librarians and administrative staff. Initially I wondered whether their charm was determined by the fact that I was the first 'Brit' to visit these parts since the 1970s, but I soon came to realise that the staff at Matica Slovenska were genuinely eager to show off and share with the unwitting visitor their highly impressive collection of books and documents dating, in the main, from the eighteenth-century (the time of the Slovak national awakening), well into the twentieth-century. Such academic confidence is drawn from the nationalist heritage that the institution boasts, which can hardly escape the first-time visitor: the main corridor of the Matica Slovenska is lined with gold-plated busts of the great and the good who engineered Slovakia's 'political' awakening during the time of European Revolutions in 1848 and after.

Unfortunately the National Library's collection shows signs of blatant weakness on the period after the Communist take-over of Czechoslovakia in 1948. Matica is only worth a researchers' while if seeking publications in and about Slovakia between 1848 and 1945. Its collection of publications in English is rather thin on the ground. It does not, for instance, stock some of the most important academic works on the region that have appeared in the UK and USA from the 1980s onwards. (Apart from the complete collection of Timothy Garton Ash's work on the region, the researcher is hard pressed to find much else in English published by leading experts during the 1990s.) Matica's greatest strengths, on the other hand, lie in the political history of the inter-war period, for it holds complete collections of all the Slovak newspapers, both national and local; ultra-nationalist pamphlets banned during the inter-war period and published outside the Republic; biographies on key political figures and ideologues (Hlinka; Tiso; Sidor); as well as obscure, yet important, publications published by Czech right-wingers during the 1920s which the National Library in Prague evidently deemed unsavoury for their collection. Anyone studying the Czechoslovak question, or indeed the national question more generally, in Upper Hungary after 1867 and the Czech and Slovak inter-war right wing must utilise Matica's resources. The Archive of Literature and Learning holds an impressive collection of private correspondence and paper clippings relating to the first administrative head of Slovakia after 1919, Vavro Srobar. It is somewhat paradoxical, given Matica's nationalist heritage, that the collection relating to Slovak ultra-nationalists, the persona non grata of the First Republic, is somewhat less impressive. (One would have to visit the State Central Archive in Bratislava, or regional archives such as those found in Rozemberok, in order to conduct proper research on people like Andrej Hlinka, Vojtech Tuka, Frantisek Jehlicka etc.) Most of the correspondence and primary sources archived here relates to (a) the Slovak declaration of 'Czechoslovak' independence, signed in Martin in October 1918; and (b) the reopening of the Matica Slovenska after 1918 and the people involved in that process.

The researcher can search for material stored at the Matica by using either the computer search engine (which requires a password) or the more traditional card catalogues, which are housed on the main (first) floor of the Matica. Slovak is still, not surprisingly, the lingua franca, of all operations at the Matica (whether in the main National Library or in the archives). However, researchers with a basic speaking knowledge of Czech can get by. Not all of the archivists speak English, or German; however, some of the administrative staff in charge of the main library reading room will understand requests for reading material made in English. As far as seating is concerned, the reading room (there is only one) of the National Library has ample seating for ninety people. The room is rarely ever full, even during the summer. The Archive of Literature and Learning seats twenty-five. However, again, it is such a little known place of primary research in Europe that one would rarely find more than one or perhaps two local Slovak historians working there at any one time. Ordering material is relatively straightforward (but again a knowledge of Slovak in order to fill out archival source ordering forms is a must) and fast. The Archive of Literature and Learning bring up material on request of the individual researcher, which means immediate service. It is advisable to allow a day for the arrival of a book/pamphlet from the stacks of the National Library. However, if prior contact is made with the relevant person in charge of either the archive or the library ordering service, material will be made available for you to access upon arrival. Both the library and the archive are highly informal and friendly places to work, with library staff and archivists in attendance at all times to deal with any queries or requests you may have. Before venturing into the archive, it is important to check the opening times, for these tend to vary from season to season. Perhaps Matica's weakest point is its culinary amenities. The Matica has one coffee machine in the basement offering only black Nescafe coffee and peach tea. There is a canteen, but this is accessible to Matica staff only. Bring sandwiches so as to avoid wasting time walking the 1.5 km into town and back again. (Do remember that this Matica building is situated on the top of a relatively steep hill). However, if you do venture out, be warned that Martin's eating district is restricted to a few restaurants specializing specifically in pasta and pizza.

Sadly the Matica Slovenska has a slightly marred reputation due to its 'nationalist character'; yet it offers a highly invigorating environment in which to work. It is the type of place where one is not surprised to find oneself, whilst standing aimlessly in the cue for photocopying (which is done on one's behalf by a pleasant lady in the basement), next to the great-grandson of a man who knew very well the leader-founder of the inter-war Slovak Peoples' Party (SPP), Father Andrej Hlinka. High in the 'small' Tatra Mountains one gains a feel for the type of nationalism the former lands of Upper Hungary spurned. There is no greater pleasure than to take a well-earned coffee break at the Matica, for the views are simply breathtaking. In short, the Matica institution breathes history, as contrasted to places of research in Prague that rather reek of stale goulash soup from the pitiful excuse for the library canteen. Prague may lay claim to be being the 'Heart of Europe', but Slovakia, at least as far as primary source research is concerned, can claim to be the head of all serious scholarship of the region.

  Katya Kocourek, Autumn 2003
  School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London

Slovenska narodna kniznica
Namesti J.C. Hronskeho 1,
036 01
Slovak Republic

Online - http://www.snk.sk
Email: okis@snk.sk


Guides to Archives in Poland


Archiwum Miasta Krakowa (Municipal Archive, Krakow)

The archive is a three-minute walk from the central square and famous "sukiennica." The staff is friendly and they speak some German. The archive itself is old, and cataloques and inventories are slightly confusing. There is also a lunch break during which all researchers must leave the building. The archive preserves sources relating to the city of Krakow. Laptops are permitted, but I could not plug in my machine. Perhaps I was blind. Photocopies are probably possible, but the photocopy machine was not available during my visit available.

  Jaroslav Miller, Autumn 1999 (visited archive: Summer, 1998)


Archiwum Kapituły Krakowskiej (Kraków Cathedral Chapter Archive)

The Chapter Archive holds the records of Kraków cathedral from the early middle ages onwards, and has one of the richest collections of illuminated manuscripts in Poland. There is one printed catalogue (I. Połkowski I, Katalog rękopisów kapituły katedry krakowskiej, 1884), although this is hard to hunt down outside Poland. The archive itself is housed in the main gateway onto Wawel hill, so you can watch tour groups file past beneath you. The entrance to the archive is famously inconspicuous: it is a small brown door in the left of the arch, and the main bell has been painted over so that it looks like part of the metalwork. The archive is run by clergy and nuns who are generally helpful, although security was tightened up significantly in 2002 and it is now harder to negotiate access to more valuable manuscripts. The archive is open from 9am to 1pm on weekdays, excluding church feasts. As with all Polish archives, avoid the first week of May when the country enjoys Europe's longest public holiday. The reading room has only four desks, so it pays to arrive early at busy times of year, or else you might find yourself sharing and a little cramped. Unfortunately, there are no reproduction facilities - the best they can do is to ask the official Wawel photographer to take colour photographs for you, at £20 a go.

  Natalia Nowakowska, Winter 2003 (visited archive: Spring 2002)


Archiwum Kurii Metropolitańskiej (Kraków Metropolitan Archive)

Ecclesiastical archives in Kraków are rather fragmented, and this particular collection contains episcopal records. The archive is housed in the Bishop's Palace, on ulica Francziszkańska: introduce yourself at the main gate, and then walk right through the palace courtyard, past a large sculpture of Pope John Paul II. Access to the collections is from 9am to 1pm weekdays, excluding church feasts. The head archivist, Pani Elżbieta, is exceptionally helpful and friendly, a recent graduate and herself writing a doctorate. She is happy to arrange reproductions through the Jagiellonian Library, and there is a typed catalogue available upon request. This archive is notably busier than the Chapter Archive, with large numbers of amateur genealogists coming in to use the collections, which can be slightly distracting.

  Natalia Nowakowska, Winter 2003 (visited archive: Spring 2002)


Jagiellonian Library, Kraków

The Jagiellonian Library is housed in an imposing, cream-coloured 1930's building on ulica Mickiewicza, about 10 minutes' walk from the Market Square; a new wing was opened recently with an identical exterior, but with flashy glass partitions, lifts and exceptionally slippery floors inside. There is a dedicated registration desk in the foyer of the new wing - try to get a yellow pass, for 'visiting readers' as this gives better access to the collections than the blue pass given to local doctoral students. The Jagiellonian's cataloguing is kafkaesque. Basically, there is an original nineteenth-century card catalogue housed in its own dark and dusty room, the new card catalogue, and a computer catalogue: books have to be ordered either by slip or electronically, and few people on hand can explain the system adequately. There is one main, cavernous reading room which is closed for 'airing' twice a day for twenty minutes. The Incunabule and Manuscript reading rooms are in the old wing, and have their own opening hours - the multiple volumes of the manuscripts catalogue are available here. The new wing also houses a room with extensive internet access. The best way to make sense of the Jagiellonian is to befriend a local student well versed in the quirks of the system: although some of the staff are genuinely helpful, be prepared to deal with Communist-era manners too.

  Natalia Nowakowska, Winter 2003 (visited archive: Spring 2002)


Gniezno Archdiocesan Archive, Gniezno

Gniezno, the first see of Poland and the kingdom's original capital, is now a sleepy town an hour from Poznań, with a handful of surprisingly good Italian restaurants and the odd hotel, all dominated by the red and copper cathedral. In contrast to Kraków, all the ecclesiastical records of the Gniezno archdiocese are kept on one site. The archive (which was housed in the cathedral itself until about three years ago) is now to be found in an eighteenth-century one-storey house in the cathedral grounds, which is shares with the cathedral museum. Information on opening times can be found on the archive's website, while the most recent catalogue is J. Ryl's Katolog rękopisów, Lublin 1982. The clergy who run the archive are extremely helpful and welcoming to foreigners, and speak German. The only logistical difficulty is that the archive's more valuable holdings, including most manuscripts, are kept in the vault to which only the director has the key - he is often away at conferences and meetings, so it pays to email or phone ahead and check that he will be on hand. The archive closes at 2pm most days, and it is certainly worth visiting the local sites and museums, one of which is incongruously housed in the basement of a secondary school and offers a rather impressive son et lumiere. If you are staying more than a couple of days, however, be sure to bring a good book as diversions can be thin on the ground.

www.gniezno.org.pl [NB unreliable link]
E-mail address: aag@gniezno.opoka.org.pl

  Natalia Nowakowska, Winter 2003 (visited archive: Autumn 2002)


AGAD, Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych, Warsaw

AGAD is the main state archive in Warsaw, and the major repository of royal records. Situated near the Old Town on ulica Długa in a converted and slightly delapidated palace, AGAD works like many Polish archives: bring a passport to register, leave your bags in the ground-floor cloakroom, and proceed up the stately staircase to the reading room. A range of catalogues are available on open shelf, and the staff are generally friendly to readers (although there appears to be internecine warfare between departments!) Orders can only be placed two or three times a day, and you will almost always be given a microfilm - although on one memorable occasion a member of staff did emerge holding an half-eaten apple in one hand, and a Renaissance papal bull in the other! The microfilm readers are arranged at the back of the hall, and the diligent maintenance staff will sometimes attempt to polish them while you work. To order reproductions, request a form from the reading room staff, then take it with your cash payment to the secretariat along the corridor - be prepared to chase up your order regularly, or else you could wait months. Although you can order material from other state archives to AGAD, the down side is that major parts of the collection (e.g. royal correspondence) can also be loaned to researchers in other cities for weeks at a time. Finally, don't miss the grim but fascinating poster outside the reading room, with colour photos and lurid descriptions of the different species of deadly moulds which can be found in old books and infect researchers.

  Natalia Nowakowska, Winter 2003 (visited archive: Autumn 2002)


Biblioteka Narodowa, Warsaw (Polish National Library)

The National Library is on two sites at opposite ends of Warsaw, conveniently connected by a number of bus and metro routes which you may have to figure out for yourself - none of the staff whom I asked had any idea how to travel between the libraries! Pałac Krasinskich, on Plac Kraśinskich (metro Ratusz) is an imposing palace where the library's early printed books and manuscripts are housed. Virtually all researchers, however, end up in the new library in Park Mokotowski, a grey but elegant building with Japanese cherry trees and large boulders by the entrance. Not only are all modern printed books housed here, but it is in the unusually efficient Microfilm Reading Room that the library's manuscript and incunabula collections can be consulted. Microfilms are delivered almost instantly, and there is also a microfilm printer on hand, enabling rapid reproductions. Any research trip to Poland could do worse than start in the Microfilm Reading Room because, in addition to its own collections, the library has microfilms of hundreds of key manuscripts archives all over Poland. If working in Park Mokotowski, you may wish to bring you own lunch: the library is in the middle of large park, far from any shops, and the canteen food is cheap but not altogether appetising (boiled chicken and cabbage).

  Natalia Nowakowska, Winter 2003 (visited archive: Autumn 2002)


Guides to Archives in Ukraine


Note: The first port of call for any researcher in Ukraine should be the comprehensive government archive portal, http://www.archives.gov.uk. Further useful information has been collated by Patricia Grimsted, of the Harvard Ukrainain Research Institute: http://www.huri.harvard.edu/abb_grimsted. It's also worth looking at the following: http://www.archives.gov.ua/Publicat/Guidebooks/Putivnyk-CDIAL.php/.

  Robert Pyrah, September 2005 (Thanks to Olga Kerziouk)

Central State Historical Archive, L'viv

At the time of writing [September 2005], this archive had been closed for police investigations into major manuscript thefts. No-one, including director Diana Peltc was sure how long the investigation would take; and the official word is that there will be no access 'until further notice'. A great shame, as this archive has a wealth of important documents for researchers of different Central European stripes, reflecting the city's own diverse ethnic history. Holdings thus include materials relating to research on Ukrainian nationalism (e.g. papers of learned societies etc.), the interwar period of direct Polish rule and so on. Mercifully, the catalogues themselves are at least accessible, and researchers of and in Ukraine should look at the links above before visiting to check on the current situation. It is also worth writing or phoning ahead to the director, who does not speak English but converses well in French, and understands some Polish.

  Robert Pyrah, September 2005


Guides to Archives in Hungary


Magyar Országos Levéltár (Hungarian National Archives)

This is the central Hungarian archive. It is nicely located on Buda Hill (Underground station Moskva ter and a 5 minute walk from the subway). The archive preserves everything from the emergence of Hungarian state up to the 20th century. Access to this giant building is a little bit complicated. One has to go first to the information office (turn right behind the main door). This is the only place where you can have all essential information in German and English. There is an inventory there of all sources stored in archive. After entering and after explaining the purpose of the visit one has to fill in a member's card. Bags must be left in a cloakroom (there are special boxes next to information office). The study room is on the second floor. Sources are available not earlier than after two days after ordering them. The study room seats approximately 25 people. WARNING: you can order photocopies, but be ready to wait 2 and even 3 months for them! Such a simple operation is not so simple as I, mistakenly, thought. On November 2nd, I ordered ONE PAGE from the early modern plea rolls, and the photocopy was not ready until January 6th. Laptops are permitted.

  Jaroslav Miller, Autumn 1999


Rabbinical Seminary, Budapest

Several years I ago I went to the archive of the Rabbincal Seminary in Budapest. It is highly disorganised, but there is lots and lots of valuable information. In the corner of the reading room I found nineteenth-century Jewish periodicals and even manuscripts! The material is not at all only related to Hungary, but also to other parts of the empire. There are many books, periodicals, Festschriften etc. in German. Even if you don't find certain titles in the catalogue, you can ask the staff and they'll have another look for you in the book stacks (and usually come back with someting interesting).

  Esther Schmidt, Autumn 1999

The library is currently closed for renovations. At present, documents are stored rather haphazardly. The library is supposed to be open from September of 2001. But it would be wise to contact the Seminary ahead of time and confirm all dates.

  Larissa Douglass, Spring 2001 (Thanks to Janet and Sandor Kerekes)

The Magyar Zsido Leveltar is in the process of moving to the Jewish Museum building. The organization of the sources seems to be very poor, with promises of improvements.

Librarians/archivists of note: Speak to Ms. Toronyi Zsuzsanna. (Summer 2001)

  Janet and Sandor Kerekes, Summer 2001

Director: Mr. Robert B. Turan
The Jewish Museum and Archive of Hungary
1077 Budapest, Dohany u. 2.

Telephone: +36 (0)1 3436-756


Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem Könyvtár (University Library, Eötvös Loránd University)

The library is located in a historical building in downtown Budapest. It is hot in early summer (we don't know if it is air conditioned in July) and closed from 20 July to 20 August. Its circumstances reflect the esteem the country has for its students, i.e., it's pretty bloody awful. The collection consists of periodicals and books with special regard to historical material. Also different languages are available. The particular charm of this library is the fact that the original card system established over two hundred years ago is not only available but also in use. The computerized catalogue does not go back before the year 1995, and its system is cumbersome. The advantage of the library is that, in case of proper guarantees, some books may be borrowed, and for members, a mail-out service is available. For obscure reasons (including renovations), while the reading room is always open, the catalogue and counter service are open on a very restricted basis. Due to this fact, there are extensive line-ups both to order the desired books and to pick them up. Furthermore, a number of books, while ostensibly in the collection, are simply 'not there'. Limited English is spoken. It is necessary to check for the current hours and days before going. The cafeteria is adequate. There are only two photocopying machines in the entire library, which can pose a serious problem at times: cost to copy is reasonable -- 10 forints a copy (280 forints to the U.S. dollar). Opposite the library building is the most historic coffee house in Budapest - the 'Central'.

  Janet and Sandor Kerekes, Summer 2001

Their 19th century collection is fairly good, which, unfortunately does not apply to modern collections.

  Monika Baar, Summer 2001


1053 Budapest
Ferenciek Tere 6.

Telephone: +36 (0)1 266-5866
Information Service Telephone: +36 (0)1 266-5014

Membership Fee is Required.


Fővárosi Szabó Ervin Könyvtár

This is the public library of the municipality of Budapest. As such, it has a sizable collection that can be lent to residents. However, the library only lends to visitors who have a proper guarantor, i.e., a local resident. The environment is newly renovated and beautiful, inside two aristocratic palaces. The catalogue system is completely computerized and brand new, and the system is still in the process of being tuned and re-tuned. As a consequence, the call numbers often do not correspond to the titles, and you cannot get at the book you want, even though it is there. A substantial number of books are available on the open stacks, especially on the subjects of literature, history, and sociology. Books published before 1920 cannot be borrowed. The library also has specialized collections of music and historical material for Budapest including periodicals, pictures, and selected arcana. Books in some languages are available. Service in the library is excellent, valiantly withstanding the enormous volume of patrons. Reading rooms are most comfortable - though not cosy. Armchairs are available throughout the library. Coffee machines are available - but there is no cafeteria.

  Janet and Sandor Kerekes, Summer 2001


1088 Budapest
Szabo Ervin Ter 1

Telephone: +36 (0)1 338-4933
Information Service Telephone: +36 (0)1 318-5919

Online: http://www.fszek.hu

Membership Fee Required: 1,000 Forints


Országos Széchényi Könyvtár (National Széchényi Library)

Located so palatially, the National Library provides the most beautiful and congenial experience for the researcher, with the possible exception of the unbearably uncomfortable chairs. The mandate of this library is to collect everything that is related to Hungary - and not only in the Hungarian language. Therefore its collection is as complete as one can find. The library has collections of books, periodicals, music, maps, medieval codexes, and also an extensive manuscript collection. Interviews can also be found, as well as some legal documentations, including the entire parliamentary record. The reading facilities are located where the former royal apartments once were. The service is excellent, to the extent that even small difficulties are personally attended to by the staff. Although the library is formally closed during the month of August, advance arrangements enable researchers to continue working if they have pre-ordered their books. The library hours are subject to change, although it is open every day except Sunday, and frequently 9 to 9. There is a photocopying service and you can do the copying yourself. The price is reasonable: 12 forints per copy. The catalogue system is computerized only for material published since 1995. The computerized system is quite obscure; some help from the staff in this respect is necessary and forthcoming. Many of them speak English. For the rest of the collection, you must use the card catalog system. It is important to note that there is a catalogue of the previous generation, going back to 1802. At the staff's disposal, there are also other catalogues with references to even the most obscure items. A most attractive feature of this library is the service provided copying and delivering books anywhere. There is a cafeteria with a large selection, and it is reasonably priced. The library is next to the Budapest Historical Museum and opposite the National Gallery.

  Janet and Sandor Kerekes, Summer 2001


Located in the Royal Palace in the Palace District in Budapest
1027 Budavari Palota, F Building

Telephone: +36 (0)1 375-7533
International and Cultural Relations Department Telephone: +36 (0)1 224-3742

Online: http://www.oszk.hu

Membership Fee Required: 4,000 forints (as of September 1, 2001)
Researchers with proper credentials have access to a greater number of books and a range of services.
Reference Library only.


Parliamentary Library, Budapest

Housed in the Parliament building, the library is intended to serve the needs of parliamentarians. Given that such a small and also nonpaying public is so inadequate as to justify the upkeep, the reading public at large is also grudgingly admitted. The collection is characterized by history, politics and literature. The library is closed for the month of August. Admittance to the building is hindered by security arrangements akin to that of airports. The reading room is not big, but irresistibly beautiful and cosy.

  Janet and Sandor Kerekes, Summer 2001


1055 Kossuth Lajos Ter 1/3

Telephone: +36 (0)1 441-4468
Director of Information Telephone: +36 (0)1 268-4658

Online: http://www.ogyk.hu/

Membership fee required.



This is just a very handy wonderful little service, new and uncomplicated. It is a virtual 'Who's Who' of Hungarian literature and letters. Recently launched on the net by the Petofi Litterary Museum. No cafeteria, no admission fee, no fuss.

  Janet and Sandor Kerekes, Summer 2001

Online: http://pim.hu/


Orszagos Rabbikepzo
Budapest VIII
Jozsef korut 27

Telephone: +36 (0)1 317-2396


Guides to Archives in Italy


Archivio di Stato di Trieste

This archive contains the holdings of the k.k. Staathalterei for the Litoral region (Luogotenenza del Litorale in Trieste), in addition to other specialised holdings, listed on the website given below. It is located in an outlying district of Trieste, a 15-minute bus ride from the centre on the no. 18 bus from the Piazza del Borso. I called in advance and told them what type of thing I was looking for, and a pile of material was waiting for me when I got there. They do have the original bound indexes for the various subsections of the Staathalterei, and looking through those yourself is probably the most reliable way to proceed (if you're good at decifering Kurrentschrift). In order to get your hands on these, though, you need to consult with the archivists with a general idea of the type of thing you need -- they then consult a fairly impenetrable catalogue to the indices. They're very helpful and professional. Italian is pretty much the only language spoken, though all the archivists were very patient with my garbled efforts. Photocopies are not expensive and can be ordered and picked up a few days later. They will also make scans and microfilms.

  Leslie Topp, Winter 2003 (visited archive: Autumn 2002)


Via La Marmora 17
I- 34139 Trieste, Italy

Telephone: +39 (0)40/390020040/9
Fax: +39 (0)40/394461

Online: http://wwwdb.archivi.beniculturali.it/UCBAWEB/indice.html


Archivio Generale della Comune di Trieste

This is the archive of the city, located in new premises adjacent to the town hall in the centre of town, just behind the Piazza della Unita. Its holdings are extensive and go back to the 12th century. They include full runs of the printed minutes of the city council - better than the city library's holdings and easier to consult. The catalogues are not as yet publically available, but Barbara Bigi and Valentina Bossi, the archivists, are very helpful and will find you what you need. (When I was there in September 2002, they were in the process of moving their entire holdings, and went to extraordinary lengths to accommodate me.) Photocopies can be ordered and cost 10 cents a copy. Associated with this archive is the archive of the city's Ufficio Tecnico, which holds plans and drawings for the city's buildings, including extensive historical material. The Archivio Generale can put you in touch with them.

Librarians/archivists of note: Valentia Bossi speaks English.

  Leslie Topp, Winter 2003 (visited archive: Autumn 2002)


Archivio Generale
Via della Procureria n.2

Telephone: +39 (0)40 675 4420
E-mail: archiviogenerale@comune.trieste.it

Online: http://www.retecivica.trieste.it/triestecultura/menu/archivioframe.htm


Archivio Storico Provinciale Gorizia

This is a wonderful archive in the small city of Gorizia (German Görz), about an hour's train ride from Trieste, right up against the border with Slovenia. The holdings reach back to the 16th century, and are well organised and catalogued, with much of the catalogue computerised (though not as yet available on line). The curator is Dr. Donatella Porcedda, ably assisted by Roberto Scomersi and Luisa Giacetti (who speaks excellent English). They're a very professional and friendly group. It's a good idea to contact Dr. Porcedda ahead of time by letter or e-mail, outlining the kind of thing you're looking for - or if you're not sure, they can send information about their holdings. Photocopies and scans can be ordered (usually they are made right away) and are not expensive.

Librarians/archivists of note: As above.

  Leslie Topp, Winter 2003 (visited archive: Autumn 2002)


Palazzo Alvarez
via Diaz, 5
I-34170 Gorizia

Telephone: +39 (0)481 546089
Fax: +39 (0)481 538 094

E-mail: archiviostoricogo@libero.it


Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Rome (Vatican Archives)

The Vatican, as one of the world's great archives, holds large collections pertaining to Central Europe, and the Italian climate and clerical efficiency can be an attractive prospect after several months in the east. Finding the archive first time can be difficult: go the Porta Santa Angelica, explain to the Swiss guards what you want, acquire a day-pass from the near-by office, and head straight for a few hundred years until you reach a huge courtyard with parked cars and fountains. On the far right are two doorways, one leading to the Vatican Library and the second to the Archive. New readers can only register early in the morning - bring a passport, supervisor's recommendation and be prepared to give a summary of your research project in Italian. The staff do speak French under duress, but learning some elementary Italian is invaluable if you'll be spending more than a day or two in the archive. The reading rooms are located on the third floor, and although material must be ordered at set times it arrives very quickly. The Vatican archive is organised around the different historic departments of the papal bureaucracy, so it is advisable to read a little about these structures beforehand, so you know where to look for particular correspondence or accounts. The hundreds of catalogues, known as the Indici, are mostly handwritten and you will need to convert their out-of-date shelfmarks with the aid of a Vatican handbook. The archive can be daunting, but the staff are friendly, the location fantastic and the collections themselves are a goldmine. Do check out the archive cafeteria, which is housed in a converted, glass-fronted Renaissance grotto-fountain and is a stylish place to meet researchers from all over the world.

  Natalia Nowakowska, Winter 2003 (visited archive: Autumn/Winter 2001)


Guides to Archives in the United States


National Archives (NARA), Washington, D.C.

The National Archives in Washington, D.C., is perhaps the most important U.S. archive for those researching in the field of both U.S. internal administration and external relations. The National Archives Building is located on 700 Pennsylvania Avenue between Seventh and Ninth Streets, NW. However, researchers interested in twentieth century history usually find out that the archival material relevant to their themes is in another building, located at College Park. The 'Archives II' is located on Adelphi Road near the University of Marylandfs College Park campus, a 20-30 minute drive to the north from the city centre (visitor parking is available during research hours). A staff shuttle bus, departing from 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, is available between Monday and Friday from 8 am to 5 pm on the hour. Those who like a bit of uncertainty and possible 'suburban adventure' may rely on the metrobuses (R3 serves Green Line stations at Greenbelt, Prince George's Plaza and Ft. Totten, C8 just the Red Line station at Glenmont), as the research hours end as late as 9 pm and the archive is also open on Saturdays from 8:45 (same as working days) to 5 pm. However, a good deal of patience and a good read at hand is recommended for the waiting time.

The registration procedure for new readers does not take long. After that new readers can be advised by a specialist, according to their wishes and preferences. This option is essential to penetrate the rather complicated (at least as far as the State Department files are concerned) numbering system. The staff here, and in the reading rooms, are kind and helpful. The reading rooms are divided as follows: texts (floor 2), cartographic and architectural (floor 3), library (floor 3), motion pictures, sound, and video (floor 4), microfilm (floor 4), still pictures (floor 5), and electronic records (floor 6). There is a self-service copying system; the readers are allowed to make as many photocopies as they wish. There is a time limit (5 minutes), which only applies if all the machines are in use and another reader comes to do his or her copies. The price is fairly reasonable at just 15c per page and 30c per image for microfilms. For those who have worked in the Public Record Office in London, this is nothing. To carry on in this parallel, however, the document delivery system is not as fast as in the PRO, although it is better than in the Quai dfOrsay in Paris, let alone Moscow archives. It usually takes a few hours before you get your documents. It is possible to have plenty of them stored. More than a dozen of boxes may be put on your 'personal' trolley, which you then push to your desk.

You can even use the computer facilities for free personal work on the internet, although you must not block the site longer than half an hour. When you feel the need for sustenance in forms other than intellectual or documentary, you can help yourself in a self-service restaurant, which is open around noon and offers a wide range of food at fairly reasonable prices. Food and drink machines are available any time.

  Vit Smetana, Autumn 2003 (visited archive: Summer 2002)



The Center for Jewish History - Leo Baeck and YIVO Institutes, New York City

Recently, the Center for Jewish History collected several related institutions under one roof. Of particular relevance here are the YIVO - which deals with the history of East European Jewry - and the Leo Baeck Institute - whose holdings pertain to the history of German-speaking Jews in Europe. The YIVO's collections mainly concentrate on the twentieth century, although there are some nineteenth century sources. There is, for example, a card inventory on Austria (RG 116-Austria) and a similar card inventory for the Territorial Collection on Czechoslovakia (RG 116 - Czechoslovakia); there is also a notable collection of records on assistance given to German and Austrian refugees who came to Prague in World War II, entitled the 'HICEM Office in Prague records', among many other notable documents. General information on YIVO's holdings is available on their website. The extent and nature of sources can only be determined by writing to the archivists and visiting the reading room.

The LBI documents, on the other hand, tend to cover the earlier period through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The LBI has its whole general catalogue online, which makes preparation of any research visit much easier. You can order sources before your arrival.

The two institutions share a reading room (hours: Mon.-Thurs. 9:30-16:30) with efficient staff and a muted but comfortable atmosphere. There are microfilm readers in one of the rooms nearby. Microfilm photocopies are pretty steep at 0.25 USD per copy.

Write or call ahead and make an appointment with the archivists to gain access to the collections. You must present ID and some sort of evidence of current research topic (e.g. a letter from your supervisor) in order to pass security at the front door.

To get there, take the subway to the 14th St.-Union Square stop (lines L, N, R, 4, 5, 6). Walk out to Union Square, and walk west on 16th Street. The Center is just past the intersection of 16th Street and Fifth Avenue. There is a café in the building that I didn't visit. But I was warned that it was expensive.

Librarians/archivists of note: Thank you to Fruma Mohrer (Acting Chief Archivist, YIVO Archives), Leo Greenbaum (YIVO Associate Archivist), Marek Web, Aviva Astrinsky, Yeshaya Metal (all at YIVO); thank you to Frank Mecklenburg (Director of Research, LBI), and Renate Evers (Archivist, LBI).

  Larissa Douglass, Winter 2002 (visited archive: Winter, 2002)


Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street
New York, New York 10011

Telephone (LBI): +1 212 744-6400
Fax (LBI): +1 212 294-8341
E-mail (YIVO): archives@yivo.cjh.org
Online (YIVO): http://www.yivoinstitute.org/


The New York Public Library, New York City

I've never seen so much white marble in my life! Completed in 1911, the elegant main building of the NYPL is a prime example of Beaux-Arts architectural style, its entrance flanked by huge stone lions. With miles of white shimmering hallways and glowing lamps, there are certainly worse places to work.

The central catalogues and study rooms are on the third floor. The landing on that level is flanked by dark wood columns supporting the gold, green and red McGraw Rotunda, which depicts Prometheus playing with fire. Next door is the Public Catalogue Room (Room 315) where you can do computer catalogue searches on the NYPL system (CATNYP). There are internet services in the South Hall of the massive Rose Main Reading Room, which is situated at the back of Room 315. Specialist reading rooms also have their own terminals.

The Library is divided up into divisions. For Manuscripts and Rare Books (Room 328) walk to the entrance of the Rose Main Reading Room and turn right (Rare Books and Manuscripts hours: Mon. closed, Tues. and Wed. 11:00-18:00, Thurs.-Sat. 10:00-18:00, Sunday and Holidays closed. You have to go to Room 316 to get a card for admission.). Rare Books and Manuscripts holds some collections of relevance to Central European history: there are Hungarian-related sources in the Schwimmer-Lloyd Collections; extensive Polish documents; fragments of eighteenth-century Austrian diplomatic-related correspondence; and the Czech Papanek collection.

The Slavic, East European and Baltic Division of the library are located one flight down from the McGraw Rotunda in Rooms 216-217 (hours: Mon. 10:00-17:45, Tues. 11:00-19:15; 11:00-19:15; Thurs.-Sat. 10:00-17:45; Sun. closed). The staff are justifiably proud of their beautiful reading room which features an impressive collection of Slavonic reference works (13,000 volumes) on open access. All other reference, secondary and primary sources are stored in closed stacks. I was given an impromptu tour of the stacks, which run from 40th to 41st Streets ("We have two city blocks of periodicals and monographs.") and up six floors. Newer sources are in the basement ("But I've got to warn you - it's haunted down there in the cellar.") and older ones are on upper levels. Catalogues of the main Slavonic collection are found with three finding aids. CATNYP (generally accessible on the Web) includes most pre- (and post-) 1972 non-Cyrillic sources. But it is worth double-checking the published index, "The New York Public Library Slavonic Collection Dictionary Catalogue," housed outside Room 216 in the hall. Finally, several newspapers and pamphlets are listed in older card catalogues (they have nine drawers of cards with newspaper and journal titles).

In order to ascertain whether or not a particular newspaper or pamphlet is in the printed catalogue, write to the Slavonic librarians. If the source has been microfilmed, it is possible to buy copies of microfilms at approximately 35-40 USD per roll and save a trip to New York. You can ask the librarians about purchasing microfilm or go to the NYPL website which has a page devoted to reproduction orders.

On the ground floor of the NYPL and adjacent to the 42nd St. entrance is the Dorot Jewish Division of the Library (Room 84; hours: Mon. 10:00-18:00, Tues.-Wed. 11:00-19:30, Thurs.-Sat. 10:00-18:00, Sun. closed). They have an extensive collection of Central and East European Jewish newspapers and periodicals on hard copy or microfilm. The catalogue is expected to be online soon.

Without exception, the staff in all these areas were pleasant and unusually kind and helpful.

To get there by public transit, go to Grand Central Station (subway lines 4, 5, 6, 7), walk out of the main entrance onto 42nd Street, turn right and walk a couple of blocks to the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. If you need a break while working, the surrounding streets are dotted with coffee shops. But undoubtedly your best bet is the Dining Concourse on the bottom floor of Grand Central Station, which features everything from Dim Sum to Polish sausages. Donft miss the Oyster Bar and Grand Central Market in the Concourse at the end of the day.

Librarians/archivists of note: Many thanks to Edward Kasinec, Chief, Slavic and Baltic Division; Wojciech Siemaszkiewicz, Librarian, Slavic and Baltic Division, as well as the rest of the staff. Thank you as well to Michael Terry, Dorot Jewish Division Chief Librarian, whose help was invaluable.

  Larissa Douglass, Winter 2002 (visited archive: Winter, 2002)


The New York Public Library
Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street
New York, New York 10018-2788

Telephone (NYPL general): +1 212 930-0830
Telephone (Manuscripts Division): +1 212 930-0801
Telephone (Slavonic Division): +1 212 930-0714; 930-0136; 930-0955; 930-0937
Telephone (Slavonic Division, Current Serial Holdings): +1 212 930-0715
Telephone (Jewish Division): +1 212 930-0601
Fax (Manuscripts Division): +1 212 302-4815
Fax (Slavonic Division): +1 212 930-0693
Fax (Jewish Division): +1 212 642-0141

E-mail (Manuscripts Division): mssref@nypl.org
E-mail (Slavonic Division): Slavicref@nypl.org
E-mail (Jewish Division): friedus@nypl.org

Online (NYPL): http://www.nypl.org/
Online (Manuscripts Division): http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/spe/rbk/mss.html
Online (Slavonic Division): http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/slv/slav.balt.html


The Library and Archives, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford University, California

It's hard to imagine a nicer setting for archival work than the Stanford campus - unless it's the Berkeley campus (see below). Fortunately, both universities house significant Central and East European sources. From its stunning palm-lined front drive (http://www.stanford.edu/home/welcome/campus/palmdrive.html) you enter the low, ornate hacienda-style main campus on the Oval, and will find the library in Hoover Tower (http://www.stanford.edu/home/welcome/campus/hoover.html), with the archives in the adjacent building. The atmosphere on the university grounds, from the Memorial Church to the Rodin Sculpture Garden, is lush and unforgettable.

The archives have notable holdings (private papers, letters, paintings, writings) of politicians, army officials, and diplomats who were active in Central Europe through the twentieth century. It is well worth combing through their archival indexes on Hungary, Slovakia, World War I, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, for example. The library has an impressive collection of Paris Peace Conference propaganda, and many twentieth century primary Central European printed sources. Procedures for gaining access and working in both facilities are online (see links below).

If you get tired of the campus, take the Stanford Marguerite shuttle bus a couple of short stops to the Stanford Shopping Centre (!), where you can eat and then shop in posh department store chains and speciality shops.

To get there from San Francisco, go to the Caltrain Station on the corner of 4th and King Streets. Take the Gilroy/San Jose train to Palo Alto. It's a bit of a haul, and if you can find accommodation right at Stanford or Palo Alto, it will be easier. Upon arrival at the train station you will find Marguerite buses which will take you directly to campus.

If for some reason you can't get out to California, it's worth knowing that the archivists and librarians are supremely helpful via E-mail, and for a reasonable fee will photocopy and mail you certain documents, if you know which ones you need.

Librarians/archivists of note: Ms. Elena Danielson and Ms. Carol Leadenham (Hoover Institution Archives), and Ms. Molly Molloy (Slavic and European Union specialist, Hoover Institution Library) were pleasant, of great assistance, and highly knowledgeable. (Summer 2000)

  Larissa Douglass, Summer 2001 (visited archive: Summer, 2000)


Hoover Institution Library
Hoover Tower
Stanford University
Stanford, California 94305-6010

Library Telephone: +1 650 723-2058
Library Fax: +1 650 725-4655


Elena S. Danielson, Archivist
Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford University
Stanford, California 94305-6010

Archives Telephone: +1 650 723-3563 Carol Leadenham (Reference Archivist)
Archives Fax: +1 650 725-3445
Archives E-mail: leadenham@hoover.stanford.edu

Online: http://www-hoover.stanford.edu/homepage/library.html
Getting to campus: http://www.stanford.edu/home/visitors/directions.html


The Doe Library, University of California, Berkeley

Finding the library may be a bit of a challenge on the lovely but sprawling Berkeley campus, but the inevitable tour around is more than worth it. The Doe Library is situated at the heart of the campus (see campus maps online, link below) and holds significant collections relevant to the study of Central Europe, including the Masaryk-Beneš archive, which is now dispersed through the stacks - but there is still a general catalogue which lists the thousands of sources available. Besides printed sources, there are also extensive microfilmed holdings of primary sources in the basement of the microfilm reading room. Write ahead and make an appointment with one of the librarians who can show you around and help you attain a visitor's pass.

Big, modern, with nice reading rooms and accessible stacks, the Doe Library is a wonderful place to work. For breaks, check the beautiful newspaper reading room on the ground floor by the banks of computer terminals. The cafeteria is less obviously located, but it is possible to find many nice cheap restaurants just off campus.

Photocopying is a wonderful experience at Berkeley, with new cheap copiers dispersed throughout the stacks. You can add money onto your photocopy card with your credit card, a mixed boon for graduate students.

To get there from downtown San Francisco, take the BART (Bay Area Regional Transit) Richmond-Daly City/Coloma or Fremont-Richmond lines (in the direction of Richmond) from Civic Centre, Powell Street, Montgomery Street, or Embarcadero stations. Get off at the Downtown Berkeley Station. (NB: Be careful to note when the last trains leave Berkeley - if you leave in the evening or on weekends you will sometimes have to take the Fremont lines down to Lake Merritt station and then backtrack to get back to Embarcadero; make sure you don't get stranded, as the mood in the stations gets more and more grim in the evenings.) When you leave the station in Berkeley walk up Center Street to Oxford Street (easy to remember!); walk straight onto the entrance crescent directly by the intersection of Center and Oxford Streets. At the far end of the Crescent, you will walk through the West Gate to the University. Follow the path straight ahead (i.e. north) to the West Circle, and continue in the same direction past the Valley Life Sciences Building (on your right), and the Moffitt Undergraduate Library (on your left). The Doe Library is on a hill past Moffitt Library on your right. But don't forego poking around the rest of the campus to enjoy the lavish mixture of palm and pine trees.

Librarians/archivists of note: Robert Talbott (Curatorial Assistant, Hebraica-Judaica Collections), Allan Urbanic (Librarian, Slavic Collections), and Elena Balashova were and have been tremendously helpful. (Summer 2000)

  Larissa Douglass, Summer 2001 (visited archive: Summer, 2000)

Online: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/
The Doe Library: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/Doe/
Slavonic and East European Collections Online: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/Collections/Slavic/maincoll.html
The Masaryk-Beneš Collection: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/Collections/Slavic/masaryk.html
Visitors' Guide to the Library: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/VisitorsGuide.html
Opening Hours: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/AboutLibrary/hours.html
Library Photocopying Services: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/COPY/
Crime Statistics: http://public-safety.berkeley.edu/csp/scstats.html
Visitors' Guide: http://www.berkeley.edu/about/index.html#visiting
Bay Area Transit Information: http://www.transitinfo.org/


Guides to Archives in the United Kingdom


The Bodleian and other Oxford Libraries

Why go abroad when you can stay home? The Bodley possesses important collections in the field of Central European studies, as do its affiliated College and University libraries. That said, for History, the most important Oxford-held manuscript sources tend to relate to British diplomatic interests in Central Europe. Search for specific historical figures to find their papers. For details on the locations of various Reading Rooms, see the 'Locations' section.

The Old Bodleian: In the Old Bodleian Reading Rooms (Upper and Lower), you can order up practically any printed book (maps have their own room) in the Library. For medievalists and early modernists, go to Duke Humfrey's lovely cavernous Reading Room where you can order up and read manuscripts. There are impressive Hebraica and Judaica collections in the Bodleian (see link below). It is advisable to search through the catalogues beforehand.

The New Bodleian: The shelves at the back of the anteroom to the Slavonic Reading Room contain important Central and East European bibliographic sources and journals (by no means a complete collection), as well as a nice nineteenth century set of the great Czech encyclopedia: the Ottův slovník naučný. Some archives with relevance to British diplomatic concerns in Central Europe as well as League of Nations development in the region are located on the first floor - check their catalogues (Room 132, Modern Manuscripts).

The Bodleian Law Library: The Law Library contains several Czech and Austrian legal and constitutional documents, some going back to the nineteenth century.

The Radcliffe Camera: The Upper Camera Gallery is the Reading Room for Undergraduates in History. The Lower Camera houses government documents in the basement; these include some Central European government documents and League of Nations and UN records (including the Austrian Hansard - second floor down in the basement). Ask at the Lower Camera desk to gain access. The shelves in both the Old Bodleian and the Radcliffe Camera contain many essential secondary sources, so browse around.

The Taylor Institution Library and Modern Languages Faculty Library: Comprising one of the world's most comprehensive specialist collections of modern European language literature and literary criticism, the Taylor is also a beautiful and unique building, housed in what is sometimes taken for the Southern wing of the Ashmolean museum, which it adjoins. Reading rooms, loosely designated by language group (Spanish and Portugese), function (Periodicals) or special collections (the Voltaire Room, containing extensive materials relating to the author and period) are serene, grand and inspiring places to study. The holdings, strongest in modern French, German, Spanish and Italian, are housed partly in Nuneham Courtney outside Oxford, with the most frequently accessed works kept at the St. Giles site. Repository holdings are available within twenty four hours; ordering is simple and the staff are famously knowledgeable and helpful, many of the senior figures possessing degrees in their designated area of competence and/or language. Graduates in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages at Oxford are free to use the quiet Senior Common Room, located mostly underground, with journals, useful notices, tea and coffee making facilities for student use. The collection of periodicals is excellent, most of the major publications in Modern Languages are available for consultation, and photocopying is less expensive than elsewhere (5p / A4 sheet at the time this review was written). There is also a separate room devoted to linguistics. The Modern Languages Faculty Library, which occupies an adjoining wing extending up St. Giles, is the sister library to the Taylor. Designated primarily for undergraduates, the MLFL's holdings are more oriented towards primary canonical texts for set courses and secondary criticism, with some materials relating to literary history, linguistics and language learning.

New College Archive: One of the gems in Oxford's holdings which pertain to Central Europe is the little-used R.W. Seton-Watson archive at New College Archive. While the mass of R. W. Seton-Watson's papers are held at SSEES's archive in London (see below), New College boasts a nice and sizeable collection of pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and contemporary books (mainly twentieth-century-focussed) which R. W. Seton-Watson amassed during his career. No photocopying is permitted, unfortunately, which makes note-taking in the tiny librarians' office a laborious experience. But they are very nice, and may take pity and offer you cups of tea while you do it. Write and attain permission for access beforehand.

Taylorian Slavonic Library: A nice little library with notable holdings in Modern Greek, Czech, and Russian literature, literary journals, and periodicals; but there is not much in Polish. The staff is very helpful and each librarian speaks at least one Slavonic language. If you go there more than twice they will get to know your name and help you personally. There are collections in the basement that can be viewed by signing out a key at the library counter; it is available to graduates and Faculty only. There is not much logic in determining what is held in the Bodleian as opposed to the Taylorian Slavonic Library. It might seem that some holdings would suitably be kept with the Taylorian, but are in fact in the Bodleian and vice versa. [Monika notes:] There is a pamphlet collection which is kept in big boxes in the basement and upstairs. Sometimes you find hidden treasures. For instance, I found an article which was never published in book form by Josef Macurek, an excellent Czech historian. Initially I was looking for another document which is held in one of the pamphlet boxes, together with thirty barely-related excerpts, and accidentally found his work.

Oriental Institute Library and Yarnton Manor Library: The Oriental Institute Library has several historical encyclopedias and secondary sources pertaining to Jewish society and politics in Central Europe. More significant holdings are found out at Yarnton Manor Library (about 15 minutes' ride outside of town). Of particular note are indexes and catalogues relating to Central European Jewish history. Details on archival and manuscript holdings are available in the link to the library (below). To gain access and appreciate the full extent of the collections, talk to Yarnton's librarian, Brad Sabin Hill (http://associnst.ox.ac.uk/ochjs/staff.html#hill) who is extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

 Access, search tools, photocopying:

Getting into Oxford libraries invariably involves a fair amount of information exchange and scrutiny. If you are coming in from outside the University (and even if you aren't), you will have to apply repeatedly for various reader's tickets. Almost all branches of the Bodleian have guards at the front desk who check your ID before you enter. When you leave, they search your bags.

Finding, ordering, and receiving sources in the libraries varies. The computer catalogues for the whole system (OLIS) are good. But be aware that the system is incomplete and you may have to check paper catalogues in the Old Bodleian. There is talk of ordering sources over OLIS, but in the Bodleian everyone still resorts to filling out paper slips to order up books, submits them at the help desks, and then waits between three hours and three days (arrival time varies according to the location of the book and the reading room you select; always factor this time in if you are planning on coming to Oxford for a brief research trip) for their sources to arrive. The other libraries tend to have open stacks, and getting sources is faster and easier.

Photocopying varies, and is generally horrendously expensive. The system is not comprehensively systematized: you will have to get different photocopy cards for different libraries. The Bodleian only just introduced self-serve photocopying in the Upper Reading Room and the Slavonic Reading Room, and all photocopy areas include someone who sits at a desk and makes sure that you don't bend the spines of books and that you obey the copyright laws. Check the websites for rates, but don't expect to have an easy time of it.


To 'find' the Bodleian and Oxford libraries is a relative term, since its buildings are scattered through the city's downtown section. The main Bodleian buildings are clustered around the intersection of Broad Street (which becomes Holywell Street at the intersection) and Parks Road (which becomes Catte Street at the intersection). The Clarendon Building - which sits directly to the left of the famous round entrance (with the heads on top!) to the Sheldonian Theatre - contains the main offices for attaining Bodleian reader's passes: face the Clarendon Building, walk up the stairs, and turn in the first door within the archway. If you go straight through the archway and subsequent courtyard, you will find the entrance to the Old Bodleian in the next courtyard to your right. The Duke Humfrey's Reading Room is located between the first and second floors of the Old Bodleian. History readers should go to the top floor - the Upper Reading Room. Sources are indexed in paper catalogues on the floor below in the Lower Reading Room (closed Summer 2001 for renovations), to which you may have to refer if the incomplete computer catalogue does not provide your desired source.

Coming from the Clarendon Building, if you do not go into the Old Bodleian and instead go straight ahead, you will find the Radcliffe Camera.

The New Bodleian is directly opposite the Clarendon Building (entrance on Parks Road). On the second floor you will find the PPE Reading Room, with the Slavonic Reading Room coming off of it.

The History Faculty Building is on the same intersection, diagonally across from the New Bodleian on Catte Street. The library is on the second floor; but it is primarily an Undergraduate library with secondary sources (closed in summer). If you walk away from the History Faculty down Catte Street towards High Street, you will find the almost invisible entrance to the Codrington Library. Entrance is restricted, though, until you apply for a readerfs pass around the corner in the lodge of All Souls on High Street (be prepared to make several trips: check their online application first, and bring letters from your supervisor(s)). The Codrington, a grand but dark library with important Central European historical sources in its collections, is currently closed for renovations.

The New College Library can be found within New College grounds: walk down Holywell Street away from the History Faculty and the gates to the College are on the right. Go in through the archway, turn right immediately on leaving the archway, and the library is straight ahead. Write and make appointments for admission beforehand.

The Bodleian Law Library is located on St. Cross Road. Walk past New College down to the end of Holywell Street; turn left onto St. Cross Road. The library is located on the right as the road jogs to the left. Its reading rooms are bright and pleasant - modern and full of skylights.

Beyond this main intersection, the libraries are more far flung. The Social Sciences and Politics Library is located in the Politics and International Relations Faculty Building on George Street. This building is T. E. Lawrence's former school. Its entrance lies opposite the square with the Odeon Cinemas on it. But for the entrance to the library, go around to the back of the building and go up to the first floor.

Look for the Taylorian Library on the top floor of the Taylorian Institution on the side of the Ashmolean Museum: entrance on the corner of St. Giles' and Beaumont Streets. Small and intensely decorated, the Taylorian is one of the most beautiful libraries in the University. The stacks are open; check the various reading rooms that run off the main room. The Modern Languages Library is on the first floor of the same building.

The Oriental Institute Library is tucked away on the ground floor of the Oriental Institute on Pusey Lane. Go down Beaumont Street away from the Taylorian, turn right onto St. John Street, and take the first right onto a small side alley that will bring you to the side of the Institute. From the Oriental Institute, you can take a special shuttle bus to Yarnton Manor Library (about 15 minutes' ride outside of town). Ask the very kind and helpful lady at the desk of the Oriental Institute for the schedule, and make sure you know when the last one leaves Yarnton (where there is no cafeteria, at the time of writing: bring your own lunch).

The Slavonic Language and Literature Library is on Wellington Square: follow St. John Street, and look for the entrance almost immediately on the left side of Wellington Square, which lies at the end of St. John Street. Look for the nice airy reading room on the top floor, with many Czech literary sources.

The St. Antony's College Libraries are in the main College Building (a former convent) at the north end of the city. Walk up St. Giles past the Taylorian, and you will find the College at 62 Woodstock Road (which runs straight off St. Giles) on the right. The entrance to the main library is straight ahead as you walk in; the Russian area studies library is to the left down the main hallway. Write and attain permission to gain access beforehand.

Eating and finding coffee are no problem in central Oxford. There is a plethora of restaurants and coffee shops. But eating out, even for lunch, is not cheap. Try to have lunch at one of the College dining halls, if you can - which will be cheaper but probably less appetizing (depending on the college). For fast sandwiches, there are many decent baguette shops, and Pret á Manger on Cornmarket Street. Among several possibilities, check the Grand Café on High Street (expensive but nice, claims to be the oldest coffee house in England), the café in St. Mary's Church on High Street (entrance opposite the back of the Radcliffe Camera), Meltz and the Nosebag on St. Michael's Street, the News Café on Ship Street, and particularly Edamame - a Japanese restaurant on Holywell opposite New College. Up by Wellington Square, try the Café Rouge on Little Clarendon; for St. Antony's check the dining hall on the first floor of the Hilda Besse Building, or the shops behind the College on North Parade.

  Larissa Douglass, Robert Pyrah (Taylorian entry), and Monika Baar and Vanda Pickett (Taylorian Slavonic entry), Summer 2001


Check opening hours, locations, telephone numbers, and contact names online.

The Bodleian: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/
OLIS catalogue: http://library.ox.ac.uk/
Using the Bodleian: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/boris/guides/
Bodleian Online Resources: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/elec-res.html
Bodleian Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/
Modern Papers and John Hohnson Reading Room (Room 132, New Bodleian): http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/modpol/
Bodleian Oriental Collections, Judaica: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/oriental/heb.htm
Bodleian Slavonic and East European Collections: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/techserv/seec.htm
Link to Duke Humfrey's Library: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/boris/guides/
Bodleian Map Room: http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/guides/maps/
Yarnton Manor Library: http://associnst.ox.ac.uk/ochjs/library/


The School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) Library and Archives, University College London

Located at the side entrance of Senate House, Malet Street, Bloomsbury, the SSEES Library specializes in Slavonic and Hungarian Central European sources. The archives include the R. W. Seton-Watson papers (the other half of which is stored at New College, Oxford, see above). The archives are searchable online (see link below). The library is divided into different reading rooms for different fields of study. The main library houses Russian and some Czech secondary documents. There are study carrels in the main library, but laptops are not permitted there. They are permitted upstairs, in all other reading rooms. In the upper library (room 328) there are periodicals, dictionaries, and German and Austrian history; current periodicals and newspapers are stored directly across the hall. Further down from the current periodicals room is room 333, which contains Czech historical and literary sources. Albanian, Romanian, and Balkan sources are in room 332, and Yugoslav sources are in room 331. Room 329 has photocopiers and computers with internet access. For general enquiries, go to room 251.

Buy photocopy cards at the desk for £1 and add money onto them at the machines by the photocopy machines. One copy is equivalent to one unit, and you get fifteen units per £1 coin.

To get there, take the Tube to Russell Square on the Piccadilly Line. Coming out of the station, turn left, and follow Russell Square up to Malet Street (i.e. jog right off the end of the Square and then left onto Malet). The Library is in Senate House, on your left as you walk up Malet Street. Walk in, and the library is straight ahead at the end of the hall. Other reading rooms are upstairs. The main office of the Institute for Historical Research is also located in the same hall.

Librarians/archivists of note: See Lesley Pittman (room 255), the Head Librarian, and Vlasta Gyenes. The acquisitions specialist is Ericka Panagakis.

  Larissa Douglass, Summer 2001 (Thanks to Katya Kocourek)


The School of Slavonic and East European Studies
University College London
Senate House
Malet Street

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7636 8000 (Switchboard)
Library Telephone: +44 (0)20 7862 8523
Fax: +44 (0)20 7862 8644

Online: http://www.ssees.ac.uk/
The Library: http://www.ssees.ac.uk/libarch.htm
The Archives: http://www.ssees.ac.uk/archives/newguid2.htm#SEW
Link to all Senior Staff of Library: http://www.ssees.ac.uk/libguide/sstaff.htm
General Information on Library, Opening Hours, Location: http://www.ssees.ac.uk/library.htm


The British Library, London

The British Library is a wonderful repository of manuscripts, newspapers, and printed books of relevance to the study of Central Europe. The library's collections include politicians' and civil servants' private papers, which contain many official documents within them. There are a lot of documents on diplomacy and international relations between the two World Wars. There are also many printed sources which the library has collected from the region (see the online indexes below). If at all possible, make an appointment to speak to the curators and librarians who specialize in your area and they will be able to advise at length, since not all of the holdings are self-evident from initial searches. Sources can be ordered online at one of the terminals, or on paper slips by the help desks.

When you arrive, you will have to register at the main office on the right (bring a letter from your supervisor and all university identification), and store your belongings in the basement. The library has a top flight cafeteria and a café which feature top flight prices. Guards will check your ID upon entry, and search your belongings upon exit, to and from each of the many reading rooms. In general, the atmosphere in the reading rooms is pleasant, efficient, and conducive to work.

When you take breaks, you can check the latest exhibitions and gift shop, which are always interesting.

Photocopying is very expensive, starting at 22p per page (as of Autumn 2000). The price goes down the more you photocopy. There is a photocopy room in Humanities 1 reading room. Most photocopying is self-service, except for delicate documents, and there are photocopy machines in various reading rooms. Show your documents to the librarians before you photocopy them yourself.

To get there, take the Tube on the Piccadilly, Hammersmith and City, Circle, Metropolitan, Victoria, or Northern lines to King's Cross-St. Pancras. Leave by the Euston Road exits. Walk along Euston Road - the train station should be on your right. Cross Midland Road/Judd Street (which join at Euston Road and run perpendicular to it) and you will see the Library immediately on your right. Note that newspapers are stored at another location on Colindale Avenue (address below).

Librarians/archivists of note: Special thanks to Devana Pavlik (Czech curator), Graham Nattrass (German curator), and Olga Kerziouk (Slavonic librarian).

  Larissa Douglass, Summer 2001


The British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB


The British Library
Newspaper Library
Colindale Avenue
London NW9 5HE

Newspaper Library Telephone: +44 (0)20 7412 7356
Newspaper Library Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7379

Online: http://www.bl.uk/

Slavonic and East European Collections E-mail: slavonic@bl.uk
Newspaper Library E-mail: newspaper@bl.uk


The National Archives, London

The National Archives (formed from the merger of the Public Record Office and the Historical Manuscripts Commission in 2003) are the very model of a modern major archive. If you don't mind Orwellian surveillance, that is. Everything runs with supreme efficiency: you register at the front desk upon arrival, and are issued a reader's card. Be prepared to be searched and electronically scanned repeatedly throughout your visit. On the first floor at the top of the stairs there is a wall of indexes and past that, a central information desk that invariably has long queues but fairly helpful staff. The room with the information desk contains countless reference books and card indexes with call numbers for the arcane cataloguing system. Once you know your way around it, the full extent of the NA's impressive organisation begins to become clear. You order your books by swiping your member card in any one of the terminals and type in your call numbers. At the desk in the adjoining reading room you order a desk number and are provided with a beeper. The beeper lets you know when your documents have arrived from storage (a wait of about 30 minutes to one hour). Once you have a reader's ticket, you can order your documents online a day in advance of your visit.

While you wait for your documents to be brought up from storage, go to the ground floor by the entrance and browse through the gift shop (!), which features plenty of fun archival knick knacks for sale, or have lunch at the expensive, average canteen across the hall. The area in front of the archive is more promising, with large concrete pools filled with ducks and geese.

Your beeper will call you back to the main distribution desk on the first floor. The staff (there are usually 6-8 people working at once at lightning speed) will provide you with a limited number of resources to read at a time. Once you find your desk (all carrels are numbered), you can sit back and enjoy British government documents as they pertain to foreign relations, war, and peace in Central Europe. Some digging can uncover surprising reports, letters and collected sources, filed and attached within Foreign Office and other government papers. Despite the globed cameras hanging from the ceilings at roughly three foot intervals and the proximity of endless readers tapping away at laptops and wrestling with large foam book rests, the atmosphere is surprisingly not too claustrophobic. The mood leaves one with a sense of businesslike accomplishment - until one of the guards who patrols the carrels lifts your hand off the document and places it on the desk for you.

Photocopying is possible, but the prices are so high that they constitute highway robbery, and have become legendary, particularly amongst graduate students. The photocopy desk is to the right of the main distribution desk and there are instructions there on how to flag pages and fill out the forms. Certain sources have been microfilmed. If they have been, the staff will refuse to photocopy the actual documents which you hold before them. This is sensible, but if you are working under time constraints, be aware that photocopying the document itself can be done immediately (if the number of pages is small enough) or at least on the same day. But microfilm photocopying takes longer, so check to see if a paper document you have has been microfilmed beforehand.

On the whole, the National Archives manage to balance the less-than-subtle intrusiveness required to protect their sources with ready access to them. And its collections are more than worth the trip.

To get there, take the Tube District line to Kew Gardens (beware: the District line has overlapping lines and can be confusing; make sure you take the one which ends at Richmond). When you get off, walk out of the station, turn right, then immediately left onto West Park Road, then left onto Burlington Avenue, and follow it (it becomes Ruskin Avenue after Mortlake Road) straight to the archive.

  Larissa Douglass, Summer 2001 (visited archive: Spring, 2000 - Thanks to Marius Floca)


Public Record Office
Kew, Richmond
Surrey, UK TW9 4DU
Telephone: +44 (0)20 8876 3444

Online: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/


Guides to Archives in Canada


The Bruce Peel Special Collections Library, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta

The University of Alberta in Edmonton is home to the Wirth Institute, the burgeoning Canadian Centre for Austrian and Central European Studies. The University's Rutherford Library holds the largest collection relevant to the study of Central Europe in Canada, and - according to the Web site - is among the five leading libraries in the field in North America. Two main sets of primary resources were purchased in the 1960s and are held in the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library. The first of these is the Library of the Juridisch-Politischer Leseverein of Vienna (the collection is described in detail at a subsite of the Canadian Directory of Special Collections (link below)). Unfortunately, this large collection was dispersed through the stacks upon purchase and is mostly held in storage. The librarians will help with selective searches online, but you can do searches before your arrival to preorder titles. At the Library, you can order up to three sources at a time on paper forms. Photocopying of these documents is touch and go - the librarians decide whether sources may be photocopied depending on each individual item's age and condition - and very expensive ($0.25 CDN per page). Interlibrary loans are also possible for this collection.

Another pride of the Peel Library is the entire library of the Archbishop of Salzburg. This set of some 3,000 primary sources is a real prize, and particularly significant for the study of canon and ecclesiastical law from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

Research is an easy matter at U. of A., with an on-campus mall - the HUB - connected directly to the Rutherford Library. In the HUB, you will find any number of places to eat at good prices, bank machines, lounges and various services. The main hall of the Rutherford Library is accessible through a westward-running hallway about halfway down the HUB. This is a boon when you wish to avoid freezing temperatures during Alberta's bright winters.

The Peel Library is in the basement of the Rutherford Library. Walk from the HUB down through the main hall and turn right to reach the gold- and beige-tiled south wing of the Library. Take the first staircase on the right down to the Peel Library.

Librarians/archivists of note: Thank you to Jeannine Green.

  Larissa Douglass, Winter 2004 (visited archive: Winter, 2004)


The Bruce Peel Special Collections Library
Rutherford South Library
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta T6J 2G4

Telephone: +1 780 492-5998

Opening Hours: M 8:30-16:30; Tu-Th 8:30-18:00; F 8:30-16:30; Sa 12:00-17:00

Online (Peel Library): http://www.library.ualberta.ca/specialcollections/index.cfm
Online (Wirth Institute): http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/ccauces/
Library Search Engine: http://www.library.ualberta.ca/
Campus Map: http://www.expressnews.ualberta.ca/UALBERTA/layout/
Description of Rutherford collections: http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/ccauces/about.htm#Austrian
Description of Juridisch-Politischer Leseverein Collection: http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/collectionsp-bin/colldisp/c=54/h=10/1=0/s=s

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