Who we are, what we do

The National Archives PragueThe National Archives is a state administration office as well as a central state archives directly controlled by the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic. Taking into consideration spheres of activities of the Archives, and owing to the fact that it is directly linked with the work of the central archive institutions of the Czech state (continuously from the early Middle Ages), the National Archives deserves a prominent position among public archives of the Czech Republic. The seat of the National Archives is in Prague.

It is in accordance with the valid legal norms, mainly Act No. 499/2004 Coll., on archives and records service, Regulation No. 645/2004 Coll., implementing special provisions of the Act on archives and records service, and in accordance with the amendments of several Acts and also Regulation No.646 / 2004 Coll. which deals with details concerning the execution of records service, the National Archives practices a great many administrative and specialized activities.

Spheres of activities of the National Archives

  • Supervises records service performance, selects archival documents either in appraisal proceedings or outside of them, provides specialized information and advisory services, takes charge of the acquisition of archival documents, and others:
    • at the state organization bodies with nationwide competences, their administrative archives, at state allowance organizations established by them, and at legal persons established by virtue of relevant acts with nationwide competences, with the exception of those which established specialized or security archives;
    • selects archival documents in appraisal proceedings and outside of them at the originators where it controls performance of the records service;
    • makes a selection of records outside of appraisal proceedings at the supreme or similar bodies of political parties, political movements, civic associations, trade union organizations, employer organizations, professional chambers, churches and religious societies, foundations and foundation funds, public welfare societies and natural persons;
    • makes a selection of archival documents outside of appraisal proceedings in the case of the documents offered to the Czech Republic as a gift or to be bought, found documents documents of the holders who might ask for it.
  • Accepts to either permanent or a limited period of the depositing of archival documents (under the prearranged conditions ) arisen from the activities of:
    • the supreme bodies of the Czech state;
    • the state or self-administrative bodies and organizations for the Czech Land in the past;
    • the supreme bodies of the political parties, political movements and civic associations with nationwide competences in particular, also of some religious institutions;
    • selected natural persons and families (private fonds);
    • foundations and foundation funds, public welfare societies, etc.
  • Professionally administers deposited records, their registering, sifting, arrangement, and makes them accessible from the following originators:
    • existing at present, where the National Archives controls records service and makes a selection of archival documents;
    • the older central state administration offices (judiciary included) and self-administrations with nationwide competences for the Crown of Bohemia Lands as well as for the Czech Land, and their institutions;
    • the supreme bodies of political parties, societies, public corporations and other civic associations, foundations with nationwide competences in particular, or some religious institutions;
    • economic organizations, joint-stock companies, cooperative and national enterprises of nationwide importance;
    • selected natural persons and families (private fonds and family archives);
  • Enables use of deposited archival fonds and collections by the general public and bodies of public administration:
    • directly- studying in research rooms

      Everyone can use archival documents deposited in the archives with respect to the valid legal norms and internal rules. Archival documents, their reproduction or finding aids can be used directly in the archive research room. Studying in the research rooms is regulated by Regulation No.645/2004 Coll., from the internal rules there are“search rules“ binding for the people intereseted in research. On the basis of a researched topic it is necessary to look up in the Guide to the Archives, or a desired fond in the list of archival fonds. A member of staff in the research room will give every assistance and, should any difficulties arise, will call a professional archivist (custodian of the archival fond in question). A research form is required to be filled in and at each visit a researcher is obliged to show their identity card. Archival records are presented in the research rooms for studying on the spot only. Reproductions of archival documents are provided as a paid service – prices are in accordance with the amendment No.4 to the Regulation No.645/2004 Coll. (the Price List of Services Provided by Public Archives).

    • indirectly- on the basis of a written application

      To apply in a written form for a search, extract or copy of archival documents is customary especially in official communication. An application may be written by a legal or natural person or public administration authority. The National Archives / NA/ then may carry out an expert search on the basis of relevant records, or may provide an extract or a copy. The archives is only an administrator of information and thus has no decision-making authority. It may only give or confirm data which are directly found in the preserved records, or may recommend contact with another archive, office or organization. In case of a complicated search application, demanding research from several archival fonds or collaboration of several departments, it may even take months. Search services are paid . In some instances search may be standard, it is enough then to order it with the use of an application form.

    • other ways of using archival documents (e.g. exhibitions, excursions, scientific and educational activity)

      The general and scholarly public meet archival documents in the way of exhibitions which have always enjoyed great popularity. The exhibitions are not organized at random but their topics are carefully chosen. Besides the possibility to see treasures documenting our national past, the exhibitions are at an excellent level. Since 2001, the venue for exhibitions has been in the exhibition hall of archival premises in Prague-Chodovec. In spite of that, the employees of the NA take part in exhibitions organized by other institutions, mainly archives and museums, both Czech and from abroad.

      Educational visits of high schools and university students were always quite common. But after opening a new archive building in Prague-Chodovec, the number of visitors has grown so much that it prooved necessary to regulate it. Nevertheless, archive employees try to arrange visits at least for those who are interested in history, auxiliary historical sciences and related disciplines, first of all undergraduates taking part in special seminars, then schools specialized in humanities, associations, clubs, etc. Participants can see premises open to public : the research room, library, furthermore some selected records of importance and their depositing, laboratories and conservation studios or possibly a sterilizing line, etc. and are accompanied by an experienced archivist and their professional explanation. Those interested in the visit should book at least two months in advance, best via e-mail : emilie.benesova@nacr.cz

      Professional archivists may use deposited archival fonds and collections for their own research, educational and popularizing work, often resulting in editions and specialized publications, among others.
  • Takes care of optimal physical condition of records:
    • by their appropriate depositing in the repositories;

      The repositories of the National Archives provide an optimum climate for deposited archival documents and records, which corresponds with the needs of various types of media of information. There are different temperatures and relative humidity values set in the repositories for paper archival documents and for photosensitive layers media. Parchment deeds and charters are preserved in a special vault with the technical parametres given by international standards.

    • by restoration and conservation of damaged documents and records;

      An inseparable part of the National Archives is a workplace dealing with care of the physical condition of records. Apart from its research projects, it deals with conservation and restoration of all types of archival documents, i.e. common documentary material, parchment deeds and chartres, seals, bindings, maps and plans, and the latest - photographic documents.

    • by making security copies and copies for research purposes;

      One of the preventive methods in the care of archival records is making security copies. The National Archives has been making them since 1954 in the case of ruining of the original and using a material with long-term storage time (archival microfilm). The so called study copies are being made for the purpose of research in the Category I records whose physical state has been endangered by frequent research use. Such study copies are provided instead of the original records. They can be presented in the format of 35mm microfilm, large-size enlargements or in a digital form. Facsimile editions may also be used for research purposes.
  • Administers and opens to scholarly public use of rich library fond, with more than 500,000 volumes. The National Archives library has got a public library status. Borrowings are only in-house and are regulated by Lending Rules.

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