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Troubles That Seem to Have No End

Establishment of the Central State Archives of Slovenia in November 1945 laid the foundations for the present-day Archives of the Republic of Slovenia. Though its meaning has somewhat changed in the seventy years of its existence, the important activities performed for the preservation of Slovenian archival cultural heritage have remained the same throughout this time.

Black and white photography.

Storage of archival records in overcrowded warehouses. | Author Arhiv Republike Slovenije

Work Plan of the Central State Archives of Slovenia for the Year 1947

Establishment of the Central State Archives of Slovenia in November 1945 laid the foundations for the present-day Archives of the Republic of Slovenia. Though its meaning has somewhat changed in the seventy years of its existence, the important activities performed for the preservation of Slovenian archival cultural heritage have remained the same throughout this time.

The work was difficult at the beginning, mostly due to lack of human resources and professional continuity, but it was nevertheless important for the entire Slovenian territory, since up until the mid-1950s this was the only archival institution in Slovenia, apart from the Ljubljana City Archives (present-day Historical Archives of Ljubljana) which has been active since 1898.

The archives was founded as an independent state institution under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Education. Responsible for the territory of the Federal Republic of Slovenia, it collected, preserved and kept detailed records of documents of historical and cultural value that referred to the Slovenian national territory and the Slovenian nation. It also monitored and supervised the rest of the Slovenian archival institutions.

The four young employees of the archives were expected to do their work in unfavorable circumstances; when saving records of the nationalized institutions, institutes, companies, and abolished administrative offices, they were often faced with uncooperative bureaucrats, who had no understanding whatsoever of their work. And once the records were transferred, there was always lack of proper storage space.

Included in their 1947 work plan are tasks which may not be of such interest to present day readers, such as arrangement of older state administration records, charters, and judicial archives. More interesting are issues that archivists were facing at the time and would also need to face for a number of years to come. But the thing that readers may find most interesting are the critical notes written at the end of the document regarding the distribution of funds for the first trimester. Jože Maček, a 36-year-old senior archivist, who at the time was the acting headmaster of the archives, shed some light on the issue of the lack of space. In 1947, and all through 1953, the archives did not have its own space, but was located at the National Museum in Ljubljana, same as its predecessor, the State Archives, which before the war was actually a department within the museum. The archives occupied an office of 26 m² and three large rooms – repositories in the total size of 217 m². The three rooms were packed with old records to which researchers had access. The trouble started with the acquisition of new materials, particularly those collected by the Federal Collection Centre. Included in the Ministry of Education, the Centre was between 1945 and 1948 in charge of collecting, preserving and distributing objects of cultural and historical value, including archival records. Unarranged and useless to researchers, the records were kept in the attic of the National and University Library.

The only acceptable solution appeared to be the construction of a separate archive building, which would prove that Slovenia had finally gained its national and social freedom.

The bold plan of the first four archivists, the pioneers of the present-day Archives of the Republic of Slovenia, invites us to introduce them: Jože Maček (1911-1992) became the headmaster on November 5, 1945 and remained in charge until 1974. His role throughout the period of twenty years is very clear. Anton Šubic, a 51-year-old former senior guard, was employed as an archive technician in January 1946 and handled and arranged archival records until 1952.

By the end of the same year, two new professionals joined the team; Marija Verbič, a 33-year-old archivist, and Maks Miklavčič, a 47-year-old senior archivist. The latter was a curator, a priest, a historian, a well established professional. Both of them left visible traces in Slovenian archival science and historiography. In addition to her demanding and time consuming archival work, Marija Verbič (1914-2003) completed her doctorate on the history of the Idrija mercury mine until the 16th century in 1966, while dr. Maks Miklavčič (1900-1971) got his doctorate in history at the Faculty of Arts in 1945. When arriving at the Central State Archives, he continued to arrange the records of the diocesan archive, which he had started back in 1937.

Archives of the Republic of Slovenia has still to receive its own new building.

Marija Grabnar