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History of the Styrian Provincial Archives

It was already in the times of the Carolingians that the first archives emerged with deeds of gifts of land being handed over to the aristocracy and clergy. When writing in administration became more common, the administrative Operate (cadastral books) of the lordships (Urbare and monastery registers), of the towns and market towns (town- and market town books) and of the Dukedom Styria (files of the provincial diet, protocols of the provincial diet and tax Operate) were added.

Since the 16th Century two great administrative filing departments, represented by the administration of the estates and the administration of the sovereigns, had been emerging next to the monastery archives, family archives, lordship archives, town archives and market town archives.

When, in 1811, Archduke Johann founded the Joanneum Provincial Museum, he granted an extra status to the archives. Furthermore, he made a call to all Werbbezirke (recruitment districts for one regiment) of Styria and Carinthia asking them to send documents to the Provincial Museum in order to write provincial history based on these historical sources. In his function as permanent archivist in the service of Archduke Johann, Joseph Wartinger carried out archival visits, produced copies of important documents and purchased a great number of archival items for the Joanneum Archives.

Until 1816 the thus emerging Joanneum Archives was an addition to the historical subject library of the reading institution of the Joanneum Provincial Museum. In 1817 they were handed over to Joseph Wartinger who was, thus, the first archivist of the Joanneum Archives. He led these archives until the year 1850.

In 1861 Joseph (von) Zahn, professor of Austrian history at the Juridical Academy Pressburg, was commissioned to lead the Joanneum Archives. He developed a new organisation statute and succeeded in splitting up the Coin and Antiques Cabinet which had been linked to the Joanneum Archives until then and, furthermore, in linking the Joanneum Archives to the Provincial Archives. The Provincial Archives was founded as the central archives within all archives on a provincial scale.

For the records which had been collected by sovereign and state authorities since the 16th century, the foundation of an archive only happened some decades later. After long lasting endeavours, it was Anton Kapper who made it possible that those archival items which had been stored at the filing department of the ethnarchy, now were stored in the former University Library at Bürgergasse 2A. The Ethnarchy Archives was organised from 1906 onward. It is planned to function as central archives for the archival material of all governmental authorities that were active on the territories of the inner Austrian country group and on Styrian grounds. After the decline of the monarchy, the Ethnarchy Archives was named “Provincial Government Archives”.

In the course of the political administrative reform of autumn 1925, the state authorities of second instance (provincial government) and the autonomous provincial administration were put together, which thus also initiated the merging of the two central archives of Graz, as it had been decided in 1927. This merging was finally carried out in 1932. For spatial reasons it was not possible to unite the holdings of both archives within one central archive. The Provincial Archives and the Archives of the Provincial Government were directed under a joint leadership. In 1951 the united archives were named “Provincial Archives”, as introduced by Archduke Johann in 1814.

After the return of the archives which had been relocated during Word War II, the first comprehensive overview of the entire holdings stored in the Styrian Provincial Archives was published in print in 1959. Extensive increases caused by handovers through authorities and purchases of archives of historical value resulted in the need for expansion of the magazines capacities.

After years of preparation, the former Carmelite Monastery was assigned to the Styrian Provincial Archives. After the restoration work done to one part of the spacious building, the service started on a trial basis in 1986. In 1987 the first phase of construction was finished and the Styrian Provincial Archives were split up onto three sites to which an external depot was added.

In 1991, the introduction to information technology happened with three personal computers, equipped with office-applicable software and data base applications. The extension from the archival data base to an integrated archival information system with over forty workstations was carried out in several project stages in 1997. Within the special archives and collections nearly all of the archival holdings are detectable online.

When the central repository was built and the former Carmelite monastery was adapted, a new building was handed over that complied with all requirements for archival usage, storage techniques and depot climate, as well as it met the standards of archival techniques being provided with a restoration shop, a manual bookbindery and studio for reprography and media conversion. The Archives offers ideal working conditions to its users and the archival staff likewise.

With the installation of the studios for reprography and media conversion the preconditions where created to offer state-of-the-art reproduction techniques to the users and to converse particularly sensitive archival material into ways of utilisation within the scope of the “Digital Archives”-project.


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