Searching and ordering archival records for study
The research rooms of the National Archives (the central research room in Prague-Chodovec and the research room of the 1st Department in Milady Horákové Street) are intended primarily for the on-site study of archival records. However, access to archival records is not unlimited; it is regulated by a number of legislative provisions. In addition to the Act on Archiving and Records Management (including implementing legislation), archives and researchers are bound by legislative regulations such as concerning the protection and processing of personal data, copyright and many others. Studying in research rooms in the Archives is governed by the Research Rules. They regulate not only formal matters – e.g. the researcher has to put all his/her belongings (except for stationery, computer or camera) in a locker in the researchers’ cloakroom, is obliged to enter the research room not in dirty clothing, without food and drink –, but also specific conditions of study.
What has anyone interested in studying archival records to do?
- Get straight what you want to study. Only then you find out which archive to turn to.
- Start on the Internet. Most archives in the Czech Republic have not only their web pages, but often also web applications in which you can find finding aids, lists of archival groups and reproductions of archival records without having to go to the archives personally.
- In the National Archives, such a tool is VadeMeCum. General information about archives and archival groups that are under their care you can find on the website of the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic.
- If you have found what you need and want to order archival records to study in the research room, you can use the order form, called Request Form. Fill in all information and submit. The more information you provide, the more likely it is that your required information will be found. The research room staff will inform you that the archival records are ready for consultation.
Have you not found what you need through the Internet? Then you have to come to the research room. Professional staff will provide you with basic information or arrange consultations with a specialist.
What do you have to do when you arrive at the Archives?
- Take along a valid identification card, it must be shown upon your arrival to the Archives (reception) and again to verify your identity when completing the Research Sheet.
- After entering the research room you will be taken care of by the archivist to whom you tell what you need. Try to explain him/her what exactly you need, provide as much information as possible.
- If the archivist considers that the required information can be found in the archival groups, he/she will fill in a Research Sheet with you and advise you on how to proceed.
- Archival records will be presented to you on the basis of the so-called Request Form, i.e. a form that you must fill in and hand over to the archivist on duty that places your order in the information system. This system is set up to respect the provisions of the Research Rules, which the researcher is obliged to become familiar with before commencing the study. The system will block access to archival records when their study copy (microfilm or digital reproduction) is available, when they contain personal data, or the physical condition does not allow to present archival records for study, when they are being processed or digitized, when they are not older than thirty years, or the daily limit has been exceeded, etc.
- The archival records will be returned to the air-conditioned depositories and will no longer be available to you after thirty days since your last visit to the reading room.
- On your first visit you will be given white gloves. It is the responsibility of every researcher to keep their gloves clean every visit. Use gloves to protect archival records from the sweat of your hands.
- If necessary, the research room staff members will make copies of selected archival records for you. Their price is governed by the valid Current price list (PDF – 52 kB) which is given by the implementing legislation. You can make copies for yourself completely free of charge using your own equipment, subject to the conditions of the Research Rules. Just watch out for further use of these copies, the responsibility falls on your head.