The Mission of the Austrian State Archives
Conserving the cultural heritage
With its rich archival records from more than 1000 years of Austrian history, the Austrian State Archives keep, index and conserve a highly valuable cultural heritage which is of importance 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 special 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.
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 ).
Tasks within the framework of public administration
Like all “living archives”, the Austrian State Archives play a key role in historical science whilst also fulfilling important tasks in ongoing public administration. Federal services which are not authorised to keep archives of their own have to offer current records no longer needed at their end to the Austrian State Archives. The States Archives the archival value of the material offered.
Archival records taken over from federal services are cleared for public access after the end of the statutory periods of 30 or 50 years, as stipulated by sec. 8 (2) of the Bundesarchivgesetz. Access to the military registers, which are kept by the Austrian State Archives in the Kriegsarchiv department, is subject to the Personenstandsgesetz (Austrian Civil Status Act, Federal Law Gazette no. 60/1983). 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 powers to place archival records under protection and to issue export licenses have been delegated to the Austrian State Archives. In this area, 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 for the archival records from their 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)