Karl von Vogelsang-Institute

Institute for Research of the History of Christian-Democracy in Austria

The Institute sees itself as a historical institution within the context of the Austrian People’s Party. The Institute is located in Vienna and holds historical documents from the Austrian People’s Party since its founding in 1945 up to the beginning of the year 2000. Among these are protocols from party committees, correspondence from party organisations and leading representatives, reports on election campaigns, party meetings, and so forth.

This classic archiving of party documents is only one aspect of our work. We also see ourselves as a scientific institution focusing on the historical analysis of recent Austrian history with special emphasis on the twentieth century. The scientific meetings and symposia hosted by the Institute, its research projects and publication activities as well as its archive and library are devoted to this topic. Especially European developments since 1989 have dramatically shown how much the nations at the center of Europe have been trapped by historical conditions that derive from their pasts. The Vogelsang Institute considers it important to establish scientific contact within the social sciences and to promote dialogue between contemporary history and politics.

Our offerings are addressed to all historically interested people, especially to historians and scientists as well as to students, who are studying the development of Christian Democracy in Europe. The research produced and seminar projects supported by the Vogelsang Institute are carried out according to strict scientific criteria and under the guidance of the Historians’ Working Group of the Institute in which historians, archivists, and university teachers from all over Austria are represented. The Eyewitness Interviews Documentation – a series of events with celebrity panelists from the period of the Austrian Second Republic or other critical historical, phases – as well as other scientific research results are summarized in a yearbook published by the Karl von Vogelsang Institute and presented to the wider scientific community.

The “Karl von Vogelsang State Prize” is a contribution by the Institute to promoting scientific achievement. The Vogelsang State Prize is awarded every two years by the Federal Minister of Science and Industry. This award for especially outstanding achievements in the field of the history of social science is in the amount of 7,500 Euro. In addition, the jury awards a prize promoting young scientists who have accomplished remarkable work, which is worth 2,000 Euro.

The Library and Archives form the core of the documentation facilities of the Institute. Overall, there are currently 140,000 unique titles in our library. Through continuous purchasing and permanent updating with new publications from subject areas relevant to the library such as Austrian contemporary history, party history, economic and social history, political science and political education, the library is constantly being expanded.

Our archive is one of the youngest and most modern archives in Austria and has as its main task the collection historical documents and other evidence using scientific methods to preserve and make this material accessible to the interested public.

It is in this role that the Vogelsang Institute Archive has worked since its inception in 1980. It is the central archive for Christian, bourgeois party politics in Austria.

The Vogelsang Institute collects and systematically archives the records of the Austrian People’s Party, its leading representatives, committees and organizations as well as their precursors, and those organizations that have stood or that stand in a close political relationship. Another task of the archive is to document records from groupings of European Christian-Democratic parties.

Subjects Represented by our Archival Materials:
• Domestic and Foreign policy
• Economy and Foreign Trade
• National Defense, Federal Army
• Culture, Education, and Research Policy
• State and Local Policy
• Radio and the Press, etc.

The Vogelsang Institute places special emphasis on the Records Group “Personal Papers”. These records have been acquired partially on the initiative of the Institute and sometimes the private papers are offered to us. Naturally, the national 30-year archival protection period after the death of the donor applies here. At the request of the donor, this period may be either shortened or extended.

Special Areas (Excerpt)

Ideology and Program Discussions

Materials related to the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) at the Federal Level, the Austrian People’s Party Parliamentary Group, and ÖVP-state parties

Presentation and Description of Austrian People’s Party Election Campaigns and Events

Meeting Minutes, Protocols, and Documents from the Austrian People’s Party Federal and State Party Conventions

Party Archives of the Christian-Social Party of Austria, 1889-1934

Film material from the years 1949 to 2010, which is in the possession of the Vogelsang Institute, can also be seen as an important contemporary primary historical source. Our cooperation with the Austrian Film Archive has proven extremely worthwhile. The Film Archive Austria stores Austria’s audiovisual cultural heritage. We have found data storage facilities at the Austrian Film Archives that make it possible to store and diagnose historical films and sound recordings, such as nitro-based film materials and magneto phone tapes under the most modern archival conditions. The general protective period of thirty years also applies to films and recordings.

Posters and photographs are of particular importance in the overall inventory of the archive of the Karl von Vogelsang Institute. The Institute’s extensive poster collection – more than 6,000 posters – is one of the largest collections of political posters in Austria. We hold posters from the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy, the interwar period, and above all, posters from the period after 1945.

What applies to other primary sources also applies to posters: In addition to People’s Party election campaign and informational posters, we also collect posters from other political parties as well as posters without direct party-political connections such as cultural, theater or sports posters. Last but not least, by doing this, we make it clear that we do not define ourselves solely as a party archive but as an Austrian cultural memory archive. Consequently, it has been very important for us cooperate with the Austrian National Library in the area of posters and photos, and we have relied on the National Library’s expertise and cooperation for years.

All newly catalogued posters are photographed as slides and then scanned. Thus, a user-friendly system is ensured. The same is true for the photo documentation of the Institute, comprising more than 150,000 photographs. This includes not only portraits but also photos of contemporary historical events.

Who uses our archive? In absolute numbers, it is interesting to note that just behind party members and functionaries it is primarily users from the general public including students, professors, journalists, and private researchers as well as exhibition designers, who use our documentation facilities. For our the current archival regulations, we have closely followed the guidelines of the Austrian State Archives. Our entire archival database currently includes 64,000 boxes with nearly 530,000 individual fascicles. For ease of use, it is still important for us that detailed research be done only on site.

Of course, names, topics, accessibility, and the extent of our holdings can be queried externally at any time, but detailed queries are only possible on site in line with our scientific philosophy. Consequently our archival database is not accessible via the internet. That this situation in no way affects scientific research is illustrated by the following statistics: In 2018, twenty-three bachelor’s and twelve master’s theses were either completed or in progress with materials from our archive.