Guides to European Archives

This is a list of some of the guides to European archives, including both official archives and personal papers, which are available either online or in print.  These guides focus on European history, and do not as a rule include sources relating to official or unofficial records of the former colonies.  This list does not include sources for medieval manuscripts; for an introduction to medieval sources, check A Basic Bibliography in Medieval History.   Most of these guides list collections in some detail; there are many directories of archives with addresses and brief summaries of the contents, but, except for countries for which I could find no other sources, I haven’t listed these.


Archive im Internet.  A list of links, maintained by the Archivschule  in Marburg, Germany, to archival collections throughout the world; it is strongest for Germany, but has a useful list of links for other European countries.

Guide to the archives of member states' foreign ministries and European Union institutions. 2nd rev. and enl. ed.  Luxembourg : Office for Official Publications of the European Communities,  c1996.
Butler Reference R016.94 G94

International Institute of Social History.  Located in The Hague, Netherlands, the institute has some 3000 archival collections related to the global history of labor, workers, and labor relations.  The online index can be searched by keyword and by country.

International organizations, 1918-1945: a guide to research and research materials.  Compiled and edited by George W. Baer. Wilmington, Del. , Scholarly Resources Inc., 1991.
Butler Reference R016.341 B141

The new guide to the diplomatic archives of Western Europe.  Edited by Daniel H.  Thomas. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, c1975.
Butler Reference R016.94 T361
Though dated, this has useful descriptions of the arrangements of the various national archives.

Sources in European political history.  Chris Cook and Geoff Pugh.  London,  Macmillan Press, 1987-
v. 1. The European left
v. 2. Diplomacy and imperialism
v. 3. War and resistance
Butler Reference R016.94 C771
Covers the 20th century.

The Routledge guide to European political archives; sources since 1945. Chris Cook in association with the LSE Library. New York, Routledge, 2012.
Butler Reference, Bookcase M-O CD1002 .C67 2012
Lists the location of papers of individuals and many NGO’s.


Research guide to libraries and archives in the Low Countries. Martha L. Brogan. New York, Greenwood Press, 1991.
Butler Reference R027.9B B78

Czech Republic

Slovník pro historiky a návštěvníky archivů.  Václav Rameš. Praha,  Libri, 2005.
Butler Stacks CD1150 .R36 2005g

Vademecum soudobých dějin Česká Republika : průvodce po archivech, badatelských institucích, knihovnách, sdruženích, muzeích a památnícíc. Praha : Ústav pro soudobé dějiny AV ČR, 2005.
Butler Stacks CD1150 .V33 2005g


The Archives Nationales is responsible for preserving French government records. 

Les Archives nationales : état général des fonds.  Jean Favier.  Paris, Archives nationales , 1978-1988.
Butler Reference R016.944 F84
t. 1. L'Ancien Régime.
t. 2. 1789-1940.
t. 3. Marine et outre-mer.
t. 4. Fonds divers et additions et corrections aux tomes I, II et III
t. 5. 1940-1958, fonds conservés à Paris.
A guide to the contents of the Archives Nationales.

Archives nationales du monde du travail is a branch of the Archives Nationales, though most of its archives are non-governmental.  It stores the archives of businesses, trades unions, associations and societies, and architects.

Les sources de l'histoire ouvrière, sociale et industrielle en France (XIXème et XXème siècles) : guide documentaire.  Michel Dreyfus.  Paris , Editions ouvrières, 1987.
Butler Reference R331.8 D82

Guide des papiers privés d'époque révolutionnaire . Françoise Hildesheimer. Paris, Archives Nationales, 1987.
Butler Reference R016.944 H55

Guide des papiers des ministres et secrétaires d'Etat de 1871 à 1974. Chantal de Tourtier-Bonazzi  and  François Pourcelet . Paris, Archives nationales, 1984.
Butler Reference R016.944 F843


The Bundesarchive houses the German federal archives, with material from the Middle Ages to the present.  ARGUS is its search engine.

Deutsche Archive im Internet is the list of official and unofficial German archives maintained by the Archivschule  in Marburg.

Zentrale Datenbank Nachlässe is an online guide to German personal papers held in German archives and in some foreign ones.

Deutsche Wirtschaftsarchive: Nachweis historischer Quellen in Unternehmen, Kammern und Verbänden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Edited by Klara van Eyll . 2nd edition, Stuttgart : F. Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden, 1987-1991. 3 v.
Butler Reference R016.33 D48
(The 3rd edition of v. 1 has been published; call number R016.33 D481.)

The GDR in German archives : a guide to primary sources and research institutions on the history of the Soviet zone of occupation and the German Democratic Republic, 1945-1990. Bernd Schäfer, Henning Hoff,  and Ulrich Mählert. Washington, D.C. : German Historical Institute, 2002.
Butler Reference R016.943087 Sch14

Great Britain

The National Archives, created in 2003 when the Public Record Office merged with the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, is the official archive for government material.  Their holdings are all listed in the online catalog, but their various specialized publications, some of which are listed below, can be useful in identifying collections.

The National Register of Archives  is an index of archives and manuscripts relating to British history, searchable by name (including businesses) and location. 

British archives : a guide to archive resources in the United Kingdom.  Janet Foster . 3rd ed. New York, N.Y., Stockton Press, 1995.
Butler Reference Desk R027.2 F81411

Great Britain. Public Record Office. Guide to the contents of the Public Record Office. London, H.M. Stationery Off., 1963-68.
Butler Reference R016.942 G7921
v. 1. Legal records, etc.
v. 2. State papers and departmental records.
v. 3. Documents transferred 1960-1966.
A useful introduction to the arrangement and contents of the current National Archives.

The Routledge guide to British political archives : sources since 1945. Chris Cook in association with the LSE Library. New York : Routledge, 2006.
Butler Reference R016.942 R765
Describes the archives of some 1500 individuals and societies involved in British public life after 1945.

Sources in British political history, 1900-1951: compiled for the British Library of Political and Economic Science.   Chris Cook. New York : St. Martin's Press, 1975-1985.
Butler Reference R016.942 C77
v. 1. A guide to the archives of selected organisations and societies.
v. 2. A guide to the private papers of selected public servants.
v. 3. A guide to the private papers of members of Parliament: A-K.
v. 4. A guide to the private papers of members of Parliament: L-Z.
v. 5. A guide to the private papers of selected writers, intellectuals, and publicists.
v. 6. First consolidated supplement


Directory of Irish archives.  Edited by Seamus Helferty.  Portland, Oregon. Four Courts Press, 2011.
Butler Reference CD1100 .D57 2011


Archivio centrale dello Stato are the main national archives of Italy.  However, the provinces have their own state archives, which have much historical information.

Guida generale degli archivi di Stato italiani. Piero D'Angiolini. Rome, Ministero per i beni culturali e ambientali, Ufficio centrale per i beni archivistici, 1981-1994.
Butler Reference R016.945 G94

Vatican Archives : an inventory and guide to historical documents of the Holy See. New York, Oxford University Press, 1998.
Butler Reference R016.945 V456

The Netherlands

Research guide to libraries and archives in the Low Countries. Martha L. Brogan. New York, Greenwood Press, 1991.
Butler Reference R027.9B B78


Archiwa w Polsce--informator adresowy. Warszawa,  Naczelna Dyrekcja Archiwów Państwowych, 2004.
Butler Stacks CD1740 .A827 2004

Russia and the Soviet Union

Access to Russian Archives is a freely available online resource containing descriptions of approximately 80,000 archival fonds from more than 20 guidebooks on Russian federal archives and 40 regional archives published from 1987 to 2004. 

ArcheoBiblioBase: archives in Russia. A brief guide to over 50 major Russian archives located in Moscow and St. Petersburg, based on:

Archives of Russia : a directory and bibliographic guide to holdings in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Edited by Patricia Kennedy Grimsted. Armonk, N.Y , M.E. Sharpe, 2000.
The descriptions in the printed guide are more complete, but the online catalog is more up to date.
Butler Reference Desk R016.947 G8851

ArcheoBiblioBase also provides a useful list of the many sources of print and online guides to Russian archives.

Archives and manuscript repositories in the USSR, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Belorussia. Patricia Kennedy Grimsted. Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1981.
Butler Reference R016.947 G883

A microfiche collection of finding aids for archives and manuscripts from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Belorussia, based on the Grimsted catalog, is in the Microform Reading Room at MICFICHE FX3 1973.


Archivos Españoles: Guia del usario.  Francisco José Gallo León. Madrid : Alianza Editorial, 2002.
On order.

Guía de los archivos y las bibliotecas de la Iglesia en España.  León,  Asociación Española de Archiveros Eclesiásticos, 1985.
v. 1. Archivos
v. 2. Bibliotecas, personal
Butler Stacks CD1878.A1 G85 1985


Arkhivni fondy ustanov Nat︠s︡ionalʹnoï akademiï nauk Ukraïny : putivnyk.  Kyïv,  Nat︠s︡ionalʹna biblioteka Ukraïny im. V.I. Vernadsʹkoho, Instytut arkhivoznavstva, 2008.
Offsite CD1739.6 .A755 2008g