Archiv hlavního města Prahy
- Prague City Archives
The beginnings of Prague's Municipal Archive can be seen in the collections of documentary privileges, which had been deposited, being the proofs of the freedoms of that which town, in the homes of the aldermen, or in the office of the justice of peace; and when town halls came to be built, they were stored in metal-sheathed chests in town hall chambers. These documents, so fundamental for the city, were soon joined by administrative documents from the individual towns of Prague, court materials and even private documents, due to the relative safety of storage. The increasing numbers of documents necessitated ever larger storage facilities, leaving only the most valuable documents in the chests, while other materials, above all books, moved to cabinets in separate chambers administered by the municipal scribe. The scribe, or scrivener, made the earliest lists and registers of the archive's contents when the documents were just too numerous for easy account.
The four originally independent towns of Prague (Old Town, New Town, Lesser Quarter, and the Castle) were united in 1784, and in the place of their respective self-governing bodies there was appointed a board of municipal authorities sitting at the Old Town Hall. In due course, all the archival documents from the unified towns were deposited there. Next to the archival documents' legal value, their great historical value, mirroring the story of the metropolis, and the cultural and political history of our lands, began to be appreciated with the development of modern historiographical research. This attitude was decisive for establishing of the municipal archive as a separate institution in 1851 when Karel Jaromír Erben was appointed the first municipal archivist. That year saw commencement at the archive (termed "an auxiliary municipal office" in contemporary parlance) of systematic work to make accessible the valuable municipal collections, above all the collections of documents and manuscripts, and to utilize their historical importance. A new department of city plans and depictions of the city was set up and the foundation was laid for an extensive history and law library. The archive also acquired commensurate premises in the north wing of the Old Town Hall, where, next to the depositories, space was found for a well-equipped reading room, a photo studio, and a conservation workshop. Its technical facilities and skilled staff made the Archive of the Capital of Prague one of the best state-of-the art archive institutions in our country in the period between the world wars.
The Nazi occupation was a sad period in the Archive's history. Its funds and staff were continuously cut and its archival materials were taken away from Prague to countryside depositories to protect them from air raids. The Archive was dealt a lethal blow in the very end of the war on 8 May 1945 during the fire of the Old Town Hall caused by the withdrawing German units. Together with the premises there burned down also a portion of archival documents, causing irreplaceable losses to the historical heritage of Prague.
The time to heal wounds came after the end of the war. The Archive obtained substitute premises at the Clam-Gallas Palace in Husova (Jan Hus) Street, where a part of its documents had been stored during the occupation. As the newly established depositories were being equipped with the stacks, the archives were carted back to Prague and new archival tools were gradually put together to replace the ones that had been consumed by fire. A reading room reopened in 1949. Since at that time construction of a new dedicated edifice turned out to be a pipe dream, the Palace was confirmed in the same year as the Archive's permanent location. Another trying period for the archive began in the 1950's. During 1950-1951 the archive lost a considerable segment of its staff but also its organizational independence since it was made to report to the internal affairs section of the Central National Committee of the Capital of Prague. But significant paper-pushing duties in the form of shredding of documents from national committees, schools, courts, companies and other organizations were added to its agenda. The archive was swamped with a plethora of materials hastily glanced over, including the archives of associations or church institutions that were shut down. Frequently they were obtained in a bad physical shape and unorganized without requisite catalogs and thus denied the opportunity to be scholarly utilized. In the following years the archive gradually reinstated its scholarly activities. It managed to increase the numbers of its professional archivists and to obtain and equip additional facilities to store its collections. Even the Clam-Gallas Palace was gradually renovated and refurbished. The staff picked up where pre-war publication efforts had left off and commenced intensive collaboration with history-oriented facilities at the Charles University and other institutions.
This positive trend received a decisive impetus through the November 1989 revolution. The Archive became a separate department of Prague City Council and in the eyes of the public it gained on importance as it provided significant archival evidence in restitution and rehabilitation cases. To a larger degree than any time before it has been receiving contemporary technology, above all computers and replication technology and the numbers of its staff have gone up as well. After more than half a century of waiting in vain, its space problems were finally over with the new dedicated Chodov archive in Prague 4, completed in 1997. (In the late 1980's the archive used along with the Clam-Gallas Palace an additional 8, mostly unsatisfactory, depositories in and outside of Prague, which included a chateau and an anti-fallout shelter.) In Fall 1998 a new state-of-the-art reading room opened there. Archive materials from the other depositories are being gradually regrouped here.
Archival and Other Holdings
The Prague City Archives contains over 18 kilometers of archive material from roughly 2,500 holdings. The collection contains archival collections produced by entities (authorities, institutions, companies, schools and other legal entities and individuals) active on the territory of the City of Prague. These are namely: Prague municipal authorities (after 1945 merged with the State Administration); Regional government authorities and State Administration authorities on the territories which became part of the City of Prague in 1922; Judicial authorities; Primary and high schools and certain abolished universities; Parish authorities (including collections of parish records); Corporations and hobby associations; City enterprises and certain state enterprises.
Finding Aids, Guides, and Publication
The Catalogue of the Prague City Archives is an internet guide to the archive collections and fonds of the Prague City Archives. All types of archival materials (documents, registers, official records, publications, maps, photographs etc.) are categorized in archival groups denominated "archive collections" and "archive fonds" - the basic units of archival organisation. VadeMeCum enables you to search these collections and fonds for the information you need by thematic groups, or directly by the names of the collections or their authors. For files which have already been processed and are available to the public, finding aids are available. The levels of detail of the information on the archival documents contained in this catalogue differ according to the status of processing of the specific archival file and/or the type of the finding aid, ranging from a simple entry to a detailed description and transcription of the text of the relevant document.
Moreover, digital copies (images) of archival materials are being added to the text database aids on a continuous basis; these can be studied online, thus almost fully replacing the need to research originals which always implies personal presence of the Researcher in the Reading Room. The Prague City Archives VadeMeCum Database is protected by the Copyright Act as amended, and may be freely used in the extent defined therein. Publication of any text from the Database is possible solely if each quotation is duly identified. Any use of digital images for other than personal purposes (e.g. for publication, exhibition, commercial or other purposes) shall be possible solely on the basis of a previously concluded Agreement to Permit Reproduction and to Grant a One-time Right of Reproduction, signed by the Director of the Prague City Archives.
Reading Room: Monday 9:00 - 16:00 Tuesday 8:00 - 16:00 Wednesday 9:00 - 16:00 Thursday 9:00 - 16:00 Friday (only for scientists with reservations in advance) 9:00 - 12:00
The reading room is closed for four weeks every August.
Registry: Monday 8:00 - 17:00 Tuesday 8:00 - 16:00 Wednesday 8:00 - 18:00 Thursday 8:00 - 16:00 Friday 8:00 - 15:00
The Prague City Archives provides paid research services of many archival materials. The most frequent research requests include:
Request for genealogical research from Prague church and civil registers: The Prague City Archives houses the Prague parish and civil registers from the oldest preserved volumes to those covering the period 1900-1915.
Request for an extract/research from the list of Prague inhabitants: The list of Prague inhabitants includes the lists of inhabitants kept in the period 1830-1910 by the Registration Authority of the Prague City Hall for the purposes of registration of the right of domicile and of military obligations. These are the key source to find the exact addresses of Prague inhabitants.
Request for research from the Prague census records: The Prague City Archives houses the census records of the City of Prague and certain neighbouring municipalities from the years 1869, 1880, 1890, 1900, 1910 and 1921 (for an exact list of preserved census records see Census Records in the Prague City Archives). These records usually contain names, dates of birth, professions and confessions of all inhabitants of individual houses in Prague. To process the request, it is necessary to specify name of inhabitant, the cadastral municipality and the Land Registry number of the house which is being sought.
Request for a research from the Prague Trade Register: The Prague City Archives provides extracts from the preserved trade registers covering the territory of the City of Prague (in the extent of the period in question) from the years 1860-1949, Smíchov from the years 1900-1926, Královské Vinohrady from the years 1884-1927 and Karlín from the years 1919-1927.
Request for a confirmation of the Czechoslovak citizenship certificate: The certificates are stored the Prague City Archives in the Registration Department collection of the former Prague City Hall. The file documentation Pra, St and P (Czechoslovak citizenship certificates) has been preserved for the period 1945-1949 (March). If the name of interest is not found in this documentation, you can search the list of persons with a right of domicile in the City of Prague in the period 1920-1949 and try to document the citizenship in compliance with Articles 1 and 2 of the Constitutional Act No . 236/1920 Coll. on Acquisition and Loss of Citizenship and of the Right of Domicile.
Payment and delivery: The Applicant shall be notified in writing that the research results are available (within 60 days at the latest) and informed on the method of payment. Method of payment and delivery: The research results may be collected in person in the Prague City Archives Registry: cash payment. The research results can be sent by mail: payment by bank transfer (for exact instructions see the written notice). The consignment shall be dispatched immediately after the payment is credited to the account of the Prague City Hall.
Please note: We do not accept credit cards or cheques. In case of payments from abroad, the payer shall settle all bank transfer fees. The payment shall be considered to be settled solely if settled in full.
Contact: The applications in writing or in an electronic format shall be submitted to the Prague City Archives Registry.
Archiv hlavniho mesta Prahy
149 00 Praha