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Military Archive Experiences

My experiences as a student in the Italian Carabinieri Historical Archive reading room.

by Maria Letizia Annaloro, Master’s Degree in Archival and Library Science

The Committee of Military Archives thanks Maria Letizia Annaloro, Master’s Degree in Archival and Library Science, for her committment and her participation to describe her experience during the preparation of the thesis based on an archival inventory of a Carabinieri historical archive fund.

For the writing of my master degree I asked the Historical Office of the Carabinieri General whether they wanted to help me with a project to make an inventory of a part of their archives. When I rethink my experience I can only describe it as quite special.

I had to create an inventory from the beginning, a very important task, since an inventory can be considered as the most important tool to access an archive for research. It took a prolonged period of time and a daily presence within the Historical Office to do this work, as opposed to the consultation of information for a simple research.

The front page of the archival inventory of the archival fund of the Carabinieri Company of Modica (Sicily) realised by Maria Letizia Annaloro.

Making an inventory and creating an access to an archives is an archivist’s finest job, so it is not surprising that I initially tended to view this experience as something very personal, rather than something useful for the public. At the time, I was so focused on completing my task, that I forgot why I was doing it and the context in which I was doing my job.

When I entered the archives, I noticed some aspects of the place that cannot be described even by the most accurate encyclopedia: the silence, which can give great satisfaction. I seemed to be alone, but in reality I was not: the religious silence was broken by the sound of pages that were turned, by the footsteps of passers-by.

I even noticed the specks of dust visible in the beams of light coming from the windows.
After a moment of strong emotional impact, I moved on to consult the material that had kindly been made available to me. Gathering this information was useful for studying the nature of the papers and the structure of the institution.

From the first moment I definitely felt the differences between a military organization and the the civilian world, to be honest, it was a shock for me, I was even convinced I wouldn’t fit in and I wanted to leave

During my everyday experience in the reading room I understood the organisation needed to manage my request as master candidate. After some days, i saw the effort led by the personnel to support my needs and to help me in my archival inventory. So I changed my perception moving from a professional involvement to a personal one.

From the professional point of view, it has contributed to increase the empowerment and awareness acquired during the university training by adding a series of useful information for the reading of the documentation treated, in which rituals and symbols are integral parts of the context. Of fundamental support for the knowledge of the materials provided was the presence of the Maresciallo Maggiore Marcello Di Fede and the Appuntato Scelto special qualification Davide Fusco, helping me to interpret the papers so that I could complete the drafting of the inventory.

After months of hard work, I drew conclusions, exposed my work, justified my choices not only to others, but especially to myself. My goal was to highlight the uniqueness of this incredible patrimony that tells interconnected stories through documents, showing everyone that the archives is a place of study and research not only for an elite group of university students, researchers and professionals. It is a source of knowledge for everyone, making it possible to discover information about the institution, it’s history and even the culture of the territories in which it operates. It adds important pieces for the reconstruction of a history, not only it’s own but also the national history.

Nowadays, finally I could bring back values other than experience. I know that the archives represent one part of the cultural heritage; the organisation stores them as a facilitator, keeping memoris in its storage repository, but providing the full accessibility to the citiziens.



Cite this blog post
Flavio Carbone (2022, December 2). Military Archive Experiences. The Committee of Military Archives. Retrieved June 19, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/m6p2

By Flavio Carbone

The Military Archives Committee (CAM) is one of the operational bodies of the International Commission of Military History established in 1990.
The blog represents the transformation of the newsletter "Mars&Janus", a tool distributed among the stakeholders and the members of the Committee.

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