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Archives, collections of writings, especially of documents, deeds, pictures and plans. Archives were maintained by monasteries since the High Middle Ages, while the rulers long evinced but little interest in archives. The archives of the Habsburgs were kept in the sacristy of the Court Chapel. Emperor Maximilian I had the documents rearranged. Most archives in Austria originated from administrative registries. A distinction is commonly made between public and private archives. The former comprise the archives of the federal government as collected in the Oesterreichisches Staatsarchiv, the archives of the individual provinces and those of municipalities. Private archives are those of the church (dioceses and monasteries), family archives, archives collected by individuals, business organisations, newspapers, publishing houses and the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation.

The Oesterreichisches Staats-Archiv (which is subordinated to the Federal Chancellery) was established in 1945 by the merger of the Reichs-Archiv Wien established in 1939, the War Archives und the Transport Archives. It consists of a) the Director General's Office, b) the Haus-, Hof- und Staats-Archiv (HHStA), c) the Allgemeines Verwaltungs-Archiv (General Administrative Archives - AVA), with which the Transport Archives have been merged, d) the Finanz- und Hofkammer Archives (FHKA), e) the War Archives (KA) und f) Archives of the Republic (AdR). The Director-General's Office, the Office of Archives and departments c, e, and f are accommodated in the Archives Building opened in 1988 at Vienna 3, Nottendorfergasse 2. The Haus-, Hof- und Staats-Archiv (HHStA) was founded by Maria Theresia in 1749 as a collection of all documents important to the House of Habsburg and the state. It was made part of the State Chancellery in 1762, thus becoming the archives of the Habsburgs, the court administration, and foreign policy. Joseph II also assigned to these archives those of the abolished monasteries. It was made an academic institution in 1840 and opened to the public in 1868. It is housed in the building at Minoritenplatz 1 built in 1902/03.

The General Administrative Archives (Allgemeines Verwaltungs-Archiv) are successor to the Hofkanzlei Archives established in 1820; they took over the holdings of the judicial administration in 1918; in 1933 the Nobility Archives established in 1828 were merged into them, followed by the Archives of the Education Administration in 1945. The Transport Archives, which also form part of the institution, were founded as Archives of the Railway Administration. Since 1826 and 1846, respectively, these archives have been in charge of the holdings of the Railways and the Supreme Postal and Telegraph Administrations, and since 1865 those of the Central Office of Navigation. The Hofkammer Archives contain documents concerning the transactions of the Hofkammer since the 16th century. They were moved to the building at Johannesgasse 6 in 1848 (1832-1856 F. Grillparzerwas Director of the Hofkammer Archives). The Financial Archives were founded in 1892 as Archives of the k. u. k. Ministry of Finance, took over the holdings of the Allgemeine Hofkammer from approx. 1814 and remained part of the Ministry of Finance until 1938, while the Hofkammer Archives (1868-1918 k. u. k. Reichs-Finanz-Archiv) were subordinated to the Federal Chancellery. They were merged to form one department in 1945. The War Archives were founded by Archduke Karl as the Institute of War Sciences in 1801, while the Hofkriegsraetliche (War Council) Archives continued to exist. In 1848 they were merged and became the archives of the War Ministry. All documents of the Army and Military Matters collected since 1546 were gathered in the newly formed archives (Hofkriegsraetliches Kanzlei-Archiv, Registry of the Imperial War Council (Hofkriegsrat) and the War Ministry, records of the Federal Armed Forces of the First Republic and personnel files of the Deutsche Wehrmacht (1938-1945)). The Archives of the Republic, founded in 1983, contain the holdings of the other departments since 1918 and 1945 (except for the records of the federal theatres and matters of culture and education).

The time of release of documents for purposes of research is laid down by the Federal Chancellery (currently the closed period is generally 20 years, in special cases 30 years).

Each province has its own Provincial Archives, which mostly comprise two sections, the governmental archives and the archives of the Estates. In Vienna the Municipal Archives are at the same time the Archives of the Province of Vienna. Most of the major cities have their own archives operated by specialised civil servants. Provincial archives and some of the municipal archives (e.g. Linz) also keep regional records and res gestae.

Private archives include the diocesan archives in Vienna, St. Poelten and Klagenfurt as well as the archives of monasteries, which usually hold a wealth of documents from earlier periods. Precious records form part of the archives of some aristocratic families, while others have entrusted their holdings to public archives. Interest groups, political parties and large firms usually maintain archives which are not open to the public. Specialised archives include documentation centres maintained by newspapers, the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF), the Archives of the Austrian Resistance Movement and the Austrian Film Archives.

Archival records are covered by the Act on the Protection of Monuments of 1976 (administered by the Office of Archives). Archivists are usually trained at the Institute for Austrian Historical Research and represented by the "Verband oesterreichischer Archivare" (Association of Austrian Archivists). Their periodical, "Scrinium", has been published since 1969.


L. Bittner, Gesamtinventar des Wiener Haus-, Hof- und Staats-Archivs, 5 vols., 1936-1940; Inventare des Hofkammerarchivs, 1951; Inventar der Innsbrucker staatlichen Archive, 1938; Inventar des Steiermaerkischen. Landesarchivs, 1959; Mitteilungen des Oesterreichischen Staatsarchivs, since 1948, 42 vols. und 11 special vols. (1992); Das oesterreichische Staatsarchiv. Geschichte, Leistung, Aufgabe, 1988; E. Springer and L. Kammerhofer, Archive und Forschung, 1993.