A system of organised collection, preservation and presentation of archive material by official institutions in Macedonia was introduced after the foundation of the State Archive in Skopje (1929–41), under the authority of the kingdom of Yugoslavia. During World War II, when this territory came under the authority of the Bulgarian state, most of these archival materials were moved to the Diplomatic Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Yugoslavia, in Belgrade. Independent, institutionalised archival activity began after World War II, when the modern Macedonian state was formed. The notion of archival collection and storage persisted in various forms until the establishment of the State Archive of the People’s Republic of Macedonia in 1951 (called the State Archive of the Republic of Macedonia after 1990, and State Archive of the Republic of North Macedonia since 2019, as a result of changes in constitutional name).
The Macedonian Academy for Sciences and Arts organises a separate archive, as do government and private institutions, both at a central and local level. Regarding the foundation of the Macedonian network of archive institutions, in 1951, nine district archives were founded, in the towns: Bitola, Kumanovo, Ohrid, Prilep, Skopje, Strumica, Tetovo, Veles and Štip. Later, these became municipal historical archives, included, as regional departments of the State Archives of Republic of Macedonia, since 1990. Since 1969, the central part of the State Archive in Skopje has been housed in a separate building, constructed according to specific standards for the storage and use of archival material. Separate buildings were also erected for other archives. Today, this central building lies within the complex of the Archaeological Museum in the centre of Skopje.
The Archaeological Museum in Skopje that currently houses the central part of the State Archive. The archives cover the preservation, protection, and processing of archival material, as well as research, use and publication of said material. This is regulated by laws on archival material, as well as instructions for the use of archival material in the State Archives of the Republic of Macedonia, and several rule books for specific handling (as in the case of those visiting the archive from abroad). An important part of the State Archive's activity is the publication of documents, begun as early as 1963. External (as well as internal) researchers and archivists are hired to organise the publication of document collections, monographic works, and even oral history (in the form of published recollections). Publishing activity is also regulated by the archive. The archive publishes the journal “Makedonski archivist” (initially put out by the Association of Societies of Archive Workers and Archives in Macedonia). The journal covers the field of archival science and practice, theory and methodology of archival research, historical sources, documents, etc., and is printed biennially, mostly in the Macedonian language. Exhibitions of documents are also organised by the institutions of the archival network throughout the country.
Archival material is organised into several types of funds and collections. The first group lists state bodies, institutions, associations, organisations and other administrative and public services. These include the judiciary, military units, educational, cultural and scientific institutions; social and health institutions; economy and banking; social-political organisations, political parties, companies; religious organisations; as well as other institutions.They are organised by the type and range of the institutions, and according to alphabetical order.
The second group is composed of personal and family funds, organised according to the surname of the founder. The same principle concerns these collections, and a separate guide is being prepared for copied archival materials from foreign archives. In the published archive guides, one may search generally, with reference to the current organisation of the archive material. In accordance with modern trends, the archives import data from funds in the automatic data processing bases, with scientific-informative tools also being prepared. The digitization process is ongoing (with certain documents that represent particularly significant cultural and historic value prioritised), and various digital collections have been already established. Some of these collections are internet accessible, for instance the Fermans and Apocryphal collections.
The State Archive has a multilingual website, with services provided in Macedonian, Albanian and English. Here, you may find information about the Archive: its history, types of services offered, usage of materials, legislation and rules, international cooperation, as well as details on publication. Material in the Archive is available for use for state, scientific and other purposes - equal access is granted to Macedonian and foreign researchers. Indeed, the procedure for entering the reading room and using the archive material is relatively simple, and provision of the material for use can be carried out in a short time. Copying can be done at a very affordable price, which is the same for all users.
Author: Biljana Ristovska-Josifovska
Institute of National History, Skopje · Department for Cultural History, PhD