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About us

The Swiss Social Archives are the first port of call in Switzerland for all those looking into social change, the social question and social movements. The Social Archives collect documents of all types – from manuscripts through to digital photographs – and make them available to the public while preserving them for future generations.

Library, archives, documentation

The Swiss Social Archives are an academic library, a historical archive and a collection of topical documentation all in one. We have documents on all the relevant social issues, and the different ideas for resolving these issues. For example: different generations living together, gender relations, migration, work, social policy, trade unions, political parties, political and social movements, communication, environment and traffic. Books are available, together with periodicals, archived items, manuscripts, posters, lapel pins, newspaper clippings, brochures and pamphlets, sound and picture documents and also electronic periodicals and digital press documentation.

On-site and in the web

The Swiss Social Archives are making use of the opportunities offered by the new communication and information technologies to align their services to the contemporary needs of their users. Great importance is thus attached to ensuring optimum accessibility and visibility of the collection. Over the past few years, the Swiss Social Archives have gone to great lengths to present their catalogues and archive indexes in the web, so that users can search them from home. At the same time, the Social Archives set great store by the provision of personal advice and the creation of a pleasant working atmosphere in the reading room.

Continuity and change

The Social Archives combine change with continuity and provide researchers, educational institutions and the public with literature, sources and information. Since society repeatedly undergoes fundamental changes, the Social Archives align their collection activity to the ever-changing issues. In this way, the Social Archives act as an instrument of social self-perception and a collective memory. At the same time, the material nature of the items collected is changing. The Social Archives have made a start on archiving websites covering relevant topics and are working on solutions for securing the preservation of digital documents from social movements and political organisations.

A place for dialogue and a meeting point

The Swiss Social Archives act as a bridge between the academic world and the public, promoting exchange between them through all kinds of events. It is a place where historical and contemporary-oriented disciplines meet up. It is precisely in this role that the Swiss Social Archives consider themselves to be a meeting place and a place of learning.

Cooperation and networking

With their collection of historical and contemporary documents on social questions, the Swiss Social Archives are a unique institution within Switzerland. They view themselves as part of the Swiss archive and library landscape and work together with related institutions in Switzerland and abroad. The Social Archives are a research infrastructure facility recognised by the Swiss Confederation and have their own research fund.

Association running the Archives

The Swiss Social Archives were founded in 1906. They are run by a broad-based Association which is not affiliated to any political party.

Mission statement (PDF document [in German], 507 kB)
“100 Jahre soziales Wissen. Schweizerisches Sozialarchiv 1906–2006” (PDF document [in German], 5 MB)