Since its foundation, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has taken good care of the papers and records related to its activities and secured their preservation. The Academy's Statutes declared the liability of the Secretary General in safeguarding the archival material produced by the Academy and, therefore, it was a unit within the Secretary General's Office for more than one hundred years. All documents were reviewed and arranged according to archival guidelines during the 1930s. After World War II, however, the archival documents that had so far been amassed, were transferred to the Department of Manuscripts of the Library of the Academy. This corpus is now known as Régi Akadémiai Levéltár (Old Archives of the Academy) or RAL. Today, it can be accessed and researched at the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books.
In 1949, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences was reorganized: from that time on, it was no longer the scholarly society of limited intellectual compass it used to be, but it was promoted to become the supreme body of science in charge of Hungary's R&D that had a network of research institutions under its aegis as well. Thus, in a short period of time a substantial volume of records had accumulated which required preservation and protection. Complying with the institution's tradition and the practice in neighboring countries, the Academy Presidency decided upon setting up an independent Academy Archives (presidential resolution no. 48/1963). The Academy Archives, as an independent section yet within the Library's organization started work on January 1, 1964. Its task is to collect, process and preserve the papers (documents) of the Academy originated after 1949. Based upon Act #27 of year 1969 the Minister of Culture pronounced the Academy Archives a professional archival institution in his letter no. XVIII (94978/1970.) dated November 11 1970. Pursuant to the Act of the Academy in 1994 and the Act of Archives in 1995 the Academy Archives is today a public-body archives.
Units of the collection
In fashioning the fonds we took into account the history and structure (tasks) of the Academy. The first two fonds are made up of document corpuses from the past of the Academy (prior to 1950). The other fond-groups:
Leaders of the Academy. This comprises the papers of the Academy's president, secretary general and other leading officials. These records are important sources not only of the history of the Academy, but also of the scientific life of the entire nation. Indeed, the leaders of the Academy have held positions of national significance, the Academy has given its view on a number of momentuous issues of science and science policy and the relevant documents are preserved in the repository of leaders' records.
The office of the Academy and its ceased units. Since 1949, the Academy has a network of institutions at its disposal as well. “The Academy establishes and maintains research institutes for the promotion of sciences and other institutions (library, archive, information system etc.) for various assignments, and in the framework of this activity it supports other organizations and deploys scientific projects." This activity is exercised by the Academy through the Secretariat of the HAS (earlier: Office of the HAS). This material is one of the biggest fond-groups of the Archives, an ensemble of records best representing the post-1950 activity of the Academy. It includes the President's Secretariat, the Department of Administration and Law, the Department of finance, the Section of International Relations, The Departments of Social Sciences and the Natural Sciences.
The next group of fonds is the Scientific Board. This comprises the Secretariat of the Scientific Board and the eleven departments of disciplines (from I. Department of Language and Literature through XI. Department of Physical Sciences) as well as the documents of the commissions belonging to the departments. The departments of disciplines have existed since the founding of the Academy, and they have increased along with the increase of fields of science and proliferating assignments.
The group of fonds of assemblies and meetings of the Academy. This includes among others the papers of the general assembly, the meetings of the secretary general etc.
Also within the competence of the Archives are Scientific Qualification, the records of the research institutes and the documents of societies and associations belonging to the Academy. In the last group of fonds one can find the personal fonds (bequests of scientists, via donation, deposit or papers of institutes, have also come to the Archives, eg. the papers of Péter Treitz, Árpád Bardócz, Barna Győrffy).
Today the archival corpus amounts to 3296,05 meters. In addition, the Archives of the Academy is home of a 7036-piece photo collection and a 1024-piece audio tape collection.