The Historical Archives Ljubljana collect and keep records of the archives of organisations and institutions of local and regional interest, while the archives of organisations and institutions at state level are cared for by the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia. Founded in 1898 the Historical Archives Ljubljana are the direct successor of the Municipal Archives of Ljubljana. They collaborate with international professional institutions on a regular basis. The public is addressed through books, catalogues, educational programmes and thematic exhibitions (the one in 2009 was dedicated to Congress Square and its Surroundings to Prešeren Market, partly displayed also in the Ljubljana City Hall). The archival records are popularised also through special contributions in the local media.
The origins of the Historical Archives Ljubljana may be traced back to the Municipal Archives of Ljubljana, which was founded in 1898 by Ljubljana’s municipal authorities. Since 1966 the range of activities of the Municipal Archives has gradually extended to the whole of central Slovenia, all the way from Jesenice, through Ljubljana and its surroundings to Idrija, Novo mesto, and Metlika. The Archives have also changed their organisational structure. In October 1973, the Municipal Archives of Ljubljana were renamed the Historical Archives Ljubljana (Zgodovinski arhiv Ljubljana).
Today the archives comprise six units: Municipal Archives Ljubljana Unit (Enota Mestni arhiv Ljubljana), Unit for Gorenjska Kranj (Enota za Gorenjsko Kranj), Unit for Dolenjska and Bela krajina Novo mesto (Enota za Dolenjsko in Belo krajino Novo mesto), Unit in Škofja Loka (Enota v Škofji Loki) and Unit in Idrija (Enota v Idriji). The Archives’ remit includes the following state administrative units (territorial divisions other than municipalities used in state governance): Cerknica, Črnomelj, Domžale, Grosuplje, Idrija, Jesenice, Kamnik, Kočevje, Kranj, Litija, Ljubljana, Logatec, Metlika, Novo mesto, Radovljica, Ribnica, Škofja Loka, Trebnje, Tržič, and Vrhnika.
In its depositories the Historical Archives Ljubljana keep and preserve a great variety of archives, including several notable collections of documents and manuscript books (the oldest dating from 1320), maps and charts, plans and photographs relating to the economic operation of the Municipality of Ljubljana and other towns, and minutes of councils and committees, accounting books, land registers. They also maintain the archives of other administrative bodies; of judiciary, economic, school system, socio-political organisations, associations and companies (including important archives from the quicksilver mine of Idrija); as well as of individuals and families. The majority of the older archives – more than 1,300 records, that is some 4,000 linear metres of material – are written in the German language and in Gothic characters, because until 1882 German was the official language.
The Historical Archives Ljubljana are responsible for taking care of more than 3,000 archive groups or about 11,000 linear metres of archives, which are constantly on the increase. For conservation reasons and to provide easier access to users, 1,321 microfilm copies have been made. A reference library, a microfilm laboratory, and copying machines are at the public’s disposal.
In 2010 the archives joined the archival information system SIRA.net, which interconnects the databases of five regional archives of Slovenia.
Since the end of the 1990s the Archives produce thematic exhibitions in the Ljubljana Unit as often as twice a year. The most notable is a three-year cycle of presentations of the historical transformations of Ljubljana squares. Other exhibitions have highlighted Ljubljana hotels, entertainment in Ljubljana in the 19th and 20th centuries, the notorious setting up of the monument to France Prešeren, etc.
Exhibitions on Novo mesto commerce and merchants, Novo mesto during the Second World War, Škofja Loka in old documents, Protestantism in Škofja Loka, and businesses as well as the streets and squares of Kranj are some of the exhibitions also prepared by the local units in the last decade.