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Romanian Diplomatic Archives

Page history last edited by Paul Keenan 14 years ago

Date of tip:  14 September 2005

Source: Paul Anicet – paul_anicet@yahoo.com


Location: Palatul Cuvernului, Piata Victoria Nr. 1, Bucharest, ROMANIA.


Possible Accommodation:  Accommodations in Bucharest tend to be tricky. Hotels are available but are expensive. Renting an apartment is a better option.  Rates for a studio or a 1 bedroom in downtown range from 200-400 USD a month. You can also rent apartments by the day at a rate of 35Euros a day with some discounts for longer stays. – Romanians list apartments by number of rooms not bedrooms, so keep that in mind when renting)  


How to get there: Most major airlines fly to Bucharest or have a partnership with a company that flies there. Once on the airport, be careful what taxi you take – I suggest Fly Taxi. All taxis have to run the meter, but not all taxis change the same per KM. there is a difference between paying .4E for KM or 4E/KM to be sure. Do not take a ride from any one offering one in the airport, unless you agree on a price beforehand. My advice – don’t do it. It’s not worth it. You’ll end up paying more. Oh, and speaking of taxis… sit in the back, put the seatbelt on, and pray. Drivers in Romania are *a little* aggressive.  


Language:  Romanian. A few of the staff speak English, maybe some German and/or French. The director speaks English.  

Getting started:  Before you start, you need to have your topic approved by the Archive leadership. Write a request to the Archive Director – Mr. Costin Ionescu – that includes the topic of research. Non-Romanian citizens have to address the letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania. Define the topic specific enough that it makes sense, broad enough that you will be able to see everything you need to see and copy everything you need to copy. Also point out in the letter that you are in Bucharest for a limited time and that you would appreciate if they would approve expedited handling of your requests. 


Opening Hours:  Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 2:30pm. 


General working conditions:  The room is small, but decent. Space is very limited (I think only about 16 spots are open) but I have never seen it full. It can get cramped at times though. The room is air-conditioned and has desk lamps. Some of the chairs are falling apart.  


Consultation:  There is no finding aid. You will have to tell the archivist the general topic and what you would like to see. The request gets approved (or denied) by the archive’s director and the staff brings you folders the archivist thinks you want to see. Sometimes they match, sometime they do not. There is no list of what is declassified and what is not. Theoretically, at least, you will only see declassified documents. You might at times have the surprise to find out that what you thought was declassified is denied when requesting copies because the docs are still classified. Send the request a long time in advance and follow through – keep reminding them of what you plan to study and what you want to see. Works best that way.


Policy on technology:  No technology is allowed in the reading room. Laptops, cameras, even camera phones are not allowed. 


Photocopy policy:  Researchers request that certain folders/pages be copied. The request has to be approved *based on the plan of research*. If approved, staff makes the copies and hands them to the researcher. It can take about a week to get copies done.  


Particularities:  Since there are no finding aids, research is a gamble. As such, try to be broad and specific at the same time (this applies to each and every Romanian archive). A good example is “documents relating to the 1953 German Uprising and its consequences in the Communist world/international system/etc”.  


How to apply for classified files:  There is no policy on applying for classified files. Files are either available or not. Some files that are not classified are not available. There is little recourse. 


Contact name in case of questions regarding classified files: You will need to petition the archive leadership to see additional documents. Documents are declassified by a committee, one document at the time. There is no set rule on declassification, and documents remain classified if one of the committee members believes that it will affect current relationships.  


General Assessment:  While better organized then the National Archives, the MFA Archives suffer from a lack of a finding guide. Access to documents is considered a privilege rather then a right. For the past 15 years, very little has been done in terms of making the documentary record available. Some improvement has taken place over the past few years, but the Romanian Diplomatic Archives are still far behind most other Eastern European nations in terms of access. They are however, generally, ahead of other Romanian archives. The problem also extends to documents available. Many high level discussions of the Foreign Minister are not available – archive staff will suggest that they either do not exist, or, if they existed, they had been sent over to the Central Committee and never returned. Good Luck!

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