Reading Room Encounters in the Archival Context

The Example of the Swiss Federal Archives (SFA)


  • Peter Fleer Schweizerisches Bundesarchiv, Bern



archives, administrative history, bureaucratization, information history, digitization


In democratic constitutional states, public archives have the duty to enable access to historical information of state action in order to help secure the traceability of politics and the accountability of authorities. However, this is not an obvious statement and it has not always and everywhere been true. Th is paper traces the history of the access services of the Swiss Federal Archives (SFA) since 1848. Drawing on the concept of street-level bureaucracy, it focuses on face-to-face interactions between users and archivists in the reading room. In this vein, it provides an organisational history from bottom-up. It argues that the opening of access and increasing numbers of users intensified the bureaucratization of access procedures. Within this context, particular attention is paid to the digitization of the access interface and its bearing on (reading room) encounters of users and archivists.





Fleer, P. (2021). Reading Room Encounters in the Archival Context: The Example of the Swiss Federal Archives (SFA). Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaften, 32(1), 42–74.