Getting Started


8 October 2023

It is a thrilling moment when previously inaccessible archival fonds become available for research. The unveiling of once-sealed or classified archives leads to discoveries, reframing old debates, and providing fresh perspectives. Consider, for instance, the opening of archives after the fall of the Soviet Union.


For historians exploring the history of World War II, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and the Holy See, such a moment arrived in March 2020 when the collections of the Vatican archives pertaining to the pontificate of Pius XII (1939-1958) were opened for scholars. For me, it also marked a change in my professional and intellectual life. I had dedicated years to studying the experiences of refugees and reconstruction efforts in the aftermath of World War II. As rewarding as it was, I was looking for a fresh angle and primary sources that could illuminate issues I couldn’t address by consulting archival records already available in other repositories. The opening of a part of the Vatican archives on the wartime and early post-war years meant not only that I could seek to tackle new research questions but also presented a significant opportunity for curiosity-driven research.


In this research blog, I will share my experiences as an international historian navigating archival work, the challenges of such research, and academic life in general.


I hope this blog can be of interest to other scholars, as well as anyone interested in the on-ground practice of archival research and various aspects of the social and cultural history of the early Cold War.