Archives in Slovenia



It is possible to trace the origins of some present public archives in Slovenia back to the second half of the 19th century. The Aškerc Award for outstanding achievements in archival science was named after the famous Slovene poet Anton Aškerc (1856–1912), who was the first town archivist of Ljubljana more than 100 years ago and who defended the fundamental principles of archival science.

However, the present structure of Slovenia's public archival service has only developed since 1945, when the National Government of Slovenia established the Central State Archive. From the 1950s onwards, the Yugoslav Federal Archives Act gave rise to the establishment of the so-called 'municipal archives', today known as regional archives (Maribor, 1952; Ljubljana, 1955; Ptuj, 1955; Koper, 1956; Celje 1957; and Nova Gorica, 1972), where the majority of archival material in Slovenia is concentrated. Whilst the Yugoslav Act allowed for the setting up of so-called 'special archives' and collections of historic material, the only 'special archives' established in Slovenia prior to 1990 were the so-called 'political archives', and no special diplomatic archives or special archives relating to the history of the economy, education or medicine were set up. After the political changes of 1990 the 'political archives' were incorporated into the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia.


In 2006 the archival Act was implemented, called the Protection of Documents and Archives and Archival Institutions Act (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia No 30/2006) – it is available in English on archived ARS web page. This Act has incorporated most of the former Act of 1997 (the Archives and Archival Institutions Act) with substantial supplements relating to the electronic archives and their permanent preservation.

The Slovene Archives and Archival Institutions Act (AAIA) of 1997 was in compliance with guidelines from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and with EU recommendations, following the example of legislation from several European countries (Denmark, Germany, Italy). The major change was the separation of public and private archives, which prompted a reorganisation of the public archival service. The Act also changed the definition of archival property: 'public archives constitute public property; private archives constitute private property.' The term 'public archives' implies not that the institution is accessible to the public, but rather that it was created in the public sector (by entities under public law).

Jurisdiction in the public archival service is divided between the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia (ARS) and the regional archives. The ARS protects public archives of state authorities, of bodies exercising public authority and/or those public services provided by the state, of the Bank of Slovenia, and of state and public funds, agencies and other legal persons established by the state and/or whose activities cover the entire national territory.

The Slovene Act (2006) outlines the professional and administrative tasks to be performed by public archives as part of their public service. They should appraise records created by entities under public law, carry out professional supervision and training of staff members, collect and process public and private archives, identify support for using and publishing archives, maintain and preserve archives, keep a register of public and private archives, identify support for archival material/records in archival institutions abroad relating to Slovenia and the Slovenes, register private archives of legal and natural persons, co-operate with owners of private archives and offer expert advice and supervision, make archives accessible, issue transcripts and copies of documents and certificates based on documents, foster cultural values related to the archives, carry out research in the field of archival science and history, and undertake publishing activities.

Regional archives have similar jurisdiction as public archives, except that they function at a regional level. In 2006 the Ministry of Culture adopted Regulation on Protection of Documents and Archives – available in English on archived ARS web page, which provide detailed regulations for certain fields of archival activity not specified by the AAIA (Preservation; Use of Public Archives; Maintenance of Archival Registers; ; Selection and Transfer of Public Archives; Dealing with Private Archives).


Funds for performing public archival activity are provided by the state. As an administrative institution within the organisational structure of the Ministry of Culture, the ARS receives funds directly from the state budget, whereas regional archives are funded by the Ministry on the basis of their annual programme. In its capacity as a research institution, the ARS can also obtain funding for some of its research projects from the Ministry education sector. However, the ARS is also legally obliged to carry out and self-fund independent research projects, in order to promote the development of archival science. The majority of archival staff work in public archives on a permanent employment basis. Special or independent archives employ a small number of people.

Archival policy: private archives

Archival policy promotes the protection of private archives. Public archives are legally obliged to keep registers of private archives. The owners of private archives have certain legal obligations after proclamation of their preserved documents as private archives. They are monitored by a competent archival institution and their capacity to import or export archival material is limited. Private owners may decide to keep their archives in the private sector or to deposit them in a public archival institution, in which case they preserve their property rights. Alternatively the owner of a private archive may decide to sell his/her archive to a public archival institution, in which case the state has the pre-emptive right to purchase such archives. Models of best practice for private archival institutions have yet to be established. The owners of private property may be not only individuals and families, but also legal entities and individuals.

Slovene archivists are keen to learn from the experience of those overseas archival institutions with expertise in this area regarding policies (including how to stimulate the private sector to protect private archival material) and practice relating to the preservation of private archival material. Records kept by the Roman Catholic Church are considered to be of public interest and are therefore considered to be the most important private archival material in Slovenia, for which reason the state annually provides some of the funds for carrying out its archival activity, as specified in the Act.

Structure of the public archives

The Archives of the Republic of Slovenia (ARS) is an administrative institution within the organisational structure of the Ministry of Culture which receives funds directly from the state budget. The ARS has been the only state administrative body to acquire the status of a research organisation since 1999, allowing it to engage in independent research activity in archival science and history and to be registered as the a research organisation at the Ministry of Culture. In 1968, the Slovene Film Archives (Slovenski filmski arhiv, SFA) was established and organised as a special department within the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia (ARS).

Next to the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia (ARS) the present-day Slovene public archives service comprises six regional archives - the Historical Archives Ljubljana, the Historical Archives of Ptuj, the Historical Archives of Celje, the Regional Archives of Koper, the Regional Archives of Maribor and the Regional Archives of Nova Gorica.

The six regional archives were founded by the state and also enjoy the status of public institutions. They are dependent on the Ministry of Culture with respect of both finances and programmes.

Archival organisations in Slovenia are not organised according to the typical hierarchical structure, though the Ministry of Culture supervises the work of the network. As far as the custody of archives is concerned, the ARS as an administrative institution carries out professional and administrative tasks which are of general importance for the Republic of Slovenia as a whole.

Archival holdings

The seven public archives (the ARS and the six regional archives) keep 11,036 record groups and collections, amounting to 58,434 archived metres of written records. Public archives also hold 6,535 films, 1,673 video recordings, 12,072 rolls of microfilms, 8,311 microfiches, 367,511 photographs and 1,129 sound recordings. The oldest archival materials kept in Slovene archival institutions are manuscripts dating from the 11th century and a collection of charters from the 12th century onwards, both held by the ARS; charters from 1147 onwards, kept in the Archiepiscopal Archives of Ljubljana; chapter charters from 1082 onwards, kept in the Diocesan Archives of Koper; and chapter charters from the mid 13th century onwards kept by the Piran Unit of the Regional Archives of Koper. Other archival institutions keep archival materials from the 14th century onwards. The greater part of the older material held by the Slovene archives is written in German using Gothic characters, because German was the official language of the territory until 1882.

Archival material held in Slovene archival institutions is generally classified according to time periods. Since most of the present-day territory of Slovenia formed the Habsburg provinces of Carniola, Styria, Carinthia and the region of Gorizia from the second half of the 13th century, archival material kept in both the ARS and most of the regional archives is grouped according to the historical periods pre-1848, 1848-1945 and post-1945. A notable exception is the archival collection of the Regional Archives of Koper (Piran Unit), which covers territory (the south Primorska region) controlled by the Venetian Republic until the end of the 18th century and is therefore organised according to the historical periods of the Venetian Republic from the 13th century down to 1797, the French period 1809-1813, the period under Austria 1813-1918, the period under Italy 1918-1943, the period of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia 1954-1991 and the period of the Republic of Slovenia since 1991.

The small Regional Archives of Nova Gorica is the only archival institution housed in purpose-built premises. In general, Slovenia's archives are accommodated in older and often listed buildings which have been specially adapted for their new function. One highly successful example of this practice is provided by Regional Archives of Koper, which is accommodated in an old monastery building. The creation of a storage facility by installing a new steel structure within the existing walls of the monastery's old church successfully preserves the artistic and historical qualities of the space. The opening of new ARS premises at a refurbished ex-barracks in Ljubljana in 2005 enabled the institution to rationalise its use of space; this new building houses mostly storage rooms.

Church archives

The most important private archives in Slovenia are those of the Roman Catholic Church, which are currently housed in three institutions: the Archiepiscopal Archives of Ljubljana (Nadškofijski arhiv Ljubljana), the Diocesan Archives of Koper (Škofijski arhiv Koper) and the Archiepiscopal Archives of Maribor (Škofijski arhiv Maribor).

The Archives Act of 1997 defines holdings of the Archives of the Roman Catholic Church as private archives. These archival holdings (totalling 2,163 metres) have been placed under a preservation order as a cultural monument and as an important part of the Slovene cultural heritage, the Ministry of Culture also provides part-funding for their activities.

The database includes further information on the following archives: in the capital the Seminary Library, Ljubljana, the Ursuline Archives, Ljubljana and theFranciscan Archives and Library, Ljubljana; in the Gorenjska region the Franciscan Archives and Library, Kamnik; in Eastern Slovenia the Minorite St Petrus and Paulus Monastery Archives and Library, Ptuj; and in South Eastern Slovenia the Franciscan Archives and Library, Novo Mesto and the Stična Cistercian Abbey Archives.

Specialised archives

Another important Slovene archive is the RTV Slovenia Archives and Documentation Service (Služba za arhiviranje in dokumentacijo TV Slovenija, RTV Slovenija) in Ljubljana. This institution functions as a documentation centre for the needs of national radio and television.

The Slovene Archives and Archival Institutions Act of 1997 also permitted certain institutions to set up archival services for their own needs. However, only two organisations have thus far been established as a result of this legislation: the University of Ljubljana Historical Archives and Museum (Zgodovinski arhiv in muzej univerze v Ljubljani) RTV Slovenia Archives and Documentation Service (Služba za arhiviranje in dokumentacijo TV Slovenija, RTV Slovenija) in Ljubljana. Archival holdings of Slovene political parties are treated today as private archives, and public access or use of their material is still not possible, as the multi-party system in Slovenia has only existed since 1990.

Some smaller archival organisations relate to specific fields of activity, eg the archives of Institute of Ethnomusicology (Glasbeno narodopisni inštitut), the Archives of Slovene Philharmonics (Arhiv Filharmonije) and the Archives of the Slovene National Theatre Drama Ljubljana (Arhiv SNG Drama). They have undergone considerable development to the point that even external users can now gain access to their archival collections (on the basis of a special agreement). These archives work within the organisational structure of their respective parent institutions.

The NUK Manuscript Collection and Early Printed Collection (Nacionalna rokopisna zbirka v Narodni in univerzitetni knjižnici v Ljubljani, NUK) is a special collection within the National and University Library (NUK), functioning as a national literary archival institution with the most extensive collection in this field in Slovenia. Again, it works within the organisational structure of the University and is dependent on it as far as both funding and programmes are concerned. Specialised archival collections such as those of the Studia Slovenica Archives Research Institute enjoy private status. There are relatively few smaller archival institutions of this kind.

Use and accessibility of archival material

Modern regional archives keep the archival material of state authorities and their organisational units and of bodies exercising public authority or performing public services provided by the state on the territory of one or more local self-government communities over which the regional archive has competence. Use and accessibility of archival holdings is contingent upon relevant legislation, internal regulations of archival institutions and, in the case of private record groups and collections, the stipulations of the persons who have transferred them. Changes in the socio-economic system and in property relations in the Republic of Slovenia have resulted in a massive increase in the use of archival material, mainly for the purpose of issuing various certificates for administrative and legal procedures.

Most public archives in Slovenia published new, up-to-date guidebooks from the 1990s onwards, and in recent years information from these guidebooks has also been published on the Internet, mainly in Slovene. Inventories, archival catalogues and lists of acquisition are also available. The spread of information technology over the last few years has substantially improved access to and use of archival material.

Digital archive project

To date the ARS has carried out two digitisation projects: in 2002-2003 the Emperor Francis' Cadaster (land survey register and maps) of 1824-1867 was scanned in its entirety, covering 28,000 recordings or 2,800 recorded cadastral municipalities with 28,000 cadastral maps, which are freely available on ARS website. The second project in 2004-2005 was the scanning of the Charters collection (5,984 charters), the oldest archival material kept in the ARS (from 12th to 19th centuries), which generated 31,200 recordings. However, the database on Charters is currently available only in the ARS reading room.

Archive public presentations

The ARS has presented its activities and organisation on a videocassette and CD-ROM and has issued a summary publication in three languages (Slovene, English and German). The Slovene Film Archives has for the past five years organised 'Evenings of the Slovene Film Archives' in the Slovenian Cinematheque once a month, with screenings on various themes (eg 'Distant Past', 'Films from the 1950s', 'Feature and Documentary Films', 'The Mirror of Time', 'Slovene Regions from Smithies from Kropa to Dances by Kolpa', and 'Dazzling Shine of Sports').

Exhibitions organised by the ARS have been predominantly domestic. Between 1993 and 2001 the ARS held three important exhibitions: 'Convents in Medieval Charters in Slovenia' (1993), 'Slovenia in Papal Charters' (1996, in honour of Pope John Paul II's visit to Slovenia) and 'From Dream to Reality' (2001, in honour of the 10th anniversary of the independence of Slovenia). However, in 2003 the ARS did mount an exhibition for overseas consumption entitled 'Slovene Towns Through Time' (the presentation of 16 towns in Slovenia), which was presented initially in Beijing, China. This exhibition has since been presented in Warsaw, Poland and Skopje, Macedonia in 2004; in Vienna, Austria in 2006; and in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and in Munich, Germany in 2007, in Bern and Vaduz 2008, in Zagreb 2009.

The exhibition Carniolan Provincial Privileges 1338-1736 in the National Galery, which was later in Pazin and Celje in 2009, in Metlika and Dunaj in 2010 and in Celovec in 2012.

The exhibition titled Milion 289 thousand 369: 20 anniversary of the plebiscite for the independent Slovenia, opened in Ljubljana in 2010, and later in several cities in Slovenia in 2011.

Archival support organisations overview

The Archival Association of Slovenia (AAS) was established in 1954. It has over 250 members, mostly from archival institutions throughout Slovenia; some of its members work in libraries, museums and other cultural institutions. The Association organises professional training of staff members, co-operates with similar associations at home and abroad and organises professional seminars. To date the AAS has organised around 40 archival conventions and has issued a collection of scientific papers. The AAS is a member of the International Council on Archives (ICA). In 2002, the AAS launched the Aškerc Award.

The Archives Journal, a joint publication of the Archival Association of Slovenia (AAS) and the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia (ARS), has been published since 1978. 34 issues of the collection Viri ('Documents'), containing historical documents with commentaries, have been published since 1980 treating different historical themes, eg 'Documents on Democratisation and Independence of Slovenia in 2002'.

The International Institute for Archival Science (IIAS) has launched several practical studies focusing on research into archival buildings and the introduction of new technologies into archives. It co-operates with a wide range of international organisations and associations. Due to the existence of an Archival Science programme which is organised at the Department of History, University of Ljubljana, the last 10 years has seen a considerable increase in the number of employees with a university qualification. In line with the tradition of CEE countries, the professional training of archivists is closely connected to the study of history and the majority of archivists working in Slovene archival institutions have a formal education in history, art history and ethnology. Postgraduate programmes of high quality are also available, covering various themes. Archivists employed in public archives must pass a proficiency examination organised by the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia (ARS), usually after their period of traineeship.

International cooperation and exchange

The Archives of the Republic of Slovenia (ARS) maintains a register of Slovene archives kept in Austria, Italy and Hungary, countries which once controlled Slovene national territory. Some other international record groups are kept in Slovenia, for example the archives kept at the Historical Archives of Ptuj related to the Scottish Leslie family, lords of Ptuj castle in the middle of the 17th century. The Leslies were originally a Hungarian family (Bartolomej Leslie) that moved to Scotland in the 11th century and earned their wealth there. Most significant for Slovenia and Ptuj was Walter Leslie, who served Austrian king Ferdinand II in the 17th century. Slovenia is also connected with the Leslie family through Wilhelm Graf von Leslie, who was Bishop of the Ljubljana Diocese from 1718 until his death in 1727. Bishop Leslie studied in Graz and Vienna, served in Rome and later worked as a university professor in Padova (Dolinar, 2001). Some archives relating to him are kept in the Archiepiscopal Archives of Ljubljana, mostly found in the record group the Diocesan Archives, Ljubljana.

Without registering the archives kept in the central archives in Vienna it would be almost impossible to study Slovene history, since during Habsburg times the archives of central Austrian institutions were kept in Vienna, while the archives of provincial institutions were kept in the provinces themselves, eg Carniola. The archives in Maribor, Ptuj and Celje are responsible for Austrian Styria, while the archives in Koper and Nova Gorica are responsible for the Italian archives in Venice and Rome. So far the ARS has published guides to the Central State Archives in Rome, to district, regional and trade archives in the Czech Republic, and to the Central State Archives of the Czech Republic in Prague. It is currently working on projects in Germany, Austria, Russia, Italy, the Vatican, France, England, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Serbia. The Slovene Film Archives is also working on the registration of films in the , the Croatian Cinematheque in Zagreb, the Yugoslavian Cinematheque in Belgrade, the Austrian Film Archives in Vienna, the German Film Archives in Berlin, the Luce Institute in Rome and the French Film Archives in Bois d'Arcy.

International agreements in the field of culture include the exchange of technical literature and seek to ensure the financial means for their realisation. The ARS has such agreements with archival institutions in Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, Russia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia.


Since 1992 the ARS has been a category A member (national archives) of the International Council on Archives (ICA). The Archival Association of Slovenia (AAS) is a category B member (national archival associations) of ICA, and the Historical Archives Ljubljana and the International Institute for Archival Science (IIAS) are category C members (other archival organisations). Since 2001 both the ARS and the AAS have been members of International Council on Archives (ICA), European Regional Branch (EURBICA). Since 2000 the ARS has also been incorporated into the European Board of National Archivists (EBNA, comprising directors of national archives of EU countries), which assembles twice each year and is chaired by the director of the central archival institution of the presiding EU member. Since 2006 the ARS has also been involved in the EU work of the European Archives Group (EAG) in Brussels. The Slovene Film Archives is a member of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) and the Association Cinematique European (ACE); and the Sound Archives of the Institute of Musicology, ZRC SAZU is a member of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA), the Audio Engineering Society (AES), the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM), the Komission für Volksdichtung (KfV) and the Societe International de Ethnologie et Folklore (SIEF).

Partnership and professional exchange

The ARS took part in MOSAIC within the Partnership for Peace programme, and in 2000 organised a seminar on archive information technology for archivists of new states of the former Yugoslavia, partly funded by the Council of Europe. The ARS was also engaged in the international project 'Historical Documents of the Napoleon Period on the Territories of Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro' with participating countries and France. The project was conducted by the Croation State Archives. The guidebook to record groups and collections for that period in all mentioned countries was published in 2005. The project was also partly funded by the Council of Europe, the National Archives of France and the national archives of participating countries. As a continuance of this project the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia prepared a prited version of the historical map of the countries of Illyrian provinces by the author Gaetano de Palma.

In the fields of restoration and conservation, it is worth mentioning a successful co-operation between the ARS and Professor Christopher Clarkson from Oxford University, who held a series of five two-week staff training workshops on book conservation from 1997 to 2002, in co-operation with the National and University Library (NUK) and the Conservation Society of Slovenia. In honour of the 40th anniversary of the first Paper Restoration Workshop in 1996, the ARS organised an international symposium with the title Writing and Image, accompanied by a collection of scientific papers and an exhibition catalogue in English. The ARS, the National and University Library (NUK) and the National Gallery of Slovenia organised the international symposium Exhibiting Archival and Library Material and Works of Art on Paper: Standards in Preservation in 2003, also in association with the Committee on Preservation of Archives in Temperate Climates (ICA/CPTE).

In 2006 the Center for Restoration and Conservation at the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia celebrated the 50-th anniversary of its work with the exhibition and celebration titled Half a Century.

The Slovene Film Archives and the Slovenian Cinematheque organised the 61st international congress of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) in Ljubljana (2005) in honour of the 100th anniversary of Slovene film. The congress theme was ethnological film.

The Historical Archives Ljubljana has members in the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health (EAHMH). Since 2000, the Historical Archives Ljubljana has taken part in a joint project of the archives of all EU capitals, entitled DACE (Model for Description System of the Historical Archives). This institution has also worked with the Town and Provincial Archives Vienna on the exhibition 'Slovenia and Vienna', which was presented in three Slovene towns and at Vienna's Austrian Science Academy in 1995. The Regional Archives of Maribor has on several occasions organised an International Archival Research Camp in the border region between Slovenia and Hungary, together with an exhibition of collected archival material staged on both sides of the border. The Sound Archives of the Institute of Musicology, ZRC SAZU, and the Phonogrammarchiv Vienna have set up an international project of preservation and reorganisation of audio material. The Institute is also making arrangements with other important institutions for joint research projects in ethnomusicological heritage, including the Golda Meir Library of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee USA; MTA Zenetudomány Intézet, Budapest, Hungary; Institut ruskoy literaturi, Puškinski dom, St Petersburg, Russia; and Volksliedarchiv, Vienna). The Slovene Film Archives also co-operates with the Austrian Film Archives in Vienna in the field of maintenance and cataloguing of film archival material.

A few international exchange and co-operation agreements have afforded Slovene archivists the opportunity of obtaining further education at specialist institutions such as Archivschule Marburg in Germany, Stage technique international d'archives (STIA) in Paris, the Central European University Budapest and the Amsterdam-Maastricht Summer University (McLuhan Institute) in the Netherlands.


Written and adapted by Natalija Glažar, International Co-operation Consultant at the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia. Edited by Tom Doling and Helena Pivec. The first overview was written for the Mapping the Infrastructures of the Museums, Archives and Libraries in Slovenia and Hungary, Visiting Arts for Re:Source - the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries (London 2003).

See also

External links