The Historical Archive of National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

The Historical Archive of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens was founded in 1991, as an administrative and research department of the University. Today it is housed in an interwar building owned by the University, located in the center of Athens, at 45 Skoufa Street.  Until 1991, the University Archive had been scattered in many buildings, that the University used during its gradual expansion, from its founding in 1837.

The first task for the new institution was to locate the historical records. Materials from older University Schools, Faculties and Administrative bodies were collected. In this collection, 19th century documents were kept together with very recent records, lacking any archival coherence. Through exhaustive efforts, the archival series were restored. The archival collections areorganized in series of bound volumes and folders with unbound records. The material is organized so that it fulfills two criteria: 1) historical: to keep the structure that the archive had during its formation, 2) practical: to be able to provide reliable answers to research and administrative enquiries.


The Historical Archive collects and classifies archival records for the years 1837-1970, digitizes the collections and creates digital catalogues. Its main objective is to make this material accessible to researchers, readers and the general public. For this purpose, its facilities include a reading room, where one can study the archival and printed collections, and a central hall for seminars and events. Apart from the researchers, the Institution accommodates readers interested in tracing their personal or their ancestors’ data from the archive.

The archive operates in three distinct ways:

A. The first focuses on a constant concern for saving and safeguarding the archival material, the one that was produced before and is already considered archival, and the material currently produced, which will become archival in the future. The preservation of printed material, visual and archival collections is one of the main activities of the Historical Archive. As the University is a living organism and there is a continuous flow and production of new material, the need for recording is very important. Particular attention is paid to the enrichment of the archive of the University of Athens with new material not incorporated into the collections yet (e.g. personal files of teaching staff, documentation for the student movement, etc.) in the original or in digital form. For this reason, the Archive collaborates with Institutions, where relevant collections exist. In this context, the Archive has, also, taken the initiative to work with other Universities, to create a central archival institution in Greece, which will manage the Archives of Universities. There have already been two workshops on this subject.

B. The Historical Archive has focused on the digitization and electronic management of its massive archival material, aiming to preserve information from the old paper archives, in order to provide historical research with the advantages of technology. Until today the Historical Archive has digitized nearly 750,000 pages. As part of this project, documents of various kinds and thematology have been digitized: documents, books, pamphlets, manuscripts and photographical archive, along with a detailed description, organization and documentation of the material. The digital images of the documents have been processed so that they can be viewed on PC screens and be printed in good quality. The University Computer Center created an electronic database (the "Pergamos Digital Library") that includes a brief catalogue of the digitized records and an expanded catalogue where the documentation is stored. This information is freely available on line.

C. The institutional function of the Historical Archive is also served by the research and teaching activities. Since its establishment, the Historical Archive has initiated activities that promote historical awareness and serve the documentation of the history of Universities. These activities have turned the Historical Archive into a main source of academic reference and have contributed to the creation of an open space for scholarly and public dialogue. Last year the Archive published a volume dedicated to the first century of the University of Athens leveraging the rich documentation provided for this. It has also completed research on the history of Law and Physics Schools, while research on the remaining Schools is ongoing. The institution organizes general research programs on Modern Greek and European history. Furthermore, it organizes postgraduate seminars, and collaborates with European universities and funds related to research programs. Finally, it contributes to the organization and classification of records from other Greek universities, organizations and corporations.


The Archive of the University of Athens is one of the most complete public archives in Greece. Its multifarious archival collection consists of more than 2.000.000 items. A lot of written evidence from the University's history has been classified. This material constitutes a broad research infrastructure for the study of the history of the University of Athens, but also of Greek history in general. The researcher can find documents on the history of the country’s largest and oldest university, on the educational system and the sciences and on the social, economic, scientific, institutional and cultural history of modern Greece. The Archive’s collection is an invaluable source for the composition of doctoral theses as well as research on the history of the Schools, the University, and the society in general. The core archival collections are organized as follows: a) the archives kept by the secretariats of the Faculties (Theology, Law, Medicine, Philosophy, Natural Sciences) and the archives kept by administrative centers (Senate, Protocol, Public Relations, etc.), b) Personal Archives of the teaching staff of the University of Athens, c) Photographic, audio and cinematographic material from cultural events organized by the University, d) Collection of portraits of University professors. Moreover, it contains archives from institutions founded by the university (hospitals, student club, secondary schools, etc.) The collections, fully organized, are kept in its largest part in the Archive building.

For the research purposes of the Historical Archive, there is a non-lending specialised library. The library’s collection includes publications of the University from its foundation until today, scientific works that have been submitted to the institution, bibliography on the History of Universities, the History and Sociology of Education, etc.