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One Million 289 Thousand 369 for Independent Slovenia

December 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of a milestone in the history of Slovenia - plebiscite for independent and sovereign Slovenia. When acquiring archival documents on the plebiscite in 2013, the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia also ingested the digital database "Plebiscit 1990", which was one of the first ingests of archival records in a digital form.

Logo of the exhibition on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the plebiscite for independent Slovenia.

One million 289 thousand 369 for independent Slovenia. | Author Arhiv Republike Slovenije

Digital Database “Plebiscit 1990” and the Role of Archives in the Preservation of Historical Memory

December 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of a milestone in the history of Slovenia. With over 93 % voter turnout, one million 289 thousand 369 of the voters entered into electoral roll at the time said “YES” to the plebiscite question “Should the Republic of Slovenia become independent and sovereign state?”

Fully aware that the said event was a turning point in the history of Slovenia and Slovenians, the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia in 2013 acquired not only the documents on the plebiscite, but also ingested the digital database “Plebiscit 1990”. The latter was one of the first ingests of digital archival records into our archives and as such was a milestone also from the perspective of archival profession. Here the basic tasks of any archivist - the acquisition of archival records - did not just involve the usual relation between an archivist and a records creator, but was a case of close collaboration between archivists, IT experts and records creators. With this relation, which is currently only being established, long-term practice and experience of archival community is placed before a new challenge. The “Plebiscit 1990” digital database was officially ingested on November 19, 2013 with the signing of the submission agreement.

Visitors can access digital records at the archives’ reading room. They can access archival records marked as SI AS 1210/IV, Digital database “Plebiscit 1990” by means of a special application which enables them to view archived databases and choose between pre-defined queries, offering them “live” viewing directly from the database. Visitors can choose between four basic levels:

  1. Results and turnout at the state level,
  2. Turnout and results by municipalities,
  3. Turnout by municipalities,
  4. Turnout and results for individual polling station within a municipality

Also available is a record of municipalities and polling stations in individual municipality, which includes a code list of all municipalities existing at that time; each municipality has an additional link to the list of the then polling stations within each municipality. The said record can be a useful source of information for research on local self-government of that time, since initially there were as many as 65 municipalities. After the changes in 1989, the number dropped to 62 and remained unchanged until the 1994 adaptation of the new local self-government system in the independent state of Slovenia (Official Gazette of RS, no. 60/94, 69/94). In total, 62 municipalities were included in the 1990 plebiscite (see picture 3).

Each query result includes content and data interpretation which considerably facilitates visitors’ understanding of records.

For easier understanding of the data displayed in tables, the data has been visualized in the form of thematic map.

All this is made possible by records from the test ingest within the E-ARK project, during which archiving of digital records will be extended to include also spatial data. Since most of the information has a spatial component and since a picture is worth a thousand words, transition to digital age offers archives new opportunities to display records and enrich the visitors’ understanding of such records. 

Let us conclude with a thought that, by awakening historical memory, the archives are trying over and over again to portray the atmosphere of brave optimism that 25 years ago managed to unite Slovenian citizens. On the threshold of the year 2016, we wish we didn’t have to wait another 25 years to again feel such atmosphere of unity and determination. At the same time we would like to see such unity and determination present in our profession as well.


Alenka Starman Alič in Gregor Završnik