The Historical Archive of the Municipality of Genova is located in the east wing of the Palazzo Ducale, where it was transferred in 1994, after major restoration work which returned the historic building, whose original nucleus dates back to the second half of the 13th century, to the city in all its splendour.
The archive holds documents related to the administration of the city from the 15th to the first half of the 20th century. The oldest part consists of the documentation of the Magistrates (the Government Departments) appointed for the administration and provisioning of the city under the Republic of Genoa: the City Fathers, the Goods Office, the Abundance Office, and the Provisioners of Wine.
This feature of “antiquity”, which has always marked the Genoa city archive out from other city archives with a similar institutional history, led the city administration to act ahead of its time, making very specific conservation choices such as the separation of the historical archive from the current and storage archives, and its incorporation into the Ufficio Belle Arti e Storia (History and Arts Department), recognising the cultural and not only legal value of the documents, well ahead of any national legislation concerning archives. In Genoa, as a matter of fact, the establishment of the Historical Archive as a separate section from the current and storage archives dates back to 1906, when the City Council approved an innovative project proposed by Councillor Gaetano Poggi. This project included the founding of a specific Office for the conservation, use and organisation of the City's entire historical, artistic and scientific heritage, which over the previous decades
had seen an extraordinary increase thanks to donations from Prince Oddone of Savoy, naturalist Marquis Giacomo Doria and Maria Brignole Sale, Duchess of Galliera.
Manuscripts, holographs, drawings, maps.
The Historical Archive possesses a substantial collection of 15th-18th century manuscripts, mainly relating to the history of Genoa, which became part of the City's documentary heritage mostly over the course of the 1800s, through purchases and donations, and more than three hundred manuscripts from the Brignole Sale Library, donated to the City by the Duchess of Galliera along with Palazzo Rosso and its art collections.
The collection of holographs amounts to over five hundred items, dated between the 16th and 20th century, and includes writings by illustrious figures from all eras and countries (including Carlo V, G.D Cassini, N. Paganini, G. Verdi, V. Hugo, E. Zola, G. D’Annunzio, G. Marconi).
The archive also holds over 1,700 tomb drawings for the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno, made by artists working in Genoa between the late 19th and early 20th century, and a large map collection, covering the entire region included within the boundaries of contemporary Genoa.
Archives of municipalities annexed to Genoa
Another huge section of the collection consists of over 4,000 archival units from the six municipalities annexed to Genoa by Royal Decree no. 1638 of the 26th October 1873 (San Fruttuoso, San Martino and San Francesco d’Albaro, Foce, Marassi and Staglieno), and the nineteen municipalities annexed in 1926 (Royal Decrees no. 74 of the 14th January and no. 662 of the 15th April) to form Grande Genova (Great Genoa): Voltri, Prà, Pegli, Rivarolo, Pontedecimo, San Quirico, Borzoli, Bolzaneto, Sestri Ponente, Cornigliano, Sampierdarena, Molassana, Struppa, Bavari, Apparizione, Sant’Ilario, Quarto, Quinto, Nervi, as well as the Municipality of San Giovanni Battista, joined with Sestri Ponente in 1923.
Censuses, Military Conscriptions, Civil Registration.
The civil registration documentation is abundant but patchy, and includes both that produced at the time of the annexation to the French Empire (1805 – 1814) and that produced prior to 1865, as well as four 19th-century censuses (1808, 1827, 1856, 1871) and military conscriptions from the Napoleonic era to 1910.
The City Historical Archive holds a collection of documents of private origin. Although commonly referred to under the general name of the Brignole Sale-De Ferrari Archive, it actually consists of two distinct archives; that of the Brignole Sale family and that of the De Ferrari family, and, to a much lesser extent, documents coming from the Franchi and Negrone families, sold to the City of Genoa in 1927 by the heirs of Filippo De
Ferrari, son of Raffaele and Maria Brignole Sale. In 1973 the administration of the Istituto di Ricovero “Emanuele Brignole” - the former Albergo dei Poveri, an almshouse - deposited its own archive (16th-19th century) to the City's Historical Archive.
Collection of weights and measures
The City’s Historical Archive in Palazzo Ducale, besides the archival documentation of the Magistrate of Goods, also holds a collection of weights and measures used in the city of Genoa before the introduction of the metric system, in the aftermath of its annexation to the French Empire (1805).
Since March 2005, a substantial selection of standards, kept in the cathedral of San Lorenzo until the introduction of the metric system, have been on display to the public in the rooms of the Strada Nuova Museums, next to the Coin and Medal Collections.
Ligurian Centre of Social History Archive (CLSS)
Acquired by the City of Genoa in 2014, it includes the following archives, besides those of the CLSS itself: Gaetano Perillo, Gelasio Adamoli; the Partisans collection (Barisone, Daneo, Poggi, Tonini, Carrassi, Cocconi), the Aggregati – Supplementary - collection (Gibelli, Burioni, PCI Federazione di Genova, PSIUP Genova, Savelli, Tosini, Associazione Industriali, and Various Collections). It is also possible to consult the CGIL and FLM Trade Union Archives already present in the former CLSS. -
Inventory of the archive of the City of Genoa Department of Fine Arts and History and subsequent denominations, from 1906 to 1966.
Index relating to contracts from 1907 to 1971.
Inventory of the Municipal Administration Collection 1910 - 1940
This consists of documents produced by the Civic Administration between 1910 and 1940, indexed according to the requirements of the Ministry of the Interior, as set out in circular no. 17100-2 of the 1st March 1897 and which came into force 4th August 1910.