Guide to the Research Collections

- Italy


Although the library's collection of 15,000 volumes is not outstanding, it is important for its substantial numbers of provincial and local historical publications, and for important material in related classes, including a large collection of public documents.

In addition to a great number of general works of history and travel are many editions of the great historians from Tacitus to Gibbon and other later writers. The library's practice is to secure any edition of a standard work containing material not included in those already in its collections. Among the general works are such collections of sources as Muratori's Rerum italicarum

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 scriptores. Some of the folio histories and collections are notable for their illustrations. Of great interest and rarity is the Spencer Collection's Italian manuscript of the third decade of Livy's De secundo bello punico, dated circa 1475, and from the library of Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary.26

Serial publications form another important group, providing materials for the study of both ancient and modern Italy. Included are files of such periodicals as the Archivo storico italiano (1842-), society publications as the Risorgimento italiano (1908-33), and academy publications, among them the Bullettino (1886-1953) of the Istituto Storico Italiano per il Medio Evo.

Closely allied materials include those works classed with general history which are devoted to the classical world, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. The collection of archaeological literature is rich in both older systematic works and the publications of learned societies and institutions.

Good collections of material are available for the study of later periods and the Italian states and provinces which preceded the Union in 1860. The period of the Risorgimento is represented by sizable holdings which include a number of broadsides. Interesting material related to the States of the Church includes a group of pamphlets and another of broadsides, leggi, and regolamenti. These are supplemented by those sections of the resources dealing with the Roman Catholic Church.

The literature relating to modern Italy forms an adequate reference collection, consisting of standard works in various languages, a representative selection of secondary materials, and a large number of books on travel, which includes a number of important nineteenth-century plate books. There is a good collection of material on Fascist Italy; works on the political aspects are to be found in the general collections and those dealing with economic factors in the Economic and Public Affairs Division. Italian underground and resistance movements of World War II are included in the library's generally strong holdings of this nature. Postwar political movements are well covered in the writings by and about such figures as Antonio Gramsci, Palmiro Togliatti (including a run of the periodical Rinascita edited by him between 1946 and 1962), and Pietro Nenni.

Approximately 6,000 volumes are devoted to the cities, provinces, colonies, and islands of Italy. This includes much of the material relating to the states and provinces which preceded the Union, and is important for the provincial literature which it contains. Here are found such publications as the Atti e memorie of almost all the provinces of Italy, the Archivo storico lombardo, and the Archivio storico per le province napoletane, most important for their biographical and local historical content. Local history of continental countries is not administered by the Local History and Genealogy Division, but is found with the general collections; works on genealogy and heraldry of Italian families and prominent individuals are, however, held in the Local History and Genealogy Division. These materials are supplemented by the public documents collections of the Economic and Public Affairs Division.

Public Documents

The important collection of public documents relating to Italian political affairs includes the Atti of the Italian Parliament (complete from 1848 to 1941), continued by the publications of the Camera dei Deputati. The Gazzetta is complete from its foundation in 1861 to the present.

Public documents of Italian provinces and former kingdoms are also held in strength. Among other files are the Annali civili (1833-60) of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the Gazzetta piemontese of Sardinia from 1845 to 1860, and the Gazzetta di Venezia from 1848 to 1920. Gazettes are received from the regions of Sicily, Trentino-Alto Adige, and the Republic of San Marino. Most of the provinces are represented by the files of the Atti of the Consigli Provinciali.27 Most of the series begin in the 1860s and are substantially complete through the first decade of this century. Files are continued by the Consigli Provinciali dell' Economia of many of the regions.

The important law holdings include the national Raccolta ufficiale delle leggi e dei decreti from its beginning in 1861 to 1951. There are also the laws of the Papal States, Sardinia, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and Venice, with such reprints as the Cisalpine Republic's Raccolta de' bandi, notificazioni, editti. Statutes for the Republic of Italy are also well represented.

The holdings of municipal documents are particularly strong for the earlier periods, with volumes of municipal ordinances from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, and long files of Atti of the various Consigli Communali. For various Italian cities are the files of the Bollettino municipale mensile, which contain statistical information pertinent to municipal affairs, as well as illustrated sections with articles on art, archaeology, local history, and biography. The collection on municipal finance is also good; there are files of the Bilancio and the Conto consuntivo of the important cities.

The Economic and Public Affairs Division acquires all Italian government documents that come to its attention through the standard bibliographies.


Papers in the Manuscripts and Archives Division include Florentine records dating from 1575 to 1665 concerning the disposition of private property, and copies of orders of the Medici, Grand Dukes of Tuscany, concerning vessels and naval affairs from 1619 to 1735. A vellum manuscript dated 1647 sets forth privileges granted by the Duke of Venice to Jewish merchants. Among modern materials are travel diaries of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and a typed manuscript, corrected drafts, and other material related to Gilbert Seldes's study of Mussolini, Sawdust Caesar (1935).

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