More or less by chance I found Jerry Kaplans
article, "Preserving Our Past: The Anarchist Collections,"
in the Spring 1997 issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory. It is a thoughtful
piece, but I would like to comment on a specific point. Jerry notes that the International
Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam is "connected to [...] the
state". He has a point: the IISH is chiefly funded through the Royal Netherlands
Academy of Arts and Sciences. Yet there is an important proviso to be made.
IISH was created in 1935 as a private foundation. In
1979 this foundation, which continues to exist, struck an agreement with the Academy in
order to set the Institute on more sound footing. However, it retains full responsibility
for the acquisition and maintenance of, as well as access to, all archives and other
documents in the care of IISH. Indeed the foundation never considered relinquishing
control over the Institutes anarchist collections (and, for that matter, the many
sensitive materials it often acquires) to any state-related institution. In this field,
IISH is entirely independent and not even bound by Dutch archival legislation. It is an
unusual legal construction, but so far it has worked well.
The Institutes collections are listed in its
online catalog and, separately, on its Web site at http://www.iisg.nl/.
All the best,
International Institute of Social History
1019 AT Amsterdam,