The City Archives of Prague
Name: The City Archives of Prague
The Prague City Archives is one of the oldest specialist archives in the Czech Republic. It was founded in 1851 as an independent specialised institution with the aim of gathering and maintaining both official and unofficial historical documents which provide a testimony of Prague City's past from the medieval beginnings of urban life to the threshold of our era.
Since its founding the Prague City Archives were located on the ground floor of the Old Town Hall - the seat of Prague City self-government. At the very end of the Second World War, however, the Old Town Hall was set on fire by the retreating German forces and part of the archive funds were also destroyed. The majority of the historical documents were fortunately evacuated outside Prague and were saved from destruction. A new refuge was found for the archives, the Baroque Clam-Gallas palace in Husova street in the Prague Old Town. The palace, however, was soon unable to accommodate the wealth of material, nor was it technically equipped to house the growing number of archivists. At the end of the 1970s the archives were situated in eight buildings in Prague and outside the capital. The only possible solution was to construct a new special-purpose archive building, however, after many years of vain endeavour, construction was not to take place until 1995-1997. The new archive building in Archivní street in Prague’s Chodov district, built and fully equipped in twenty-three months, fulfils all the requirements for the operation of a modern archive institution at the turn of the millennium. Its depositories, equipped with air-conditioning, fire security and a computer surveillance system, contain as many as 46,000 metres in length of archive material. The building has also been equipped with a special gas disinfection chamber, a modern restoration and photographic studio, two worksites for preparing digital copies of archive material, plus computer systems specially designed for record-keeping and searching for documents. A study for 24 scholars is available to the public with a conference room for 60 visitors.
The Prague City Archives currently administers 19,000 metres in length of archive material and 3,000 metres of books, newspapers and magazines. The collection of manuscripts, in particular, forms the nucleus of the archive funds; these contain 8,427 official books relating to the four medieval Prague towns and several hundred literary, religious and scientific or academic manuscripts. Equally precious is the collection of over 200,000 parchments and paper documents, also the iconographic collection with its large collection of the earliest depictions of Prague, the collection of maps and plans, seals and stamps, among others. The more recent archive funds contain the most extensive data on the Prague city administration from 1784 and the funds of the smaller villages which were incorporated into the city in 1922 with the creation of what is known as Greater Prague. The archives also administer large judicial funds (documents pertaining to the courts, prosecutor's offices, state agencies, the legal profession, notary's offices), funds pertaining to Prague schools and colleges, associations and corporations, private legacies, collections of Prague newspapers from the 18th century to the present and also a large specialist library containing over 150,000 volumes oriented chiefly towards the history of Prague and present-day life in the capital.