Vera & Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (OSA)

The Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (OSA) at Central European University (CEU) is a complex archival institution. OSA is both a  repository  of important collections, primarily related to the history of the Cold War and grave international human rights violations, and a  laboratory  of archival experiments on new ways of assessing, contextualizing, presenting, and making use of archival documents.

The Archives

Our traditional archival holdings comprise approximately 7,500 linear meters of records. Based on their provenance as well as their focus, OSA holdings are divided into three main groups.

Communism, the Cold War, and their Afterlife:  Fonds include the extensive collection of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Research Institute, background and reference material accumulated over 45 years of activity. The collection is an essential source on the post-war political, social, and economic history of the region. We also hold the personal papers of a range of political, cultural, and counter-culture figures from the Cold War era to the present and several series of Soviet, Polish and Hungarian underground literature which, when taken together, constitute a major international collection of samizdat materials.

Human Rights:   Includes fonds created by non-governmental and supra-governmental organizations, as well as individuals active in post-war Central and Eastern Europe documenting human rights violations and war crimes. Most important among these fonds are the UN Expert Commission on Investigating War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF), Index on Censorship, as well as the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).

Open Society Foundations Network and the CEU:  As the official archives of the Open Society Foundations network and the CEU, OSA is responsible for the long-term preservation of and access to network records. We also supply records management services to network entities and offices, and it is in this capacity that in 2005 we launched a digital repository called the Soros Network Archival Portal (SNAP).

The region's recent history and human rights record and the Open Society Foundations' specific mission are strongly interconnected, and thus the above categories serve only as a starting point for research. To assist researchers in making better use of our holdings, OSA has established a series of  Reference Information Papers  (RIP) on selected topics.

OSA Archivum's rapidly-growing  audiovisual collection  comprises both archival holdings and material from our film library. As an audiovisual research center, we are actively collecting with an intent to establish a non-circulating video library comprising: regional propaganda; historical, feature and documentary films; regional TV news programs; historical home movies; and amateur footage—from the interwar period up to the present. Except in the case of some very important collections, OSA does not have the right to make most of the films in its care publicly available. These films and images can be used for research, exhibition, and educational purposes, and provide valuable sources for scholars—even when the images cannot be reproduced for copyright restrictions.

OSA Library houses a non-circulating  reference library   of books—including many books long-discarded by most other libraries, but which remain important sources for the study of post-World War II history—as well as a collection of more than 6,500 dailies and journals published from the 1950s onwards in over 40 languages. It also offers special publications from the region: numerous titles of informal and regional press and ephemera.

Europe Hungary
Institution type
Non French Institutions Museum or library