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Historical Archives of the European Communities

Page history last edited by Paul Keenan 14 years, 2 months ago

Date of tip:  23 August 2005 (last visit dates back to October 2004)

Source: Linda Risso, linda.risso@gmail.com


Location: Villa il Poggiolo, Piazza Edison, 11– 50133 Florence – Italy. 


Contact Details: Telephone: ++ 39 055 4685620; Fax: ++ 39 055 573728; Email: archiv@iue.it


Possible Accommodation: The European University Institute does not offer accommodation. However, you can contact their Housing Information Service at www.iue.it/Housing to receive information on accommodation possibilities, temporary as well as permanent, in and around Florence. Alternatively, you can post a message on the Institute’s webpage with a detailed description of what you are looking for: www.iue.it/Housing/LongStays/OffersDemands.shtml 


How to get there: If you are arriving by plane at Florence airport (Amerigo Vespucci), you can take the airport shuttle (bus 62) to Florence Central Station (Santa Maria Novella – SMN). Connections from Pisa airport (Galileo Galilei, 70 km West of Florence) to Florence central railway station are guaranteed by direct trains. Once in Florence, take bus number 7 (outside Florence SMN Station) to Fiesole and get off at Piazza Edison. If you want to reach the European University Institute, you can use the same bus and continue for another 15 minutes. Bus lines, stops and timetables are available on the public bus service's (ATAF) website: www.ataf.net/Default_EN.asp


Language: All archivists speak fluent English and Italian, and many of them speak a third language, too! You can expect them to be able to deal with French and German researchers in their mother tongue. Although I have never heard them speaking Spanish, I would not be surprised if they could! 


Getting started: The HAEC website is well organized, informative and constantly updated. It is possible to search the collections and read detailed descriptions of all the archival collections on the website: wwwarc.iue.it/dcs/Fonds.html. The website allows you to look in advance for all the numbers of the boxes you want to consult during your research, thus gaining valuable time. 

It is not necessary to book a place as most of the time the reading room hosts no more than three of four researchers (which brings the ratio archivists/researchers to approximately 1:1!!). On your first visit, you must register at the reception desk (1st floor). The documents required are an identity document (ID or passport) and, in the case of university students, a presentation letter by their supervisor (in any European language!).


Opening Hours: The Reading Room is open Monday to Friday, between 8:30 and 17:00 (continuously, which is quite unusual in Italy). The Archives close at Christmas, Easter and two weeks in August; check the website for the exact dates as they change from year to year www.iue.it/ECArchives/Access.shtml.


General working conditions:  The reading room is very bright and quiet, with a view on the Villa’s gardens. Although the room is relatively small, this is never a problem, as the number of researchers working there at the same time is quite small. There are lockers outside the reading room where you can store your personal belongings. No food and beverage are allowed. 

Inside, the facilities include several big tables and ergonomic chairs, microfilm and microfiche reading machines and shelves with extremely helpful reference books. When I worked there, there was only one computer, which was supposed to be used to search the archival collections and not for surfing or checking emails. You can bring your laptop, but there is no wireless connection. The staff is extremely competent and helpful, so do not hesitate to raise your hand if you need anything; the overall atmosphere is very friendly and informal.


Consultation:  The consultation procedure is straightforward: you simply fill in a request slip and hand it anytime at the reception desk. You will receive the requested documents in the following 10-15 minutes! However, if you need to see the Documents of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of European Union member states, you need to apply for consultation, a procedure that can take from one day to up to a week. However, you can apply in advance by sending an email before leaving for Florence. Please note that almost all the official documents of the Communities are available only on microfilm. 


Policy on technology:  Researchers are welcome to use their own computers in the Reading Room. Personal copiers and scanners are not permitted and you should inform the archivist before using your digital camera for copying documents.


Photocopy policy: The reproduction of documents emanating from the Community Institutions is permitted and there is no limit. The reproduction of documents coming from private collections is limited to 500 photocopies per collection, per researcher, per annum. The reproduction of documents from the archives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of European Union member states is strictly limited to 300 photocopies for any one “fonds” from any one of these archives, per researcher, per annum. If you need photocopies, you should ask a member of staff to help you as they are supposed to supervise the photocopying process and make sure that you do not spoil the documents. However, you can still have the copies done on the spot and bring them home with you with no delay! You can print yourself copies of the microfilms/microfiches by using the printing device attached underneath each machine. After each visit, you must tell a member of staff the exact number of copies you have taken and they will keep a record in their log book.


Particularities:  Overall, working at the HAEC is a very stimulating experience. You can take coffee with the archivists and be updated about the new collections that have just come in and have some insight information into when they will be open for consultation. 

Unfortunately, the Archives do not have a proper bar/canteen and if you want more than a coffee from the machine, you should bring it with you from home (they do have a room with a fridge and a microwave). Alternatively, you can take a break and go to one of the nice bars and trattorie down the road (5-10 minutes walk). 

I recommend combining the visit to the Archives with a visiting fellowship to the European University Institute. Each year each EUI Department accepts a number of visiting students (for 3, 6 or 9 months) and you can apply by simply contacting the Head of the Department. Being a visiting student, you will have access to the EUI library, which is excellent, will have free photocopying (at the Institute, not at the Archives) and unrestricted access to the Institute’s online resources. Besides, you will be entitled to have lunch at the Badia’s canteen, which is simply delicious!! 


How to apply for classified files: All documents kept by the HAEC are free for consultation. In case of restrictions (such as is the case of personal files), you need to apply in writing or via email.  


Contact name in case of questions regarding classified files: If you need further information and would like to make sure that there is no limitation to your work, I would advise you to contact Mr Jean-Marie Palayret, the Director of the Archives (Tel. +390554685626; Fax: +39055573728; Email: jean.palayret@iue.it).


General Assessment:  The HAEC are a ‘must’ for all researchers working on the history of European integration. They offer both the full range of official documents and the private papers of policy-makers who took active part in the integration process. On a more personal level, a research trip to Florence allows you to spend some time in a very pleasant region and mingle with the EUI researchers, who are very friendly!

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