The Mission of the Austrian State Archives

Conserving the cultural heritage

With their rich archival records spanning more than one millennium of Austrian history, the Austrian State Archives are tasked with safekeeping a highly valuable cultural heritage that is of relevance to all of Europe. They define themselves as "an institution providing impulses in the historical and archival sciences".

The legal framework

Since the year 2000, a dedicated law, the Bundesarchivgesetz (Federal Act on the Safekeeping, Storage and Use of Archival Holdings of the Federal Government, Federal Law Gazette no. 162/1999) governs the framework and the scientific, cultural and administrative tasks of the Austrian State Archives.

"Keeping archives"

The core tasks involved in "keeping archives" are defined by law as "the surveying, taking over, keeping, conserving, repairing, filing, describing, utilising and making available for use of archival holdings of the federal government to serve the purposes of research into historical periods and the present, for other research and scientific or scholarly purposes, for legislation, jurisdiction, administration as well as legitimate concerns of citizens" (Bundesarchivgesetz, Federal Law Gazette no. 162/1999, sec. 2 [5]).

Tasks within the framework of public administration

Like all "living archives", the Austrian State Archives play a key role in the historical sciences whilst also fulfilling important tasks in ongoing public administration. Federal services which are not authorised to keep archives of their own, are required to offer current records to the Austrian State Archives if they are no longer needed. The States Archives determine the archival value of the material offered.

Access dates

Archival records received from federal services are cleared for public access after a statutory period of either 30 or 50 years, as stipulated by sec. 8 (2) of the Bundesarchivgesetz. Access to the military registers, which are kept by the Kriegsarchiv department of the Austrian State Archives, is subject to the Personenstandsgesetz (Austrian Civil Status Act, Federal Law Gazette no. 16/2013). Archival records stored in the Austrian State Archives under a deposit agreement are subject to special requirements.

Protection of archival holdings

Pursuant to the provisions of the Denkmalschutzgesetz (Federal Act on the Conservation of Monuments, Federal Law Gazette no. 170/1999, sec. 24-25a), the Austrian State Archives have been invested with the power to place archival records under protection and to issue export licenses. In these matters, the Austrian State Archives act as a conservation authority.

Other federal archives

Apart from the Austria State Archives as the central federal archives, the following federal services and institutions are authorised to establish their own archives, containing the archival records from their specific purviews:

  • the Parliamentary Directorate (Parlamentsdirektion)
  • the supreme courts
  • the universities
  • the Federal Agency for the Conservation of Historic Monuments (Bundesdenkmalamt)
  • the Austrian National Library (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek)
  • the federal museums
  • the Austrian Sound Archive (Österreichische Phonothek)
  • the Court Orchestra (Hofmusikkapelle)
  • the Federal Office of Metrology and Surveying (Bundesamt für Eich- und Vermessungswesen)